I was almost 12 weeks when I miscarried our accidental, third child at work, before setting off in rush hour to do the nursery run.
Even as I approached nursery and felt the dampness reach my tights, I felt a surge of energy and pride not dissimilar to the euphoria I’d felt after giving birth to my two daughters. It was over, just like that.
A scan that morning had revealed a blighted ovum, which hadn’t developed past 7 weeks. I was neither surprised nor sad. I could pinpoint the day my symptoms had vanished, and this unplanned third child was following a little too swiftly on the tail of our youngest daughter, who was only a year old. Aside from the fact that we hadn’t actually decided we wanted a third, I was still breastfeeding and desperately wanted my body back. I had also just returned to work on a much desired part-time basis. In short, the timing was dreadful.
I sent a quick text to the few friends that knew, rebuffing all their concerns. “It wasn’t even a baby,” I said. “I’ve got two healthy girls and this wasn’t planned.” I believed my own mantra.
I marvelled at the bullet I had dodged. I thought about the new jeans I could now buy and the summer holiday we could book. Most of all, I thought how lucky I was that I could stay in my newly negotiated job. Lucky, lucky me.
So the fallout was unexpected. I wasn’t prepared when, two days later, I suddenly felt desperately low and neglected by everyone who’d thought I was OK, because I’d told them I was. Remaining composed at work added to the trauma. I desperately wanted to cry but knew if I did, I wouldn’t stop. “I’ll cry tomorrow,” I told myself.
All the silver linings of not being pregnant dispersed, leaving behind nothing but dark, oppressive clouds. For the first time in my life, I didn’t care about anything. Not the jeans I’d thought I’d wanted. Not the body I foolishly thought I’d reclaimed.
Every time I looked at our family, I felt like someone was missing. Despite telling myself it wasn’t really a baby, I felt its loss so greatly. The moment we’re pregnant, we think about this new life, even when we think we aren’t thinking about it at all. Would it be another girl or would the hormone balance finally be restored with a boy? How would our youngest cope, still a baby herself? More to the point, how would I cope? But deep down we know we will, and for all the worries, there are twice as many hopes.
In my otherwise ordinary life, I realized I was pleased to break convention with that third child, who is often looked upon as a gamble or a luxury. The one who is actually a gift and who teaches you that the small things don’t matter – if two out of three have their teeth brushed, it’s a pretty good day.
Instead, miscarriage took away the gift of the third child. And the calendar year suddenly stretched endlessly ahead, filled with empty milestones I would try not to acknowledge. The future felt uncertain in every way possible. I didn’t have the promise of knowing we would try for another; it felt like too much of a gamble. I decided I’d much rather wait and hope for another gift.
I never spoke to anyone about my miscarriage because I didn’t know how to. What words could possibly help me feel better? It took a generic letter from the health visitor with the words, “please accept our condolences,” to make me acknowledge that I even had the right to grieve. I hung on to that letter for months. The only indication that I was ever pregnant.
“It will take time to recover,” I was told, and gradually, I did start to feel like myself again. I found the courage to tell my boss. I confessed my ambition to write, published a book I’d been writing on Amazon and started my blog. The miscarriage suddenly started to make some sense. Or, more likely, I just needed it to.
But the question of the third child persisted, and it wasn’t until we decided to take our future into our own hands that I properly started to heal.
Two years on, we have our third child. And the hormone balance has been restored with a boy. Some days we cope fine. Other days? Not so much. But there are twice as many hopes as worries. I was right about that.
My miscarriage doesn’t haunt me anymore, but there isn’t a day when I don’t wish I had known how to handle it better. When I don’t wish I had grieved. When I don’t wish someone had told me how important it is to grieve. Because a miscarriage is never over. Just like that. And nor should it be.
You absolutely have the right to grieve.