Baby Loss Awareness Week was an emotional rollercoaster. To see #waveoflight candles fill my social media feed was desperately sad, poignant, lovely, distressing, comforting, and difficult. So much sadness. So much potential never realised. So many loved souls, wanted babies, who are carried in hearts and not arms. It’s hard to bear, that level of sadness. I was so terribly terribly sad for every person, every would-be mother, father, parent, for whom the journey to Family was not straightforward.
How many there were. How many people I know, in real life or online, who have suffered loss. How many lives I know that have been touched by grief.
Yet how terribly lonely I felt when I was going through it.
My journey to parenthood was not simple. It took actual effort. It took medication with spectacular side-effects. It took months and months of frustration and tears and outrage at the injustice of the world that gave a teenager a baby the first time she had sex, but not me, who had wanted children since her conception, who was married and had a home and a job and LOVE, so so much love to offer.
It was isolating, taking calls from kind-hearted friends, sensitive to my situation, who wanted to break the news to me in person that they had succeeded where I had failed. Of course I was delighted for them, genuinely delighted. But their joy made my pain sweep over me in such hot heavy waves that it took every ounce of willpower to not hang up the phone and sob until the end of time.
I felt like I was the only woman in the world not able to have a baby. The irrationality that a desperate need and a medically prescribed overdose of hormones creates cannot be over-estimated. I carried my failure like a mantel, which grew heavier with each cycle, each unbearable negative.
Then one day, when pregnancy tests were as much a part of my routine as having a shower each morning, it was unexpectedly positive. The mantel was cast aside. I was so lightened by the load I floated through life, off on a holiday, my little secret joy fluttering somewhere deep inside me.
It all came to an end in a hospital room in the middle of France. I woke up with spotting and I knew. The very kind friends we were staying with knew. The hospital staff knew. Ironic that my first scan, my first experience of cold gel and black-and-white ultrasound, was to confirm my first pregnancy had ended. And so we went back to our holiday, via the pharmacy, where I spent three days curled on the sofa sobbing with sadness and a pain that was so much greater than “normal period pains” whilst DH sat helpless beside me, hurting too.
We came home. And I didn’t know what to do next. People were calling, texting, messaging, asking about our holiday. Instead of telling people I had a great time, and had some wonderful news, I was sharing a different holiday story. The mantel was back, heavier than ever with the knowledge that I was a Harbinger of Doom, bursting joyful bubbles wherever I went.
“I didn’t know you were pregnant!”
News of a miscarriage means news of a pregnancy that hadn’t been shared with friends and family. I had never felt more alone. I was the person you didn’t want to sit next to at a wedding, be stuck talking to at work: it was easier just to avoid everyone, everything. The tears came even easier than ever before, the frustration far greater because I had actually been pregnant, knew that it could happen, and yet it didn’t. It wouldn’t.
I didn’t know a single person then who was able to tell me it had happened to them. The one blessing of that- and subsequent- miscarriage experience was that I could help someone else feel less alone when they were going through it.
Eight years on, I finally feel like I am not alone.