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Wednesday, March 02, 2011

I've Had Three Miscarriages. You?

The first was the most difficult. 

It was my first pregnancy. In fact, when I saw the bleeding, I had yet to officially discover that I was pregnant. I absolutely felt that I was (nausea, darkened nipples, sensitive breasts), so I had to know for sure this wasn't something I was imagining. I was at work at the time. I went straight to the local Chemist, purchased a pregnancy test kit, and returned to the bathroom at work to confirm what I was certain I already knew: I was pregnant.

After the test, I called my husband and told him what had happened. Then I made an appointment with my GP for the following morning. I had a blood test to determine my pregnancy hormone levels (which were deemed on the low side, but within reasonable levels in regard to my dates). Then I flew interstate the day after that with my husband to attend a wedding, not knowing whether I’d still be pregnant on my return.

After almost a week, I discovered the baby I had planned and hoped for wasn’t to be. (Although, I should point out, this was no surprise to me. I had felt from the beginning that my baby would not survive.) In fact, the miscarriage happened, unfortunately, the day of the wedding.

Terrible timing.

I still attended the wedding though, and smiled through the pain, determined not to make the day about me. I recall being confused at dinnertime during the reception. At the time, I was avoiding a bunch of foods that I deemed unsafe to eat during pregnancy. Could I still eat the prawns set in front of me? After all, I wasn’t really pregnant anymore, was I?

My second miscarriage occurred the following month. No sooner had I confirmed I was pregnant, the bleeding commenced. Again. It was at that point that I started to wonder if I was only capable of conceiving – just not carrying a baby to full term.

Not long after that, I saw an Ob/Gyn and a few months later, I finally fell pregnant again. This time, a child would be born. My first son arrived safe and sound in March 2002.

Between my second and third sons, I miscarried for a third time. This time, I coped with it a little better than my first two miscarriages. Partly because I had two healthy boys already, and partly because I knew it didn’t necessarily mean I couldn’t have a healthy baby again. Within a couple more cycles, I was very fortunate and blessed to fall pregnant with my third son.

During my miscarriages, apart from my husband and my Ob/Gyn, I told no one about losing my babies. Well, except for my first miscarriage actually, because I was staying with my parents at the time, and so they needed to know what was going on. (Fortunately, in the months that followed my miscarriage, my Mum never asked me after that if I was pregnant. She just waited patiently until the good news arrived.)

Many women keep miscarriage to themselves, for various reasons. Many (like myself) don’t want to tell people they’re trying for a baby, and admitting a miscarriage obviously gives people the heads up as to your plans. Some think it unlucky to talk about pregnancy before everything is deemed fine. Some just find it too private and personal to discuss. Many find it too difficult and upsetting to talk about - how do you a mourn a child that was never born to you?

I feel I was fairly fortunate when it came to my miscarriages. All three occurred during early pregnancy (pre-six weeks), so I had no medical procedures to endure afterwards. Unlike a girl I worked with during my first (full term) pregnancy. She told me at 11 weeks she was expecting. She was too excited to keep it from me a second longer. At the time, she and her husband had just started telling close family of their good news and were planning to tell friends after their first scan. Within a week of telling me though, my friend experienced spotting. She visited her Ob/Gyn the following day only to find her baby had died at 8 weeks. It took her a very long time to come to terms with her miscarriage. In fact, it was a good year or more before she felt ready to try for another baby (and eventually went on to have a daughter).

However, one thing she did was talk about it. We had many conversations about her loss. She sought counselling that was made available through work. She talked with friends and family. This, no doubt, helped her through a very difficult healing period.

Unfortunately, her willingness to share is rather unusual.

If you sit down with a bunch of friends, and someone brings up the subject of miscarriage, you’ll soon discover just how many other women have experienced the same thing. It will surprise you, because many of these women have kept this information to themselves for a very long time. 

Mia Freedman wrote a beautiful piece for the Sun Herald some time back, which she then posted on her blog. She likened those who had experienced miscarriage as being members of a ‘secret society’. She wrote, “Through the fog of my grief [Mia lost a child in the latter stages of one pregnancy], I discovered that pregnancy loss is like a secret society you never asked to join. You don’t realise how many members there are until you become one of them.”

