Today is October 15th, which means it’s Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. Today is the day we think about those who have lost their babies during pregnancy, birth or shortly after.
This day holds a special place in my heart. Not many people are aware of this, but Neal (my husband) and I suffered 2 losses last year. One in June, and another in November (the month before we conceived Dominic). I wouldn’t normally share this sort of thing, and what I will write is very personal to me. But when we went through our losses I found that reading other women’s stories, and being able to relate to them made it somewhat easier to deal with. So, if anyone who has or is suffering from a loss can find any comfort in reading my story, it’s worth it.
Both of my losses were early on. The first was at 8 weeks, the second at only 5. People often make the mistake of assuming that a miscarriage early on doesn’t hit the couple/mum/dad as hard as it would later on – this couldn’t be further from the truth. The moment a woman sees that positive pregnancy test she becomes a mother. She immediately starts dreaming about her baby – what those first kicks will feel like, what the baby will look like, holding him/her in her arms. It all starts from that very moment.
The first time we fell pregnant, Neal and I were over the moon. It really was a dream come true. We immediately started thinking about baby names, taking weekly photos of my tummy, buying creams and vitamins etc. We were ignorant to the fact that 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage – I mean, you hear about these things, but they never really happen to you. Right? We were so excited we started telling people who were closest to us, we started celebrating and dreaming about the future. We were on cloud 9.
Then, at just 8 weeks I noticed a small amount of bleeding while at work. My heart instantly sunk. I quickly Googled “bleeding at 8 weeks pregnant”. I needed reassurance, I need to know that my baby was okay. The bleeding stopped for a bit, but I couldn’t take my mind off it. Surely this wouldn’t happen to me?
Later that night the bleeding continued, and carried on until the next day. I was at work and I couldn’t think of anything else. I had to leave. I told my manager and he assured me that everything was going to be okay, but to go and get checked for peace of mind – I was very lucky he was so understanding, I’m sure some others may not have been. I remember going to A&E feeling so hopeful. They were going to tell me that my baby was okay, and it was something else that had caused the bleeding and we’d be fine. There was no pain after all, all the forums told me I’d be in pain. Unfortunately A&E couldn’t do much to help, but they did book me in for a scan the next morning at the Early Pregnancy Unit (EPU).
That night was horrible. Any remaining positivity I had had disappeared. I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep and I couldn’t talk to anyone. I just lay on my bed in silence. My husband tried but failed to keep me positive. He thought we’d be fine, he was managing to stay positive. He was my rock.
The next morning when I woke I felt empty. We went to the EPU still, trying to hold onto any hope that we were not losing our baby. There were a few other women in the waiting room with me, they all went in for their scans and soon came out. Everything was fine, their babies were fine. That filled me with hope. If it was okay for them it would be for me too. We were left waiting an hour, it was the longest hour of my life. I can’t really remember the rest, it was all a blur until I was on the bed and they were scanning me. I couldn’t look at the screen, I didn’t want to see my empty belly. But I could see it in my husbands face, our baby had stopped growing. Our little angel had died.
It really doesn’t matter how soon into a pregnancy you are, if you lose a baby, no matter how early on, it destroys you. I felt so cheated. I’d wanted this baby for years, I’d waited so long for this time, and it had been ripped away from me all too quickly. I didn’t want to believe it, I tried to fool myself that they were wrong. Deep down I knew they weren’t, but I just couldn’t accept it. Not yet.
It wasn’t until the following week when they checked me again that they’d confirmed 100% that our baby was gone, and I finally had to accept it. It took months for me to feel normal again, but eventually I did. It wasn’t easy, but with the support of my husband and family I got there.
In November, I finally got that big fat positive we’d been waiting for. But unfortunately this pregnancy was cut short too. Just a week later I started to bleed, and the pregnancy tests were now coming back as negative. This broke our hearts again, but I think we distanced ourselves from it that time. Neal wouldn’t accept that I was pregnant quite yet, and I wouldn’t allow myself to get attached. It was easier, but still heartbreaking.
Just one month later I fell pregnant with Dominic, my little bouncing bundle of joy. Of course the pregnancy was terrifying, I was convinced I had lost him, but we made it. I wish I could let all women/men know that no matter how tough it is, there is light at the other side. We will never forget, and will always remember our little angels. They will always have a place in our hearts, but rest assured, it will eventually get easier.
Today is the day we remember them, and raise awareness in honour of our sleeping babies. Today is the day I will be thinking of my little angels, and all those other women (and men) who have lost theirs.