I have been pregnant 4 times.
I have lost 3 babies.
Sometimes, I struggle to remember the years in which they happened. However, I do remember the pain, the grief, the agony and heartbreak that I felt. I remember the lack of compassion I felt from healthcare professionals. The things people said to me; I remember feeling alone. I remember feeling like a failure.
In 2010 my (now) husband and I decided to try for a baby. I was 21, he was 23 and we weren’t trying for long before we found out that we were expecting. We were overjoyed and were already discussing what sex we’d love the baby to be, the names we would choose, etc.
Then I was bleeding. I was 6 weeks to the day.
We called our local midwifery team who just told me to monitor the bleeding. That’s it. Just monitor the bleeding. We knew something wasn’t right. So, we went to our GP, who sent us to the hospital for blood tests and scans. They confirmed that I was miscarrying.
This terribly shaky male doctor had to break this news to a sobbing 21 year old girl. A girl whose dreams had just been shattered. I remember a few words that he said – ‘sorry’, ‘unfortunate’, ‘we can’t say why’. And with that, we went home. No answers, no ongoing support.
Family and friends said the usual ‘it wasn’t meant to be’ ‘at 6 weeks it’s not really a baby’ ‘these things happen for a reason’ ‘it’ll happen when the time is right’
It was a baby, it was our baby.
1 week, 6 weeks or 40 weeks, that was our baby and the time was right or we wouldn’t have started to try for a baby! I was hurt and angered by these comments but I just carried on. I didn’t have the mental or emotional strength to defend myself and my baby.
After grieving and trying to come to terms with what had happened, we decided we would try again. Being pregnant was constantly in my thoughts. I would take ovulation tests and was devastated each month that I had a negative test. It felt like there were pregnant women everywhere I turned. I was obsessed.
This time it was 2013. We’d married in December 2012 and found out we were pregnant just a few weeks after our wedding. Our honeymoon was booked but we were so scared of miscarriage again. Our doctor advised us that everything would be fine, that it’s the best time for a holiday as I’d need the rest. With that, we excitedly packed for our first ‘family’ holiday. Husband, wife and baby in my tummy.
Then I was bleeding. I was 6 weeks to the day.
Just like my previous pregnancy.
I knew instantly that we had lost this baby too. I was in Egypt with no doctor, no family. Just my scared husband and me.
My sister was my lifeline. I managed to message her daily explaining my symptoms and, even though I knew it was a miscarriage, she helped me through the rest of the holiday with some hope that it might not be. The flight home was horrific. I was tired, emotionally drained, bleeding and in pain. As the lights of England appear through the airplane window, I was so glad my honeymoon was over. So glad to be home where I could know if this baby was safe or not. That is not how my honeymoon should have been. It was over before it began.
As soon as we landed, we were directed straight to hospital. The same again, blood tests, scans, and then sent home.
I remember calling my mum and we both just cried on the phone. I was so scared of a second miscarriage that I hadn’t even told her I was pregnant again. She was devastated for me.
They asked me to return to the hospital for more tests, to see if my hormone levels were decreasing, to make sure I would not require medical intervention. I was directed to a long, cold corridor with hard, uncomfortable chairs; examined and then I had to sit, alone in this corridor.
Time passed and I was still there. Alone.
Nurses walked by and said nothing. Ladies came in for appointments and left again. There I sat, in a waiting room with other parents going in for their 12 week or 20 week scans, leaving the room with huge smiles on their faces. I had to fight back the tears as I watched ladies with beautiful bumps walking by, families looking at the first glimpse of their new baby. But I never offered a side room or a different ward. Never offered privacy or solace. This continued for 8 long, lonely hours. 8 hours of sitting in a corridor being ignored. The nurses eventually realized they hadn’t even sent my bloods down to be checked. No apology, no offer of a drink or food. Nothing.
A couple who had arrived for an appointment asked me if I was okay, how long had I been waiting. When I said over 8 hours, they spoke to a nurse for me. I broke down into tears. Someone that day had finally shown me some compassion. A complete stranger could see I needed help.
It was another miscarriage.
Family and friends said the same things as before. We wanted that baby. And the first one too. Instead, we just had loss and empty places in our hearts.
We struggled through, somehow. I remember sobbing daily, thinking ‘why me?’ The second miscarriage was harder than the first. My body wasn’t miscarrying as ‘efficiently’ as it should have been so it was a more drawn out process. Again, fortunately perhaps, I required no intervention. My overriding thought was that my body was really quite good at expelling pregnancies. At least it was good at something.
