Dates have never been significant for me. I normally remember last minute about my friends’ birthdays via social media posts and I have even been known to get the date of my own husbands’ birthday wrong (I know how awful). I just never saw the significance, don’t get me wrong I love celebrating people, but I prefer to do that at random times or buy them presents when I see something they would love, not just because it’s a particular date and that’s what we do. I guess for this reason I never put much value on dates as I saw them insignificant. However, that has changed. There are three dates that will be ingrained in my brain forever and hearing them not only takes me to a specific time of year but pulls out of me the deepest, rawest and truest emotions that I have ever felt. The first one of these is where my story begins, Saturday October 28th 2018 when I found out I was pregnant.
Am I allowed to admit that when I found out I was pregnant I was not completely overjoyed straight away? I stood in our bathroom holding this test that I had been given as a joke on my hen party, I read “pregnant”, my immediate reaction was to wait a few seconds and I am sure the “not” would appear soon. As I waited not only did the “not” never come up but what did was the symbol “2-3 weeks”. I stood feeling shocked, scared and a million other emotions that my hormones were controlling. Everything stopped and suddenly my life felt like it had turned upside down.
I rushed to tell my husband, who was absolutely delighted and my best friends (I was in such shock so the whole not telling people thing wasn’t on my radar.) As I talked about this miracle that was inside of me, I really quickly became very excited for this journey. I literally knew nothing about pregnancy or babies so I went and bought every book I could find and spent hours online mostly googling “can a pregnant person eat….” And the more I learnt the more this world of motherhood, children, pregnancy became so appealing to me. I was fascinated by the whole thing.
After what seemed like the longest wait in the world (patience is not a quality I hold) we got invited to our scan, the second most ingrained date in my brain, Tuesday 11th December 2018. I was counting down the weeks, days and hours until we got to see our baby. We had so many questions, who would it look most like, was it a boy or a girl, would it have a smile as amazing as my husbands, would it have inherited my stubbornness? We built up this image in our heads of what we thought our child might be like, we talked about how we would parent, things we would never allow them to do even though secretly we knew we are both push overs and would cave to whatever they wanted. This day could not come quick enough.
It was early December and every year just before Christmas my Mum and I go to Edinburgh for a night to see the Christmas markets and spend time shopping together. This year we were going on the third date of everlasting significance to me, Saturday 8th December 2018, three days before the scan. On the Friday I started to notice some dark brown discharge when I went to the toilet. Everything I had read and people I had spoken to said that this was completely normal it was just old blood so I didn’t really think much about it. As we got on the plane the next day, I began to get a feeling like period cramps and a real ache in my back. Initially I thought this was totally normal as I was 12 weeks so I put it down to the change in trimester. I was calm until the moment the blood turned bright red and I knew that there was something wrong.
We rushed to the hospital and by the time we got there I had blood dripping from my jeans. I got seen within minutes and as they were doing my initial patient assessment, I could feel the blood coming out of me. I remember reading online about a lady saying that she had bleeding and the Doctor told her only to worry if the blood filled two large pads an hour. As I lay there on this bed in agony, I tried to hold the blood inside, I squeezed so hard thinking to myself if I just hold it in, I won’t fill the pads and our baby will be ok. But there was no stopping it, it kept coming until all of sudden there was our baby, lying on the bed in the middle of clots of blood. In that moment all my deepest fears became a reality, we had just lost our baby. All the hopes, dreams and questions that we had over this little one’s life were quickly silenced and I began to feel a deep ache inside of me that I can only say was so bad that I would love to protect everyone in the world from ever facing it. When people hear my story one of the main things that they remark on is how awful it must have been for me to have to phone and tell my husband. Honestly, hearing his voice was my biggest comfort. I didn’t feel I was was ringing to tell him I lost our baby but that we as a team had suffered this and we would face it together. He quickly booked the first flight over and we sat on the phone in silence and cried together mourning the hopes, dreams and plans we had for our perfect first child.
My journey from there was not smooth, for one I had to navigate the practicalities of getting home from Edinburgh, whilst being bombarded with a rush of hormones and emotions that were beyond anything I could control. However, I don’t want to focus writing on what practicalities followed but my emotions at that time. I felt so lonely, I am a real talker and love being around people all the time, when I was pregnant it was my dream come true, I always had someone with me. I talked to it like they were my best friend and for three months they were everywhere with me. I didn’t even get to say goodbye. The miscarriage happens so quickly, one minute the baby is inside you and the next it is gone and I felt lonely. I remember going to the toilet for the fist time and being in the bathroom by myself and thinking I am actually alone in here, there are not two of us anymore. I felt that it was my fault and was overwhelmed with guilt. Did I work too much, did I eat the wrong food, did I lift things that were too heavy? I felt cheated, cheated out of being a Mum, cheated out of making Mark a Dad, cheated out of being pregnant and the list went on. I was so upset I never got to meet the baby, I spent three months carrying it, we loved it so much and we were only three days away from seeing it. I sat with all these wailing emotions and then I went numb. I remember the nurse coming around and putting a needle in my arm to get blood and I felt the prick, I was relieved to feel the pain as I genuinely never thought I would feel again.
When I came home, I quickly sought out counselling and it helped me put into words some of the things that were swirling round in my head. I guess what I want people to know is that there is hope.
Often fear and disappointment scream loudly as they take over our lives but we can be reassured that hope is still there, just whispering.
The dictionary defines miscarriage as, “An unsuccessful outcome of something planned.” I read this as I was waiting for the plane home from Edinburgh. The word “UNSUCCESSFUL” didn’t sit right with me. In that moment I thought to myself, I will not allow this experience to be deemed “unsuccessful”. Yes, it may be a DIFFERENT outcome of something planned but to say “unsuccessful”, lacks hope. It lacks purpose, to me it says that we have failed. I refuse to let this miscarriage feel like a failure. I am determined to use it for good, I am challenged to see how I could use this tragic ordeal that we had been through to help other people just like us who go through this loss and are finding it hard to see hope. It is there, keep going.
Zara will continue to share her story and experience on Have you seen that girl? next week…
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