“I was overjoyed to be pregnant with baby number two, though feeling slightly nervous having suffered from PND following my son’s birth but I had come through it and as I went for my first check-up at the diabetic antenatal clinic with my husband we were so looking forward to getting our first glimpse of our new baby.
Like any new parents we couldn’t wait to see that tiny figure on the screen. After a few minutes of the midwife moving the scope around my stomach, I was surprised when I started to sense that something may be wrong. I lay patiently waiting while the midwife quietly did her thing then eventually she spoke, she said that she couldn’t find a heart beat. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, how could that be? I was asked to come back in two weeks when they would scan me again. My husband and I were devastated! The uncertainness for both of us was extremely hard to bear and the two weeks dragged in.
The days dragged as it was always on my mind, I could think of nothing else. When the two weeks were finally up I returned to the hospital with my husband and was scanned only to be told again that they couldn’t find a heart beat and asked again to return in another two weeks for another scan. It was the longest month of my life, I tried to continue on with things as if everything was fine when underneath it all I was in bits. I had been warned I could miscarry at any time so each day I got up nervously not knowing what the day was going to bring, I continued on working with my mind far from the job. When I returned to the hospital for my next scan we received the news we had both dreaded hearing – there was definitely no heartbeat! Quickly arrangements were made to bring me into hospital for a D&C. The day was Maundy Thursday (the day before Good Friday), I was due to be off work for a few days for Easter and returned straight back to work after Easter was over. It was the hardest thing I have ever done, I let on to all those I met and spoke to in person and on the phone that I was fine while inside my world had completely fallen apart. Over the coming months I kept busy but the pain was always bubbling away under the surface.
When the day that would have been my due date arrived, it was like a switch went off in my head, I just couldn’t continue on with work as the pain of losing our baby consumed me that day in work. My boss sent me home and I then took some time off work following the doctor’s advice and was put on anti-depressants, but things went from bad to worse.
Everywhere I went I saw either pregnant ladies or women with babies. I could not even cope with simple tasks such as grocery shopping as I would struggle to hold back the tears as I walked past the aisle with the baby supplies and when I saw women with babies in their arms or young children sitting in trolleys I got upset longing for the baby I had lost. Why had I never got to see them or hold them or get to know them – my body ached with grief.
I received news from my sister that one of my best friends had also had a miscarriage. We met for lunch and exchanged our stories. For the first time I got to chat to someone who knew and understood how I felt. We cried together, sharing each other’s pain. My friend gave me a book that she had been given by a lady who worked in her church.
The book was entitled ‘The Loneliest Grief’ by Karen Holford and it was very helpful. It was an easy read and answered a lot of the questions that had been running through my mind.
As a Christian I was finding it hard to read my bible and to pray. The book led me to Psalm 139. In the Psalm God tells us that whatever we do He knows about. He reminded me that He knew about our loss and He knew about my grief and tears and the way I was feeling. The book helped me deal with some of the unhelpful things that people say to you following a miscarriage and offered good practical advice.
My husband read the book too and together we decided to make memories of our baby. We bought a few Christmas decorations that we still put on our Christmas tree each year. We also put a small memory box together with my scan pictures and a tiny cardigan that I had been given from my mother and father in law.
Life was still a struggle, the antidepressants had helped a bit but I still felt this huge aching void and a strong sense of loneliness. Another friend told me about the Service of Remembrance held for those babies who had died before, during or after birth. I went along to the service with my husband not knowing quite what to expect. The speaker reminded us that God knew how each of us were feeling as He had lost his only Son. This was something I had known since I was a small child but I had never thought of in that context. The comfort it brought to me and to us as a couple was amazing. From that day my mood started to lift, I started to have more good days than bad and the hurt gradually over time eased slightly. Can I encourage you to share your story with others and not to hide the sorrow you feel because you think people will not understand your feelings.
On reflection, looking back this is the one big thing I would do differently. I tried to carry on as normal, instead I should have told people what I had been through and taken the necessary time to grieve. You will be surprised when the subject comes up how many people have their own story to tell.
I would like to leave you with Psalm 139
1 You have searched me, Lord, and you know me.
2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3 You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.
4 Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.
5 You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.
7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts,[a] God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand—
when I awake, I am still with you.
19 If only you, God, would slay the wicked!
Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty!
20 They speak of you with evil intent;
your adversaries misuse your name.
21 Do I not hate those who hate you, Lord,
and abhor those who are in rebellion against you?
22 I have nothing but hatred for them;
I count them my enemies.
23 Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.”
*Having suffered the pain and trauma of miscarriage, Donna did go on to have another baby – she is Mum to two sons.
If you are struggling and need support with the issues raised in Donna’s Story please contact:
The Miscarriage Association – www.miscarriageassociation.org.uk