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Mother’s Day and my feelings after recurrent miscarriage

Kate writes about experiencing multiple chemical pregnancies and miscarriage, and how Mother's Day was a trigger for expressing her grief and finding support.

The good responses were the people who would give me a hug and say I’m sorry.

I have PCOS and don’t ovulate so after four unsuccessful years of trying to conceive with my husband, I went to the GP and was referred on to a consultant gynaecologist who prescribed Clomid. In a three-month course, I had one chemical pregnancy, nothing, and then fell pregnant. We had a scan at seven weeks that confirmed a heartbeat, so our first home visit from our midwife was booked in for three weeks later. The morning after the home visit, I woke up, went to the toilet and found I was bleeding. As it was a bank holiday (it was the day after Boxing Day) I was unable to get any assistance from the EPAU at Worcester Hospital because they were closed, so I rang the midwife who suggested treating it like a period with pads, and perhaps going to A&E if the bleeding increased before I could be seen at the EPAU the following day.

As the bleeding didn’t cease but also didn’t get too much worse, my husband and I presented at the EPAU the next day and had a scan where the very kind sonographer told us there was no longer a heartbeat and the foetus was measuring at 8w+5 so I’d had a MMC approximately a week and a half earlier. A few days later, I went into hospital as a day patient for a D&C/ERPC (awful term for it!)

Since then, I have taken three more doses of Clomid (from which I had one further chemical pregnancy). Then, after being told last June my husband and I would both have to lose weight to qualify for NHS-funded IVF, I lost a stone and a half and have gone on to have two naturally-conceived chemical pregnancies, and one naturally-conceived miscarriage at approximately five weeks. We have now been given a referral to The Priory Clinic in Birmingham as we have both attained a BMI of under 30, so we’re looking at the next chapter in the story.

I had the most wonderful care from my GP (who at one point gave me a hug because she felt there was nothing more she could do than that, having had a MC herself) and all the staff in the Worcester EPAU during that awful week. After that, any follow up appointments we had or consultants we saw were very matter-of-fact about our experience and I don’t feel they gave us the emotional support we needed. The grief I felt after my miscarriage was unique in that I felt like I had to justify it because no one (including me) had met my child and therefore those close to me felt sad for me, but couldn’t quite relate to the loss I was feeling. It was a remarkably lonely time – as everyone who’s been through it can tell you – but what made it even worse was discovering that so many of my acquaintances (and even some close friends) had been through it too, but they hadn’t ‘made a fuss’ so I should just keep it to myself too. It made me sad for them that they hadn’t felt they could share their grief, and it also intensified the feelings of shame and embarrassment I was having/still have (to a degree).

I am now much more sanguine about it each time I have the tell-tale signs of early pregnancy followed by either a period or miscarriage, and have spent a vast amount of the last 12 months building up a bank of resources I can draw on to help me cope with the disappointment. I’ve become much more resilient than I ever thought I was, and am in a place where I want to be able to give back somehow – whether it’s through involvement with the MA, or by putting out posts like the one I did on October 15 last year that lays my vulnerability bare. My husband still finds it embarrassing and won’t expose himself in the same way, which to begin with I found difficult because it felt like I was the only one grieving, but I have since discovered that he’s processing the loss in his own way so I’ve found ways to support him in that.

I have learned to be positive in the face of repeated loss and disappointment, and I’ve also learned not to judge myself in relation to others’ experiences. Even all six of the girls that sit around me at work who’ve got pregnant in the last 12 months – I remind myself that I don’t know what they went through to get where they are and not to punish myself by resenting them.

Mother’s Day 2016, I was listening to Cerys Matthews interview a musician on the radio who talked about how since having children, nothing she did or made was as significant anymore. My cat was sleeping on my lap and the radio was on the other side of the room, so I couldn’t get up and turn it off (mustn’t disturb the ‘first born’ when he’s asleep!), so I sat there and fumed instead. I was still feeling very raw about my experience, and was surrounded by women at work getting pregnant (including one who had the same due date as us), and have always placed huge importance on my own sense of achievement, so I felt really incensed by some of the stuff this woman on the radio was saying. I can now see it was a bit irrational of me, but at the time it proved a huge trigger for the rest of the day’s outcome.

I just wept and wept. My husband went to church for the Mother’s Day service as planned and I stayed home, scouring the internet for anything that might make me feel better (or worse – sometimes a bit of wallowing/‘emotional cutting’ can be just what one needs). Anyway, in amongst all of that, I found an email confirming my registration for the Miscarriage Association’s forum and decided to share all this, and found the most wonderful community of people all feeling the same way. It was so incredibly comforting, and I was overwhelmed by the kind and loving responses I got to my post about how I felt on Mother’s Day. I also had some kind messages sent to me in response to advice I’d offered others based on my experience of grief, and these made me feel so good for helping.

I have found huge support through the forums, the information leaflets available on the website – particularly the one about returning to work – and I was briefly contemplating putting my hat in the ring for the Board position that came up last year. I wasn’t in the right place emotionally for that one back then though! I thought that by helping others I would start to feel better in myself.

It has been 15 months since my first miscarriage. I have started to get better about talking about it, whereas before I would get drunk and cry. All I wanted was for someone to acknowledge what had happened and that I am grieving.

I have always been told that due to my PCOS I would likely have problems getting pregnant. So, after my first miscarriage friends would often say ‘at least you can get pregnant.’ A lot of people said it was for best as there was obviously something wrong and I wouldn’t want to raise a disabled child. There was those who would say I’m sorry’ but then would quickly shuffle away so they didn’t have to talk about it. There was just a small handful of friends who would let me talk about it in full and could handle the emotion.

The good responses were the people who would give me a hug and say I’m sorry. My GP had experienced a miscarriage and said there is nothing I can do for you physically but I can give you a hug. That was really touching.

The thing that really strikes me is that people would react so differently if you lost a child. But, because I hadn’t met my baby yet it is like I shouldn’t be grieving.

After my first miscarriage, I didn’t tell anyone and took three weeks off work. When I returned three of my colleagues were pregnant. As much as I could I had to distance myself from them. If anyone asked me about my miscarriage I would be quite clinical, talking about it from an objective perspective rather than a personal one. I just couldn’t go there. I felt so full of embarrassment and shame.

My sister is a doctor so I would talk to her. I would also explore feelings of shame and vulnerability. I have learnt not blame myself or feel embarrassed. I have always been driven by achievements, but this is something I am failing at. You go through a tick list of milestones and children are a part of that. However, I still feel I have to justify how sad I am and how much grief I am feeling.

Six weeks after our miscarriage I went home to Australia to see my family. My husband called in tears and said ‘I totally get it I now, I understand why you were so sad.’ Once he was alone he understood what we had lost. He won’t talk about it to other people so I try and support him through it, particularly when we see all the pregnancy announcements on social media.

I wrote a long post about what I am going through (above). I wanted to articulate my experience and give it a voice. However, I was surprised how little reaction my outpouring had. But then again, I know that people find it hard or awkward to address.

I am still not 100% comfortable talking about my experience in certain settings. It is not because I feel embarrassed or too much emotion, but it is because I feel people are not open about hearing it.

About the Miscarriage Association

I trust the information I get from the Miscarriage Association, it has real authority. I am a rational person and I like to have reasons behind things. I can see that there is a lot of medical and clinical evidence that forms the basis of the information so that gives me great confidence in what they are telling me. At the same time, it is very sensitively dealt with and always strikes the right tone.