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Miscarriage and friendships

Jennifer shares the things people have said to her after her six miscarriages, and the impact that recurrent miscarriage has had on her, her husband and her friendships.

When I tell people about my miscarriages they are usually shocked at first because I have had so many and I am quite open at talking about them.

The first two or three miscarriages I didn’t speak to anyone just family and close friends. With my fifth loss at 11 weeks I was a bit more open about what was happening and by the time of my sixth loss I was very open about it.

My first loss was very sudden and traumatic, I went into a deep depression. I struggled with anxiety and depression until just after my fourth loss when I got suicidal (the thought of leaving my daughter stopped me). I sought help and received an unofficial diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder linked to my first loss and lack of hospital care afterwards. I was lucky enough to receive Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) which helped me work through the trauma and gave me tools to cope with daily life. Being open with the therapist spilled over to being more open with everyone. Being open helped.

When I tell people about my miscarriages they are usually shocked at first because I have had so many and I am quite open at talking about them. A lot of people don’t know how to deal with it and I’ll be greeted with ‘I’m sorry’ or ‘you’ll have another baby, I’m positive because you already have one.’ I am often told about people who have had three miscarriages and then a healthy baby. I don’t find these stories that encouraging. A lot of people say just be grateful you have got your daughter – I know that, but I feel there is an empty chair at the table. My mum has lost three so I do speak to her about it and she has some understanding of what my husband and I are going through.

My friends always say ‘I’m so sorry’, they know about my multiple losses and that I have heard most of the sayings before. The most helpful thing is knowing that they are there to just talk, that they won’t get awkward about me telling them about the latest hospital news. They ask me about appointments and start the conversation so I don’t feel like it’s always me talking about it. Sometimes people tell me about my other options like adoption or surrogacy (like my husband and I haven’t already discussed it) and I have been told to ‘just get on with things.’ I had one friend who called to tell me his wife was pregnant the day after I found out my last one died – that felt so unkind and unthoughtful and put me in a really bad place. There is a time and place for everything and that wasn’t it.

When people say things like ‘you will have another one’ I just nod and smile and say we don’t know what the future brings. I don’t want false hope because I don’t know if I can carry another child after everything we have been through. I find it difficult on forums when I ask people for help and they say they have their rainbow baby. Those stories don’t fill me with hope, more pain that it isn’t happening for me too. When I was pregnant I deliberately wouldn’t tell people online that I was pregnant and that things will turn out fine for them too.

My husband has really struggled with our last loss. I was told the baby had died on the Thursday and I was due to go to hospital on the Monday for a D&C. During the weekend, I started bleeding and ended up losing a lot of blood, along with being in extreme pain. He rang an ambulance for me at which point I passed out on the bathroom floor, which was especially traumatic for him. One of the hardest things with the last one was when they told me the baby had died and I had to walk through the waiting room full of expectant mothers waiting for their scans. I then had to wait for a blood test where there was no one at first, but the lady in front of me was having a dizzy spell and couldn’t leave so the waiting room slowly filled up with pregnant ladies all happy and excited. Absolute hell for me.

Something that is often not spoken about is how miscarriages can affect friendships. I was due to go on holiday with a friend but she is pregnant now and I just can’t face going. I won’t be able to relax as my anxiety will be through the roof and I have no right to ask her to not talk about it and be excited or even hide it. That has caused difficulties as we have backed out of the holiday. I have lost friends through this journey, usually linked to my anxiety around pregnancy, or people not knowing how to cope/deal with my need to protect myself. However, I do have friends who really understand. I have close friends who I didn’t see throughout their pregnancies, but, when the babies were born and I was ready, we just picked up from where we left of. It took some understanding on their part and my not shutting down completely and talking via messenger and being there from a distance (which I’m happy to do, I just can’t have the pregnancy in my face).

I hate being this person. I don’t want to be hiding from pregnant friends. I don’t want to see pregnant women and hate them. I never used to be like this. My husband is very supportive. The first few miscarriages he thought he had to be the strong man until I broke down and said I need to know I am not feeling this pain alone. Now we feel it together and make sure we communicate. I don’t feel alone with him anymore and our relationship is stronger from our being open with each other. It honestly helps to cry together.