I had been thinking about writing something on occasion of BLAW (Baby Loss Awareness Week) at the beginning of October, but I fell prey to extreme mood swings, tiredness, and crying spurts of the 2ww. It was pretty bleak and I think I felt bad both at the thought of writing about BLAW and guilty of not writing anything at all. I just couldn’t win.
I had in mind that on this occasion, I was going to reminisce about one of my miscarriages. In particular, one that took place about two years ago on the 11th of November. How befitting that it should fall on Remembrance Day…
I feel really vulnerable talking about it and half of me doesn’t want to do it. But duck it, it’s not every day that I get to talk about my dead babies and failed pregnancies.
Some of the details are a bit blurry but I remember that we had started trying for a baby in August of 2018. It was a rushed decision made more from an innocent teenage giddy fancy than anything rational. I remember I was in Romania, and we had let it slip that month on the contraception, which led us to think ‘shall we try?’ – we got drunk over the phone and confirmed the decision, which later was put into writing in a lovely picture my partner drew of our baby with a dummy on. We planned thoroughly what our future was going to be like and there was a family in it. We didn’t think for a second there could be impediments to our dreams, even though I already had a past of infertility and miscarriage.
Looking back I’d like to give our past selves a reality slap but also I want to go back to being that excited, that in love and that crazy.
We didn’t really try try either. I can’t remember any excruciating 2ww, or changing the way we ate or our lifestyles that much, I am not even sure I was taking any supplements. In fact, the month I found out I was pregnant, I had a few drinks on Halloween and didn’t notice any difference. I was also very ready for it to take a long time, knowing that previously I couldn’t conceive for ages. I think I was very relaxed about it and it didn’t make me as anxious as it does now.
To our disbelief at the beginning of November, I took a pregnancy test and it was positive! I didn’t do anything special to announce it to my partner or thought of a baby straightaway. I felt detached from it as I had miscarried for the first time the previous year. I kept telling my partner that I didn’t know if it was going to be ok but deep inside trusted it would.
I remember my partner explaining to me about the 12 week rule for the first time. He said that you should hold off telling people you are pg (pregnant) until after the 12 week scan…it seemed to be impossible to reach that milestone – I thought. But I trusted him and we decide not to tell anyone at all. (How frustrating it was when I ended up telling people I had miscarried that didn’t even know we were pregnant! )
I was also very anxious about the timing of this pregnancy as I had just learnt I was going to be made redundant from my 9 year job, I felt like I wasn’t going to be able to support and provide for the baby and properly take care of him/her. The hormones exacerbated this feeling and it even crossed my mind that I should have an abortion (something that I know I never would have done). This thought made me feel incredibly guilty afterwards when I had the miscarriage because I really loved this baby. Also, when you have a miscarriage, the woman always thinks it is her fault for every little thing she did/didn’t do or think, how silly.
Just after we found out, we had a reunion with my partner’s family and his son from a previous relationship. This is when I started thinking about the baby and what it would be like for him to meet all his cousins and brother. It started being very exciting! Just in time, my partner bought me some flowers and a little elephant blanket, and I was finally getting used to the idea of being pg. We started calling the baby ‘Pequeño’, which means little in Spanish, and I was sure he was a little boy.
I arranged to go to the doctors to see how I should wean off of the antidepressants and also to see the midwife three weeks later. I didn’t suffer from sickness or any extreme symptoms but I noticed that at night I used to get really bloated and crampy. I pushed through and put these nasty symptoms at the back of my head. On a Thursday of the following week, at 5 weeks 4 days or so, I was teaching a lecture, when I went to the bathroom and noticed there was spotting. A wave of absolute panic and dread came over me. Not once again!? (My previous mc had started exactly that way). I always had a 5 minute break in the lecture so I went upstairs to phone the doctors. He reassured me that spotting is very common in early pregnancy, so nothing to worry about. I knew it wasn’t right. I went and finished teaching that lecture. It was excruciating. I tried to push past experience out of my consciousness, but I couldn’t. The next day I also had a lecture but given the doctor had said that everything was ok, I went home and tried to relax. When I woke up the next day, I was covered in bright red blood so I phoned both work and the doctors notifying that I wasn’t going to be in and that I needed a scan because I was having a miscarriage. My partner suggested going to A&E but I was resigned and this time I knew the drill. I wanted to miscarry at home.
