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"You're grieving someone that you didn't even get to see": Heather Maltman on the heartbreak of miscarriage.

The following deals with pregnancy loss. Support is available 24 hours a day via SANDS Australia. Call 1300 072 637 to speak to someone who understands.

Heather Maltman never got to meet her “little person”, as she calls them; never got to hold them, or see them. But they have a name: Llewy.

The actor and podcast producer, who appeared on Sam Wood’s season of The Bachelor in 2015, shared on Instagram this week that she had recently experienced a miscarriage and has spent the past two weeks in and out of hospital, crippled by complications.

Though the 33-year-old told followers that her podcast One Together would be on hiatus while she took “time to heal”, she vowed to return soon and to use her platform for those who’ve endured the same heartbreak in silence. People, she wrote, have told her “how scared they are to talk about miscarriage openly”.

A tribute to the babies we’ve lost…

Video by Mamamia

Speaking to Mamamia on Tuesday, Heather said that fear is a big part of her decision to share what she and her partner, photographer Matt Baker, went through in October.

“The more I spoke to my girlfriends, the more I realised that women don’t really talk about this… And that made me feel awful; like that must mean it’s really bad,” she said.

“Yet this is something that’s so apparently common that one in four women go through it. When I went to the doctor, he said, ‘I see a case like yours every day.’… But it’s just not talked about. And that just doesn’t make any sense to me.”

“I burst into tears.”

Heather experienced what’s known as a ‘silent’ or ‘missed’ miscarriage, in which the baby has died or stopped developing without being physically miscarried.

It was indicated on Heather’s seven-week scan and confirmed a week later. The doctor told her there was no growth, no heartbeat.

“I just kind of floated out of my body at the stage,” she said. “Matt and I walked out and into the elevator, and I burst into tears there, because I didn’t want to make [the doctor] feel bad for breaking the bad news.”

 

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???????????? @baksey01 and I have decided to end the ONE podcast for its first season. And pick it up again in 2020. After the last 2 months. And having to say good bye to our little person Llewy… We need time to heal. We named you Llewy after the name Lewis from @gogonads and @tonylewis52… ???????????? I have gotten over 100 direct messages from women. And Matt has gotten both men and women… share an out pour of what they went through. And how scared they are to talk about miscarriage openly. So we are going to start a new relationship podcast. And we will talk about all the things. People are too scared to discuss. So that will happen in the next few weeks to come. Huge thanks to @bodyarmour.au for being so fucking amazing too and just loving the work we are doing. I’ve gotten your messages fellow listeners of the episodes for ONE together, and we won’t leave you hanging. Promise. ✨ But I’m the mean time. To everyone who helped me in and out of hospital over the last 2 weeks. And the women and men at Randwick Macquarie ward. Who helped me after a strong reaction to medication. Not to mention the complications that resulted in surgery… Thank you!!!! With all my heart. Dr Nora Abev. You were my hero. From start to now. You were there every scarey step of the way. And when no one listened when I said something was wrong. You stood in and said something for me. Any woman who needs a great female GP during pregnancy. Go to her in Sydney. She’s the best person I’ve ever met!!! #mumlife #ripllewy #randwickhospital #mumanddadforever #onetogetherpodcast #oneconciousness #community #spiritual #meditation #findyourself #takearisk #whatareyou #beanewyou #bethefutureyou #podcast

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Heather opted for medical intervention, rather than surgery, but was among the small number of women to react negatively to the medication designed to pass the pregnancy.

In the days after being administered the first dose, she suffered excruciating pelvic cramps, migraines and ongoing bleeding.

“I was still bleeding quite badly, I was doing a live show at Sydney Olympic Park, and I was literally passing my miscarriage while I was trying to perform,” she said.

“The team that I was working with was so amazing; they all knew what was going on and they just held my hand throughout the whole thing and were ready to send me home if I wanted to. But I just wanted to keep doing my job, because I love my job. I love acting. It’s my favourite thing in the world.”

A dash back to the hospital revealed Heather hadn’t fully passed the miscarriage. And so, on Matt’s birthday, she went into surgery. It was then that she penned that first Instagram post, paying tribute to his support during what she then described simply as “one of the saddest moments of our journey”.

“This man has been sleeping on hospital floors for me and taking me to the toilet. And not left my side for days,” she wrote.

“…to everyone hitting a rough patch, it will get better. Stay tough. You got this. Find those people who are your rock. And let them love you.”

‘You’re grieving someone that you didn’t even get to see.’

While Heather’s grief is still raw, it’s through the response to that post that she’s recognised the power of other women’s words in healing.

“People that have followed me for years said, ‘I just wanted to let you know I’ve been through something similar, and it sucks because you’re not supposed to talk about it. People don’t understand you’re grieving someone that you didn’t even get to see.’

“Someone wrote that to me. And that took everything that I’ve been feeling — that confusion about why I’m so sad — and solidified it into one explanation.

“A lot of people, especially men because they don’t go through pregnancy, don’t understand that when you’re carrying a person, from day one, something feels different. To have a miscarriage, you’re literally saying goodbye to someone that you’ve already started connecting with. They exist in your body, so they exist in the world. And so to not be able to grieve the way you would a person who you met in everyday life who’s passed away, it’s an incredibly painful expectation to put on someone.”

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Especially, she said, when your own body is still telling you you’re pregnant.

 

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This man has been sleeping on hospital floors for me and taking me to the toilet. And not left my side for days. I’ve been in and out of Randwick for one of the saddest moments of our journey so far. It’s his birthday. And for his birthday. I will go into surgery. While he goes to work and comes back by the time I get out. He will wait by my side until I go under. And has been getting minimal sleep. He has been picking up my slack for work. And just been… fucking everything to me. There was no podcast this week. And I’m so sorry to the over 4000 people who listen in every week. I wanted to make sure to let you know what was happening. As you’re so committed to our stories. I wanted to be honest with you. When I’m ready I’ll explain what’s happened. But I just wanted to share how much I love this wonderful man. Who has been there no matter what. And say to everyone hitting a rough patch. It will get better. Stay tough. You got this. Find those people who are your rock. And let them love you. @johnmcaldwell_ you have been my best friend through this. And I will never forget it. The people in my current live show @convictfootprints, my new work family @blackfischstories… my best girls @celebrity_trainer_emily @billiemusk and my mum and dad. Plus nurse Jackie. I love you. Thank you. And I cannot wait to get back to improv with my gurus. #onetogetherpodcast

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For many women who experience missed miscarriage, the hormones still rage, breasts still swell, the morning sickness persists, sometimes for weeks after the heartbeat has stopped.

“Matt’s just had to sit and watch and not be able to do anything,” she said. “And deal with the hormonal mood swings, where one minute I love him and I just want to hug him, and the next minute I want him to go away and never look at my face again.”

Heather is also still experiencing the odd craving and nausea. But the intense pelvic cramping and “empty feeling” in her abdomen are cruel, painful reminders of the reality of Llewy’s loss. As is her anxiety. Though she’s lived with it for more than a decade, it’s reared up fiercely in the last few weeks.

She’ll be undertaking grief counselling in an effort to grapple with it all. But to those who know of someone in her situation, she urges them to give that person time.

“You can’t put a timeline on grief. My experience is going to be different from anyone else’s. I know of people that have taken six months [to process it], and I know couples still going through it years later… There’s no easy answer.

“Just know that people who are around that person, they’re also going to be affected, and accept that people grieve in their own time.”

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