At my 12 week scan, I was filled with nervous excitement. The chance to finally see the tiny life I was growing inside of me had finally arrived. My husband had been tracking our baby’s development from poppy seed to lime size, with an app he had downloaded on his phone. After many years waiting for this moment to arrive, we were savouring every second of this new adventure.
As the nurse pushed the ultrasound camera into my stomach, time stood still as she uttered the words which could only ever precede terrible news…’I’m so sorry’.
Baby had stopped developing between 8 and 9 weeks, apparently a very common time to miscarry, though this information brought us little consolation. We had entered the clinic as parents to be, our hearts swollen with joy, our bookshelves full of educational tomes about how to raise and parent our new addition. We left with tear stained faces, and a scan photo of a life that was not meant to be.
Naively, we had enthusiastically told our family and friends about our pregnancy, ahead of the supposed ‘safe zone’ of the 12 week scan, and now had the terrible job of calling and telling everyone that I had miscarried.
When you share such news, the astounding thing is the amount of friends and family who had experienced the same thing, once, twice and even three times. Miscarriage remains a social taboo. The death of something intangible, something you never really had, can be an impossible situation to comprehend. The grief is so immense, but is measured by a feeling that it’s just one of those things that happen if you are ‘unlucky’. For early pregnancies there is no funeral, no time to say goodbye, and often no closure.
Your mind becomes a merry-go-round of guilt, as you search for reasons ‘why’?. Was it something you had done wrong? Of course there is usually no clear cut answer, which makes the fallout harder, with guilt and grief often morphing into anger, and the question ‘why me?!’.
I in 5 women in the UK will suffer a miscarriage, although they certainly don’t talk about it. It’s like a secret society that nobody really wants to be part of. When you discover a fellow member you bond over that unspoken, and often unresolved pain.
After miscarriage, all that is left is a fantasy of a parallel universe, where your baby made it into the world. Your mind enables you to see their face, and hold their tiny hand. Every year your heart recalls their birthday, albeit without the celebration of cards, presents and cake.
Human nature can be a cruel mistress, often creating tragedy without explanation. She also delivers miracles in abundance, and for all of us women who have suffered a miscarriage, that is the hope that we keep in our hearts.