Miscarriage: the self guilt and shame!


Miscarriage.. a word that people don't like to use. It's become a taboo topic I guess, but why?

Well now I'm going to talk about it, and it's sad that I'm doing so from a personal point of view. I now kind of understand why people don't like to talk about it, I haven't told very many people about mine. One reason is shame that my body failed me, another is worrying others will think I crave pity, and overall just because it's a sad subject and I don't want to make anyone feel awkward if I tell them. In fact, some of my closest friends and family may be finding out by reading this post and I'm sorry that I can't tell you to your face but this just is my way of dealing with it and avoiding that awkwardness.

A couple of months ago we decided we were going to try for another baby, it's no secret that our first born, Martha wasn't planned. She was a surprise, but a very happy surprise. We never once regretted that I fell pregnant, and I guess we were lucky that the one time we 'slipped up' I actually conceived as it's not easy to time it right and do so. I feel more lucky about that now that we've been trying for 6 months to conceive again and haven't had much luck.

One month after trying I had that feeling again, I just knew I was pregnant. Just like with Martha, I knew before any test told me. Your body changes, and there's that instinct. Only this time round I had experienced it all before so I was more sure than previously. I was so happy, excited, emotional, but I didn't want to get too excited until the test had confirmed it. I took 8 pregnancy tests for Martha with negative results before having 8 positives afterwards, all because I knew the test was wrong and that I was right. So I was waiting to do that all over again before I told Joe. Even though I was waiting for that positive, I let excitement take over and I ordered a 'Big Sister' t-shirt for Martha to wear, this is how I was going to tell Joe, just let him spot it casually. I'm not sure if I'm superstitious or not, and I know it's so silly to say, and buying an item of clothing didn't cause a miscarriage, but part of me tells myself I jinxed it by buying that top too early, I tempted fate, and that's one part of the self blame I mentioned above. Fast forward a couple of days and before the test could tell me I was pregnant, and before Martha ever got to wear that top, and before Joe ever knew I was pregnant, I suddenly had awful pains, like the worst period pain I've ever had, I went to the toilet to be shocked with lots of blood and a few big clots. I won't go into gory details, but it wasn't pretty. I knew it was bad as it wasn't my time of the month just yet so I made an urgent appointment at the doctors where they confirmed I'd had a miscarriage. When the doctor told me, I took it pretty well, he seemed so casual about it that it kind of rubbed off on me that it was just 'one of those things' as he so kindly put it. He'd told me that most women wouldn't even know they were pregnant at this stage and if I'd have not known my body so well then I never would have known I'd had a miscarriage.

The same day of the miscarriage I was supposed to have a client, and I cancelled last minute, I told them I was ill. To this day they still don't know the reason I cancelled, and I still feel so guilty for lying, but at the time I couldn't possibly tell them the truth as I felt embarrassed. It's rare I'll cancel a session, but on this particular day I just needed to. I'm never going to name names so I feel it's okay to say that this client wasn't happy, they gave me a lot of grief for cancelling, and demanded a refund with the offer of court if I didn't send the deposit back within 24 hours. I of course refunded immediately and moved on and haven't heard from them since. I still feel terrible and looking back I question why I didn't just do the session, photography is my happy place after all and maybe it would have helped take my mind off things.. I obviously wasn't thinking straight.

I texted Joe confirming the sad news, I couldn't bare to tell him to his face, which is yet another thing I feel guilty about and wish I'd have done differently. But here is where more shame kicks in, I felt like I'd let him down, we agreed to have a baby and I couldn't give him that, I didn't dare tell him to his face that my body had failed me. I don't know what I expected him to say or do but he was just there for me, and he didn't blame me at all like I blamed myself. When he got home from work I acted like I was fine, he knew I was upset but he also knows I keep myself to myself when I'm sad and I'll talk when I want to, usually in writing it down, which is what I'm doing now, 5 months on.

We agreed we'd just keep trying, and when it was 'meant to be' it would be. Yet I haven't fallen pregnant again since and all of these thoughts are coming back. My body is letting me down again, I'm not giving us a child and it's only me that can do it, our time is running out, and again it's the guilt and the shame. Everyone keeps commenting on how it's time to think about baby number 2, or asking when we're going to have another. I joke and say something like 'oh I don't know, probably not yet' when really I'm so hurt inside thinking "I'm trying, trust me, I'm trying, and I'm failing". I've taken a lot of tests in the last couple of months, not because I thought I was pregnant, but just because I'm holding out hope. They've been negative each time, and each time I wonder why I do this to myself when I'm just setting myself up for disappointment. Every time mother nature makes an appearance, it's a punch in the gut.

The reason I'm writing this is because I've actually been okay about the miscarriage, I took the doctors advice of it being a common thing and that the average woman wouldn't have known. And I kept reminding myself I didn't actually see the positive pregnancy test, I didn't see the scan and I didn't hear the heartbeat, therefore I'd convinced myself that I wasn't actually pregnant as I didn't have the hard evidence. I told myself there's people out there who lose a baby so much later on and how much worse that must feel. My baby wasn't even a baby yet, it was nothing. I basically just tried to justify it and I moved on after shedding a few tears. It's only now, 5 months down the line where I'm actually feeling really sad about the situation, I cried properly for the first time about it yesterday, like ugly cried out loud. It hit me that I'd be 20 weeks pregnant now, I'd be half way, I'd have a good sized bump, I'd know the gender, and I'd be telling everyone the news with a great pregnancy announcement. It'd be a really happy time for us as a family, and we're not celebrating anything, because I lost that baby.

I'm still blaming myself, even though I know deep down it wasn't my fault, I just can't help it. I had a meal out with my Dad the night before it happened, and he didn't know I thought I was pregnant and ordered me a glass of wine. I only had a couple of sips so it didn't look suspicious and even to this day I'm blaming it on that. I'll never forgive myself for that. Even though I know you're allowed to drink occasionally during pregnancy, I can't help but think it was those few sips of rosè that caused my body to do this to me. I wonder if it's something I ate, or didn't eat. Did I eat healthy enough in those few weeks? I always skip breakfast, and often lunch, did I not provide enough nutrients to keep a baby alive? I could go on and on, I really could.

I feel embarrassed saying this, like I'm wallowing in self pity, like I'm dragging up the past when it's old news, l feel awkward bringing it up when the moment has passed. I don't want any reaction from it, I don't need comforting, I'm fine, I just needed to get it out, as a way of release. I wanted other women to know that if you feel like this, you're not alone. I'm sure I'm not the only one feeling this way. Miscarriage shouldn't be a subject we shy away from, some of my closest friends have had miscarriages, so many of my clients have, it's actually very common, yet no one wants to tell people but when you do start talking you realise how many others have shared this experience. I will openly talk about personal things to anyone who wants to, I often have deep chats with my clients during sessions if they're comfortable doing so.. and it helps. You realise you're not actually alone in feeling the way you do, and you can be there for eachother. Sometimes people can't understand unless they've been there themselves, but sometimes you may have to be the first to say it for them to say "me too". A little fact I discovered which is very comforting, and if you've suffered a loss then I hope it also brings you comfort to know that your baby's DNA will always live inside of you, the fetal cells in your bones, liver, lungs and other organs from your pregnancy often go on to turn themselves into muscle cells to make your heart and other organs stronger after birth. It's quite fascinating when you read up on it. So even though they’re not here, your babies will always be a part of you which is amazing. And remember, even though they were never born, you're still a Mummy, and always will be.