Some people have asked me how it feels to be sharing such a personal story in such a public format. Some people have commended me on my bravery for writing about such an emotional and heart wrenching topic. Some have thanked me for taking these steps towards normalising discussion around pregnancy loss.
For me, writing about this experience has been incredibly liberating. It has been healing. It has been therapeutic. Of course it has been challenging, but grieving always is. It is not an easy thing to expose ones inner most thoughts, but I am doing it. Why?
First and foremost, I am doing it for me. Because the rhythm of my hands across the keyboard is distracting, and engaging and relaxing. Because telling this story is helping me heal my soul. Because sitting here is helping me heal my body.
Because my baby existed.
And I want to break the silence.
One in four pregnancies miscarry. One in four! A quarter of women who fall pregnant experience an early loss. And medically- my baby was not a baby. Medically, my baby was waste.
My baby was not waste. My baby was my baby. IS my baby. I do not want to keep that a secret. I want everybody to know. Because now the only chance that my baby has to exist is through me.
And my baby exists.
I have had so many women share their experience of pregnancy loss with me since they learned of my heartache. And I never knew. I talked with some of them often, saw many of them often. And I did not know. They grieved in silence.
‘Be the change you wish to see in the world’
Let’s break the silence.
Let’s change the idea that talking about this type of grief is not socially acceptable.
I am talking about it. I am going to keep talking about it.
Following ‘Mothers Day Weekend’ and the news that it brought with it, left me feeling a whole range of emotions, Of course I was devastated and sad. But I was also angry, confused, scared and completely bewildered about what was going to happen next.
~~Ahead, I share the story of my miscarriage, including some details about my physical experience, which may be an emotional or challenging read for some people, or a trigger for others~~
The radiographer had just told me that my babies heart was no longer beating, but the baby was still inside my body. I went to the doctors. Again, not my usual doctor who was on annual leave that day of all days. When he reviewed the report from the radiographer he referred me to the hospital and told me that I would need a dilation and curettage. Knowing this could be a possibility, I had already done some research before the appointment and I insisted to know why I did not have any other options. He informed me that because the baby had been gone now for three weeks that I could get an infection and it was important to ‘deal with it promptly’.
I suppose many women would just hear what the doctor had to say and then do it. But I wanted to know more. I wanted to be sure that I was making the right decision, and I wanted all the facts. When I was admitted through the emergency department at the hospital, I asked. An OB-GYN, Rob, came down to talk to us about the different options available to us. There were three. Wait, and allow my body the chance to do what it had already started and spontaneously miscarry at home. Medically induce. Surgically remove.
I chose to wait.
I planned to birth this baby naturally without medical intervention, so that is what I would do now.
Rob told me it is different for everyone. That there was no timeline. He told me it would feel like a normal period, with a little bit of extra loss when I passed the ‘fetus’. That once all of the pregnancy product had come out, my body would begin to return to normal. He said that I could come back if I changed my mind and schedule the D&C.
A woman dear to me had shared her story with me, and I knew that although she had gone home to spontaneously miscarry, she had ended up back in hospital for emergency surgery when she experienced excessive blood loss. It is only because she had shared this with me that I thought to ask. How much is too much? Rob said two pads soaked through in two hours, meant it was time to head back to the ED.
It turns out I didn’t listen.
We came home.
I felt like a ticking time bomb. When would it happen?
I organised my week. Because that is what I do when things are out of control. I try to get them back in control. I absolutely did not want to be home alone with Isabella when the time came. Because I didn’t know what to expect, and I knew that regardless of the physical experience, it would be an extremely emotional moment and I would need support. Isabella would need support.
It was unrealistic for Simon or one of our Mum’s to take the time of work indefinitely. We had no idea when it might happen. So I arranged a visitor each day from one of my dear friends and their children. Because nothing keeps Isabella busy quite like playing with one of her friends. But those plans would soon be changed.
When we woke on Tuesday I could not bear the thought of Simon leaving my side for any length of time, so he took the day off. Isabella was still at her Granny’s house and due home around lunch. One of my closest friends came to visit and we hugged, and chatted, and talked about what it might be like when the time came. While she was here I started to cramp more significantly. It was getting increasingly worse. Isabella arrived home and I tried to spend some time with her but I was in too much pain. I started to feel like I was having contractions. Simon had been offering me pain relief for hours, and I had continued to refuse.
I wanted to feel this.
I needed to feel this.
Because how else could I believe that it was real?
It was some time mid afternoon when everything really started to change. I stood up from the bed and just felt a gush of warmth, followed by something hard. I thought it had happened. I thought it was over.
I was hysterical.
And I was wrong.
It was far from over.
