What I’m about to share on my blog is not for sympathy or pity. I don’t share it for attention. I understand that being open about my personal life is a risk for many unwanted or uninvited opinions – but I’m willing to risk it.
When I began this blog I made a somewhat half-hearted deal with myself that I was going to be REAL; real about the good and the bad; the beautiful and the ugly. It won’t be easy, as I only choose to disclose certain things about my personal life to a select few who I am willing to share it with. But if what I share can help even ONE person to have hope, to feel encouraged or to breathe a sigh of relief that they are not alone – then I will feel like this is all worth it.
When I write, I write in journal style. So i must warn you – this is one very long journal entry….
It’s October. October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month.
Personally, I don’t think one month out of a year is enough to raise awareness to the fact that 1 in 4 women will experience a miscarriage, still born or infant loss in their life.
I am 1 in 4. I have suffered two miscarriages. And I know many more people who are also “part of the statistics”. It’s a club I wish I didn’t have membership in. But it’s one you don’t get to choose to sign up to.
Whenever I am asked how many children I have, I naturally reply with, “Six”. But there’s a part of me, deep, deep down where no one can hear, but me; that silent painful whisper which creeps into the back of my mind and sometimes forces me to silently acknowledge it; “You have eight.” And then I immediately file the thought back into that deep painful place in my heart that I feel is mine alone to bear.
This is my story and how I chose to overcome the grief that I felt.
It was October 6th, 2012. I woke up feeling nauseous from morning sickness, and also excited from the nerves; we were going for my 12 week ultrasound.
I was messaging my sister on Facebook the day before to tell her about the scan and that I would message her afterwards to let her know how it went. She was so excited for me.
My husband and I invited our good friend, Hayley, to come with us. She didn’t have children but we were happy to share this special moment with her. She is a part of our family.
I laid down on the examining bed, feeling uncomfortable with a full bladder and trying to hold down the vomit that was threatening to rise in my chest. I had suffered morning sickness with all four of my previous pregnancies (all boys). This was baby number five. I was used to it, but it was still a miserable feeling.
I shivered when the cold gel touched my belly, and I laid my head back and stared in anticipation at the screen above me. The sonographer slid the transducer wand (I googled that, lol) all over my belly, making me wince at times from the pressure. He clicked and tapped away on his keyboard, trying to get a better angle. A long, heavy silence filled the room.
Still looking at the screen he asked, “Have you experienced any bleeding or cramps during this pregnancy?” (Why won’t he look at me?)
“No. None.” I heard myself say. He didn’t respond. After a few minutes he excused himself from the room and reappeared with another man. An important looking man. They both stood there studying the screen as my eyes darted from one man to the other. I was confused about what was happening.
And that’s when they both looked at me, leaning in quietly, as if it would lessen the pain from what they were about to say.
“It appears that we could not locate a heartbeat. Your baby has stopped developing….”
I couldn’t tell you much after that. Everything around me started to spin. All I could remember was the disbelief, the tears stinging my eyes, the vomit rising up to my throat, and my poor friend, Hayley, who had no idea how to deal with what was happening – it was the last thing we had ever expected to happen! And at that moment I was sorry for her that she was invited to witness this tragic moment unfold.
Once I stepped out of the radiology room I ran to the nearest bathroom. It was perhaps the most ugliest moment I’ve had – sweat, tears and vomit all mixed into one. Such a myriad of emotions rising to the surface and I wanted to get rid of it all.
Next thing I remember I was sitting at a café table not far from the clinic with my husband, who was holding one hand, and Hayley stroking my other hand. I wore dark sunglasses to disguise the pain, but I couldn’t hide the steady stream of tears that ran down my face. I was silent since the ultrasound. I didn’t want to speak. Shock had taken over.
Once home, I went straight to my bed and cried. The blinds were closed and I hid under my blanket. It was dark and cold, pretty much reflecting how I was feeling at that moment. My husband checked on me often, trying to encourage me to eat or drink. He sat at the side of my bed wiping my tears and just letting me cry. He mostly knew to leave me in peace. He told the kids not to go into the room ‘because mummy’s not feeling well.’ I couldn’t bear to see their faces – it would remind me that there wasn’t going to be another one of them soon. They were all so excited when they found out they were going to have another sibling. How do I tell them that’s not going to happen anymore? How do you explain miscarriage or pregnancy loss to young children?