And it’s those feelings that really need to be shared, because by sharing, we may just feel that little bit more comforted by knowing that there are others who understand our pain. If you have experienced miscarriage, one thing is for certain: you are not alone.


Kerri Sackville said...

I've had 4 miscarriages, mostly around the 9 week mark. Because I'm a talker, and I share things with my friends, I know that most of my friends have had at least one miscarriage too, and some have had many. It's hard, but for me, anyway, the pain of each miscarriage completely dissipated with the birth of a healthy child. However, the experience is different for everyone.
The more we share, the more support we can offer each other. Well done for sharing your experience.

Dorothy said...

I've never had a miscarriage, but I've had friends who did. I guess I only know about the ones that did talk about it, but yes it does seem like a secret society.

It's the same with PND, or any other mental health issue, abortion, and family violence, just to name a few taboo subjects.

We hold those things close to our heart, thinking we are alone and suffer in silence. It's only when one person starts talking that the rest of us unravel and suddenly we are not alone.

I tend to talk openly about these things, but unless others have been through the same experience, they don't understand and don't seem to want to.

Thank you for writing this piece...

Kellie said...

After trying for a baby for quite a long time, I ended up having a miscarriage quite early on (I think about eight weeks). So when I finally fell pregnant with my now three year old, the joy was magnified. I didn't tell anyone about the miscarriage until well into my second trimester with her. I had another `scare' after falling pregnant with my second, but am grateful that she held on in there and is now a roly poly li'l five month old.
I'm so glad you've written this piece. I think it's something we should talk about and share more. So, thank you.

katepickle said...

I've had three too... one early and two 'missed miscarriages' that ended in DnCs.

If you are able to stalk about it, it's amazing how many people you know who have been through it. Blogs like With Tears of Love and posts like this really help to break the silence and allow people to share even if they aren't able to do so in real life.

Linda said...

I'm one of the few people I know who has not had a miscarriage. Equally, many people suffer through infertility or still birth or something else horrendous.

This world isn't apparent when you are child-free (by choice) but I have been quite stunned a few times over by the amount of difficulty and pain people go through to have their families. Or not.

It seems like it should be easy... modern medicine and all that, but having children is still a miracle every time.

~~Kallie~~ said...

I had thirteen miscarriages. Nine of them required a D&C, the others were earlier in pregnancy. They ranged from 18 weeks down to 7 weeks and of course I lost my second son two hours after his birth at 32 weeks & my eldest was 34 weeks. Never did a full term pregnancy.

I'm a talker so most of my friends know about the miscarriages and of course, all know about my sons. I know many women who've had at least one, some who've had none but yet yo meet anyone who was as pig-headed as me about having a baby lol I found my first one (at 18 weeks) to be the easiest. My eldest son was only 5 months old & I hadn't known I was pregnant so it didn't have the impact the later ones did when I was trying so hard to have another baby. The hardest one (at 11.5 weeks)was just after my eldest son died, I was in such a bad place I knew I wasn't capable of caring for a baby then but it was really tough letting go of that dream at such a bad time...

So glad I got off that merry-go-round and adopted my beautiful children :)

Ami said...

I'm extremely fortunate to not have had any miscarriages. During my pregnany last year at about 7 weeks I started bleeding. I have never been so scared. Thankfully all was ok and we now have our beautiful girl Sophie. I can not even begin to imagine how it would have felt had we not had a happy outcome.

I tend to be a sharer, but not sure if I would have shared having a miscarriage, although some friends did already know I was pregnant. My friend who is a psychologist thought it was great that we shared our news early on (albeit, only because Hubby accidently let it slip) and she said that if something had have happened you would want the support of your family and friends, and she feels that women shouldn't be afraid to be open and honest about it.

Thanks for sharing your story Jodie. It's a club that nobody wants to be a part of, but I'm sure there's more members than we all realise. xxx

Corinne – Daze of My Life said...

