*trigger warning: pregnancy loss*
I feel so honoured to be sharing this post from my amazing friend Jo. Jo is one of an amazing group of women that I feel enormously privileged to know. We met at antenatal classes while pregnant with now 4 year olds. Little did i know the significance of that life in her tummy. And what a lucky girl her little one is - she totally lucked out in the parents stakes. And what a lucky mama I am - to be so privileged to call Jo my friend, to be kept sane by her on oh so many occasions and to watch her grow into the amazing mama and woman she has become. In the words of my wonderful friend Nissa, she is one strong mother.
Today, the 15th of October, is International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. Tonight people around the world will light candles at 7pm in their local time zone, creating a global Wave of Light in memory of tiny lives lost too soon.
The statistics tell us that approximately 1 in 4 women experience pregnancy loss. The NHS website goes on to state that 'Losing three or more pregnancies in a row is uncommon and only affects 1 in 100 women.' I suspect I'm oversensitive when it comes to this subject. The word 'only' seems dismissive. I am one of these women. I lost 6 pregnancies back to back over a three year period. I often refer to it as 'Miscarriage Groundhog Day', except there was no Bill Murray and it was marked by an absence of laughter.
I've written countless pieces on miscarriage in my head. Angry ones, indulgent ones, crusading ones. It's Friday 14th October and time is limited so I thought I'd share just two of my posts from the Mumsnet talk board to offer the tiniest insight into the experience of recurrent pregnancy loss. A cruel irony being that a website emblazoned with all that is motherhood was the only place to seek support at that time
22 December 2011
6 RMC's in 3 years - No DC, can't face Christmas
I don't know what to say really. I thought I was doing well but today I feel completely overwhelmed. I don't know what to do with myself I am so sad. It is really hard for others to understand how I'm feeling. It's my birthday in a few days too (cue even the crap eggs drying up). I have had every test going. There is nothing out there that will help. I am fed up of hearing people's tales of 'and then we did this and everything was ok'. I'm not sure why I'm even posting this.
And then ten people I've never met took the time to respond (two of them on Christmas Day), telling their stories and sending me virtual hugs. I felt broken, mentally and physically. The family focus of the holiday season, a 30 something birthday and an impending New Year felt burdensome and frightening rather than celebratory and hopeful. We'd reached the end of the period we'd given ourselves to try for another pregnancy and 2012 meant that we had to accept we would never have our own child. I didn't post on Mumsnet for 10 long months.
Sat 06 October 2012
I wanted to tell people a little of my experience as I have turned to mumsnet on various occasions over the last few years.
My last post on here was rather desperate - it was Christmas week and after a three month burst of trying to get pregnant (again) I had just got my period. I was about to turn 38 and was finding it hard to cope with the prospect of Christmas, birthday and New Year.
After my third mc I was referred to St Mary's at Paddington. On the whole I found it a fairly depressing place and experience. We were also lucky enough to get an appt with Mr Shehata at Epsom and St Helier where I had tests for NK cells. We paid to have appointments at Zita West and CARE in Notttingham. Every single investigation came back normal and there were no other tests to be had. It was increasingly hard to draw comfort from normal test results when our experience was one of repeated loss with no explanation and I was approaching my 40's. It was physically and mentally draining and I felt as if my life had been in limbo for three years whilst other people seems to pop out babies with no problem. As I checked off mc after mc I felt that I had to make other people feel better about our loss as they simply didn't know what to say anymore. It was harder for people to offer the usual platitudes and we had to accept that things were unlikely to change. Twice, I called our local authority for adoption information. I found myself feeling completely overwhelmed when I thought about not being a mum and being unable to give my husband our longed for baby. I felt incredibly alone a lot of the time and isolated from many of our friends. I would look for people who had similar experiences (on here) and only found people who already had children despite suffering the horror of repeated mc or people who had specific medical conditions which were resolved by different treatments or medication and whilst my heart went out to them I just felt even more hopeless.
In September of last year after giving ourselves a bit of a break after mc number 6 in March 2011 we decided to try for three months or one more pregnancy as we couldn't keep putting ourselves through the same devasting experience and needed to move on with our lives. In January I discovered I was pregnant again and again I feared I would lose it - I had bleeding at exactly the same stage as the other pregnancies but as the weeks moved on the bleeding stopped, we braced ourselves for an early scan at 9/10 weeks. There was a heartbeat and we were slightly further along than previously so we allowed ourselves to be cautiously optimistic. In reality, I was a bag of nerves but as we progressed through the 12 week scan and then the 20 week scan we relaxed a little.
Our DD was born last month. I've had no treatment and nothing is different to those other 6 pregnancies, apart from this this time (to use Lesley Regan's term) we got our 'take home baby'. Her middle name is 'Hope'.
I am indebted to three people for keeping me sane, my DH, a fantastically warm and witty acupuncturist and an NHS counsellor who I managed to get in my life after much pushing (and two rejections locally). It was worth it.
The experience of repeated pregnancy loss leaves a legacy in so many different ways. Since our amazing rainbow baby was born, I guess we have experienced 4 years of actual, real infertility and it is not without considerable pain. I did recently wonder whether, in fact, my body had actually decided to be kind to me. Had decided that I had gone through the enough and that it would actually allow me to focus on the things I have, rather than what I don't have. One of those is a brilliant and kind man who had to endure so much with no support and watch helplessly unable to fix anything and of course, we have our sweet, sweet girl who has brought so much joy into our home again. For that I am grateful. Thank you body.
There were no answers for us. Nothing that could be made good by expensive tests or grimly inserting pessaries. No fancy, scientific advance with a miraculous albeit costly successful pregnancy. No amount of herbal teas or enforced relaxation would have made any of those non-viable pregnancies result in a live birth. We just chose to roll the dice again.
The Miscarriage Association's current campaign is 'Here To Listen'. One day, I shall campaign on improving access to counselling for parents experiencing pregnancy loss. In the meantime, by sharing my story I can put myself in a position to listen to others' miscarriage journeys. I can only hope they feel less alone than I did. Please think about lighting a candle and sharing it on social media as a way of opening up to others and lessening the taboo of pregnancy loss.