pregnancy

Six pregnancies, two children: What people don't know about my journey to being a mum.

Content warning: This post deals with miscarriage and may be triggering for some readers.

After I turned 30, my husband Jules and I decided to start trying for a family and baby Toby was born in September 2010. We then spent the next six years in a haze of trying to conceive, becoming pregnant and miscarrying.

Eventually our ‘rainbow’ baby Leo was born in February 2017. We are very lucky to have a happy ending to a difficult journey.

Women reveal the insensitive comments they often receive from others after suffering a miscarriage. Post continues below.

Video by MMC

Here are some of the things I learned after multiple pregnancy loss, that I hope might help others.

You are not alone…

Current statistics from the Royal Women’s Hospital in Victoria show that one in five women will experience miscarriage before 20 weeks.

When I had my first miscarriage in mid-2013 I poured over these statistics, but I also spent hours in online forums reading heartfelt posts from women who had also experienced pregnancy loss.

I found that women in my life who had experienced miscarriage told me their stories. It was comforting to know I wasn’t alone and it gave a great deal more empathy for all women who have suffered a miscarriage.

…But it can be a lonely experience

You may have a wonderful partner at your side as I do, but I felt incredibly lonely at times.

While we both imagined a future as a family of four; only I had felt the pregnancy symptoms rise and fall, followed by the physical pain of each miscarriage.

I remember waking up in hospital after my first D & C (uterus sweep) and feeling completely numb.

I took a couple of photos of the empty room and myself, not exactly understanding why I did that at the time. Looking back, it was because I wanted to record the isolation and devastation I felt but couldn’t express.

"I wanted to record the isolation and devastation I felt but couldn’t express." Image: Supplied.
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The medical processes and terms can be confused and distressing.

I had a lot of questions, especially after my first miscarriage. Yet because it was my first I also didn’t know how to advocate for myself.

When I started bleeding, I went to the emergency department in a daze and waited as they decided what to do with me.

A nurse put a cannula in the back of my hand to prepare me for surgery, then after two hours removed the cannula saying I should simply go home, and take some pain relief.

The pain kept getting worse, so I returned to the hospital for further reviews and scans.

I was told to wait in the obstetrics outpatients’ area with all the happy pregnant mums and families and I wondered which of the other women in the room were in the same sad situation as me.

Busy medical staff began clinically referring to my failed pregnancy as ‘product’ and they told me that as I was bleeding heavily, it was coming out as it should.

They gave me some stronger drugs for the pain and an abortion drug, Misoprostol to help the process along. I sat for hours on the toilet in agony, wondering when on earth it would all be over. After two weeks and yet another scan I was told I needed a D & C to get the remainder out, which by that stage had turned septic.

I was sent home later that same day with antibiotics and pain relief and tried to carry on as normal as a mum to a toddler.

Every miscarriage is different.

In mid-2014 we felt ready to try again, but my heart broke when the sonographer revealed another non-viable pregnancy at 12 weeks.

One miscarriage felt like bad luck, two felt crushing.

I immediately requested a D & C after knowing what to avoid. Later that day, a midwife scanning my tummy asked if I wanted to take a final look at my ‘baby’, not 'product' as most medical staff called it, on her screen.

That small human gesture made a big impact.

Mia Freedman spoke to psychic medium John Edward about lost babies. Post continues below.

You will sometimes need to tell strangers about your pregnancy losses.

Before I had my ‘rainbow baby’ Leo in 2017, I was on the receiving end of some questioning about why I had an ‘only child’.

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I had to tell relative strangers in the supermarket or at the beauticians that we experienced multiple miscarriages. It has been awkward and if Toby was listening I would smile and say nothing.

A couple of comments have stayed with me including one from a mother of four who asked about being mum to an ‘only child’ before going on to say she guessed you only ‘had what you could cope with’.

Another mother of three made a comment to me about her different pregnancies and morning sickness, making a comment that ‘you wouldn't understand only having one child’.

By that stage, I had been pregnant five times, so I did know something of what she meant but I didn’t have the energy to explain.

I still get many comments about the boys’ age gap and I am comfortable explaining it was because of multiple miscarriages, but sometimes I am not in the mood to justify it.

You will feel jealous of other pregnancies and this is okay.

During the six years we tried and failed to successfully have baby number two, friends and family members had their own uncomplicated pregnancies.

Every time someone called to announce their happy news I would curse myself for feeling upset.

I was happy for them and knew they weren’t trying to be unkind, but having experienced so many failed pregnancy attempts, it always stung. I learnt to hide my emotions, smile and offer my congratulations.

Pregnancy post-miscarriage will be emotionally challenging.

My final pregnancy produced our beautiful baby Leo.

Born in February 2017 after a physically normal pregnancy, I spent that first trimester in a heightened state of anxiety.

Every twinge or minor spot of blood in my knickers ended with me calling my husband or obstetrician. I had been given every possible test and was told there wasn’t anything wrong with me; I was just unlucky.

I had weekly scans and the medical staff kept a very close and considered eye on me.

Those initial weeks seemed to go in slow motion, but I kept myself as busy as possible with work and distractions and day by day as the pregnancy progressed, it got easier.

Every fertility journey is different and while mine has been far from ideal, I know we are lucky to have our two boys. The experience was not without its silver lining; miscarriage and loss taught me to feel real empathy for other women who have suffered similarly, as well as witnessing moments of humanity during some of those very dark times.

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. 

You can download Never Forgotten: Stories of love, loss and healing after miscarriage, stillbirth, and neonatal death for free here.

Join the community of women, men and families who have lost a child in our private Facebook group.

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