For the next few days, I disappeared from the world. I was lost inside my own little bubble of grief. And what’s even crueller is that I was still experiencing morning sickness. Why would my body cause me to continue to feel like there was still life inside of me, yet my baby wasn’t living? It couldn’t get any more oxymoronic than that.
I was scheduled for an appointment at the Women’s Maternity hospital a few days later. I went alone. My husband had been on night shift and had just finished their job that morning and had gone home to take care of the kids. I could imagine how exhausted he must’ve been. As sad as it sounds, I was actually glad to be alone at that moment. Nothing that anyone could say to me at that point could make me feel any better. So I was glad to avoid small talk and pleasantries. I wanted to be alone with my grief.
Looking back on it, I can’t believe I went alone. Support is so important, even if it’s just someone to hold your hand silently. I know my husband wanted to be there, and in retrospect, I wish he had been there that morning.
I remember lying on the hospital bed shaking. When they wheeled me into the surgery room my teeth were chattering violently and my body looked as if I was having a mini-convulsion. My nerves were going crazy. They had to wait until I calmed down a little before proceeding. They explained a few things to me, asked me to sign a form then told me that I would begin to feel sleepy as they placed the mask over my face. The last thing I remember as I was counting to ten was the tears rolling out of the corners of my eyes as I started to drown; a wave of blackness washing over me as I drifted into a deep sleep….
“Goodbye, my baby… Mummy loves you….”
I woke up to the sound of a nurses voice calling my name. I was groggy and my lips felt so dry. It felt like I was coming out of a dream, no – a nightmare. But this time I didn’t want to wake up. Reality was my nightmare. Deep sleep was my safe place.
I felt so alone. I couldn’t believe it was all over. For weeks, up until a few days ago, I was excitedly imagining and planning our lives with this fifth child. Yes, I was shocked at the prospect of an extra child, but nonetheless, very excited! And in a matter of hours, it was taken from me. My hands instinctively wrapped around my belly protectively; but there was nothing left to protect. The pain I felt in my heart hurt more than the physical effects leftover from the procedure.
I ended up staying overnight. My thoughts began to wander: how was I going to let all our friends know? I had excitedly announced our pregnancy when we found out about it. I had never considered the ‘wait until you are past twelve weeks’ rule because up until that moment, I had never suffered a loss. Ever. And it had never even crossed my mind. But I knew that I would have to say something eventually, in order to prevent the well-meaning questions and comments about my pregnancy, stirring up the painful memories again.
The outpouring of love I received from my family and friends truly helped me through that difficult time in my life. Even if they were at a loss for words, it meant so much to me to feel their love and support.
Once I had settled back at home and regained my strength, I tried to get things back to normal, whatever ‘normal’ is.
I tried putting on a happy face – even when I didn’t want to.
I tried hard to maintain the house and cook dinner – even when I didn’t feel like it.
I tried to accept invitations to get out of the house – even when I just felt like curling up in bed all day.
I tried. For those first few days, I really did try. I thought I could go back to the way things were. But the pain was too strong.
I know my husband was grieving, but at the same time, I wasn’t sure whether he fully understood the emotional pain and grief that I was feeling. Yes, Dad’s do feel the grief. But for me, it was much harder to get over, because it was all so surreal and the pain was still raw.
So I turned to what I thought could help me at that time. I turned to alcohol. I would have a glass of wine when the kids were in bed. But I found that the bottle was empty before I knew it.
I started going to my sister-in-laws house, who lived across the park from me. I would go to “escape” being at home, surrounded by my guilt and pain every time I looked at my family. What’s even worse was that it wasn’t even a weekend. It would be a Tuesday. Or a Wednesday. And a Thursday. I didn’t care. I just wanted to have a little drink and numb the pain I was feeling. And it did. I had moved to stronger drinks by then. I felt comfort in being able to just sit and be – not think or feel. I felt no pain.
