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The hardest part of miscarriage grief

I was watching After Life on Netflix.

It’s about grief; a man who’s wife dies & his life after she dies.

In one of the episodes one of the characters says they wouldn’t give up their memories of their life with their loved one.

And it struck me I don’t have any memories.

I never got to make memories.

I don’t have anyone to say “do you remember when…” to. Because we never got to make those remember when’s.

And that sucks. To only have what I imagined, what I planned. To never have got to meet my child. To see their first smile, hear their first word, see their first steps, watch them grow. I don’t even have a photo, even of them not existing, even if them growing inside me-because they didn’t grow inside me, they died.

And I think that’s the hardest part of miscarriage. How can I tell someone that I’m grieving when I never met the person I’m grieving? When actually to most people they never even existed? When I can’t say look this person existed for a while, look at what they looked like, remember when they did this, did that.

And maybe it’s not until we start accepting that actually parents start planning their child’s life when they find out they’re expecting. That actually for them, that child becomes real to them, and when it ends, it’s devastating. And grief for that is ok.

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The one it impacts most

I think I forget that actually I’m not the only one this happened to.

More importantly that I’m not the only person impacted by it. And that actually, 1 person was impacted by it most of all; S.

He doesn’t know I lost his sibling. He didn’t know I was pregnant, and we felt he wouldn’t understand and couldn’t cope with knowing about this.

Yet it’s had such a huge huge impact on his life.

The day we found out there was no Baby I had been at my casual job for my last shift there.

I was so excited about finishing. I drive into work excited to be getting there and then back to my mummy-S bubble.

I remember thinking we’d get home and have a nice chilled afternoon watching some tv, a snuggle. I wasn’t feeling sick that day; I’d been feeling better all week actually, the 12 week Scan was in a week (single figures! I was so excited to get there. To have the ball of anxiety lifted), we’d go to our regular playgroup the following morning, we’d have a nice weekend, celebrate Daddy bring about to finish his course, the following weekend we’d tell all our friends about the big news. I’d buy those big brother books and that tshirt I’d been eyeing up-had even put in my Amazon basket-and we’d start doing things again. Just us 2 having fun.

None of that happened.

Instead of me picking him up, I had to get his daddy to ring and say I’d be late as we had to go to the hospital.

Then we had the news, and just came home. His daddy went to get him after a harrowing phone call to his parents to explain.

I don’t even remember if I said hello properly to him when he got home. I didn’t want him seeing mummy sad, crying, I think I picked him up and just held him-much to his discomfort.

The next day we traipsed off to the zoo for the day in an effort to distract ourselves. It didn’t work for me, I remember feeling disjointed and like I wasn’t really there. I remember S liking the sea lions but to be honest I think his grandparents kept him busy, which he was more than happy with.

My parents came the following day, again they distracted him and kept him entertained.

His daddy took him away the next day for the morning so I had time to howl alone. Which I don’t think I did… I remember the bleeding became a little heavier that morning, speaking to my mum and being upset but other than that not a lot. When they got home I was in pain and I remember watching tv with S next to me but not being able to pay attention to him; the pain was getting worse and I could feel the bleeding getting heavier. My husband cane and sat with him while I went upstairs where I stayed on the toilet for an hour. Then the pain became unbearable so we got in the car to go the hospital. We dropped S off at his grandparents on the way; I didn’t even say goodbye as I was in too much pain to speak.

I was in hospital for nearly 3 days after this. I face timed with my husband and S to try to at least ensure he saw me but my poor boy had no mummy contact for nearly 3 days, by far the longest time we’ve been apart.

Then I came out a broken mummy; grief stricken, recovering from surgery, trying to get things back to normal for S yet not being able to.

I dragged him off to visit family he hardly knew for 3 days a couple of weeks later. He was a star, settled well up there and loved every second, but now I think that can’t have been good for him.

We had a really busy summer with going away on holiday for a week and visiting several friends around the country; again not great fir a nearly 3 year old who’s parents experienced a life changing event, who had an extended and I imagine traumatic for him separation from his mummy and clearly will have senses the upset.

And then I made the decision to go to work full time

He goes to nursery 3 days and spends 2 with his grandparents.

I pick him up around 4.

I drop him off around 7:30am.

My heart breaks.

And now I don’t know if this is the right thing.

But we were doing nothing once the summer was over.

No groups. No exploring new places.

Because… there might have been babies. Pregnant ladies. With bumps the size mine should have been. Because I couldn’t cope with it; my anxiety levels had steadily risen since the miscarriage and the thought of seeing someone I sort of knew and having them ask me about having another was enough to send me into spirals.

I did take him on the train though. One last big trip before potty training began, an adventure on the train, to a big city.

Which actually has turned out to be our last big adventure.

I think he’s adapted to the new routine; I think it’s good for him.

