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Miscarriages during a pandemic

Olivia talks about her experience of having 2 miscarriages, both during the coronavirus pandemic.

I am grateful I haven’t had to meet people. I have been able to avoid that 1st birthday party or baby shower... I’m actually petrified of this all ending and having to go back out into a world where at the moment I feel I don’t fully belong.

How can you miss someone so desperately when you haven’t even met them?

My experience of miscarriage has been of all-consuming grief. Heartache that rushes through my body, tears I can’t control, constant longing.

The sense of loss is unlike anything I have experienced, which is strange as it is somewhat intangible. I feel I’m being dramatic about how my heart can be so broken when I have a gorgeous husband, lovely house and seemingly a very happy life…

I felt so lucky when I fell pregnant without even trying, it was even a shock. We had moved to London to follow careers and it was at the beginning of the pandemic. Although it was sooner than we had planned I actually felt complete, and unbelievably excited. It never crossed my mind that it may not be a successful pregnancy.

You aren’t prepared; not just for the heartbreak, but the physical pain too. I experienced cramping, clots, hospital treatment and actually had morphine because the pain was so horrendous.

I felt heartbroken and grief stricken that I may be flushing my baby down the toilet (graphic I know). It’s a bizarre concept and writing it down I struggle to find the words to express the pain I feel.

I knew it probably wouldn’t happen again, it was unlucky, it wasn’t abnormal… And I fell pregnant again quickly after. I confided in a couple of friends and they knew people who had had a miscarriage and gone on to have a healthy baby – perfect!

I was so excited. However, at our 12 week scan I was told there was no heartbeat, the baby had stopped growing. It was a missed miscarriage. The sonographer told me it was the cruelest form of pregnancy loss as you continue to exhibit signs of pregnancy. Literally everything seemed ‘right’, I even had morning sickness the day of my scan! I felt so stupid, that perhaps I had made up these symptoms. Had I told myself I had sickness, was it all psychological?!

I have been ashamed of my experience, feeling somehow that I’ve failed as a woman. After suffering each miscarriage I have desperately googled miscarriage hoping to find some magic answers, hoping to find people who have experienced the same and gone on to have a healthy baby. I have searched ‘celebrities who have miscarried’ just hoping to find people who have been through the same!

I feel sick when I see women pushing their prams on my dog walk and heartbroken when friends announce their pregnancies on Facebook. A wave of sadness hits you and soaks you for the rest of the day. And then feeling guilty again – how can feeling so happy for someone also feel so incredibly painful?!

BUT, you are not alone. Different studies show different statistics, but as many as 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage… If you were playing a board game and rolled a 1 you wouldn’t think it was abnormal, even if you rolled a 1 on multiple occasions you wouldn’t question it. There are so many people who are going through the same thing.

I believe many people keep quiet about their experiences for a variety of different reasons… guilt – was it my fault? I forgot to take my folic acid one day, was that it? Was the bath I had slightly too hot? I had a sip of champagne on that special occasion, did that do it? After my first miscarriage I was convinced I had contracted COVID in the first couple of weeks of pregnancy and thought this must be the answer.

The other thing is your career. I was so worried that if work found out I wanted a baby they wouldn’t want me anymore – especially in the pandemic. Before I fell pregnant the first time, I was desperate to progress in my career, I still am. But you constantly think, well, I could be pregnant next month… your whole life on hold, waiting and praying for a rainbow to appear.

The one thing I have felt grateful for is the fact this has all happened in the midst of a pandemic. Yes, you read that correctly! I am grateful I haven’t had to meet people, I have been able to avoid that 1st birthday party or baby shower. Writing this makes me feel so guilty again, as these are people I love that I am shying away from. I’m actually petrified of this all ending and having to go back out into a world where at the moment I feel I don’t fully belong.

Both miscarriages happened in full lockdowns, one in June and one in November, I found out by myself – again I was fine with this, I feel like when I’m by myself I cope better because there’s no other option. It’s seeing the sadness on my partner’s face that makes me crumble, feeling like my body has caused our pain and grief.

Currently the NHS only carries out tests once you’ve had 3 consecutive miscarriages. I can’t imagine having to go through this again. For those that have, I admire your strength and your stories are inspiring.

I never thought I would be someone who would share my experience, but I have desperately searched for people who have experienced the same – how can anyone find those stories if we aren’t open and don’t share.