When I saw the second line that signifies ‘you’re pregnant’, I was ecstatic. I cried with happiness—and I’m not a crier. But even though I had the innocence of it being my very first time, I knew that a line didn’t mean there was going to be a baby at the end. I knew. A lot of women know the statistics of miscarriage: 1 in 5 if you’re under 35; 1 in 4 if you’re over and with so many women speaking so openly about theirs on social media, the reality of miscarriage is starker than ever - even when you're desperately trying to focus on the joy of a positive pregnancy test.
Sharing the news of mine with my partner is one of my most cherished memories; I’ve still got the video and often wonder how many others hold similar moments in their camera roll… never shared, never deleted.
It’s impossible not to talk about the future once you get that much longed-for second line. “I guess I won’t be drinking at their wedding”, “when will we tell so and so”, “I’ll be 16 weeks by then” were huge parts of our conversation in the following weeks - but my partner and I always caveated thoughts with “if it sticks”. I knew. We knew.
Sadly I found myself as 1 in 5 of the women under 35 to miscarry. At first, it was a suspected ectopic (when a fertilised egg implants itself outside of the womb, usually in one of the fallopian tubes). Then the baby was there, in the right place, it was behind in dates but it grew.
“Come back in two weeks,” I was told. “Come back in another two weeks,” then “come back next week for a scan so we can call it." I still don’t know how I filled the days in between scans (Googling, mostly - every pregnant woman’s kryptonite - searching for answers, searching for stories of success). Until my searches were finally over because I received the devastating news that we had experienced a missed miscarriage. A missed miscarriage – also known as a delayed or a silent miscarriage – is when a baby has died in the womb but the mother hasn’t had any symptoms. It is ‘missed’ because the body still believes it is pregnant, and it is mostly detected during an ultrasound – often at the 12-week scan when expectant parents are filled with hope and excitement.
It's strange when the news you've been preparing for is finally confirmed. I remember the specialist saying "I'm sorry, there's been no growth". And all I could do was tell them it was OK, multiple times, and thank them. I couldn't stand the silence of no heartbeat and overwhelming sympathy. I didn't cry right away and I couldn't look at my partner until everyone else had left the room. I shed a tear but quickly gathered myself — there were pregnant women waiting on the other side of the door and I didn't want to ruin their day.
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We'd already spoken about what we would do. We knew our options (thank you, Google). So when the doctor confirmed our diagnosis, we knew what was coming: wait for it to happen naturally, take medication to move things along, or opt for a D&C (surgery to remove the 'pregnancy product'). My partner supported my decision of surgery. I was angry it had taken so long for the doctors to call it and mad at my body for holding on. I needed it to be over. I didn't want any chance of retained product, or the medication failing. I needed it done.
We had to wait over the weekend and I've never felt more blessed to be in the middle of a house renovation, with ample distraction to pass the time. We both ignored it as much as we could just to get through. Right before my surgery is when I finally broke. I had said goodbye to my partner and was wheeled away, waiting. I wish I could remember the name of the anaesthetist who held me in my hospital bed while I cried. I've never been so grateful in my life.
Lots of people get pregnant straight after a miscarriage and plenty of people I knew had. I devoured these stories, thinking “it is going to be me, everything is going to be alright again.”
Before my miscarriage, we approached pregnancy as realists would. If it happens, great. If it doesn’t, and it turns out something is wrong, it’s a good thing we’re starting now. We had the view that it could take months or it could take years and knew full well that there would be bumps along the way but after my miscarriage, being pregnant is all I wanted.
Some people grieve for the baby they were going to have because they wanted that baby. But for me, I just wanted to be pregnant again. Now that I’d had a whiff of pregnancy, I wanted it again so bad. I felt like time had been stolen from me; during those weeks I was waiting for scans, I could’ve been ovulating. They were now missed opportunities and I felt that I needed to be pregnant again so it was like no time had passed.
The months kept rolling and I was tracking my ovulation and using the sticks. Each month I tried something new, from seed cycling and fertility lubricant to the sperm meets egg method. I devoured endless podcasts, bought a BBT thermometer and began using it religiously. Still, no lines.
I had never been one to notice other people’s pregnancy announcements before my miscarriage but now they were everywhere. Few acknowledging those who may be struggling, many not. Neither right or wrong, I knew. The one that did sting was a friend who knew my story and also had their own. I still don’t know what the right way is to share such news—when one of you gets to leave the trenches—but I do know the wrong way is not acknowledging someone’s feelings at all. When something is consuming your entire world, validation from those close to you can go a long way.
“I'll never forget those who revisited their own grief to help me with mine.”
When I wasn’t trying for a baby, I’d never given my fertility much thought. I had known people who had struggled, had miscarriages, spent years trying with nothing to show for it, yet I still remained uneducated about my cycle and how making a baby actually works. I had been on the pill since my teens and I’d never had any problems. After my miscarriage, my period returned but my cycles were long, irregular and impossible to predict. You only have 12 chances a year to get pregnant… if you’re having a period each month. With some of my cycles going for 40 plus days, those chances were fewer and each extended wait teased a possibility.
I’ll never forget raising my concerns over my cycles with an OBGYN who told me to stop tracking and stop using ovulation sticks. “Just have sex every 2-3 days”, they told us. At the time, I didn’t think much of it but now it fills me with rage to have been told that educating myself on my cycle is a waste of time.
I have friends who make comments such as, “when Josh and I have babies”—as though their and their partner’s future fertility is a given. I long for their optimism and envy the fact that they’ll probably join the majority of lucky ones who’ll never have to know.
It’s gotten better but the fixation hasn’t stopped. The events I thought I’d be pregnant for have been and gone. The timelines I forced upon myself no longer exist.
I’m advocating for myself; tests are happening for both my partner and I, and a little of my inner realist is returning. If there’s one thing I’ve learnt, it’s that it’s impossible for others to want your pregnancy as desperately as you do. Doctors will tell you to wait ("it happened once, it’ll happen again) but even if it does, two lines don’t mean a baby. I know. I knew.
When the day comes, those lines will feel different. I'll no longer be ecstatic but rather have conservative happiness shrouded in fear and an overwhelming anxiety for the scans and the place where I’ve never had good news.
I know other people do, but I don’t believe I grieve for the baby that I lost. I grieve for the person I was before my miscarriage.
For advice and support on pregnancy, pregnancy complications or baby loss, visit tommys.org or speak to your GP.