Sophie has experienced repeated miscarriages. She shares some of the comments she has received from others.
With each miscarriage the contact, the cards and flowers, would dwindle.
Anything that started with the words ‘at least’ I didn’t want hear. I was open about my miscarriages. It helped me to talk about it but I realise for some, they view it as very private. I think my work as a therapist helps. I have to keep myself well, in order to be able to do my job, and I know that talking about how I feel is one way to stay well.
When you bring up the subject of miscarriage some people can be horrified and try to change the subject as quickly as possible. I am lucky that my colleagues are very understanding and thoughtful. It has helped me knowing I can talk quite openly about what I am going through at work.
I would hear a lot of; ‘these things happen for a reason’ or ‘it wasn’t your time,’ or ‘it’ll be okay next time.’ After repeated miscarriages, I now know all the staff at EPU. With each miscarriage people have less to say to me.
I think one of the things said to me that really hurt was being told ‘try to think of it like a late period’. I’m not sure what kind of periods this person has – I was nearly 12 weeks and found out at a scan and had surgical management because my body hadn’t got the memo that the baby had stopped growing and thought I was still pregnant. I was still having morning sickness on the day I went in for the surgery, three days after the scan. It felt very different to a late period.
My experience of care from my clinic in Leeds has been fabulous. They have worked together with the clinic in Coventry to offer excellent care and support. However, I have had some well-meaning but insensitive comments from medical staff outside of the clinic. One GP, when I told her I was pregnant for the third time said, ‘if I was you I wouldn’t breathe a word about your pregnancy to anyone given your history’. This made me feel awful and as though she’d already decided this pregnancy would fail.
A healthcare assistant in EPU told me flippantly as she took my bloods, ‘it’s as if your body is trying to tell you you’re not meant to have a baby’ and a phlebotomist also told me ‘I should stop this nonsense and give my poor body a break’ she also advised IVF despite the fact she was not a doctor and I can get pregnant very easily! She cheerfully told me she had all her kids no problems without any miscarriages. My usual GP is also fabulous. So supportive and patient with me, realistic but still optimistic.
I knew miscarriage was a possibility. However, I never thought I would have more than one or two. After talking about my own experience, I found out that many people I know well had experienced pregnancy loss. This included extended family, colleagues, friends, family members who had had experienced pregnancy loss. It just was rarely spoken about until it happened to me. My second loss was such a shock. It felt like there must be something terrible wrong with me that meant I couldn’t do something that was so natural. If I’d have known how common recurrent pregnancy loss can be it might have helped me feel much less alone. I understand that people don’t want to think about the possibility when they’re newly pregnant and anxious so it isn’t talked about, they want reassurance that everything will be okay. However, when recurrent pregnancy loss happened to me I felt like a complete anomaly who had no chance of ever having a baby. Perhaps if it was more normalised to discuss pregnancy loss, less taboo and people felt comfortable sharing their experiences I’d have been more prepared and not felt so completely hopeless.
We both feel emotionally exhausted. My husband has always been the stronger one until recently. Seeing his friends have kids is starting to take its toll on both of us. He wants to be a dad so much. My husband has shared that sometimes he feels on the periphery and not included in the conversations or the conversations being about how I am rather than how both of us are. I guess a big message for other people is not to forget the partner in all of this.
After my third miscarriage, a nurse at EPU said to me ‘this doesn’t mean you are not going to be a mum.’ I really liked hearing that. It was not a promise, not flippant and didn’t dismiss the pain I felt. People who offered practical support was very helpful. My mother-in-Law did our laundry. My mum came to stay and did our cleaning or brought food and would just sit there to provide some company. Friends would turn up with a ready meal or would simply sit next to me while I cry or watch TV.
It is much more helpful having people acknowledging this is rubbish and say I am really sorry this is happening, rather than trying to come up with things to make me feel better or just pretending it hasn’t happened.
With each miscarriage the contact, the cards and flowers, would dwindle. The first time there was a lot of support. As you have more miscarriages I think people just don’t know what to say. The usual platitudes aren’t relevant anymore. That’s not to say I don’t still have their support but the reaction becomes less each time.
My feelings regarding our losses is that it took a very long time to acknowledge that what I was feeling was grief. I have also been surprised by how much shame I feel about my miscarriages. I feel like my body is letting me down and not able to do the very thing it was created to do. I am aware that this is not necessarily rational but it is still very hard to shake this belief. I feel devastated, it’s like a physical blow every time I see a pregnancy/birth announcement, as though other people are jumping the queue and I’m continuously pushed to the back again. I have found mindfulness based cognitive therapy MBCT very helpful in order to cope day to day. I am working hard to ensure me and my husband are able to live a fulfilling and happy life despite our losses but can’t help but feel that there’s a cloud of sadness hanging over us.