It happens to one in four women in Australia, actually the number might be much higher, as many women either don’t want to talk about or might not realize that they have actually miscarried. Most of those miscarriages mentioned here happen during the first 12 weeks of the pregnancy. Some women might not even know that they are pregnant yet, others miscarry at home and will deal with it in silence.
I’ve been there too. I’m one of the women who suffered a miscarriage in the first 12 weeks of my pregnancy. I actually suffered from it twice.
In both cases I could have not dealt with it at home. My body reacted quite massively. I was in a lot of pain and my circulation was on a roller-coaster ride. In both cases I wasn’t aware of the fact that I was pregnant.
The first time it was easy for me to shake it off. I think I could look at it from a very distant point of view. I simply wasn’t ready to have another baby yet. It was really early, only about 5 weeks into the pregnancy, so the concept of it being a baby was easy to be ignored. We also had just decided to move to Australia. I had heard from others who had suffered a miscarriage. One of them who miscarried as early as I did had told me that it was just meant to be. The baby would not have been healthy or the time was just not right. You know, excuses you make that are supposed to make you feel better.
In the other case the woman had looked forward to having that baby. She was way into her pregnancy and things were much more complicated. She had to give birth to a developed baby that was not alive anymore, days after having received the shocking news about the missing heartbeat and the revealing blood tests.
It was an entirely different story. It was physically and mentally one of the most painful things she would have gone through until that point of her life.
When I realized that what I thought was either appendicitis or a Fallopian Tube inflammation was actually a miscarriage I almost felt relieved. My life was about to change massively. We were packing our things to move to the other side of this planet and I simply felt like not having the energy to do it. On top of that a former boss of mine, who I appreciated a lot had suddenly passed away from cancer. Sometimes I think that I really did not entirely understand what just had happened. It never really touched my heart. I didn’t know I was pregnant because it was so early, I had no room for it in my life and I felt that it was not really a big deal because it was so early and what I thought was a major health issue turned out to be “nothing”.
Nothing… and still so much…
So over the next couple of weeks I kept packing and sorting out stuff, enjoying the last days in Switzerland with the people I wanted to see. Everything that was happening was so big and exhausting. When we had finally packed up everything and shipped it off, emptied out the house and handed over the keys, the exhausted hit me even more. We were spending some of our last days in Europe with a friend in France, just over the border of Switzerland and then visiting other friends in Munich, which whom we were planning on going to see Robbie Williams. I looked forward to that concert. I looked forward to the night out in Munich. But instead I was too tired. Instead of leaving our son with their parents that night I stayed home. Too exhausted to head out.
I blamed it on the stress of the move.
We saw other friends and family until we boarded the plane that took us Down Under. And although I slept a lot over those days, the exhausted did not disappear.
It continued while we were settling into our new home, while we were running after everything that had to be organized down here, drivers license, phones, bank accounts and so on. And it always made sense to blame it on the move.
Until the morning I felt slightly sick while playing with my son. It was then when I suddenly thought about when I had my last period. It was then when I took him out to buy a couple of pregnancy tests. It was then when 3 out of 5 tests were positive and the others were negative. It was then when I realized that I needed to find a doctor. And it was then when the blood test at the GP showed that I was pregnant.
Although the timing was probably not much better than before the move I immediately felt happy. I felt like it would be the perfect start into our Australia adventure. I was happy, my husband was happy and our son was excited. He actually already had a little nickname for the baby.
Only a couple of days later, while my boys went to the zoo together and after I came back from a walk along the beach the pain started. I thought that I might have walked to fast, too long and that maybe sitting down and breathing would help calm everything down. But it didn’t. The pain got stronger and eventually there was bleeding too. When the boys got home only shortly after I looked at my husband and told him that I thought we lost our baby. We headed to the ER as it was the weekend to get tests done which proved I was right.
I remember the doctor telling me that it was only early on. 5th week into the pregnancy. She told me that at my age it was not a big deal and gave me the stats about how common it actually is. And then she said something that truly hit me: You only have to start worrying from the second one onward…
I told her that I had miscarried only a couple of weeks ago already.
She tried to take the edge out of what she had said and most probably if you would explain the same thing to someone who had not just miscarried twice in only a short amount of time it would make total sense and not throw you off.
But it hit me. It hit me because this time I knew I was pregnant. This time I knew I had lost a baby. This time I had looked forward to having the baby. This time my husband and my son were looking forward to having the baby. This time it was different.
I was sad. Really sad.
Although I still don’t feel like I have actually lost a child, although I still don’t mourn the actual loss of a child, I remember the second miscarriage as a pregnancy that did not evolve. It is very hard to describe.
The point I want to make here is actually, that I feel the loss. But it is not as if I’ve lost a child. That doesn’t mean that I don’t understand it if someone who had a miscarriage that early does feel like having lost a child.
Danielle Herbert, who is a researcher on an ongoing longitudinal study tracking Australian women’s fertility, says that miscarriage is part of the biological process of pregnancy.
“There are two types of miscarriage,” she explains. “In the first trimester, it’s often [because of] genetic abnormality. The body self-checks. It can pick up high degrees of genetic abnormality and expel the pregnancy. The second trimester is more likely to be some other [inexplicable] factor.”
I had to do some research over the last couple of years on miscarriages for a project I was involved in. During this research I came across remarks made to women who had miscarried in this first 12 weeks that took my breath away. Remarks from women who had also miscarried. And they compared their loss to the other women’s loss.
I get that miscarrying way later in the pregnancy is most probably more traumatizing then in those first 12 weeks. There is much more involved on a physical side. But doesn’t mean that you suffer less. You simply can’t make a comparison. In the end it all comes down to the fact that you have lost a child. The child you wanted. The child you were dreaming of being a mother for. A baby.
It’s the feeling of becoming a mother that gets ripped out of your heart. It’s a loss that needs to be dealt with.
Like with everything, people deal in their own specific way with a loss. Especially with one like this.
When I think about the miscarriages I had, I don’t think about babies I’ve lost, as I said. But I also think of them as much more than just a physical inconvenience. I believe they were meant to happen to get me ready to have a baby again. In many ways. What we lost then was not meant to stay with us. For whatever reason. It was meant to pass on.
Of course I worried about not being able to have another baby anymore, especially after the second one. But I was lucky. I had a healthy child already. I was a mother. Nothing could ever take that away from me anymore.
Some women are not as lucky. They don’t have a child yet. They worry about a dream that will never become true. It’s so much more to deal with…
My story had a happy end. In my case the babies that I lost might not have been well enough to make it or the time was just not right yet. Only shortly after everything seemed to have come together perfectly fine: I had a positive pregnancy test only 6 weeks after I miscarried the second time.
As our GP then said: We didn’t waste any time…
It was a healthy and easy pregnancy with a beautiful outcome and till today I’m actually thankful for the experience. It lead me to my beautiful daughter and our family was completed.