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"It still hurts." Libby Trickett on the 'weird grief' of early pregnancy loss.

The following deals with miscarriage, and may be upsetting to some readers. If you have experienced pregnancy or newborn loss, support is available 24/7 via Sands Australia. Call 1300 072 637.

When Libby Trickett fell pregnant in 2014, she was forging a new identity. She was looking for herself beyond swimming, beyond the famous athlete she’d been for majority of her 20s.

After her retirement the previous year, motherhood felt like the next milestone, a way to explore once again what her body was capable of. A new purpose.

But at the nine-week scan, the seven-time Olympic medallist learned she had suffered a loss greater than any she’d experienced before.

Libby shares her experience of pregnancy loss and parenthood on No Filter.

“It was like I could see what was happening outside of myself. And it was almost like it was slow motion, the way that it happened,” Libby told Mamamia‘s No Filter podcast.

“When [the obstetrician] said, ‘I’m so sorry, we can’t find a heartbeat,’ I just was completely floored, completely sideswiped, I guess, because it had seemed so real and so tangible. This was the next thing that I’m moving on to with my life, and it had seemed so positive.”

Libby said that in that moment, through the fog of her shock, a thought ran across her mind. This was a conversation the obstetrician must have all the time. This happens to women every day.

“I still feel this weird guilt.”

One of the most difficult moments, Libby said, was having to break the news to her mother, an experience she recounts in her new book, Beneath the Surface.

“I had to tell my mum, I had to give her a call and in the same conversation tell her that I was pregnant but then that I had had a miscarriage,” she said. “And there’s a line [in my book] that just says, ‘I was so excited to tell you.’ It makes me cry every time.

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“Because I was. I was so excited to share [the pregnancy] with my mum, to share that experience, and to create that even deeper connection that I have with my mother. So that was really hard.”

Five years on, Libby says it “still hurts” to think about what she went through in 2014.

“I know the date that the baby was supposed to be born,” she said. “It was March 25. And every time that date comes around, I’m reminded of what that baby could have been.”

The heartache shifted in some ways when Libby held her eldest daughter Poppy, now aged four, in her arms. But her loss was still deeply felt while carrying each of her children.

 

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“I’m in my third pregnancy now [since the miscarriage]; I’m well pregnant now. But it’s one of those things that until they’re there with you, you just don’t know what’s going to happen.”

The loss exists, too, beyond that fear; as grief. A “weird grief” that’s tangled in the joy that her two daughters came into the world and in knowing that so many women have been there, too.

“I still feel this weird guilt [about] feeling such grief for such an early miscarriage,” she said.

“I have come to understand that everybody’s experiences are different, and another person who had a miscarriage at the same point might not experience that grief.

“But I’ve learnt to not compare the experiences, because my grief is my grief, and my experience is my experience. Everyone is different.”

If you have experienced pregnancy or newborn loss, support is available 24/7 via Sands Australia. Call 1300 072 637.

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