This blog has been a few weeks coming. Since losing Squishy I have been trying to process the thoughts in my head, but I haven’t been able to until now. So, I think it’s time to try and write this down. A warning – this may contain descriptions that some readers may find distressing.
I think in order to understand loss, you need to understand pregnancy. For me, seeing those two lines on a test was the result of two years and four months worth of waiting, hoping and dreaming. Some months I had gone mad with what I thought were “symptoms” of pregnancy only to have my hopes dashed. Every month was an effort of first OPKing and trying to get a positive OPK, then hoping and praying that the donor was available. Then worrying about administering the donations followed by the wait for a period or a positive test. Even when I knew my period was coming I still had the hope that maybe, just maybe, this was our month.
Needless to say every single month we were disappointed. Some months I didn’t even bother testing. But then our BFP cycle rolled around and I took a test the day my period was due. I squinted. I saw a second line. I sent Amy, who was at work, a picture. She could see it too. I shared with friends on baby and bump. They could see it. I did a Clearblue + test and there it was. Two beautiful blue lines. I was pregnant. I called Amy and we squeaked for a while.
That night we went to Tesco and got some first response tests. They were positive too. That was the moment everything changed. After two years and four months we had created our first child. The child we had dreamed about and already had a few little things for, the child we had longed for and already had names picked out for. This was it. I felt fiercely protective over this teeny tiny human, and I know Amy felt much the same. Over the coming weeks we muddled through, hoping that everything was ok and counting down to our early scan at eight weeks. We bought a few little things. We took weekly “this week Squishy is the size of a…” pictures and I posted weekly blog updates about how they were developing.
At what I thought was seven weeks, I had a bleed that forced me down to the early pregnancy unit at St Thomas’ Hospital in London. Amy left work early to come. They scanned me and… Bad news. Baby was measuring between five and six weeks. No heartbeat. They reassured me that they could just be a little bit behind, especially as I had long cycles. I worked out that from ovulation I would actually only be six weeks pregnant, so we booked to come back in two weeks to see what was going on. That day I sat outside the hospital with Amy and I cried and cried and cried. I don’t know why considering my dates could have just been out, but it was so very upsetting that we didn’t see what we wanted to see.
Over the next week, henceforth known as the longest week there has ever been, we tried to relax. We both googled until we had read just about every story on the Internet, both positive and negative. We came out none the wiser. I had bled pretty much every day, only tiny bits but nearly constantly. A week after my first EPU visit the bleeding ramped up a notch. We were already in London so we headed to a different EPU (St Thomas’ had already closed) and sat and waited. I started to cramp. I think we both knew what was coming, but neither of us wanted to admit it.
I had a scan and our fears were confirmed. I was meant to be 7+4 and the baby measured no more than six weeks. Still no heartbeat and the sac had moved down and was sitting just above my cervix. They told us that chances were not good at all. Amy broke down straight away, but I was totally numb. I don’t think I really took it in at first. I didn’t take it in when we left the hospital. I didn’t take it in when we went to the chemist to buy sanitary pads and painkillers. I didn’t take it in when the bleeding got worse later that night.
My worst fear with this situation was that we would have to wait ages for it to be over, that I would have to take pills or have surgery. I hoped it would begin naturally and end naturally so that we could move on. That night it began. The bleeding was horrid. I was on the toilet for eight hours straight – from 10pm until 6am. I made attempts to go to bed a couple of times. Once I made it into bed and had to get back out, the second time I walked into the bedroom and had pain so bad that I fell to the floor and had to wait for it to pass before I went back to the toilet. I’ve said before, but no one tells you how painful a miscarriage is. No one tells you there will be contractions. No one tells you that painkillers won’t even touch the pain that you’re in and it is so bad that it will make you scream, cry and vomit up any food you managed to eat before it started.
Thankfully the worst of it was over by that morning. I still had occasional pains and I was still bleeding a lot, but it was under control. I went back to the EPU and they confirmed everything had passed. We went home and cried some more. I felt like our hopes had been dashed. This little human who we had looked forward to welcoming into the world was gone. We had planned how many weeks pregnant we would be at certain events. Our god daughters christening? Sixteen weeks. Our holiday to New York? Twenty two weeks. Now? Nothing. No weeks pregnant. Empty.
One thing I didn’t expect was the feeling of bitterness. I had felt upset whilst trying to conceive and it had got the better of me a few times. But the bitterness now? A hundred times what it was before. But what is worse is that I hate myself for it. I get pissed off when people announce pregnancies, but then I get annoyed with myself for feeling like that. Why shouldn’t they be happy? It’s not their fault I miscarried. It’s not their fault that they get a baby and we got a bloody mess. But as much as I try to rationalise, I know the bitterness won’t go away. I know it’s a natural reaction to grief.
Let’s talk about grief. Yes, parents grieve for their lost babies. It doesn’t matter whether that loss is at five weeks, eight weeks, twelve weeks or sixteen weeks, we all grieve. I’m not going to compare a relatively early loss to a later loss as I have never experienced it, but I know my loss at the relatively early point of almost eight weeks was very very painful. Well meaning words from some people provided no comfort.
“You’ll get your baby.” I don’t want any baby, I want that baby.
“At least you know you can get pregnant.” What’s the point of being able to get pregnant if I can’t stay pregnant?
“Sometimes these things happen”. But why? Why do they happen?
“Hey, at least you have more time to do couple things now”. Are you joking?
“At least you didn’t bond” Didn’t bond?!?!
“It was just a ball of cells”. A ball of cells? That was OUR ball of cells that WE created. That gorgeous little ball of cells could have been our baby.
It’s irrational, but it’s grief. Grief is irrational.
The people who just ignored it were the worst. The ones who expected us to just get back to normal. Didn’t even acknowledge our loss. When I mentioned it they either went silent on me, or changed the subject. I’m sure it was that they did not know what to say, but it came across as pretty heartless.
All to often these stories are written once a couple have their rainbow baby, once the storm is over and things feel ok again. But I think it’s important to acknowledge what we are feeling now. I know these feelings are normal. They’re just very hard to deal with.
So, it’s nine weeks on from our loss and we are healing, the bitterness is still in full force and we are still definitely grieving for our lost little one, but it gets slightly easier with each day. I believe in spirit babies and I really do believe that Squishy is just waiting for a healthy body and he/she will come back to us. And hopefully next time they will be the stickiest little Squishy there ever was and they will bring us so much joy. They will heal the wound made by the loss. But until that day we are just muddling through. Just one day at a time is the best we can do.