Pregnancy loss impacts in different ways. Four brave women share their personal story in a time when the community still shies away from this difficult conversation.
Unfortunately, pregnancy loss has become extremely common. 1 in 4 confirmed pregnancies end in miscarriage before 20 weeks.
In fact, it seems almost abnormal NOT to have a miscarriage in your journey to motherhood these days. Despite how commonly this occurs, most women who experience pregnancy loss feel isolated and alone in their grief. As a community we still don’t talk about it openly and publicly, yet women will scour the Internet in search of comfort and hope from others who have been there before. In order to spread awareness, break the silence and help others feel less alone, four brave women have opened up and shared their real-life stories…
1. Emma: The Atypical
Emma and her husband managed to fall pregnant relatively easily. But at just five weeks pregnant, Emma started bleeding intermittently. Her head was positive she was miscarrying, but her body was telling her otherwise – she was still having pregnancy symptoms and she wasn’t experiencing any pain.
Emma’s hormone levels weren’t declining like they would with a typical miscarriage and the doctors were confused but not overly concerned. Emma knew something was wrong and took herself to the hospital for further testing.
Just hours later, she was given news that would change her world forever: her pregnancy was located in her fallopian tube and she was experiencing an ectopic pregnancy.
She admits to feeling relief that she had an answer to the mystery, but this was soon replaced with overwhelming anxiety and sadness when the doctors discovered her tube had ruptured and she was bleeding internally. Emma was rushed to emergency theatre, and looking back on that moment she remembers two things that will always stick with her: the look of fear and helplessness on her husband’s face, and the empty humidicribs lining the room that were never going to hold the baby she had begun to nurture inside of her.
Emma also lost her fallopian tube that day, and she felt as though her entire future had been ripped away with it. She lost a huge amount of optimism and hope for the family she had started to picture in her near future. Emma learnt one very valuable lesson from her experience that she wants to share with you now; always follow your gut. If she hadn’t, she might not be here today to tell her story. And that is absolutely terrifying to consider.
2. Kate: The Unexpected
It took Kate 12 months to regain a regular cycle after stopping the pill, so she was amazed when she fell pregnant just a few months later. She didn’t experience any symptoms that would have led her to be concerned about her baby, and although she was anxious, she arrived at her routine 10-week obstetrician appointment feeling excited and ready to be reassured that their baby was happily developing.
Kate will never forget the moment she was told that there was no heartbeat. It was like a slap in the face. She sobbed throughout the entire conversation – she was living her worst nightmare. Despite knowing that miscarriage was common and people had experienced much worse, she remembers at that moment feeling like the unluckiest person in the whole world. Kate struggled with moments of depression in the following months and found it extremely challenging and heartbreaking. She felt a huge sense of tragic irony that she was having the same procedure to remove her baby as women who chose to have an abortion. Kate soon realised that her friends didn’t understand her pain, so she reached out to other women who had experienced loss and found comfort in having a relatable support network. She appreciated that other women were able to identify with her process of grief and the feeling that her body had failed her. Kate used prayer to simply get through each day, and it took her several months to feel emotionally ready to consider the journey of pregnancy and the possibility of losing another child.
Kate honoured her pregnancy and her unborn baby by planting a tree in her garden and burying the pregnancy test underneath it. After an extended period focusing on creating the best version of herself, she was able to move forward again in her journey to motherhood.
3. Taleisha: The Inevitable
Taleisha was born to be a Mum and she had a strong connection with her baby from the moment she found out she was pregnant. She had started buying clothes and had planned out a life for this baby. When she started bleeding at 8 weeks pregnant, her motherly instincts told her she was losing her baby – she knew deep down this was the end. Despite an ultrasound showing the baby’s strong heartbeat, her cervix was open and she continued to bleed. Taleisha remembers passing her baby later that night. She felt so lost and kept hoping to wake up from this nightmare. She plunged into a depressive state where all she did was sleep or cry – it was so unfair that this little life was taken away.
Taleisha blamed herself for letting her baby down and for months she wondered whether she’d done something wrong. She began to question herself – was she worthy of a healthy pregnancy? Was that her only chance of becoming a parent? It consumed her, and as she looks back she can honestly say that losing her baby was the worst moment of her life to date.
Taleisha always thought her baby was a boy, and there is no doubt that he made her a mother. She wants every parent who has ever experienced pregnancy loss to remember this: your baby mattered, no matter how many days, weeks or months you were pregnant. She recommends doing things to remember and celebrate your baby. And do whatever you need to get through, because for a while that’s all you will be doing – surviving.
4. Amy: The Final Blow
Amy wasn’t able to conceive naturally. It was a long, tiring and emotional journey and she eventually needed fertility treatment to get that positive test. The day of her early pregnancy scan, Amy had not even allowed herself to consider the idea that she could lose her miracle baby. The sonographer found the sac immediately, but after a few seconds of silence, Amy knew what was coming before she had even heard the words.
There was no heartbeat, and Amy’s immediate reaction was a mixture of ‘I don’t believe this is happening’ and ‘I should have known this would happen’. And then came the breathlessness, so heavy she wasn’t sure if it was real. Amy remembers feeling as though everything had gone dark and the room was closing in on her. She didn’t want to move or talk, and as horrible as this sounds now, she remembers wanting her baby removed as soon as possible. She felt cheated, she was scared and she just wished it all to be over. Amy felt like that was her last hope, and it was gone. She didn’t believe she was enough and would ever be enough.
Amy’s biggest heartache was feeling like a failure and letting her husband down. In that room, she couldn’t bear to look him in the face. But what she didn’t realise at the time was that his heart was breaking for her, and he was the only reason she would survive those next few weeks.
Amy’s biggest piece of advice? Don’t push your partner away. They are the only one who is going through this with you and they are the only one who will ever understand. You’ll be surprised just how much they need you too.
These four women have four very different stories, yet their pain and coping strategies are extremely similar.
The guilt and shame that accompanies the loss of an unborn child often causes devastating isolation for an expectant mum regardless of the support they have rallied around them.
One Mum summed it up perfectly:
‘I guess as mum’s it’s our job to protect our baby, even when we have no control over it.’
So while it is vital to continue to break the silence surrounding pregnancy loss, we also need to remind each other and ourselves that we are not to blame. Pregnancy loss is real and it is extremely difficult, but it doesn’t make you any less of a person. In fact, no matter how far your pregnancy progressed, it made you a mother – and that’s the most valuable title in the world.
If you are suffering depression please contact Beyond Blue.
If you are concerned about any health issues whilst pregnant, after pregnancy loss or your mental health please seek medical advice.