As I sit here writing this, I’m currently experiencing what I think is our third miscarriage. My partner on the sofa next to me, crazy tired after a day full of meetings but not leaving my side.
I look at him and feel so incredibly lucky while simultaneously trying to manage the stabbing pains in my abdomen I feel like the unluckiest woman in the world.
My logical mind knows that this isn’t true, and nothing that’s happened is my fault. But somehow, my heart cannot seem to accept that.
The idea of having children is something I’ve always shied away from, which looking back on probably stemmed from being diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome at a fairly young age (I want to say 16?) Which does make it harder to conceive. I always knew something wasn’t quite ‘right’ with my body growing up. My periods were irregular and painful. I never knew when it was approaching, and definitely never knew when it was going to end – my longest was 20 days (of bleeding) and my shortest two, so it’s kind of like a lucky dip. I found it extremely difficult to lose weight, which led to an unhealthy relationship with food, was way hairier than my friends – which was (and still is) just embarrassing. So having a diagnosis was actually freeing – it started to make sense, I understood that there is actually a reason for all the things that made me feel like I was broken.
I’ve always been inherently inquisitive so this I could work with, I researched, learned and kept up to date with female health research. I went to the Doctors, had all the blood tests, visited A&E in excruciating pain (and had many a male doctor flippantly dismiss me), tried the various different hormonal pills and trial & error ‘weight loss’ pills. But honestly, nothing got better.
I remember visiting a GP to discuss PCOS and my concerns, and him saying to me: it’s not really something you need to worry about until you want to have children.
As a scientist, I have the utmost respect for medical professionals that have spent YEARS honing their skills, so I listened to him and pushed having PCOS to the back of my mind.
For years it was something I lived with, the symptoms didn’t get better, I just got better at hiding the pain and living with it. Subconsciously, I began convincing myself that I wasn’t the type of person that wanted kids, that it was something I just couldn’t see in my future. And I genuinely believed that.
Then a year into my marriage I experienced my first miscarriage. It hit me like something I had never experienced before waking up in a pool of blood (seriously, it looked like someone had been stabbed) I had no idea what was going on. In my hazy sleepy state, I assumed it was just a really bad period so dragged myself to the bathroom.
This bit might be TMI but we’re here for honesty, right?
That’s when things started to feel really weird. As I sat down, I could feel myself passing really big, unusual clots and it felt really odd. As I wiped, I looked down and caught a glimpse of something that would forever change me.
There on an unsuspecting piece of toilet roll was an unusual looking sac and I knew – I’d lost my first child without even knowing I was pregnant.
I stared at it for what seemed like an eternity, and even now writing this I can still picture it. Inside I could just about make out a shape, a weird gooey alien like shape that had two tiny black dots (it’s eyes I presume).
I didn’t know what to do with it – essentially it was just tissue so why did I feel attached? I couldn’t really tell you what happened but the next thing I knew I was flushing the toilet and calling my partner.
He was stuck in South Africa at the time (thanks COVID), so it was just me alone in our flat trying to understand and deal with what had just happened.
My emotions were all over the place, confusion, guilt, sadness, anger and a hint of happiness that I could even get pregnant in the first place.
Which brings me back to the core of this article.
Why should we talk about miscarriage more?
The main reason, for me anyway, is so women know that they are not alone. When I say normalise, I don’t mean in a way that it becomes everyday conversation but rather to draw attention to the importance and gravity of such a loss. So those going through know there is NOTHING to be embarrassed or ashamed about. It’s okay to feel a mix of emotions, to feel everything and nothing at the same time.
It takes time to heal, physically and mentally. However, many women go back to everyday life without ever really giving themselves the time they need. Much of the time this is because they cannot find the words to explain what’s happened. Especially if it happens before you’ve told people about the pregnancy or before you yourself find out about the pregnancy. By having conversations about miscarriages, we are creating an environment where women and couples experiencing it know there is support out there and know a pregnancy loss is not their fault.
I hope this has given even the tiniest bit of solace or comfort to anyone experiencing something similar.