I was angry
Why? I didn’t want the risk of any more ‘failed’ pregnancies. There were no answers for me and I was still grieving my first baby. I gave up on the idea of having a family, I gave up on my dream.
That same year, my sister had her first born. Seeing her body grow this baby gave me a plethora of emotions. I was overjoyed and elated that she was having a baby, my nephew. She looked amazing. I was also jealous, envious, angry. That should have been me. Why wasn’t it me? Why could she have a baby so easily when I had failed twice? I struggled to feel sympathy when she had morning sickness or aches and pains. All I could think was ‘be grateful your baby is alive’. I forgot she was entitled to this pregnancy. She was entitled to feel poorly or to tell me she had pains. I was just too overwhelmed with my own grief to be as supportive as I should have been.
I was with her for the birth of my nephew and was so so happy when he was safely delivered. But then, all I could feel was resentment. Why wasn’t it me having a baby? Why was I supporting someone else through pregnancy and labor, when I should have 2 babies of my own by now?
I remember my dad walking in to meet his first grandchild. I was meant to be the one to give him his first grandchild. I’d been pregnant twice already and failed to provide him with something that my sister managed to.
It should be me he was coming to see. My baby he was coming to hold.
I saw the love in his eyes and it broke me. I had nothing to show him. No baby. No new life. Nothing.
He held his grandson. When he looked at me, he saw the emotions on my face. He hugged me tight and said ‘your turn next’. That gave me hope. I started to come around to the idea of trying again. Maybe he was right; maybe it would be my turn next.
I was pregnant. We were terrified. I was having some pains but no bleeding so I thought, maybe this was it. Maybe we would finally have our long awaited family. We went through the motions, knowing the dreaded 6 week date was looming. Would this be it? Would my dads comments come true? I prayed for good news.
At the same time, my sister discovered that she was also pregnant, with her second baby. She knew I’d be emotional. I had no living babies, yet, she had one already and another on the way. She was thoughtful and considerate of my feelings. I was rude in return.
At first, I felt overwhelming joy but very quickly, my thoughts turned. I was annoyed that we were pregnant at the same time. Our babies would be close in age. I hated that I couldn’t have something that was my own, I wanted to be pregnant on my own. Didn’t I deserve it? I should have been excited that I had someone to share this incredible experience with but I was still grieving and still angry about my previous losses. My mind was blurred and I couldn’t control my emotions and thoughts. I was being selfish.
I was 6 weeks.
Dad was wrong.
I was told ‘it would be a viable pregnancy if it were in the right place’. My baby was growing in my Fallopian tube. My baby was growing, was alive, only I couldn’t keep it. Couldn’t birth it, couldn’t hold it. My pregnancy was ectopic.
I was kept overnight in my own room and the nurses monitored my pain. I cried the whole night. Why me again? Back on the ward the following day, the consultant said the only option was to operate.
My world stopped right there. I would never have a baby. I signed the forms that would end this pregnancy, I signed away my family.
They operated and had to remove my tube, it was badly scarred – most likely from the previous miscarriages. I was in agony and could barely sit up let alone walk. My chances of conceiving naturally in the future were down to 60-70%.
How much more pain would I have to endure?
Again, I was given no answers. I was told my losses would not be investigated because they weren’t 3 miscarriages in a row. They were 2 miscarriages and 1 successful pregnancy that was, in the words of the unsympathetic midwife, ‘just in the wrong place’. If I’d have had 3 successive miscarriages, they’d have looked into things further. To me, the terminology was irrelevant. I had lost 3 babies regardless of how anyone worded it.
This time though, I felt true compassion from people other than my sister, parents and husband. None of this ‘it wasn’t meant to be’ nonsense. I think seeing my physical pain made them realize, I needed them.
You can’t see a person’s pain with miscarriage.
With the ectopic pregnancy and resulting operation, people saw my loss, they saw something was wrong.
My sister was incredible. She understood that I was not in a good mental state. She didn’t discuss her pregnancy much with me, didn’t make me feel uncomfortable at any stage. I have a lot of regrets about that stage in our relationship. I did not support her, didn’t offer her a baby shower. Honestly, I struggled to be near her even. While I tried the best I could at the time, I could have been better, could have done more.