Simon called my Mum, and she came straight from work. The cramps were up and down, mild, severe, calm again, strong, inconsistent. I cried and cried. My baby was leaving my body. I couldn’t carry them with me anymore.
Every time I stood up, I felt the gush, and it got worse and worse. Until one time I stood up, after only visiting the bathroom five minutes earlier, and my pants and bedspread were all soaked with blood. I had already been through five pads in two hours, and then I went through three in ten minutes.
Somewhere along the way I had decided that ‘two in two hours’ was just a guideline.
I had lost my ability to think rationally.
I was losing too much blood.
My husband and mother were trying to get me to the hospital and I just wasn’t listening.
And then my husband said ‘your Mum can drive you there in her car or you can arrive lights and sirens in an ambulance, that is up to you’. Well he knows me well, because I got in the car. And that turned out to be a very good call. I was struggling to stay conscious in the fifteen minutes that it took to get to the hospital, and kept telling my Mum that I was going to pass out. When we arrived at the ED and I tried to get out of the car, my Mum had to help me stand and then the blood just started gushing all over the floor. I collapsed into a chair just inside the door and someone came with a towel to clean the blood pooling at my feet. It wasn’t long until I was wheeled away into a private room in the ED and got seen by a doctor.
And then I heard one of them say ‘Why isn’t she in time critical?’
And I thought, am I going to die? Does that actually happen? Do people actually bleed out and die?
I could hear them doing things, and my Mum was right by my side holding my hand, and I was doing my best to keep talking and answering their questions. But in that moment I actually wondered if I had waited too long, been too stubborn.
Lesson- when you’re haemorrhaging blood- it is an excellent idea to seek prompt medical care, without hesitation.
I started to feel more human, but I still wasn’t in great shape and I needed to stay. By this stage they had ruled out their initial concerns that I had a blood clot in my cervix, but it was still a possibility I would need an emergency D&C if my blood loss didn’t slow down.
I think it’s important to mention that one of my nurses in the ED had purple hair.
So I got my own room. In the maternity ward. The MATERNITY ward. ARE YOU SERIOUS? With the babies, and the pregnant women, and the BABIES.
‘Hey Stacy, universe here, we know you were really excited about your pregnancy and wanted to have another baby, but you can’t, not today anyway, so hang out here in this ward full of other people having babies, or who have just had babies, ok? That might be really relaxing for you!’
I am so thankful that I got my own room.
By this time, my husband had joined us at the hospital, having sought care for our daughter. But once I was settled into the room, I asked my Mum and my Husband to go home.
You see, sometimes I just need me. When there are people around supporting me, I find it hard to grieve. Certainly, they make me feel better, but only while they are there. And at some point I am going to be alone with my feelings and that’s when my grief is going to hit me in the face. I wanted to feel it now. I needed to grieve, I needed to be alone, and I didn’t want to feel the pressure of pretending that everything was ok.
It was most certainly not ok.
They understood. They left. Though somewhat reluctantly.
My night nurses were fantastic. I loved them. I won’t forget them. We went through something together that night that will never leave my mind, no matter how many years I walk this earth.
It happened in the middle of the night.
It was just before two in the morning. I hadn’t slept. They came to help me to the toilet.
And everything changed.
At first it seemed fine, and then I had this overwhelming urge to push. And I did. And I felt something leave my body. I felt horrified. Shocked. Devastated. And my body shut down. I could hear them talking. One said ‘she is going to go,’ and then I just felt my body slump. I could still hear what was happening around me but I had no control over my body.
I couldn’t move.
I couldn’t open my eyes.
And then I was on the bed, with an oxygen mask, and what felt like 400 doctors surrounding my bed. Someone’s calling me Blair, and I am thinking to myself, ‘how funny, I didn’t realise I had two first names until now’, and someone else is telling them my name is Stacy. Someone’s taking my blood. Someone’s telling me to calm down. There are so many people talking and chattering and so much going on. And then I notice my nurses are there. I can hear their voices. One of them is asking some of the doctors to clear the room, asking them if they really need to all be here now and one of them is telling me to look at her. Just look. And breathe. And I am. And then someone decides it would be a great idea to do a cervical exam right about now. And I start hyperventilating again because I just can’t do it anymore.
Except that I can do it.
I need to.
A lot of people look at what it was that I passed in the bathroom.
They talk about the waste and say they will send it off for analysis to make sure there is no infection.
And it hits me.
All that there was of my baby, has either been flushed down the toilet, or is heading down to histopathology for testing.
To them it is just waste.
To me, it is so much more.
It is my child that will never walk this earth.
So why am I sharing this?
Because I needed to.
Because I wanted to.
Because I had to.
Because I owe it to my angel baby that won’t get the chance to tell you their story.
And now they exist through me.
And I will not ever forget that.