Friday, 20 July 2018

My Secret Baby Loss Heartache + Life Lately.

For eight years I have kept this deep dark secret. Until recently only my close friends and family knew about what I'd been through, and there are a number of reasons why it has taken me so long to share my story. The main reason is that, until recently, I was ashamed. The other reason, is I was worried people would think I was oversharing and should be dealing with all this in private.

The problem is that taboo's will always stay taboo unless we talk about them openly and honestly. To break and end a taboo we need to share our experiences, and over the past few months I've realised that by not talking openly about my experience, I was part of the problem.

Earlier this year I lost another baby, and after going through that second miscarriage completely alone and 10,000 miles away from my closest friends and family, I'm no longer OK with being part of the problem. I'm no longer ashamed of my body 'failing', and I feel strong enough now to open up to the world and share my grief, to share what I've been through and hope that it somehow helps someone else feel less alone. Because for the past eight years, the only thing that has made me feel less isolated and alone in all this, is reading and hearing other women's experiences. So now it's time for me to be brave and pay it forward.

Tommy's is a charity I've supported for eight years now. They have helped me so much over the years, through both of my losses, and last week they launched a new campaign; #TogetherForChange. The aim is to talk more openly about miscarriage and stillbirth to help parents and families feel less alone when it does happen. And so it's time for me to talk about my miscarriages and what it's been like to lose two unplanned babies before the age of 26. Because it hurts so, so badly, and has completely changed my life in so many ways. 

A bunch of you have seen the article I wrote for Grazia UK about my experience (it was only in print, not online, so you can read the PDF version here), and one of the reasons I wrote that was because if you think people don't talk about miscarriage very often, no one EVER talks about losing unplanned babies and the confusion and heartbreak that comes with it. I wanted to write about my story to help other women like me feel less alone, but I didn't want to write about it on my blog first. I needed time to figure out how to share this story on my blog, and I also wasn't really ready to go into the full depths of my experience and grief on here. I'm still not really ready.

I've struggled so much to write this post, I've written and re-written it so many times over the past few months. I mean, how do you even begin to try and tell the story of how your heart was broken into pieces and your entire world came crashing down?! How do you tell the story of the day you were told that no, pregnancy tests don't give the wrong result, and in just a few short months you were going to be a mother, and then the story of the day you were told your baby had died, and actually no can we please have your mother title back now? How do you even begin to describe the grief and confusion and heartache and emotional turmoil and exhaustion that follows, in one small blog post?

And this still isn't the post I want to publish. It doesn't do the experience of miscarriage justice, and so this post is a little intro, a 'this happened, and this is why I will be talking about it at some point'. I'm hoping I'll be ready to fully talk about it more in the coming months, and I'm aiming to get the thoughts straight in my head by October, in time for Baby Loss Awareness Week which aims to highlight and break the taboo surrounding miscarriage and stillbirth. 

The past few months have been a horrific nightmare of doctors appointments, hospital appointments, specialist appointments, scans, blood tests, emotions, hormones, grief, and complete heartbreak. My friends have been incredible, my doctors in Australia have been nothing but caring and compassionate, and my bosses and close work friends in Australia have held me up and given me hugs and sat with me in meeting rooms while I've cried on the days when I've crumbled. 

So, what happened? I guess that's probably the question you're asking if you've made it this far. Well, I had a second miscarriage at the end of January. He/she was due 18th September 2018. I lost this one much earlier than the first: the first one we lost at 10 weeks in 2010. After waking up one morning with light bleeding my GP sent me to hospital as she was worried it was ectopic, and after a bunch of tests and scans the doctors warned me I was likely miscarrying again, and to go home and rest and stay off my feet.

I was honestly naively expecting this time around to be easier. Before this second loss I always wondered why women who had early miscarriages got sad over it, I assumed it was nothing more than a 'heavy period'. I judged them. But then I had an early loss just a week after getting a positive pregnancy test, and the pain and grief was exactly the same as the 10 week loss. It caught me in the chest and I felt like I'd been winded, a thick fog descended over me and it took months of me stumbling through it before it finally cleared a little.