My partner was incredible at taking care of me. He made this miscarriage much more bearable, fed me, gave me hot water bottles and love. The scan on the following Monday was an exact carbon copy of the last one ‘we cant see anything here’, you’ve had a complete miscarriage. It is horrible. You even question your own sanity and if you were even pregnant to start with. But, of course, you were, which is even harder to take.
I didn’t have a lot of understanding from work about what had happened. When I phoned in sick on Friday, I found an email from the head of department reprimanding me for not giving enough notice about my absence. I had phoned early in the morning, but I think she wanted me to know that I was going to have a miscarriage and at what time it was going to be. This audacious bitch had no sassy response from me, but, if I was to go through this again, I know exactly what to do now. I would send her a blank email with the Miscarriage Association leaflet on ‘miscarriage in the workplace’. Hopefully, it would instil some sense of shame in her brutally stone cold heart.
If you go through a miscarriage at work, please know that you have some rights to protect you from discrimination. I hope that you never ever have to go through that though. (Cancelling the midwife appointments is very eerie as well!)
Just like that, on the 11th of November 2018, our Pequeño left us, with a big hole in our hearts. I know he must have been bubbly, talkative and also a little bit naughty. We also know that he likes to fish as witnessed by my partner in a dream where his father was teaching him how to fish. I also dreamt of him on the same night, but, sadly, I can’t remember what he looks like.
We named him Ethan later, as someone suggested to name our babies properly to give them a place in our family. Ethan would be one and half years old now. So strange to think about that! It took me about a year to properly mourn for this baby and he was 5+4 weeks old upon his death. Let nobody tell you that how old the baby is correlates to how long grief lasts, or that you shouldn’t grieve because you were barely pregnant. You grieve for as long as you need to.
I tend to know that my grief is better if I can listen to the baby’s song or write a poem about them. I still find it difficult to listen to Pequeño’s song (it’s ‘Qué Bonito!’ by Aitor y María) but, after about a year, I had a few muse beers and wrote this poem for him and the corresponding translation into Spanish. I hope you enjoy it. May he rest in peace and take care of his little brothers and sisters.
When you were born in heaven
You could already fish before you could talk.
I changed your nappies by changing
The way I thought of love.
You didn’t cry, you didn’t move
But the wind came shouting your strong truth.
You could run before you walked,
You could swallow the rules whole.
There was no heaven for you
Because your were born in the cosy caring Loop
of the fairy looping tooth.
You will never know of deep despair
Of cushions gone wrong
Or your parents affairs.
I still live in your realm my child,
And for your sake learn to be fair
Learn to love, learn to die
Learn to appreciate a black blue sky
And hope that one day I will see you fly
Up and high in the sky
Without the burden of my daily life
Without the dread to die.
Cuando naciste en el cielo
Sabías pescar antes que hablar,
Te cambié los pañales cambiando
Lo que pensaba que era amar.
No lloraste ni te moviste,
Pero el viento gritó a voces tu verdad.
Sabías correr antes que andar
Te podías saltar todas las pautas.
Para tí no existía el cielo,
Porque ya naciste en el diente cálido y tierno
donde el ratoncito Pérez guardó su pañuelo.
Nunca conocerás la desolación,
Ni los cojines equivocados
Ni si tus padres tienen problemas o no.
Yo aún vivo en tu reino, mi niño.
Y por tí aprenderé a ser bueno;
Aprender a amar y aprender a morir
Aprender a apreciar un cielo azul gris
Espero un día verte volar muy alto en el firmamento.
Y poderte acompañar cuando yo también
sepa volar antes que hablar.
Sin arrastrar el día a día,
Y sin el miedo a lo que dejo atrás.