I have had one miscarriage. At 11 weeks, which was discovered through a scan. I then had a D&C. It was my first pregnancy.

I never kept it a secret, talk about it openly and have blogged about it a couple of times. That definitely helped me and I hope that it helped my friends who went onto have miscarriages.

I felt a lot of bitterness when I had my miscarriage that so many people didn't speak out and kept quiet. I also felt that a lot of people felt uncomfortable about my talking about it, that it was something that should be kept quiet, which angered me as I needed to recognise it.

Thank you for sharing your story. x

Anonymous said...

Am ususally not Anon, but will be for this one.
I have had one miscarrige and one threatened one that was a night of horribleness turning into endless weeks of bedrest to carry my baby to term. I was lucky and did.
I have also had 4 abortions. Something I have found is that this is seldom if ever understood - whatever the reason, however pro choice the person is who you are speaking to, so you shut up, deal with the pain and grief and get on with it.
None of my abortions were my choice - not really.
None of them could have been carried to term - but not for illness or genetic reasons.
The first one - the father was too young, my family was falling apart, everyone in my life told me I had no option.
The second - very similar situation - except I was on medication that could have already harmed the baby - was told termination was a necessary medical proceedure.
The third - a rape. Couldn't carry the child. Couldn't get out of bed. Couldn't function. Again I did what everyone told me and aborted.
The forth - it was abort the baby or the father would leave. He made me choose. His family made me more than aware of how selfish it would be to keep the child. So I aborted again.
In all these cases (bar one) I was either on the pill or a condom was used.
In all these cases I have mourned and cried and tried so hard to move on and just can't.
I was always pro choice. But sometimes there isn't a choice. Sometimes you aren't strong enough to tell everyone in your world they are wrong even if it means destroying something you already love.
Now there is something no one talks about.
(feel free not to publish this comment - it is very full on - apologies)

Miss Pink said...

I have to agree with you it is amusing that when you bring it up you find that many many people have also had a miscarriage. Many people have trouble conceiving. Many people fight with their husbands behind closed doors! We tend to only let people see the best of us, the happier sides to life, and we often close the door on the less than pretty stuff, and thus, unintentionally make people feel alone in their times of need, of wanting some understanding.

I am fortunate enough not to miscarry, yet. I say yet because i have many many baby making years ahead of me, and Mr Black and myself seem to have no trouble conceiving (whether planned or not!). But i have such compassion for those who have trouble conceiving, who lose a baby. I almost miscarried Greenie, and i think that experiece grounded me a lot. We had wanted a little girl the second time around, and after that scare at 7 weeks into my pregnancy i remember thinking to myself "I don't care what you are baby, just live, hold on there" which is why i have never ever had an issue with being a mum to two boys. He is perfect the way he is.
Actually, i think you have inspired a blog post for me to write myself about my pregnancies and finding out, so thank you.

And i truely am sorry for your losses. It is a pain no one should ever have to feel.

Sue said...

I joined that 'secret club' when I lost my first pregnancy at 9 weeks and a D&C followed. I was astonished to find very close friends had experienced the same heartache and I had never known.

I was so angry at the cultural expectation that I would quietly get on with things & not speak of my grief and loss.

When I fell pregnant again the delight was tarnished a little by the fear of another loss, and that fear grew when I found I was carrying identical twins - a high risk pregnancy. I miscarried at 11 1/2 weeks & had another D&C, just as I'd started breathing & feeling that things were going to be OK. The pit of grief that I feel into was deep, and dark. And again, the expectations of when I "should" be moving on caused further pain and anger.

Since then there have been two early miscarriages not requiring medical intervention, and each time there has been almost a gratefulness that the loss came early if the pregnancy wasn't going to result in a baby in my arms.

For me, the miscarriages have resulted in another loss - the loss of the joy of pregnancy. I envy friends who genuinely enjoy their pregnancies, not constantly worrying that every twinge is the beginning of the end, not constantly obsessing over symptoms, not holding their breath as each impossibly slow day passes.

How I'll stay sane through those long months of worry should I be fortunate to experience another pregnancy I'm not sure. I hope one day I'll be able to share some wisdom on how I did that.