Except the next day. Once the numbing effects wore off I would suffer from the biggest headache, and drag myself out of bed to take the kids to school. Looking back on it, I cannot believe that was me. But it was. This went on for a few weeks. I remember one night stumbling home in the dark, across the park that was between our houses, Tash and I fell to the damp ground, laughing. Lying on my back, my eyes tried to focus on the tiny dots of stars blinking hazily far above us. Everything was spinning around me. My whole world was spinning, and I didn’t know how to stop it. How did I get to this point? What the heck was I doing to myself? It was silent, except for the sound of our heavy breathing and the distant noises of traffic far off in the distance. Then I started to cry. Loud, heavy sobs that could only come from the deepest and most painful place in the human soul. I was grateful for Tash in those weeks after my loss. She was always there for me; to listen to me, to let me cry and to vent. She was just there. Every girl needs a friend like that.
But things had to change. I could not continue to allow my grief to destroy myself and my family. My relationship with my husband and children had begun to suffer. I wasn’t there for them mentally and emotionally. I had disconnected myself from my family, and I had to get them back before it was too late. I had turned to food amd alcohol for comfort and I was gaining weight rapidly. I felt sluggish and fatigued. It was starting to take a real toll on my body and it was fuelling my deep depression.
For the next few days, I was on a drastic mission to do damage control. I knew that I had to fix whatever was going on in my mind first, then my body would follow.
So I had to cut out the negative thoughts. I had to cut out the guilt – the miscarriage was not my fault. There was nothing I could’ve done to prevent it from happening. I was allowed to feel sad, but I had to stop feeling sorry for myself. There are some things in life that we cannot control, but we can control how we react to it!
I deactivated my social media accounts. I signed up to the local gym. I began doing research on health and fitness. I came across a documentary on YouTube about juicing for health called ‘Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead’ by Joe Cross. And it changed my life.
I knew I had to start healing myself from the inside-out. And that’s what I proceeded to do.
I began waking up at 5am every morning and going for a run. At first, I could only run as long as five minutes before stopping. But I wouldn’t give up. I would run for five minutes, then walk for two. I would start running again for another five minutes, then walk another two minutes. I would do this on and off until eventually, after nearly two weeks, I could run an entire hour without stopping! I had my own route I would run every morning and it was at least 10kms long and I would run it in about fifty minutes. When it was just my music, the pavement and me, I felt so free. The most free I had ever felt.
I had done a juice detox for a week and then continued having a green juice every morning after my run. I had given up alcohol, junk food and takeaways. I would have a ‘treat meal’ once a week, which gave me something to look forward to.
And the weight dropped off! Physically and mentally! My skin was glowing, my hair was shinier, my eyes were brighter (it had a twinkle again) and I literally felt on top of the world! I had lost 14 kilos in 12 weeks from eating healthy and moving my body. But the weight I lost from the mental burden was phenomenal.
I still acknowledged and remembered the pain I went through, but I was strong enough to cope with the feelings, instead of allowing it to pull me down. Even when there were reminders all around me about the loss that I had suffered.
Here’s an entry I made in my fitness diary a few months after my miscarriage:
27 February 2013
It’s Wednesday today, and my cousin Anthony and his partner just had their baby boy today! He is absolutely gorgeous and his name is Carmelo.
I’m so happy for them! But at the same time, I’m feeling down and wishing for the baby I lost last year in October. I would’ve been 32 weeks today.
I am finally coming to terms with my loss and I’m focusing on my fitness and other goals. But I always have that yearning in my heart. Especially when my cousin sends me cute pics of his beautiful baby boy.
I know if it was meant to happen, it would have. And there’s always hope that we will have another one in time.
I love my husband for being so supportive when I feel like no one else understands. I sent him a text today telling him “I want another baby,” 😦
And he rang me straightaway to check on me and that’s when I broke down and cried. He understands what I’m going through. And we agreed that maybe next year we will try again….
I was truly happy for those around me who were having babies, but that still didn’t stop the pain sometimes.
After the twelve weeks of my transformation, my family and I went to New Zealand for my sister-in-laws unveiling (my husbands little sister). At the end of our trip I took a pregnancy test as I was starting to feel a few symptoms, and it came out positive. I did two more tests. Same result. I didn’t know what to feel. I was anxious. I didn’t want to tell anyone because of what happened last time. But I told close family. I was not going to celebrate just yet. I would wait until I visit my GP back home.