But if the miscarriage hadn’t happened, none of this would.

So really it’s had by the biggest impact on S.

And I’m sorry my darling. I love you xxxx

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Miscarriage & grief; part 2

Grief comes in waves.

We’ve all heard it. I never really thought it was true.

I’ve lost people I was close to before, people I’ve grieved for, but I’ve never truly understood the waves theory. I was sad about those I lost, my grandparents, my godfather, other adults in my life. I thought of them fondly, I talked about them with people, I cried when they died, I cried every so often, i felt sad. But I wouldn’t say I felt the grief was waves… more like a gentle tide of pain I’d sense every so often.

Now I get the waves theory.

Not initially. Initially I couldn’t imagine how it could hurt less; how I could live with this pain, the loss of my child, the loss no one knows about; how I could move on and carry on with this ball of pain and darkness inside me.

5 months on I get it.

I carried on. I had to, I have a child to care for, a life I have to lead for him. For my husband. I had to get a job to stop us sliding into a financial black hole, I had to start that job, I’ve had to carry on through that job.

It doesn’t hurt less. I think I just learned to live with it, to work around it, to suppress the pain down so I could function.

Then I’m struck by a wave which knocks me down.

Like this weekend, decorating a Christmas tree. Knowing I should be 8 months pregnant, due in little over a month, be joking about the possibility of having a Christmas baby. Packing my hospital bag.

Instead I’m not, I’ve gone back to my old pre S job, which has turned stressful already, and I’m sad, so sad, and I don’t have a big bump or hope of one.

Then I made a calendar like I do every year, looking back over the photos of the year. And there’s ones from before, ones where I see myself and I’m happy. I was happy. I don’t think I appreciated it; I was desperate to have another child, and it wasn’t happening, but I was happy.

Then there’s ones from after. Less than before. And the ones from after occasionally there’s ones of me… and I see the difference. I notice the smile not reaching my eyes. I notice the pain behind my eyes. I remember not feeling like I’m really there.

And again it hits me, like a huge tidal wave and knocks me down.

And now I’m picking myself back up and carrying on wading. Until the next wave.

So I get it now. Grief comes in waves.

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Miscarriage & grief; the reality

Miscarriage. A pain there aren’t words to describe.

The grief.

Lonely.

No one else truly gets it.

Unless they’ve been there, and even then they can’t understand because you can’t explain the depth of your feelings, there just aren’t enough words or the right words.

Grief for a miscarriage is crying in the shower. Where no one else can see or hear, because it’s been months and you still feel devastated, and everyone around you thinks you should have moved on.

Grief is crying while you’re driving because there’s no one next to you, and you can hide it from the child in the back seat.

Grief is hiding from your child because they don’t need to know or see mummy sad, uncontrollably sobbing instead of playing with them. Or while playing with them.

Grief is getting up every night so you can sob downstairs without waking your husband who tells you you need to move on, bury it.

Grief is feeling like you can’t get up in the morning, can’t face the day ahead. Can’t look your child in the eye because you see echoes of the face you dreamed of but will never see.

Grief is dreading certain months, certain events. Times when you saw yourself going there with a bump, full of the excitement of a new life growing inside you. Times you thought you’d be preparing for a new life, thought you’d be meeting a new tiny person.

Grief eats at you. It effects everything you do. It impacts your relationships, with your partner, with your child. You feel empty and hollow, you know when you laugh or smile it’s just not quite right any more.

Grief is for more than that imagined life. Grief is for the you you were before. The you that will never return, the you that died that day. Grief is learning to live with that new you. The one touched by sadness, the one that doesn’t quite see in Technicolor anymore.

Grief is everything looking washed out, grey-maybe from your tears, maybe from your outlook.

Grief is questioning yourself, everything you did, everything your doing. Every decision you make; is it right, is it good. And the big question; will this make me feel better?

Grief is realising you were happy before; you didn’t realise it, with all of life’s little issues, but you’d give anything to go back to that.

Grief is thinking you’ll never be happy again. Grief is wondering how you can be, when you will be.

Grief is reliving the experience over and over again, wondering if the choices you made were the right ones. Asking why, why it happened, why you chose that way, why you did that.

Grief is exhausting. All-consuming. You can’t focus on anything else-you can distract yourself, think about something, anything else but it’s always there. And the second your mind is idle, or something pops up, it’s back, the soul destroying waves of despair which make you feel like you could scream and scream.

Grief is fear. Fear of those screams, screams you won’t be able to stop, screams no one else can understand because you do such a good job of hiding it, or burying it, because everyone thinks you couldn’t be grieving for something that never existed

Grief is lonely.

Grief is exhausting.

Miscarriage is misunderstood.

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Don’t look too closely

Don’t look too closely,

Because you might see

The tracks of my tears

On my cheeks

For one I’ll never meet.