And it was so, so much more than just a 'heavy period', and to be honest, the trauma of going through it all alone was a big factor in my decision to move back to the UK from Australia. As I sat doubled over on the hospital bed, blood seeping through the gown and my hand shaking as it signed a blood transfusion consent form ("We're just a little worried about how much blood you're losing, it's just in case we need to do one urgently" they told me as I looked at them in horror), I realised just how far I was from home. It was terrifying.

And I think that's why I feel the need to be vocal about it now. I judged those women online and in the media and in my friendship circles for grieving their very early losses, but then I experienced one. And it hurt just as bad as the later miscarriage. And then when I didn't think things could get any worse, they did. As what happens with a lot of parents when they go through miscarriage or the loss of a child, it completely broke us. It either makes you or breaks you. The one person who I spoke to almost every single day for 4 years (despite being very on/off, we still remained close friends even on the 'off' months), who I thought I could trust with every truth and flaw and secret within me, was a huge part of my life and featured on this blog many times over the past few years, abandoned me when I needed him most.

So a couple of months later, after some clarity from my quick trips to Malaysia and Perth, I put plans in place and packed up my life again and quit my job and moved home to England. And then two of my grandparents were rushed to hospital, and I had to change my flights to try and get home a few days earlier in time to say goodbye to them. But despite the changed flight, I was still 24 hours too late to say goodbye to my Grandad. He passed away while I was on a layover in Singapore airport. And once again I realised how far away I was, how important home is, how important family is, and just how hard it is being an expat.

I landed from a 40 hour journey, dumped my bags, and we raced down to Worthing to see my step-grandma in hospital. She was in the late stages of pancreatic cancer, and we were told she didn't have very long left. She gripped my hand tightly and I gave her the sand I'd brought back from Perth for her. She spent a while living there and fell in love with the Swan River, and I wanted her to feel the soft sand one last time. She stuck her nose into the tupperware box containing it, and took in a deep breath of that - frankly gross - Swan River smell. Her smile made that frantic flight change and rush to the river to collect a tupperware tub of sand worth it.

The next two weeks were spent with family, organising funeral arrangements for my Grandad, and spending as much time as possible with my step-grandma before she passed away with all of us there making sure she wasn't alone as she took her last breaths. We finally laid them both to rest on Friday 6th July, at a joint funeral. They loved each other so much that it was only right we send them off together.

In less than six months I have lost another baby, lost that baby's father, quit my job, moved across the world, lost two grandparents, and started a new job. It has been overwhelming and emotionally exhausting, and is the main reason my blog and social media use has been quite sporadic this year, and why I've been a terrible friend and blogger, and haven't been commenting much on other blogger's posts too. When it rains, it pours, eh?

At some point I'll get the courage to share more and pour it all out. I had so many heartbreaking messages from women who related to my Grazia article, and then found me on social media and dropped me a message sharing their own story with me. It's really inspired me to share more of my story and how I've coped. But until then, this is what has been going on this year.

2018 has not been kind to me, so I'm hoping the last six months of the year are a little nicer and happier. I'm trying to look at the positives; I am home, I have an incredible new job that I LOVE so far, and I'm just trying to concentrate on really throwing myself into the new job and continuing to progress in my career.

And if any of you have been through baby loss or loss in general, and need to reach out to someone, please drop me an email or message whenever <3 

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  1. Such a brave post, why society makes us hide miscarriages I have no idea. They are a loss of a life and at a time when someone needs people most they have no idea. X

  2. I'm so sorry for all of your losses, Catherine, and thank you for sharing this - it can't have been easy. I too have had a miscarriage and was devastated. I didn't even think I wanted kids and was surprised at my positive reaction when the test said "Pregnant". But it wasn't meant to be and I learned that it happens to so many women and yet we still have trouble talking about it. Reading about others' experience has helped me, and I'm actually writing mine up, including a very recent and painful one, at the moment. Take care x


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