WHERE DO I START?
When I sat down to write about how I am/was feeling I didn’t anticipate ever showing anyone what I’d written, the pain I’ve been in or being so public with loss.
As I wrote and as I reflected on this I realised that miscarriage isn’t talked about enough. The heartache that happens to women and their partners is still hidden.
I’m still having my miscarriage as I type this into more coherent sentences. I am writing this because I want to tell my story of miscarriage. I want you to know how it was for me. I want you to feel less alone if you’ve experienced this pain. I want to write about the fact that I DID get pregnant and that it WILL happen again.
PREGNANCY WHISPERER OF MARGATE
I am the pregnancy whisperer of the small town I live in. I have been for the last 4 years. What the hell do I mean? You see, I run a Hot Yoga studio and pregnant women are advised to stay away from the heat during pregnancy.
So when someone, albeit if they come to my yoga studio, becomes pregnant I am the first to know. And when I say first I am often in the know before they tell their parents. I get these calls a lot. And I often find out about their miscarriages as well, again often when no one else knows the pain they’re in. We live in a town where people come to procreate. To have families. To have children.
I’ve had the call of an excited pregnant woman announcing their pause of membership on days where I’ve been injecting, on days where I feel like a total failure and even on days we’ve found out another round of IVF has failed.
I’m never upset or sad at the woman who is calling with her happy news…it just highlights the fact we’re still not there.
A TRIP TO SCOTLAND FOR 2WW
If you’ve ever done IVF or have struggled to get pregnant you will surely know the acronym 2WW which means the two week wait. We’ve been here many times before and it is utterly tortuous. The days crawl by and you symptom spot every little thing your body does, every noise it makes and every corner of your breasts for the sign that you are pregnant.
We wanted a distraction. So we headed off in a camper van for 2 weeks to Scotland. It was a wonderful distraction and filled with adventure. Don’t get me wrong, there was analysis of all sorts of my body but there were also big chunks of time where we didn’t think about it.
It was perfect. It was great. I was pregnant and had NO idea.
THE ENDOMETRIOSIS KISS OF INFERTILITY
5 years ago when we started our fertility journey I was diagnosed with a disease I had never heard of, endometriosis. Within a year, after 2 failed rounds of IVF, I was told that I would most likely never conceive.
I never thought it would be that bad. I was wrong.
My endometriosis is stage 4. This is the most advanced, or most severe stage. My ovaries are stuck together behind my uterus and are covered in endometriomas, these are sometimes called chocolate cysts. Because of this there is almost no chance that the doctors can access my eggs for IVF.
There is no cure. Only pain prevention. There is no reversing the damage that is done. 1 in 10 women suffer with endometriosis and possible loss of fertility.
BFP BIG FAT POSITIVE
I was convinced I wasn’t pregnant. I came home with a giant box of chocolates, a pizza and a huge bottle of wine. I had a pregnancy test too but didn’t see the point in even taking it. When I eventually did the test was positive. I was sure the alka seltzer I had 20 minutes before had affected it. I took two more tests. They were both positive.
A positive pregnancy test. I was pregnant. I had been trying for 5 years and had never seen this. Two lines. Two strong lines. Not the faint ones. The ones that come up instantly before you even start the timer. I was pregnant. After 5 years I was finally pregnant.
I ran a bath and placed my hands on my belly. Closed my eyes and fully let myself swept away with the planning, the due dates, the maternity clothes and the joy of telling friends and family.
My due date would have been May 20th 2021. When this date comes and passes it will be difficult.
We told our families and they screamed with joy wanting to see the pregnancy tests, the evidence of the good news. None of us believed that almost a year after Harriet had a miscarriage I would have the same fate. The blind belief in the universe not being ‘that cruel’ to do it to us again.
WHAT A MISCARRIAGE IS LIKE
It was slow. It was quiet at first. It wasn’t obvious. It was heartbreaking. It was painful. It was awful. It happened.
If this is triggering please don’t read. If you want to know what my experience was then know there will be some graphic details.
I was spotting from early on. Everything we read said this was ‘normal’ and that ‘many women spot’ in early pregnancy. My spotting when it first started was brown, thick, light and not like a period.
It stayed like this for over a week. I had a blood test with high HCG levels and everything looked great. I was officially pregnant. Spotting still but all the tests said everything was okay. So I tried not to worry. I had 3 whole days. 3 days to be pregnant. 3 days to be grateful. 3 days to believe all the heartache and worry of IVF might be over.
