Mother’s Day: an opportunity to celebrate the brilliance of our mothers (and mother figures) and strengthen the special bond with our children. But for women around in the UK who have experienced miscarriage, navigating the occasion can be fraught with emotion as we remember the trauma of pregnancy loss. Though miscarriage is often obscured by silence and stigma, it’s extraordinarily common: according to The Miscarriage Association, one in four pregnancies end this way within the first 24 weeks, while recent findings from Imperial College London show that four in ten women who experience miscarriage go on to report symptoms of post-traumatic stress.
At the time I lost my baby, my life was on an uphill trajectory. I was living with my boyfriend in a two bedroom flat and working in financial marketing in the City with a team of great people. I burned the candle at both ends, but was hard-working but always happy-go-lucky. Having moved to the UK from New Zealand some 10 years before, my London friends and boyfriend had become my family and support system.
We had only been together for a couple of years when we discovered I was pregnant. We hadn’t even talked about a long-term future together so it was a real shock. But after a long chat we decided to embrace the pregnancy. After our 12-week scan we announced our news to friends, family and colleagues. Surprise turned to anticipation: we were thrilled about becoming parents.
My 20-week scan took place a few weeks late, and I went alone as my boyfriend was busy at work and it was a routine scan. I was looking forward to hearing the tiny little heart beat again and seeing how much our baby’s little fingers and toes had grown.
But when I lay down on the bed at the clinic, staring intently at the screen, I knew there was something wrong. I’ll never forget the interminable silence from the stenographer, who got up and left the room to get a second opinion without telling me why. I waited patiently to see the consultant and in that moment time slowed down. I felt sick with a sense of dread and panic. I was in total denial that anything could go wrong for my baby and me.
Eventually the consultant took me into her office and calmly explained that there was amniotic fluid inside the baby and not enough in the sac. The news was bad: our baby wouldn’t survive. Either we had to have a termination or let things take their course naturally. We were told to go home over the weekend and decide.
All weekend I felt lost, numb and empty, like I was walking inside a bubble. Then on the Sunday I felt a searing pain in my abdomen – and then nothing. I immediately knew something was wrong. When we returned on the Monday we were told that our baby boy had died. I was inconsolable. This little being I had carried inside me for 24 weeks was no longer. I couldn’t get my head around it, and the tears flowed non-stop.
I was booked in for a termination but because I was over 25 weeks pregnant by this point, I had to give birth to our little baby boy, which only added to my overwhelming distress. Even though he was gone we named him John, as he’d been alive for all those weeks inside me. The hospital arranged a funeral in the chapel. It was just the two of us and it did give me some closure.
When I went home I felt dead inside. My boyfriend tried to console me by buying all my favourite foods. He didn’t know what to do or how to behave around me and I just wanted to be left alone. It was awkward between us – I felt his sense of inadequacy over how to behave and I couldn’t stop crying. My GP rang me to see how I was and friends were there for me, but having my family was far away in New Zealand was tough.
Eventually I returned to work, feeling lost, and alone and different. But my heart was no longer in it. I had counselling, which helped a little, but not enough. I resigned a few weeks later, with little sense of what I wanted to do next. I was lost trying to make sense of my loss, and what I could do with my future.
My journey since then has taken me on a path of self-discovery. With no work and no direction I stumbled upon an article about aromatherapy, which led to my discovery of complementary therapy. I instantly knew this would become my new vocation and I promptly booked myself onto a year’s full-time diploma at The Tisserand Institute. Learning about Energy Healing worked incredibly well for me, and helped to release the trauma of miscarriage. I now spend my time working as a therapist, using these tools to help hundreds of clients let go of difficult feelings and rediscover happiness.
Every woman has their own unique experience of miscarriage, and they are all equally as valid and significant. By sharing our stories and experiences, we can lessen the burden of bereavement and expand the narrative of miscarriage for the better. While the pain of losing a baby through miscarriage lessens over time, you never forget your child. No matter how much time passes since miscarriage, we can still learn to heal, find closure today, and ultimately restore ourselves to a place of happiness.
Written and Featured by Christobel Hastings at Hearst Empowering Women – http://empowering.hearst.co.uk/