real life

'After my miscarriage, I did everything I was supposed to do. But I still feel so numb.'

Content warning: This post contains details of miscarriage some readers may find triggering.

Is this what grief feels like?

My husband and I were trying to get pregnant for a year.

I had pleaded with my GP throughout this period for a referral to an OB/GYN. Finally, she relented. I had had an incidental finding of polycystic ovaries years earlier but had not yet been diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), which affects ovulation. My periods were inconsistent and stretched far apart. Seven, eight, nine week cycles. The waiting. It nearly killed me.

I relaxed. My appointment was approaching. I doubted I was even ovulating. We had sex purely for us. For fun. I went to see my obstetrician. There was something in my uterus, maybe a cyst. Maybe something more sinister. I was sent for more detailed scans and blood tests.

That night, I received a phone call from my obstetrician. “Emma, I have great news. You are actually two weeks pregnant!” That thing in my uterus, it was a baby. Our baby.

We went along to our 10 week scan. It showed that I had experienced a missed miscarriage at seven weeks. Surgery the following day showed previously undiagnosed endometriosis and adenomyosis in conjunction with the PCOS.

My husband and I took a week off work together. We pulled a mattress into our lounge room and lay around. PJs all day, snuggling, eating, talking, being silent, watching trash TV. The stereotypical look of grief and mourning. We walked our dog. We held hands. We took time for ourselves.

We pulled ourselves back together and went back to work. It wasn’t easy. But we supported each other. We had incredible external support. We received gifts, food, thoughts, love and prayers from friends and family.

We talked about it. We shared with our wider circles. We were kind to ourselves. We slept. We exercised. We ate well. We weren’t too hard on ourselves. We allowed ourselves bad days. We treated ourselves. We did the daily grind. We did weekends away.

I sought professional help. For the miscarriage, for my questionable fertility but also for some other stressors in my life. I did my homework. I implemented my strategies.

I feel like we did grief right. If there is such a thing.

Why then, two months on, is my brain still not working? Why do I still feel withdrawn? Why does socialising exhaust me? Why am I now terrible at small talk? How can I forget how to spell? To speak? To make decisions? How do words evade me mid-sentence? Why don’t I feel anything? When will this numbness go away? When will my motivation return? When will I care again?

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Is this what grief feels like?

Watch: Mia talks about feeling lost after miscarriage. Post continues after video. 

Video by Mamamia

I don’t even feel particularly sad anymore. I haven’t cried in weeks. My hormones have settled. There are worse things that can happen. Absolutely. There are people in situations so terrible that I can’t even imagine. I feel incredibly first world, exploding with privilege. I patronise myself. Ridicule my emotions. Just for a moment. Then I reason with myself. Say the right things to myself. Tell myself the things I know to be true.

I feel so much better – 90 per cent of the time I am ‘fine’. So why is there this constant fog in my head. This fog that makes me feel as though I am a ghost, floating around in my own life. Not experiencing anything. Not feeling anything.

Time. It will take time.

But how much time? I can’t keep feeling like this forever. I have commitments. I have responsibilities. I have to be able to perform. To impress. I can’t keep operating at 70 per cent.

This lack of control is particularly unnerving. Unsettling. Unwelcome. It doesn’t seem fair. I did everything right. I am smart. I am a good person. Things could most definitely be worse. I am lucky. I should be grateful for what I have. Why do I still feel this way?

But grief is not linear. You cannot rush through the stages or the steps, tick the boxes to achieve the miraculous recovery at the end. Whilst implementing strategies will help you to cope and get you there faster. Maybe. It will still take time.

There will always be an element of grief, it will hold a place in your heart, your body, your mind.

What I am searching for, waiting for, is clarity. For the fog to lift and for my mind to be wise again. To be my best asset. To be a combination of the emotional and the rational. Where thoughts are big picture. Where I am motivated, intelligent, clear. As opposed to being stuck in this place. It’s cold. Logical. Grumpy. Boring. Emotionless.

I want to feel again.

Why are we so kind to others but so quick to judge ourselves? Why is it easier said than done?

I am getting ‘better’. Whatever that even means. Each week I progressively feel better. Yes, I have days that are better or worse than others. Again, it’s not linear. Time is getting me there. I have to be patient. Be thankful. Make time for myself. Be kind. Take each day as it comes. And most importantly, cut myself some slack.

Most importantly, I need to be patient. I need to remember, this too will pass.

If this has raised any issues for you or if you would like to speak with someone, please contact the Sands Australia 24 hour support line on 1300 072 637.

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