Jemma experienced three miscarriages between the birth of her son in 2010 and her daughter in 2013. She writes about her ongoing grief for her lost babies.
People need to be made more aware of how to speak to people who have gone through a miscarriage.
I have been pregnant five times. My son was born in February 2010 following an issue free pregnancy. We were thrilled 18 months later to find out we were pregnant again, but we sadly miscarried at 8 weeks 3 days. I was sent by A&E to EPU to be scanned and they couldn’t find a heartbeat. I had a normal miscarriage (if there is such a thing) a few days later, and was rescanned to check everything had gone, but offered no aftercare.
After trying to get pregnant for a year, once again we were thrilled to find out we were pregnant. Just after booking in to see the midwife we miscarried again at four weeks three days. During booking in, I wasn’t offered any closer monitoring as I’d already had a miscarriage, and when the miscarriage happened that time, I wasn’t rescanned, they took my word for everything coming away naturally, and still I was offered no aftercare.
Two months later I miscarried again when an over-active doctor mistook my normal miscarriage pains I’d told him I had with my last two losses, for an ectopic pregnancy. I was sent for a scan but as there were no EPU slots free, I had to wait in the normal scan waiting room, knowing I was losing another baby, surrounded by happy parents-to-be staring at their newly-taken scan pictures. My scan showed no baby so I was sent away with a diagnosis of my 3rd miscarriage but once again, no aftercare or talk of tests.
I had heard that after three miscarriages, it’s classed as recurrent miscarriages, so I went to my Dr to ask for tests to be done. I had one test before falling pregnant a 5th time, with my daughter, who was born healthy in September 2013. I have never been offered any mental health help or aftercare and subsequently now suffer from a form of PTSD, anxiety disorder and depression-diagnosed by a GP, which I was told could’ve been prevented with aftercare following the losses.
I used to hear ‘it wasn’t meant to be’ a lot. A good friend told me that it was because, ‘maybe I couldn’t carry girls’ and, with the lack of any other explanation, I started to believe it! At the time you cling on to whatever you can make sense out of.
A lot of people would tell me that it will happen, eventually. I would also get a lot of people analysing what could have caused it. That was probably the most unhelpful. Asking questions like, have you taken any medicine etc. I would also hear ‘why do you need another one, you already have a child.’
I think health care professionals need educating. My experience of care has been bad. I now have anxiety and depression from PTSD as I didn’t receive any support on the mental health side. When you are dealing with such crushing news, to be sent home to just get on with life seems cruel. It is also compounded by the fact that for two of my miscarriages I had to sit amongst heavily pregnant women, looking forward to their babies.
People need to be made more aware of how to speak to people who have gone through a miscarriage. I think people need to realise their response can make you feel like it is not okay to grieve, that it wasn’t a baby. But, as soon as the two lines appear on the pregnancy test they were my babies. Grief is such an important process in any loss, but when it’s the loss of a baby, no matter how far along the pregnancy, and whatever the circumstances, it’s seems doubly important to deal with your feelings.
I have been open about my miscarriages. I personally think so much stigma is still attached to people who’ve lost babies, and I know how much it helps me to read others stories and to know I’m not alone. Recently I’ve had or seen conversations with people, where the underlying context seems to be, babies born to miscarriage, aren’t babies.
“Surely it’s easier to get over when it’s not even a proper baby?!”
“How can you still be grieving now you’ve had another baby?!”
In actual fact, grieving for my babies is still ongoing. I think of them daily and what I could’ve had.
They were my babies. Three little lives that registered on a pregnancy test. A growing human inside my womb, that changed the levels of my hormones enough to change a pregnancy test. A new person, that I believed (each time) would sit in there for nine months, cooking away nicely, ready to come and meet me and his/her daddy and big brother.
I wasn’t made aware of any charities but through googling I came across the Miscarriage Association. When I had my daughter, Olivia, is when it became apparent I hadn’t dealt with the previous traumas. I started to write, it was a form of therapy.