Thank you for sharing your story. I really believe there is enormous value in talking about this very common experience, and breaking down the cultural taboos that mean too many women suffer this heartbreak in lonely silence.

Thea said...

Yes, me too.
I've had one between my two children.
Had some spotting then the scan at 12wks showed a blighted ovum. That was devastating, it's like there was never a baby and yet I had all the symptoms...for nothing!
Then to make matters worse I tried to wait it out for a natural miscarriage, but 2 months later still nothing. So I had to go for a D&C on my birthday.
The good news was, 2 months later I was pregnant with my beautiful little girl.

Sarah said...

We struggled with in fertility & have had a few. I have lost five pregnancies very early on, as in my period was a day or so late but I had positive tests. We also lost a baby at 10 weeks last year. Everyone knows about the 10 week loss, but not so much the other ones.

Tara @ Our Whirlwind Adventures said...

Reading your story, and the story of the other women who have commented has broken my heart.
No, I have never miscarried. For that, I am eternally grateful. My Mum was pregnant before she had me, and was halfway through her pregnancy before the father kicked her and caused her baby to miscarry. The fact that I could have had an older sister who was stolen from me, hurts, still to this day, and it wasn't my body, my child.
I think you are all strong angels, to have gone through this incredible loss, and have the courage to talk about your losses. You are amaazing, and I am incredibly sorry this happened to you beautiful people xoxoxox

Miss Ruby said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Miss Ruby said...

we've been trying for a viable pregnancy for 11 years. i've had countless miscarriages [too many than i wish to count]. i tell people IF they ask but otherwise i don't share because people just don't know what to say and i'd prefer they didn't know, than know and say nothing.

i grieve for my losses everyday, and probably more so now we will never have a children, something i never thought i'd ever say - it just adds to the grief.

fabulous post.


Erin said...

I never understood why people don't talk about it. I found it helped. Although, I also found that there was a lot of sympathy offered. When I probably didn't want it. I just wanted to move on. As hard as it was, I felt I needed to.
I have had five pregnancies for three healthy children. My first miscarriage was devestating! Very similar to your first one. I knew I was pregnant. I had just seen the doctor to confirm it and within 24 hours I was mourning my babies loss. Made harder by stupid comments made by stupid doctors at the hospital. I underwent an internal ultrasound, the doctor felt it necessary to comment on the condom he placed on the 'probe' thingy, and how we should try using one! Thanks [expletive]!! Four months later I fell pregnant with my gorgeous six year old daughter.
Four years later I went through the same thing. Except this time needing a d&c. I think it may have been even harder than the first as we had been actively trying for another baby. Made worse by the fact that a friend and my sister in law announced their pregnancies shortly after my loss. I felt very selfish for feeling the way I did. I didn't talk about it. But, sure enough, four months later I was pregnant again and carried full term for a gorgeous little man whom just turned two.
Both times we'd gotten to a point where the pregnancies had been announced to family. Both times we had to tell everyone of the loss. So everyone knew. When I meet people I don't offer up the information. And the one thing that gets me through is knowing that if I had carried those pregnancies through to term I would not have the beautiful babies I have now.

The post by anonymous broke my heart. Same with Miss Ruby! I could never imagine having to be in either of those situations! I count myself as blessed to have only experienced two, and to be lucky enough to have my three gorgeous bubbas!

River said...

I've had one miscarriage, at 7 weeks. I already had three children, and I'm pretty sure the miscarriage was my own fault because I did what I'd always done when pregnant. I have a crazy urge to start a new garden, so outside I went and started digging up a small section of the yard for new flowers. unfortunately this particular yard had very hard clay soil and the effort of digging was my undoing. I think. Anyway, my doctor sent me straight to the hospital when I reported the spotting and a day later (on Mother's Day) I lost the baby. Went home the next day. I thought the loss didn't affect me at all, life went on as usual, until I saw a movie that had a newborn baby in it and I bawled my eyes out. Three months later, I was 10 weeks pregnant with my fourth baby.

Naomi said...