I was emotionally and mentally struggling, trying to deal with so many emotions and trying to control my jealousy and tears every day. It was so hard to watch her body grow another baby to full term when I couldn’t even get past 6 weeks. I struggled to be supportive when she had morning sickness, I struggled to feel happy for her. Again I felt like a failure. I’d failed myself, my husband, my family. My emotions had failed to let me support my sister.
Along came January 2015, my second beautiful nephew was born and I decided I would focus on myself. I would become fit and healthy, I’d learn to love my body again. Maybe I wouldn’t fail at this. I worked hard and lost two dress sizes; slowly learning to like myself again.
But, I never stopped thinking about them.
I’d given up the idea of having a baby all together. I was convinced I’d never fall pregnant with only one Fallopian tube and so I focused on becoming healthier and happier. I worked on my relationships. Life was getting better.
Two weeks before we were due to fly out to Cyprus for our close friend’s wedding, something about me felt ‘off’. I was trying to work out what was wrong. I thought I might as well do a test. It’ll be negative but it’ll rule it out.
I watched the words ‘pregnant 2-3 weeks’ appear before my eyes
I could not believe it, I broke down in tears. Excited and nervous, I couldn’t wait for my husband to come home. For some reason, I felt less fearful this time, more calm. Perhaps I subconsciously knew that this was it. This pregnancy would be successful.
Throughout our 6 year fight for a family, my husband has dealt with an extremely emotional woman. He has held me through the tears, stood by me through the scans and the operation. Discussed adoption and fostering. Accepted when I gave up trying for a baby. He did anything to help me. This man has supported me all while trying to deal with these same fears. He has stayed strong even though, in his eyes, I could always see the hurt and pain.
Maybe, just maybe I could finally wipe away the hurt.
I gave my husband the good news when he got home and we cried together before heading to my sisters house to tell her, where we all cried some more!
I was 6 weeks. The same day as the wedding in Cyprus.
As happy as I was, there was a continuous undertone of fear and sadness that at any minute, I could start to bleed and lose my fourth baby. But there was no blood. No pains. Just a happy wedding day.
It was time for our scan. We were 8 weeks by now. I was shaking as we walked into the room where our fate would be revealed. The sonographer rolled over my tummy to try and find my baby. For the first time, the screen was turned towards me and I could see my baby’s heart frantically pounding.
The screen had never been turned to me before.
I hadn’t seen any of my other scans; never saw any of my other babies. I sobbed and for the first time in a long time I was happy. I felt whole again.
At 12 weeks, baby was still thriving. At 20 weeks we could see baby blowing bubbles, yawning, moving about. A sea of balloons revealed that baby was a girl at our gender reveal. My dreams were finally becoming reality. I wasn’t a failure. I was giving my husband his dream. We had prayed for a girl and here she was.
It was around 32 weeks when I had reduced movements.
In that moment, all of my fears and anxieties rushed back to me. I was going to lose another baby. I was going to fail again. We went in to the hospital. As soon as I was hooked up to the machine, our daughter began dancing the highland fling! We were monitored and scanned. Our baby was fine, just having a rest! Relief washed over us both.
I didn’t (and still don’t) know if I will be mentally or emotionally strong enough to try for another baby, so I fulfilled my dream of having a home birth. At 40+4 weeks, we welcomed Matilda into our lives. I had a wonderful labor. Quick and powerful.
I didn’t fail. Finally I didn’t fail.
We looked up the meaning of Matilda’s name after we had chosen it – strength in battle. I feel like this is so fitting. Through my battle to have a family, she was the strong one who survived, who completed our family.
I do everything I can to give Matilda the best. Unfortunately, I have battled through cracked nipples, mastitis and thrush all at the same time in the first 12 days of our breastfeeding journey. But, she adores breast milk and having struggled so much to feed her in the early days, we have an incredible bond.
While writing this, I had many pauses to feed or change her, or to simply hold her. I’m sure she’s aware of her significance in our lives. So, whenever I feel sad or emotional she gives me a smile and it makes all the pain I’ve endured wash away for a while.
She rolled over for the first time half way through writing this story and I look at her happy little face and know that I will give this precious little baby my everything. My daughter will be loved beyond belief and she will know of her brothers and sisters before her. This sweet baby will know how hard we fought to have her in our lives and she will know how she healed me.
She healed me.
She made me, and my husband, whole again.
I will never have an answer as to why my previous 3 pregnancies turned to losses and I think about them regularly. While I still cry, I can take comfort in knowing I now have my wonderful rainbow baby to hold in my arms.
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