I had a miscarriage at 10 weeks pregnancy. It was my first pregnancy.
At 34 my partner and I decided to start trying to conceive. I had battled endometriosis and ovarian cysts for years and been on the pill for almost 10 years to help manage it. I was petrified of going off the pill – the pain of my endometriosis was unbearable, my period paid was extreme, and my ovaries seemed to like making regular cysts which would render me bedridden for days (and sometimes up to a week) at a time.
I wasn’t sure how my body would react to going off the pill – would I be able to have children?
To my surprise, after just 3 months of trying, it happened. I was pregnant! To say that I was over the moon is an understatement. I loved this unborn child from the moment I dreamed about him or her, and when I discovered I was pregnant it only intensified. I loved my baby like I had known it my whole life.
I started making plans straight away. I’d pass shops and see little booties or outfits, and I couldn’t resist buying a few. I had already started thinking about the nursery and making plans for my future baby shower.
Then at 9 weeks I noticed some spotting. I tried not to panic and called my doctor. The spotting was brown, and my doctor advised that this was probably old blood, and if it continued or turned red then I should call her straight back.
It did continue over the course of the next few days, the bleeding got heavier, and it did turn red.
I had an ultrasound as soon as possible that showed the formation of a major blood clot (bigger than the size of the baby), and yet the baby was developing well and had a strong heartbeat too at 151 beats per minute. I was told that the size of the clot meant that one of two things could happen. Either the body would reabsorb the blood and everything would be ok, or else the clot would rupture and cause placental abruption whereby the placenta would detach and a miscarriage would occur. The latter was most likely.
Probably the most heartbreaking thing anyone said to me was “It wasn’t a real baby yet, anyway”. But it was a baby. It was my baby.
Unfortunately the worst of the two possibilities happened. I had a natural miscarriage (which is another story in itself). It was a horrendous experience. I went through labour pains, dilated and gave birth to this tiny human, caught by my underwear that I had to see. Nobody told me what to expect or how painful it would be. The trauma of the whole happening sent me into shock, I suffered grief and post-traumatic stress, and it took me over a year to shake the image of my tiny baby’s body from my mind.
Probably the most heartbreaking thing anyone said to me was “It wasn’t a real baby yet, anyway”. But it was a baby. It was my baby. Just because he or she was only 10 weeks, it doesn’t mean that my baby wasn’t real or didn’t exist. It was a little growing human being, had a heartbeat and little toes and fingers. To say that it wasn’t a baby seemed to disregard my baby and also trivialise my grief, pain and the trauma of my experience.
My grief was real. My baby was real. It was a baby that I was creating, and that I loved with all my heart.
If a mother chooses to share her very painful experience with you, then please be mindful of the words you choose. If you say something hurtful, you become part of the reason why so many women choose instead to suffer in silence.
All mothers who have lost babies deserve thoughtfulness, understanding, love and support.