After day 3 my brown spotting got heavier and turned from brown to red. Looking down on the stark white tissue with the bright red blood I felt my heart drop, my eyes close and the tears flood. I screamed. I yelled. I held onto the side of the toilet for support and kept crying.
My wife was quiet. I knew something was wrong.
It was a Saturday morning and we wouldn’t be able to get a new blood test until Monday with results on Tuesday. I now had to wait 4 days to confirm the nightmare I was trying to ignore…that I was having a miscarriage.
My bleeding quickly increased with large blood clots passing. I was having mild cramps but nothing too intense. Nothing EVEN CLOSE to the pain I feel with my endometriosis. The weekend was horrific. It dragged. It was slow. It was constantly going to the toilet to check, to wipe, to analyse, the prayer that nothing would be on the tissue…there always was red on the tissue.
We told our family. We told the clinic. I struggled to look at my phone, to reply to messages to speak to anyone. I was in and out of sleep trying to not feel what was happening.
By Monday the cramps had intensified. We went to the clinic for the blood test and reality struck that this wasn’t a fluke. The blood test confirmed that my HCG levels had massively dropped and the pregnancy was gone. I stopped taking my progesterone and oestrogen tablets and my body began to really release what was inside me.
I ran the bath again. This time I placed my hands on the bottom of the tub on all fours to brace myself. It felt like the ground, my world was falling from beneath me. I stared at my hands under the water, my face sometimes coming down to meet them and then I howled. I let the tears wash over me falling into the bath. My body trembled, my nose dripped, my vision blurred.
I felt a cold nose under my chin. Hudson had come, sticking his face in the tub and lifted my head up. He does this every time I cry. He did so with urgency then. I sobbed at his sweetness and it brought me back from my internal darkness. I wrapped my wet arms around his ginger neck. I sat back down and slowly caught my breath.
It’s almost a week on and the blood hasn’t slowed down and the clots have continued. I thought I had seen it all living with endometriosis but this was different, it felt different, it looked different. I am still bleeding, wearing full on nighttime massive pads all day. I am wearing them and bleeding into them to yoga classes, while I teach and when I am out for dinner. I can feel the clots as they pass and try to keep smiling while leading a yoga class or speaking with someone who has no idea.
I am having a miscarriage. I am continuing with my life. I am healing. I am heartbroken.
I was pregnant.
I WAS PREGNANT
It’s been over 5 years since I found out I had endometriosis. It’s been 5 years since I learnt that my fertility would be threatened. It’s been over 5 years since I started doing IVF. It’s been almost 2 weeks since I found out I was pregnant. And it’s been 3 days since my miscarriage was confirmed.
I think about what would have been worse:
- Getting pregnant and having a miscarriage
- Not getting pregnant at all
It’s pretty clear for me what the answer is. Never getting pregnant would have been worse.
Yes, having a miscarriage has been one of the hardest most painful things that has happened to me BUT I got pregnant.
If this test had been negative maybe I wouldn’t have fantasised, maybe I wouldn’t have downloaded the ‘what to expect’ pregnancy app, maybe I wouldn’t have put a start on the due date in my iCal and maybe I would have cried less.
But if the test was negative I would have never been pregnant. I would have hated my body a little bit more. I would have felt like a failure a little bit more. I would have still thought that it would never be possible or never happen for me and MAYBE I wouldn’t try again because I had finally believed that my body would never have a baby.
I know some people who know us might be wondering why we keep trying? Why do we keep putting ourselves through it? Have we started to think about adoption?
Truth is we have thought about adoption and will most definitely look deeply into this at some point. The system wont allow you to pursue adoption and IVF at the same time and we aren’t done with IVF yet. It’s a battle. But we learn something each time. I’ve learnt that just because I have endometriosis it doesn’t mean that I won’t be pregnant and I won’t be a mum.
I know my body can do it. Now I just need to try again. To learn more.
To any woman who is suffering silently with fertility issues, who opens her phone to another baby scan announcement or gender reveal balloon, to ever woman who finds Christmas with the extended family difficult, to every woman who has a collection of negative pregnancy tests, to every woman who has a collection of positive pregnancy tests and to every woman who has lost a baby to miscarriage –
I see you.
I know what it’s like. Keep fighting as long as you can. Keep your head up. Bow gracefully out of events that make you feel uncomfortable without guilt. Be honest as much as you can and keep whatever the fuck you want to yourself.
Those who love you will understand. Those who love you will support you. But most of all support yourself and remind yourself of all the positive, incredible and wonderful things there are about you. Don’t lose yourself.
I’m sure this isn’t the end of my struggle or fertility journey.
However I am a step closer.
I was pregnant.