When I was young I thought Taboo was just silly-juice to mix with Lemonade and it pains me to realise that infertility, miscarriage, still-birth and pregnancy loss in general are topics that many people stay silent about.
Obviously it’s an incredibly complex situation to be in (and I do mean the wider circle that are affected too) and I completely respect someones right and wish to not share. But for those who would like to openly grieve and remember their children – no matter when lost – is something that we, as a society, seem to shy away from. Is it because of potential insensitive comments? Is it because of a feeling that it’s wrong to grieve? Is it because our concerns may get casually brushed aside? I honestly don’t know. Maybe it’s because grief makes most people uncomfortable and we don’t want to put that on our loved ones.
Hubby and I have always been very private about the names we gave to our first two losses, how we still feel sadness on their due dates and how we still talk about them regularly. Intuitively I felt I knew their genders, I can easily picture them as toddlers and not a day goes by where I don’t think of them.
With our first, G, I didn’t even know I was pregnant until weeks later when the bleeding hadn’t stopped and the pain gradually increased. I took a home test because I knew that would be one of the first questions a doctor would ask and when it showed positive we went straight to the hospital. Miscarriage didn’t even enter my head. In fact I was elated, I was told I’d never be able to have children naturally and here I was with a positive pregnancy test in my hand. Sadly the doctors confirmed everything was already over. I was kept in overnight and on discharge the doctor asked me how I was doing and I said “I don’t know really”. I felt so shocked, excited and devastated all at the same time. As weird as this may sound, G gave us hope. Hope that we could factor children into our future. He made us work harder, re-evaluate our goals and the decision to start actively trying came that same year.
Our second, Z, was over a year of trying and on the eve of attending an infertility investigation appointment I had a positive home test. I was so excited and after more tests and a doctors confirmation everything continued fine. I spoke to Z daily on my car ride to work. On the days where I would do a two hour round trip I would sing to her and felt a true bond developing. We received a due date and saw the heartbeat but weeks later when I got the bright red spotting I instinctively knew what was happening. Hearing the dreaded words “I’m sorry, there is no heartbeat” left me numb.
How it was handled was brilliant and I was booked in that same evening for the procedure. I was placed in the maternity ward and I will never forget being wheeled past tiny cribs waiting for someone else’s baby. We arrived back home around midnight and while Hubby went to bed I scrubbed the kitchen clean – it was almost like I was nesting. My baby needed a clean home and, I suppose, I was in complete denial. The days that followed were a daze, Hubby and I barely spoke – we didn’t need to. We planted a frangipani tree in Z’s honour and every time I look at it I think of the time I had with her.
When I returned to work my first client was a lady who was 34 weeks pregnant, talk about rubbing salt into the wound, right? I didn’t cope well and, as is my nature, I started to shut people out. I became quite suicidal – not only about the loss but the prospect of not having children and the long held belief I was infertile – and sought counselling from a colleague who pretty much saved my life. She told me that I am a Mother – even at a time when I didn’t have a child to hold.
Those four words gave me the strength to hold my head high.