28 July 2008

Pregnancy and loss, our story

The first time we miscarried it was very early (just two days after our positive pregnancy test). I just started my period as if nothing had happened, and if I hadn't had a strongly positive pregnancy test I never would have known I was pregnant in the first place. Nobody knew outside a very close circle, and it was so hard to know how to talk about it, IF to talk about it. I felt like I wanted to scream at people that I'd just lost my baby, resenting the world for just carrying on as if nothing had happened.

Very shortly after our first early loss, we miscarried again at nearly 12 weeks. I had had blood tests that confirmed everything was going really well, and was only a day off having my first scan. I couldn't believe it for the longest time, and just decided in my heart that we would never have a second child. Morgan was born just over a year later, and in spite of everything I didn't even question that everything was going to go OK this time - miraculously perhaps, it did.

When she was one year old, I fell pregnant again. I was delighted! Until, one day, the bleeding started - and the next day I went into labour and gave birth, at just under 14 weeks. Of course even if we had been playing it safe with telling people everyone would have known this time and we still would have had to face talking about the loss. It has really made me think that although the chances of m/c fall after 12 weeks, that terrible grief can come at any time. Better by far for me to bond early, love a lot if not wisely, and have something to cling to afterwards - that the baby was real and loved and is now gone, and that there are people who care and are here for us.

It took a long time, with the health crisis that followed the loss, to tell everyone that I was no longer pregnant. I had people coming up to me for weeks afterwards congratulating me that I was finally showing only to be told we'd had the baby already, stillborn. I've found, though, that I really need people to know, that I can tell people more easily that we miscarried again than avoid questions about why I'm so ill, so tired, bursting into tears all the time. I also need, I don't know, something concrete. Especially where we've miscarried very early, I need to mark the place where this baby was.

We have always bought things early, and told people as soon as we knew, and will this time. I have baby boxes for all three missing little ones, small things that I bought just for them and photographs of me when I knew I was pregnant even if not showing, congratulations cards, art I did, a burnt down candle stub, a pressed flower. That's how I cope, finding the hard centre of the pain and bringing it out into the light - taking a long hard look at it and making it real for myself so that when I can let go I can really let go. It's something that many other people I know who have lost children think of as impossibly strong or just plain strange.

I don't even know how I am able to move on and be ready to go through the whole thing all over again. There is no way to make it OK. No way to make it easy. You just have to find a way that gets you the support you need, and lets you grieve in the way that suits you. I did a lot of shouting at God, and a lot of just weeping in his presence. I probably have more of that to do still.

One huge thing I have to encourage you to do, wherever in your life you are and however risky it may be to get attached... Celebrate life. Embrace the chance that you may lose it all, and cling all the more tightly to the good and the real and the true. Don't let pain and doubt rule you, because no matter what happens the worst can't be made better by living in anticipation and fear of it. Neither can the good be lessened by acknowledging that it is not entirely ours, not under our control, and as such is to be loved with all we have for as long as we are blessed with it.

I've had cramps almost constantly since we found out I was expecting again. But this morning, unable to resist that last pregnancy test sitting in my cabinet, I tested again. I have felt unable to for the last couple of days, sure that if I admit how pessimistic I was feeling about the baby surviving then it would all be over. I was so convinced that the test would be negative, but the line is darker and brighter today.

The whole world looks darker and brighter, more real, more of everything. Maybe, just maybe, it all really is going to be OK after all.

6 comments:

  1. We have also miscarried 3 times - at 11 weeks, 9 weeks and 6 weeks. I don't think you ever really get over a loss, more just adjust to living with it.
    Fingers crossed for you that everything will be ok this time.

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  2. I think you're really brave sharing your losses with us. I wish you all the best and hope that this is a happy and healthy pregnancy.

    Take care

    Michelle

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  3. Arwen, I havent got anything increadble to say, just wanted to say I had read your post and that I have heard you. Sometimes I feel I should say something, but can find no words, but dont want to leave only silence. In person a hand can be placed on an arm, here all i can give is an acknowladgment that I have heard you that people are reading your words and that you and yours our in my prayers.

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  4. Just wanted to say I am praying for you too, and admire your courage in openness here and on iVillage. Also to say that my mother miscarried twice after me, and nearly a third time but the hospital was 'expecting it' and was able somehow to force her body to keep my brother inside. I hope there is something they can do to help or reassure you. My brother is a perfectly healthy 28 year old journalist, so in her case it wasn't a defective foetus, but I know everyone is different. I can hear your fears this time and my heart goes out to you. I wept with your last loss and can only imagine a fraction of how you must have felt. I pray that this time you will go full term and that instead we will be hearing the 'will this baby ever come out' questions!

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  5. Thank you Sarah for sharing this, your words have helpped me more than you will ever know.

    I am going to try and celebrate the new life i have inside me and not allow pain and doubt to rule me anymore.

    Today i will begin to enjoy my pregnancy even if eventually it is not to be at least i can say that the moment was great.

    Thank you

    Kit xx

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  6. Oh bless you, all of you. Thankyou so much for stopping here and sitting a while with me. And for all of the positive thoughts, prayers and blessings surrounding this small one.

    Kit, honey, my hopes and fears and prayers are with you every step of the way. I'm so glad I was able to lend you a bit of strength and a bit of positivity today. (gentle hug)

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Penny for your thoughts? :)