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I have made a point of being very open about my life in this blog. There isn’t much I don’t talk about and I have found that baring my soul and opening up the doors to my life to be quite therapeutic. I’ve wanted to talk about this topic for a while, but the question was always how to approach it.
Then I realised, that is always the question when it comes to this. People don’t talk about this because they either don’t want to rehash the pain, don’t understand the pain or because the pain is just too much. I want to talk about this because I believe it will help me deal with it, and I hope that perhaps someone reading will find that it resonates with them too.
In October last year I had a miscarriage. I was 8 weeks pregnant with a very, very wanted little baby. Steve and I had spoken about having more children and we decided it was time for us. Within 3 months I was pregnant and we took that as a sign of things just meant to be.
As I have spoken about briefly before I suffered with Hyperemesis Gravidarum with my first pregnancy, however it went undiagnosed and with Alexander the nausea started at 3 weeks. That’s how I knew to test to see if I was pregnant.
This time around I was 4 weeks when I found out and I felt great. Over the next two weeks I had the usual fatigue that saw me falling asleep on the lounge at 5pm each night and a few smells made me feel a little off but nothing too bad. I was over the moon. Perhaps this pregnancy was just going to be perfect, I had the perfect man, the perfect lifestyle, the perfect little boy and I had a strong feeling this was going to be the perfect little girl to tie it all together.
At 6 weeks things changed. I woke up to get myself ready for work and within a few minutes of my feet touching the ground I was in the toilet throwing up. Okay… perhaps I was going to have a little morning sickness. Over the next few days it became worse and worse, the vomiting was more frequent, sometimes up to 10 times a day, the nausea was constant and the weight started to drop. I went and saw my GP who was very sympathetic and gave me Ondansatron to help with the nausea and vomiting. It worked, for a day. Two days later I could barely move, it was clear this was more than just morning sickness, I had hyperemesis again and it was back with a vengeance.
The hardest part about having hyperemesis isn’t the vomiting, it isn’t the absolute inability to do anything and surprisingly it isn’t the loneliness. It is the fact that not very many people actually understand what it is. They smile at you and say ‘have some ginger, it will help’ or give you well-meaning advice such as ‘have a cup of tea and biscuit before you get out of bed’. In the era of Kate Middleton having hyperemesis there has been some increase of its notoriety however even the media are doing a disservice to the severity of hyperemesis by saying that ‘the Princess has severe morning sickness’. Oh how I wish it was just severe morning sickness.
I could no longer keep my medication down, it was impossible to even drink water let alone actually eat something, even the act of rolling over in bed made me vomit. My saliva made me vomit, the breeze blowing through the window caused me to have vertigo and vomit, the smell of things I usually loved made me vomit. There was no end to it and no relief.
I was now down over 8% of my pre-pregnancy weight in just a few days. I went back to see my GP. My mum came to pick me up to take me to my appointment, her initial reaction when she saw me gave me even more of an indication of just how sick I was, at least how sick I looked. She helped me out to the car and into the GP office, carrying my sick bag and helping me walk because I was too weak to do it on my own. I couldn’t even sit in the waiting room, the receptionist put me into one of the vacant rooms on a bed.
My GP diagnosed my Hyperemesis Gravidarum again and set me up with a home IV which would run fluids and intravenous anti-emetics for me. The usual scenario would be that I would have to be admitted to hospital for such treatment however my GP knew that Steve and I were both paramedics and trusted our ability to care for the treatment at home.
The IV fluids and anti-emetics helped, but again, only for the first day. I spent my days in bed, wishing I could sleep because when I was sleeping I didn’t notice the nausea. Sometimes it would wake me, like a massive rush of nausea where I knew I only had seconds to grab my bucket before the heaving would begin. Sometimes I didn’t even get forewarned and the vomit would just be there. The effort to walk the 5 steps to the ensuite was more exhausting than I could ever describe, I spent a large portion of my time just curled up near the toilet, begging and praying for the sickness to pass.
Now I would give anything to feel that again, knowing it meant our little bean, our little poppy seed was growing.
I woke at 11pm one night with the worst bout of vomiting yet. I was heaving so hard I was literally choking at some points. I cried and cried, I would sip on water purely so I would have something to throw back up (usually I didn’t even get to swallow it, the act of trying to drink made me sick). I didn’t sleep that night. I laid beside the toilet, if you’ve ever been so sick you have actually laid beside the toilet then you know how helpless you feel at this point.
I woke Steve at around 5am and asked him to take me to the hospital. I knew there was no way I was going to be able to stay home any longer. I was physically and mentally exhausted, I had lost more weight and was so weak I could barely talk. I called my mum in tears and asked her to come and help with Alexander so I could go to hospital. Mum and two of my brothers were there in a flash. Steve had to help me shower and dress, there was no way I could do these tasks on my own.
The hospital trip was a whirlwind. The doctor wanted to check on the baby’s heart rate so used the doppler to find it. I knew something was wrong when they couldn’t find the heartbeat. The nurse tried to reassure me by saying that sometimes they cannot find the heartbeat with a doppler when you’re so early on in pregnancy. They then used the ultrasound to try and find the heartbeat.
There was nothing. No heartbeat. No sign of life. I could feel my own heart breaking.
All I could think of was how it was my fault, it was because I was sick, I wasn’t strong enough to hold her and keep her alive. Everything else was a blur. Steve was by my side the whole time, I don’t know if I couldn’t talk because I was so weak or because I just couldn’t figure out how to put words together to convey how I felt. What did I feel? How was I supposed to feel? We had told our close friends and family. Now what? I had to tell them I failed.
After Steve took me home from hospital I knew we would have to start telling people, especially our family. I couldn’t bring myself to use the words ‘miscarriage’. Instead I said that we lost our little bean. Like she went missing or something. She wasn’t missing, she was gone. We even referred to her as a ‘she’ right from the start because I had felt so strongly about it. We nicknamed her ‘Poppy’ because she was the size of a poppy seed when we found out I was pregnant.
I wasn’t prepared for people’s reactions. Some just were silent or offered a simple ‘I’m sorry’ (in my mind I wondered why they said they were sorry, they didn’t do anything wrong, I saw this as my fault, not theirs). Other’s said odd things like ‘I guess you’ll just have to try again’, or ‘at least you weren’t too far along’. Try again?? Go through this heart ache again? This pregnancy didn’t work out, we’ll just try another one. How do people think that? I wasn’t that far along I guess, because my 8 week old pregnancy is less of a pregnancy than a 12 week or 20 week pregnancy. Are they trying to measure the pain of a loss in direct correlation to the number of weeks pregnant at the time of the loss?
I realised that people didn’t know what to say, or how to react, because miscarriage is not something we talk about a lot. I read a statistic somewhere that 1 in 4 pregnancies end up as miscarriages. 1 in 4. That means you probably know someone who has had a miscarriage, or perhaps even had one or more yourself. Yet we don’t talk about it.
The pain is unimaginable. You need your friends and family around you. You need support. You need to know you’re not alone. For me, I needed people to talk to, I needed people to know that our little baby did exist, she was real and that the love I felt for her was real. I don’t want her to be forgotten. We have a little angel baby. She was loved so much in her short little time. I don’t ever want to forget that.
So think about it for yourself. Do you know someone who has suffered a loss? Did you know what you wanted to say to them? Did you offer support? Sometimes it can be as simple as letting them know you’re there, giving them a hug and letting them vent. A miscarriage is a loss, we mourn, we hurt and we grieve. Share this post on Facebook and Twitter, pin it on Pinterest and email it to every woman you know. Spread the word that it is okay to talk about miscarriage, let someone know you’re there to listen if they need to talk.