I had one. It was my first pregnancy, and it was also during a round of fertility treatment - artificial insemination, not IVF.

It happened on boxing day. A day after my sister told me she was pregnant. I have a photo of that day, because I told no one, and because we were having a get together with friends so of course photos were taken. I hate that photo. I also had not told many people we were having fertility treatment.

My specialist was so kind, so caring, I pushed it down and went on with life, which at that point was centred around trying to fall pregnant.

Six months later I fell pregnant with my son. I told people I was pregnant straight away this time, as I felt that if anything happened I wanted people to know this time.

Thank you for writing about this Jodie, I really think we need to talk about this more, support and comfort each other more in this, so thank you.

Taryn said...

Thanks for sharing Jodie. I have 3 kids and not one miscarriage. From experience most women have had at least one. It is such a common issue that most women face and yet it is astounding that it hardly ever shared. xx

Jodie at Mummy Mayhem said...

Ladies - thank you ALL for sharing your amazing stories and for your comments on this post. I truly do believe that by sharing we are not only helping ourselves, but helping others.

Kallie - You are such a strong woman. Having read your blog about losing your kids...you amaze me. xx

Corinne - I understand exactly what you're saying. The friend I spoke about in the post said that altho she had a lot of support, there were also others who found it hard to talk to her about her loss. Sometimes though, I think some people are just so worried about saying the wrong thing, hence they keep their thoughts to themselves and perhaps appear unsupportive.

Anon - I am so very sorry you have had to go through what you did. Thank you for sharing, and totally respect your wanting to remain anon for this post. xx

Sue - My thoughts and prayers are with you that someday you'll hold that baby in your arms. x

Miss Ruby - my heart goes out to you. I hope you have a really great support system surrounding you. But if you ever want to 'chat' - my email link is on my homepage. xx

River - please don't blame yourself for your miscarriage. I have a friend who had no idea she was pregnant and did all sorts of things, including really hard exercise, drinking, a migraine drug, and she had a healthy baby. Sometimes this is just about timing. xx

MomAgain@40 said...

One miscarriage at 11 weeks.
I still think of the "boy" (I knew immediately it was a boy) we lost, but then we wouldn't have known our beautiful toddler girl we have now!
I think we don't talk about it, and other people don't want to bring up the subject, because it is just too traumatic!

Bec @ Bad Mummy said...

I've lost two pregnancies and one twin--which we initially thought was the end of the pregnancy but found out it wasn't at 20 weeks.

I've talked about all of them publicly but the twin loss I've only spoken about to a degree because there are certain people in my family who wouldn't cope with it well.

Being Me said...

Great post, Jodie. I think it is far less taboo than it used to be. 11 m/c's for me, from 14 pregnancies. Most thankfully early but at least 5 (I've honestly lost count) snuck past the do-or-die 6 week mark and I've had about 4 D&C's (as well as having to terminate a barely live 10 week-old baby girl the year we lost our firstborn daughter in '04).

Oh yeah. Me and the wringer know each other well.

It wasn't until my second (now 4.5 year old) daughter came along that I felt qualified enough to turn around and say, no, m/c DOES count and it DOES hurt. Before, I let too many unknowing people judge and opinionate about my grief over my losses. So much so, that my book has come about out of that need to dispel further this awful side to unacknowledged but real despair - for women and their partners, who sometimes equally suffer in silence.

If it is of any interest, feel free to link to this post I did after discovering a personal insight from my almost countless losses over the past 10 years:


Photographer Mum said...

I too, have suffered from miscarriage. The first was devastating and took me a long time to let it go emotionally. It was my first pregnancy and happened at 10 weeks. It resulted in a D&C which was something I wish never to repeat. The second time was in-between my first and 2nd children. I found out I was pregnant, in the process of miscarrying and moved house all in the same day. Not fun.
I have written the story of my first one but haven't published it as yet, it's been in the draft folder for a while, waiting for an appropriate time to be read by an audience. Thank you for sharing your story, you have inspired me to publish mine.

Maxabella said...

Heartbreaking stuff, I know so many women who have been through this. The grieving is a personal thing. x