Kathryn experienced pregnancy loss four times (including a twin loss in one pregnancy) before the birth of her daughter in 2013. She writes about how important it is to acknowledge the grief.
After my second miscarriage people would ignore me because they didn’t know what to say. I wished they would have just said they were sorry.
When we found out we were pregnant we just told family, some close friends and my boss. At the 12 week scan we were told the baby had died. I was due back to work that afternoon so called my boss and told her the depressing news. After a month, I returned to work where a few people said sorry that it happened. I was very open about what we had gone through. I knew these things happen and so many people who miscarry go on to have healthy babies. I had no reason to think we would be any different.
Six months later we were thrilled to be pregnant again. I had a small bleed at nine weeks so went to the early pregnancy unit for a scan. The ultrasound showed a twin pregnancy but one baby had died. The other baby was fine until I had bleeding and cramping at 18 weeks. This was so much worse than the first miscarriage. I was at work when I started bleeding. As soon as I saw the blood I panicked. An ultrasound showed the other twin had also died. I had six weeks off work and was really struggling.
The day before I was due to go back my boss called to let me know one of the girls at work had just announced her pregnancy. That really set me back. I couldn’t stop was crying. The next day I had to go into the office so I took a few deep breaths and walked in. The girl who was pregnant sat opposite me. She had just been for her scan and couldn’t contain her excitement, talking with other people in the office, telling them how much she was looking forward to being a mother. It wasn’t a big office so even though she wasn’t talking to me I heard every word. I was stunned. It was like someone smacked me in the face with a brick. I was slipping further and further into depression as I was watching her blossom.
After my second miscarriage people would ignore me because they didn’t know what to say. I wished they would have just said they were sorry. It would have been so much better than the isolation I felt.
Looking back, I now know that people just didn’t know what to say. I heard so many unhelpful comments; ‘perhaps you can’t carry a boy’s’ or ‘why do you keep trying?’ I felt suicidal. I struggled until the moment I was making lunch. I had a knife in my hand and thought how easy it would be to just stick it in my stomach and go and be with my babies. I put the knife down and made an emergency GP appointment. I was referred for pregnancy loss counselling and prescribed anti-depressants. It took me ten months before I could think about trying again.
Eventually we did try again. I told everyone as soon as I found out I was pregnant because I knew I needed support in case it went wrong. I was put under consultant care straightaway. I had a scan at seven weeks and everything looked good. Three weeks later I discovered the baby had died the day after the scan. My third miscarriage. This one I coped with better, perhaps because I was half expecting it. Friends and family were amazing but it was speaking to work colleagues that was hard. As soon as I got back to work the questions started; ‘will you try again?’ ‘what do you think is wrong with you?’ and ‘what if you miscarry again?’ I also hated to hear the endless stories about someone’s cousin, twice removed, who had 13 miscarriages but now has six wonderful kids. I did not find those stories motivating in any way.
After my third loss, I was referred to the miscarriage clinic where they found I had an underactive thyroid. The consultant said in some cases it can cause miscarriage and referred me for treatment. One year later I got pregnant. At six weeks I miscarried naturally. This was unusual for me – all my other miscarriages were MMC. I woke up feel crampy and saw blood. I knew immediately I had lost another one. I went back to work, where once again I had to deal with people’s reactions. Probably the worst response was from a colleague who said; ‘I’m not being funny Kathryn but I don’t want to hear about it anymore.’ I stopped talking after that.
When I got pregnant again I knew it was different. The hospital was amazing. I had weekly scans for reassurance. Every week was a scary as hell, expecting the scan to deliver bad news. I saw the consultant fortnightly until 24 weeks and then monthly to 38 weeks when I delivered my daughter Rebecca at 38 weeks.
Now, when people ask if I would like another one I always tell them she is my sixth child. When I bumped into someone I knew had had a miscarriage I approached her to tell her how sorry I was. When she said it was early I told her it doesn’t matter – it is still her baby. It was moving to see how touched she was by this. I know what it is like to be ignored. I know her grief is personal. But, I can acknowledge her grief – that is the important thing.