“I’m sorry I can’t see a heartbeat.”
On hearing those words, all my hopes and plans swirled immediately down the drain. Again.
I was so sure this pregnancy was for real. I’d been feeling sick and tired. My brain was practically coming apart at the seams and I had mood swings on steroids. But none of that counted for anything.
The stats say one in four pregnancies ends in miscarriage. So far, for me, only one in four pregnancies ends with a healthy baby. This was not only my third miscarriage, it was my second in a six month period.
Miscarriage hurls you into a tornado of emotions. You’re Dorothy, and swirling around, you are a constant crazy twister of thoughts. There’s the sadness and disappointment, the rage and indignation, the feeling of a loss of control. I have my own personal Wicked Witch - self hatred. She looks right at me through the window and says “This happened because you’re a bad person!”
In the weeks after my latest miscarriage, despite knowing that “these things just happen”, I just couldn’t shake the witch from my shoulder. What she was saying made sense. If I’m a bad person, then this happened because I deserve it. If I’m not a bad person, three miscarriages just makes no sense at all.
I tried to shake off the loss and continue as normal. Within a month, the irrational conviction that my miscarriage was punishment for every single thing I’ve ever done wrong was so strong that I couldn’t get out of bed.
Knowing that he couldn’t help me on his own, my husband got on the phone and made me an appointment with an amazing therapist. She and I have caught up a few times now and she is helping me cope with the massive feeling of failure and guilt that miscarriage has triggered.
Recognising that this dramatic mental state is actually to be expected after the shock of a miscarriage was the first step to feeling better. I’m having good days and bad days, but I’m getting there. I know that in comparison to what a lot of women go through I’ve gotten off lightly, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have a right to what I’m feeling.
This week marks the start of Never Forgotten: Mamamia's Pregnancy Loss Awareness Week.
Whenever I have miscarried, the medical care has been excellent. But the focus has been entirely on my physical health. Nobody has handed me a pamphlet or pointed me towards information about how to cope with the severe emotional impact of what has happened. Nobody said to me “Ok, you’re going to feel physically bad for a while, but then you need to be prepared for what your head is going to dish out.”
It is not at the level of stillborn or late term pregnancy but miscarriage is still loss. It is still grief. It is still intensely painful.
This is a hard issue. There are no easy answers, no insights to whether the future will bring joy or more heartache. When you’re on team miscarriage, team loss and team TTC, every pregnancy or birth announcement you see on facebook is another paper cut on your already scarred skin. You have no choice but to keep going, but it’s really freaking hard.
So let me tell you something your doctor might not have gotten around to saying:
If you have had a miscarriage and you feel like you can’t stay on top of yourself emotionally, this is completely normal. Go and talk to someone. There are professionals who are there to listen and who know how to help you.
Find help. Feel better. You don’t have to suffer on your own.
Visit https://www.beyondblue.org.au/ as a first stop for finding out about depression.
If this has post 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.