15 Oct Speaking out about Miscarriage
It’s strange to think that as women, when we experience the severe emotional and physical pain of miscarriage or pregnancy loss, we’re expected — and sometimes actively encouraged — to be quiet.
To suffer alone.
But in the last few years, more and more women have refused to.
Some of the world’s most well-known women like Michelle Obama, Pink, Beyonce, and most recently Chrissy Teigen, who lost her son Jack at 20 weeks, have shared their stories, their heartache, their trauma, with the world.
More locally, celebrities like Em Rusciano, Teresa Palmer and Tahyna MacManus have been open and vulnerable, sharing intimate and personal details about their own losses. This week, the documentary Misunderstandings of Miscarriage (MuM), featuring MacManus, was released on Stan, and it shows the real pain of losing a baby from several perspectives.
It’s voices like Chrissy Teigen’s, and documentaries like MuM (in which I feature), that are changing the tone around miscarriage. These public conversations help women feel more inclined to reach out for support and open the dialogue.
Instagram was not around when I was in my 20s. My life in my 20s was pretty textbook, I met my now-husband, bought our first apartment, we travelled, got married, travelled some more and then decided to have a baby.
We were 26 and 27 at the time and fell pregnant easily. We were ecstatic about becoming parents and decided to move back to our hometown to be closer to family.
I had my first antenatal check up and all was going well, so we had started shouting from the rooftops that we were having a baby. I was nine weeks pregnant.
Five days later, as I was walking to the kitchen after dinner, I felt a lot of fluid drop from me and I immediately knew something was wrong.
As I rushed to the bathroom, tears were welling in my eyes and when I looked down all I saw was blood.
I called the after-hours doctor, and she assured me that it’s normal to have some spotting in early pregnancy and if I was worried to see my doctor in the next few days.
As the night progressed the bleeding got heavier and turned crimson red. Intermittently the bleeding would stop, so my husband and I were still hopeful.
I didn’t sleep much that night. Instead, I consulted Google and meandered down the rabbit hole looking for answers and searching for hope.
The next day I asked for an urgent appointment with my obstetrician and was lucky he could squeeze me in.
I can still remember the image on the screen from that ultrasound – forever frozen in my mind. I knew it didn’t look right. It looked messy and blurry and I couldn’t see the baby.
When the obstetrician looked at me and said, “sorry, you’ve lost the baby,” I burst into tears, my life shattered, my hopes for this baby shattered, and my heart broke into a million pieces.
This was the start of a seven-year journey to bring our daughter into the world.
Those years were filled with six miscarriages and three blighted ovums, many unsuccessful rounds of IVF and a copious amount of tears, shame and sadness.
We tried acupuncture, herbs, essential oils, diet changes – I even hired a life coach. I became a shell of my former self, feeling each loss as a failure. With each loss I felt I was failing my husband, my family, myself.
I was the first person I knew to experience a miscarriage.
My parents and my husband’s parents both had no fertility issues. My husband and a close group of girlfriends were my saviours.
I feel forever indebted to my support network for helping me through the most difficult seven years of my life, and I’m not sure how I would have made it through without their encouragement and support.
In December 2013, we welcomed our beautiful little girl Indiana into our lives. We were so overjoyed with having our very longed for baby.
When she was three years old, she started asking for a sibling, so we went back on the IVF route.
But after three unsuccessful attempts and three more miscarriages, I was spent, both emotionally and physically.
We were already so grateful to have our beautiful daughter and I didn’t want her to see me fall back into the dark hole that I had been in before she entered our lives.
Our idea was to buy her a kitten sibling. But a week after the kitten arrived, I was feeling very ill and thought I’d take a pregnancy test: positive.
This was a natural conception and I was incredibly nervous throughout the whole pregnancy.
In August 2019, our little miracle man Kingston arrived. The pregnancy was challenging and not without its complications.
I had pups and placenta abruption which can deprive the baby of oxygen and nutrients. Luckily, he was born in time and perfectly healthy.
We feel incredibly blessed to have our healthy, happy babies and would do it all again to have these little miracles in our lives.
Perhaps if I had known how common miscarriage was, and known of the physical and emotional toll it can take, my experience would’ve been different.
The highs and lows of miscarriage and pregnancy still go on largely behind closed doors, in whispers and private tears.
But I believe every time a woman shares her story, they help make those moments a little less lonely for others.
If this has raised any issues for you or if you would like to speak with someone, please contact the Sands Australia 24 hour support line on 1300 072 637.
Misunderstandings of Miscarriage is now streaming on Stan.