Don’t look too closely,

Because you might see

The dark circles underneath my eyes

From not sleeping and dreaming of someone I’ll never see.

Don’t look too closely

Because you might see

The pain that hides

In the shadows of my eyes.

Don’t look too closely,

Because you might see

That my smile doesn’t quite reach my eyes

That it doesn’t quite cover my lies.

Don’t look too closely

Because you might see

The hair that really needs a cut

The girl who can’t be bothered to get up.

Don’t look too closely

Because you might see

The heart that’s shattered

Underneath that smile, those eyes.

Don’t look too closely

Because you might see

The girl you knew is gone,

Lost to grief and pain,

Her heart taped back together,

And she doesn’t know how to go on.

Don’t look too closely

Because you might see

A mother without a child

A mother who has to build

Her life without that child

A mother who’s dreams are lost

A mother who doesn’t feel strong enough.

J.F. Oct 2018
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Dear C

Dear C,

5 months since we found out you were there.

4 since we found out actually you weren’t.

You were so loved. So wanted.

I imagined your tiny fingers, your tiny toes.

Who you’d look like.

What colour eyes you’d have.

How your brother would react to you.

That you were a girl.

But you were none of these things. You never had a chance at anything. Your heart never even formed; never started beating.

You never formed those tiny fingers and toes.

And yet I love you. With every breath, with every cell of my being, I love you.

I will never forget you.

I hope loving you starts to hurt less as time goes on.

But I will never not love you. And I will never stop thinking about you.

I’m sad I never got to meet you. I’m sad I’ll never see your face.

I’m sad I never got to feel your kicks, to get to know you.

And hopefully, one day your brother will get to meet a sibling. But they won’t be you. And they won’t replace you.

I love you.

Love Mummy.

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What NOT to say when someone you know tells you they’ve had a miscarriage…

Just a short list of what NOT to say. And yes-I have had many of these said to me.

1. “At least you can get pregnant”

Thanks. I know. Doesn’t make the fact that my baby has died any easier to cope with.

2. “It wasn’t meant to be”

I know-I can tell by the fact that I’m suddenly not pregnant any more. I’ve told myself this many times-it hasn’t helped my feelings of utter hopelessness and grief.

3. “There’s nothing really to be sad about, it never really existed”

Maybe not to you, but to me that was my child. Who I’d imagined kicking me, who they’d look like, how they’d be.

4. “There will be other babies”

Yes, maybe-except actually I find it hard to fall pregnant, so maybe there won’t. And those babies won’t be THIS baby, the one I fell in love with because they were growing inside me, the one I dreamt about.

5. “There was a reason it happened, the baby would have been very poorly if had survived”

Honestly, I’d rather have been able to meet my child, and you don’t know that. It might have been “for the best” but that doesn’t help the grief I feel right now.

6. “There are people in worse situations, at least you didn’t have to give birth to them or they were stillborn”

Yes, there are people in worse situations. And they have my sympathy, and empathy and if I knew someone in that situation I would do what I could to help.

What happened to me could have been a “worse” situation and I’m relieved it wasn’t. But for me it is the worst situation. And the fact that others are in “worse” situations doesn’t make my feelings or grief any less valid.

7. “Be grateful for the child(ren) you have”

I am. I’m very grateful for my son, and I’m very lucky to have him. He is what has kept me going through all of the grief. It doesn’t make the grief I feel any less painful. It doesn’t mean I don’t have the right to grieve and experience my feelings.

8. “Just don’t think about it”

How? When I was pregnant, it was my first thought when I woke up. “I’m pregnant” was the last thought when I feel asleep. Then suddenly I wasn’t anymore; of course I think that. Not only that but I have very physical reminders of that fact. I know how many weeks pregnant I should be now, 3 months later, that fact is one I won’t forget. I remember the day I found out I was pregnant, the day we told people, the day we were told “actually there’s no baby”. I remember losing the baby, the pain associated with it, the fact that I wanted to scream and howl but couldn’t because the depth of those feelings is too scary.

I can’t think about it.

9. “But you can try again”

Yes. But I find it hard to fall pregnant. And you don’t know if the person you’re speaking to has fertility issues-maybe that was an IVF Baby, maybe a true miracle child and trying again isn’t an option.

And I wanted that child, with all of their potential, maybe I will try for another, but it doesn’t help me.

10. “You need to move on/you should be over this by now”

I lost my child. I am never going to be “over it”. This is a pain that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. I hope that it will hurt less, that I will learn to live with the pain, but it’s not going away. Ever.

What should you say?

“I’m so sorry. How can I help?”

Bring food-chocolate, wine.

Acknowledge the loss. Send a card.

Keep checking in-just say I’m here, don’t expect anything in return.

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