Learning That We Are Not Alone
When we experienced our first miscarriage, no-one knew we were even trying. In fact, we almost didn’t know we were trying as we got pregnant in our very first month of officially trying. A dream come true, right? Well, not so much. We lost our baby a few days after our first ever positive pregnancy test. First some cramping, then some spotting and then a full on bad period. We were told this is normal, almost 20-25% of pregnancy end in miscarriage. So, picked ourselves back up and continued trying. We really wanted a happy birth announcement so we kept our loss to ourselves. We never told a soul.
A few months later, we were pregnant again. Our doctor and counsellor, the only two people who knew. We were nervous and excited all at the same time. Our hearts were ready, we wanted this baby more than anything. One day I saw bright pink blood. Not a lot of it, but enough that I was scared. I went to the hospital where I was told that our babies fetal heart rate was too low and I would likely miscarry. After a few excruciating weeks of watching our babies heart beat vanish, we lost our baby and I had an emergency D&C surgery after misoprostol did not work. Everyone kept telling us that two consecutive miscarriage is normal, so once again we told no-one. I was admitted to the hospital and required to stay overnight and we told no-one. We suffered in silence.
Once again, few months later, we were pregnant again. Things were looking good right away as my beta’s doubled just as they should. But, at our 6 week ultrasound our babies heart rate was just not strong enough. This little baby had no chance. It was at this time that everything started to change. First, this baby refused to give up and let go quickly. Yet we knew this baby would never make it to full term let alone ever take a breath of air. We knew our baby would die, and so we began to wait for the inevitable. The second big change was that we were now considered 1% of couples that will experience Recurrent Pregnancy Loss – known as three consecutive miscarriages. We were now 1 in 8 who would be diagnoses with infertility. Know this, and knowing that our path to our family would not be typical we started to tell selectively tell some family and friends. Most were shocked, they had no idea we were even trying let alone that this would mark our third loss. It was hard, but the outpouring of love that we received was desperately needed as at 13 weeks, my body was sick with the early signs of a septic miscarriage. My body could not sustain our child’s dying life and mine. I underwent an abortion to save my life. This was the hardest day of my life. Very few people knew at that time, but the love we received from those who did was invaluable.
We took a month or two off from trying. We went on a much needed vacation to escape from our hurt, if only for a few days. And we told a few more people during this time. We slowly lifted our self-imposed veil of secrecy and suddenly didn’t feel like we had to lie. We no longer had to cover up for why I wasn’t drinking alcohol or why we couldn’t attend a family function. Suddenly almost everyone began to show us compassion and support. Not everyone was great, but by far most tried to support us. While they didn’t always get it right, sometimes their words unintentionally left us hurting. But, almost every single person in our lives tried to support us, and that’s what mattered.
We went on to have a fourth miscarriage. And a fifth miscarriage. While going through our fourth loss I started my blog – My Perfect Breakdown. My world opened up in a way I never knew possible. My eyes became wide to the suffering that exists within the larger infertility community. My heart became full with compassion for others suffering and surviving. My support system now consisted of men and women who get it – people who understand what baby loss is like and what the loss of the family dream is like. We’ve built cross-country, cross-continent and even cross-world friendships by our common loss solidarity. Whether we have lost our hopes and our dreams by being unable to achieve a pregnancy or through the miscarriage and stillbirths, we are bound together by our common struggle.
The blogging community taught me that no-matter what, we are never alone unless we want to be. I didn’t realize this at the time, but during our first three losses, I chose to be alone and I chose to suffer in silence. Outside of our medical team and an amazing counsellor, I did not reach out to anyone for support. I chose to follow the societal norm of suffering in silence, and with hindsight being 20/20 this approach was simply cruel and unnecessary torture. Now that I know there is a world of compassion, love and support from those who understand, I am beyond thankful. I take comfort in knowing that I am not alone in any of my feelings, even the ones that hurt deeper than I ever thought possible.
In all of our losses and hurt, I now cherish the fact that I am no longer alone.
Please know that you also do not have to struggle in silence.
This week is the National Infertility Awareness Week. While I am not from the USA, I participated last year and again want to add my voice to the collective because this year’s topic, You Are Not Alone is close to my heart. I believe strongly in the need for infertility and baby loss awareness and advocacy. Please consider adding your voice and continue to let others know that they are not alone in their struggle.
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