On the flight home, I was drifting off to sleep when all of a sudden, a sharp pain ripped through my abdomen. It was so intense that I nearly jumped out of my chair. It was over in a matter of seconds, but then a series of cramps were coming on and off. I stood up and went to the bathroom and my deepest fear was confirmed. It looked like another miscarriage.
I returned to my seat and I told my husband what had happened, and of course, he fussed over me. For the remainder of the flight, I was silent. How could this happen again? I was healthy this time! I was doing everything right. I was taking care of my body. Why is this happening again? What am I doing wrong?
Yes, I blamed myself. But I didn’t let it pull me under.
I visited my GP the very next morning and he ran a few blood tests. The results confirmed what I believed already – it was a miscarriage. Another baby I won’t get to hold. Another baby I won’t get to kiss.
The pain was there, but it was easier to get through this time. I carried on going to the gym, eating healthy and taking care of myself mentally and physically. I owed it to my children – the ones that were here physically and the ones I wouldn’t get to hold.
Statistics show that about 15 percent of pregnant women experience sporadic loss of a recognised pregnancy. Just 2 percent of pregnant women experience two pregnancy losses in a row…. Two pregnancy losses in a row.
But I continued to count my blessings. I had four beautiful boys who depended on me, and a husband who loved and protected me fiercely. I could not let them down.
So I did what I knew I had to do – I continued to take care of myself.
– I cried in the shower
– I woke up early to watch the sunrise (either go for a walk or run)
– I continued to have a green juice in the morning
– I would have lunch dates with friends
– I spent time with my husband and children
– I read plenty of books
– I baked for family and friends
I healed myself from the inside-out. I let go of all the negativity, the guilt, the self-doubt and replaced it with positivity, self-love and forgiveness. And it helped me. It may not help everyone, as everyone’s journey and path is different to mine. But this gave me life again and it gave me hope to continue.
During the ordeal of my first miscarriage, I shared this on Facebook that I’d like to share on my blog, as it gave me comfort and strength at that moment.
And even today I am still healing. A loss is something you can never fully heal from. There’s no ‘end point’ to healing from a loss, is there? You just continue to get stronger everyday. You learn to love and laugh again. You learn to come to terms with it.
Right after my second miscarriage, I fell pregnant the next month (I know, talk about fertile!). I took this photo below when I was six weeks pregnant.
I didn’t celebrate. I didn’t jump for joy. What the previous miscarriages had done was steal my ability to feel joy and happiness that usually comes with discovering you’re pregnant.
Every midwife appointment I would hold my breath waiting to hear the heartbeat. I became obsessed with just needing to hear the little heart beating.
Right up until I gave birth, I was always on guard; I never fully allowed myself to get excited about the pregnancy in case something happened. And I truly regret that. I wish I had enjoyed it more instead of worrying. But that’s what previous (and especially consecutive) miscarriages do to you. They never allow you to forget.
I gave birth to our fifth handsome boy, and he was as healthy as can be. And even when I became pregnant with our first daughter (baby number six), again, I was anxious about the pregnancy right up until I gave birth.
I’m grateful for the two extra blessings that we have been blessed with. Denzel and Armani really do keep us busy (and stressed with their antics) but we really couldn’t picture life without them. What’s so strange though, is that whenever someone asks me if I’m going to have anymore kids, instantly I say “No way! Six kids is more than enough!”
But a part of me says ‘Yes, I feel like there’s two more…’ I have no idea why. It could just be because I lost two. But then I gained two more blessings? So I don’t know why I feel this way… I just always feel like there’s supposed to be two more in our family….
But who knows? Only time will tell.
If you are reading this and have suffered a loss of your own, please reach out to someone. Anyone. I know we all go through grief differently, and we react differently. You grow through what you go through. Don’t feel like you need to go through this alone. Take care of YOU. You are important and you are loved. Do something everyday that makes you happy. Take it day by day.
I have since returned to church. It helps me. Today I know that my Heavenly Father gives me strength. My saviour makes my burden light and He helps me to carry it. I’m so grateful for life, and for my family. He has given me so much.
And to my two angel babies: Some may say you’re too painful to remember, but I say you’re too precious to forget. You’ll always be a part of our family. And I can’t wait for the day we get to meet you both.
Love always and forever,