Miscarrying your baby is a lonely, desolate experience for any woman to endure no matter who they are, what they have, or how much love they already have in their lives. It feels like you are drowning in failure, grief and loss and no one but you as the mother, the one who has physically “lost” your baby, can possibly fathom how you feel.
I wrote this letter to my baby during the days after miscarrying. I wrote it because I didn’t want my baby to slip away from me without a word being said and I wrote it because I thought I would break into a million pieces if I had to keep all the feelings inside.
To my last baby,
Today was supposed to be ours, the day I was supposed to see you for the first time. At nearly twelve weeks today, I have spent weeks anticipating this day; the morning I was supposed to see your little silhouette on the screen as the sonographer moved the dopple around to measure you up for the first time. My first glimpse of you, just like I’d seen with your three brothers. It’s always been my favourite scan, the first moment seeing my babies little heart beat pounding away…. and you are to be the last. The final piece of our family.
I woke up excited. I sat on the lounge in the dark wee hours of the morning reading to your brothers, waiting for the sun to catch up with them, to see in the new day. We were half way through the pile of books when I felt it, heard it; Pop. And I knew instantly something wasn’t right. My body was doing something it hadn’t done before and I had no way to control it.
The blood was shocking, but I couldn’t look away, I could feel myself panting as I told myself that everything might still be okay, I’d read somewhere that a little bleeding is normal in pregnancy sometimes… not any of my pregnancies but still… don’t panic!
But soon, I could see it wasn’t normal; that I was losing you and part of myself all at the same time.
Powerless to save you, I sat in the shower and watched you leave my body. I’ve never seen so much blood in my life. My heart felt betrayed. Here is my body; my greatest ally that has laboured and breathed life into three babies like a warrior woman. My body that has carried me to some of the world’s highest mountain peaks and across a marathon finish line. But on this day it has betrayed me, given up and let you go, when I so badly don’t want you to go. My baby.
Boom, boom; Boom boom; Boom, boom. The rhythm of just a single heartbeat echoes in my body again after all these months of there being two hearts beating together, yours and mine. Never has there been a lonelier rhythm.
At the hospital, I’m told that I have had a rapid miscarriage. I’ve lost more than a third of my blood in mere hours and of course I am told all the statistics and numbers to make me feel like losing you isn’t my fault. The doctors want to make sure you are all gone. They lather my belly in warm gel and I watch the ultrasound screen and I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t still a little bit of hope that you, that ‘we’ would be different; safe. On the screen I see the empty black space in my body where you lay curled up safely hours or maybe days before. But you’re not there now. “There’s no heartbeat,” she tells me, although the emptiness in my heart, my body, my mind told me that long before the sonographer. I look away from the screen and wonder how I will make it through this day.
I sit in the maternity ward waiting for the doctor and social worker to decide whether I can go. The maternity ward is a cruel place to wait without a baby in your arms or your belly. I watch the new parents pace up and down the halls with their tiny bundles, all shooshing and jigging, trying to find out what works best to settle their babies brand new squawks and cries; and for a person who has spent their professional life as a social worker controlling my emotions and responses to awful truths, I have never, ever felt so out of control. I can’t command myself to hold it together. It’s not working. I can’t stop the tears streaming down my face and the sobs escaping from throat, even though I am mentally screaming at myself to pull it together. I get up to leave, I feel suffocated, I can’t sit here a single moment longer. Someone tries to stop me to see if I’m okay, but I’m not okay, I don’t know if I’ll ever be okay.
That night, the first night after you’d gone, I held your brothers close to me. My arms full of their perfection and my life so full of motherhood. Yet there is a vast emptiness because you are gone.
I know… I really do know, that I am lucky to have three babies. Even in the sadness I do feel lucky that I can come home and my house isn’t echoing with emptiness, on top of the emptiness I am already carrying in my body, but… there is supposed to be four babies and it seems cruel that no one but a few will ever know or think about the fact that you are missing. People keep saying things to me like, “Don’t worry you can try again”; or “It was obviously just meant to be”, which offers no comfort. Those hollow words make me slither further inside myself, because they seem to belittle the enormity of the fact that I will never get to hold you in my arms, never get to see your little face, never get to see you in the arms of your daddy or your brothers… and for that I am overcome with grief and loss. For you, and for me and for all that will never be. But know this little one; I will never, ever forget you.
In the months after my miscarriage I found great comfort in sharing my experience with other women, who in great trust then shared their stories about their ‘lost’ babies with me. And while no two stories are ever the same, in sharing our experiences I felt an affinity with these vibrant, strong, brave women, who like me had inevitably had to find ways to move on from the sadness and powerlessness of losing a baby, but like me, they realised that those babies, those losses, don’t have to be kept quiet… because they mattered and every baby we lose remains engraved into our hearts and minds forever.