The gut wrenching secret that so many mums hide…
I am going to write to about a subject that is widely considered to be ‘taboo’. Something which is often thought should be kept to yourself rather than even being shared with close friends or family. It amazes me that it can be one of the hardest experiences women can go through, and yet as a society we don’t seem to talk about it, or reach out to others seeking comfort or support when it happens to us! Ladies, today I am talking about miscarriage.
When we find out that we’re pregnant there seems to be a quiet unspoken rule, that we are expected to keep the news hidden for 12 weeks until it is ‘safe’ to tell people. I’m sure that if I asked you why you would keep (or have kept) news of a pregnancy secret, there would be a host of different answers. Some of you would see it as tempting fate. Some of you wouldn’t want to be pitied if the worst should happen. Others would feel that in some way they would be judged for lifestyle choices made prior to miscarrying. The list could go on and on. Finding out you are pregnant is one of THE most exciting moments of your life though, so why is it that we are conditioned to keep it so secret?
There’s no denying that the first 12 weeks of pregnancy are hard! You’re sick. You’re tired. You’re emotional. And in some cases, you are just plain scared shitless of what the future has in store for you. But believe me when I tell you that the very worst part of it all, is that you have all of these things going on and yet you can’t tell anyone about it! You feel compelled to basically just suffer in silence. Yes, you have your partner to talk to! But let’s face it, a woman becomes a mother the very moment she finds out that she’s pregnant, whereas the man assesses the situation as him having 9 months to do all of the things he needs to do, before he has a baby. (I’m not going to go more into that though, as that is literally a whole topic on its own).
When you’re pregnant (especially with your first beautiful baby), the flurry of emotions and hormones can be hugely overwhelming! Pairing that with the task of thinking through every moment of every day, and planning ahead in order to avoid particular situations where your secret may be exposed, can be seriously stressful! I think back to my own pregnancies, when I carefully planned out arrangements with my hubby, that when in social situations he would be the one to get me ‘drinks’ from the bar (but omit the alcohol obviously). We would even still pay for taxis to get us home etc, so that none of our friends would be able to tell there was anything different going on. Come to think of it, more and more it seems ridiculous remembering the countless times I felt compelled to lie to keep my secret hidden.
But then one day, during my second pregnancy, the unthinkable happened… a miscarriage. I remember the whole swell of unfamiliar emotions washing over me, with a heaving weight like a wave on the ocean. What had I done so wrong? I had previously already given birth to one perfect and healthy child, so what had I done this time to cause this to happen? The guilt I felt was unbearable and even now still in part indescribable. Did I eat something wrong? Was it that half a glass of wine that I’d had recently at a wedding? Was I too flustered tending to the needs of my first child that I didn’t rest enough? Unfortunately, at the time the only thing I remember being certain of, was that I considered it all to be my fault. I was carrying this immense guilt and yet I felt like I couldn’t talk to anyone at all about it. Too ashamed maybe.
Every morning I would wake up, look at my beautiful healthy boy and mourn for the sibling I couldn’t give him. I thought of the baby I would now never hold. Never breastfeed. Never see grow up. I didn’t even know the baby’s gender, but felt like my heart was physically breaking with the agony of the loss. How could I have so much love for someone I had never met? The pain was palpable. It was unbearable.
I felt like I couldn’t talk to my hubby as I couldn’t get a read on him, and couldn’t work out what he was thinking. I didn’t know if he felt like it was my fault too. Did he hate me for what had happened, and for not being able to carry another child for him? Of course, he said it wasn’t at all my fault, but how could I believe that when I had already convinced myself otherwise? He could sense my struggle and quickly began avoiding the subject with me, as he didn’t want to upset me further. It didn’t help. I felt completely isolated, and was mourning for the loss of my baby all alone. I couldn’t turn to a friend for comfort, as I’d kept my pregnancy secret so well, that they didn’t even know I’d been pregnant at all. I had done such a bloody good job convincing them all that I was still living my same regular lifestyle. Would they judge me if they knew the truth? Would they too think it was my fault?
I was standing in my shop one day, looking at another mother’s gorgeous newborn baby (trying desperately to keep my emotions in check, and hold myself together), and I remember wondering how many other mums go through this? Why is this such a secret? Why doesn’t anyone ever share these experiences so that others may not feel so alone?
But then the most amazing thing happened… I started to talk about my miscarriage, and much to my surprise, it encouraged other mums to talk about theirs too. The seal of our secrets had been broken. Family members, friends, friends of friends and even strangers began opening up about their struggles. There were so many women coming forward, of whom I’d had no idea had gone through or were still going through the same pain as mine. It wasn’t long before I realised that the more I opened up and shared with them, the less guilt I began to feel. I know everyone has
heard the shocking statistic “one in three”, but to be honest you don’t really believe it when you haven’t heard the experiences of a single woman (other than yourself) that the statistic applies to. But now with my newfound network of women who understood me, and knew in their own hearts all of the words I couldn’t find to explain how I was feeling, I finally felt like I was able to properly mourn the loss of my baby. I could talk through my pain and finally deal with the silent hell that I’d been living in. I will never forget the baby that I lost, but I will also never again feel ashamed to talk about him/her either.
Moving forward to today, I now have two beautiful children and a life that’s full. In honesty though, there will always be a small piece of my heart missing, the piece that I gave to my lost baby, the one who is waiting to be reunited with me again in heaven. Even now, sometimes my heart still aches with the loss of that baby. I find myself wondering what he/she would’ve been like, and what sort of person they could have grown to be. I’m just thankful to be surrounded by people who love and care for me, and who I can now share my thoughts and feelings with. Whenever I have a day where I am struggling, they are there. Mummas, even if there is nothing else you take away from reading this blog, please hear me when I say this… Yes, pregnancy is terrifying, and it is wonderful, and messy, and beautiful and hard… but it is absolutely NOT a dirty little secret that you should feel the need to keep from anyone at all! At least have a support person (other than your partner) that you can share it with. Someone you can call when you feel like shit, or are scared and over-thinking, or are just plain freaking yourself out. You need someone who will be there for you to talk to, and help you get through it if the worst should happen. I know I have been harping on a lot lately about mothers not suffering alone, and this applies here too. I can’t stress this point enough because even I know, that as mums for some reason we feel like we have to keep all of our hurt and suffering quiet, and just soldier on! But that’s not the case! We all need people to lean on sometimes, and we shouldn’t let society convince us that certain burdens are for us to bear alone.
Much love Molly xxx