It's amazing how many women have lost a baby, yet the pain is hidden and rarely talked about. Like it is shrouded in secrecy. This is why I embrace Baby Loss month because, even just for a week of the year, there is more awareness and more people share their baby loss stories. Making it less taboo and inspiring for mothers who are going through a heartbreaking time.
Being in the role that I have of holding mum and baby classes, I can see the effect that the conversation has amongst mothers. It only takes one mum to confide in a group that she had lost a baby, whether by miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, stillborn or in early infancy. It opens up the conversation and then so many other mums come forward to share their pain of baby loss. I really think that confiding with other mums is so important. I never understood the tradition of not sharing pregnancy news before twelve weeks in case of miscarriage. Surely, if a mother has suffered a miscarriage then she needs to be showered in support and love. Not for it to be ignored and not spoken about like some ridiculous taboo topic.
Ladies, we need to share, support and love one another whilst suffering heartache and pain. So let's talk about it...
Getting the Conversation Started
To get this conversation started I want to share with you my story......
I had been blessed with my son, Samuel, 2 years previously. I fell pregnant pretty easily and although my pregnancy wasn't straight forward and he had arrived 4 weeks early, all was well. My husband and I had decided that we would really love a second child (crazy since Sam struggled with colic). There was a large age gap between my brother and I (me being the eldest) so I knew I wanted them close together to ensure a close sibling bond.
So when Sam was just about to turn 2 years old we decided to try for a second child. After a few months, not much was happening. My periods came and went. Then something really odd happened, my period came and didn't go.... it remained for three weeks. Now being off the pill, I thought it must be my cycle but something wasn't quite right and I made a Dr appointment. I went to my Dr and he asked me to take a pregnancy test. I thought this was ridiculous as I was having my period but to my absolute shock, it came back positive, but really faint. I was told that I was likely to be having a miscarriage but had to visit the Early Pregnancy Unit the next day. It all just seemed so matter of fact but I went home and I was devastated. I told my husband that I was possibly pregnant but most likely losing the baby. I really wished he had been there at that appointment to hold my hand but it was something I just hadn't expected.
The next day, I went to the EPU. The nurse asked me how far along I was and my poor husband just couldn't get his head around it. "Why are they talking to you like you are pregnant?" he asked me. "Because I am, love". It turned out I was 8 weeks pregnant. This should have been a time for jubilation but discovering I was pregnant at this stage was just scary and confusing for us both.
I had scan after scan but nothing could be found. I had blood taken and hCG readings, day after day. Still no baby could be found but my readings were going up even though I continued to bleed. Slowly they crept up. It was a week of complete confusion but it was so difficult not let myself hope that it could be a viable pregnancy and end with a baby in my arms to complete our little family.
However that wasn't to be. After various scans, finally a consultant found my little baby. It had got waylaid in my Fallopian Tubes and I was told that it was an ectopic pregnancy. No way was this pregnancy going to be viable and the seriousness of my life being in danger didn't really hit me until afterwards. Thankfully it was caught early and I was given a drug called methotrexate to basically kill the embryo. I felt awful taking a drug to kill the baby that I so wanted. I didn't need surgery as I responded well to the drugs but they made me feel so ill.
It was an awful time but it was Sam's birthday only 3 days later and I was so desperate to make his birthday special. I came home from the hospital and made him a birthday cake. It seems like a ridiculous thing to do but I think it was just something to distract me from the pain that I was feeling both physically and mentally.
I continued to bleed for such a long time. I felt like I would bleed forever. It was a constant reminder of what was happening. Nobody apart from immediate family knew what was going on and I felt like I was holding onto a painful secret that I wasn't allowed to talk about.
It was a heartbreaking time because I lost a baby but yet felt like I couldn't grieve properly because I didn't know I was pregnant. However I did grieve, I grieved over what could have been.
I had to let my body rest and recover from such an ordeal before we could try again. I found out I was pregnant almost a year to the day. I now have a beautiful 4 year old daughter, Trudy, who is our absolute world.
I still often think about the baby that could have been and whether it was a boy or a girl. However, I look at my beautiful family and know how lucky I am.
I've shared my story so that it opens up conversation on baby loss. It's making it easier for other mums to be able to talk and share their pain without fear of judgement or shame.
I for one, am here to listen.