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A helpline volunteer shares her personal experience of loss

Michelle shares her experience of having a late miscarriage, and why she decided to volunteer for the Miscarriage Association.

People fear getting it wrong so they don’t say anything.

I had four live children within five years. I thought I was good at making babies. It was a real shock when the 5th one died. I had a very small spot of blood and later, the scan confirmed the miscarriage. For professionals, they very much treated it as a procedure, there was no acknowledgement it was a child. I was on gynaecology ward which wasn’t set up to provide adequate care. Because it was under 24 weeks it wasn’t a viable child. I heard some really unhelpful things at the time. Someone said to me I should have expected it to happen as one in four die and this is my fifth. During the labour a nurse dropped a photo book on my bed of what other people had said, that wasn’t helpful. I didn’t know what I was giving birth to, I had no idea what to expect. There was a lot of fear and little support.

As we weren’t on a labour ward I couldn’t have gas and air. Later on, my husband left the room to tell them we think the baby is out now and they just took him away. I know they do treat people and their babies with more respect now. No one said do you want to spend time with the baby? There was no preparation and not much aftercare, you just go home to silence.

We were on our own. There was no real acknowledgement that there had been a life. Fortunately, there were some people volunteering locally for the Miscarriage Association at the time. It was great just hanging out. The guy spoke to my husband and said this is your loss as well.

In my job, I train people going through loss. I realised after Arthur died no one asked me my story. When you have a baby, people ask what was the labour like, but no one asked me how was it. So, you just kept it to yourself and carried on. People fear getting it wrong so they don’t say anything.

The grief came 12 months later when we moved town. We were suddenly very isolated.

Whatever stage of loss, that mum thought she had a future with a child that has been lost. It is not what stage of pregnancy she was in when she miscarried but the impact the baby had.

I have run the Manchester group for four years but, since 2004 I have been volunteering on the helpline. Lots of people have come with sad stories of what medical professionals have said to them. Things along the line of, ‘you should be over it by now.’ They don’t see it as a life.

To have the opportunity to sit with other people who have gone through a loss in a group setting is so helpful. We all have different experiences but we all share the fact that there was no child. We create a safe space for people to share.