I walked into Lidl & suddenly the masks, the distance, the people, that before had brought me anxiety when shopping, now paled and seemed less huge. I felt like shouting out as I waited for ages in the queue
“DO YOU KNOW WHAT I HAVE DONE THIS MORNING”
That is the problem with grief, particularly with miscarriage. It feels so huge, so painful and in your face- yet so quiet and personal that you should keep it in your home & not let the world know.
Miscarriage is uncomfortable, the word itself implies a miss-carrying, a mistake made, a failure. It can make one feel ashamed and I think this is part of what keeps people quiet on it. I wrote this blogpost weeks ago and haven’t been sure whether to share.
Yet today is one year since loosing our precious Nova and 15wks since Evie and I want to share. See I have talked to another friend who tragically has now lost her baby. So for you my precious friend, and anyone else who is experiencing the utter lostness and pain of baby loss. There is no shame, no blame, no mistake made- only a deep loss. I want to share my experiences for you.
For us, in loosing our first, Nova, I had no idea what I wanted or what we could do. Yet now, in loosing Evie, we’ve walked this path once before. So I knew a little more of how this goes. This time I have felt more able to make decisions. So I feel to share. For anyone who finds themselves walking the painful path, scrolling for something to help you know what on earth you do with all you feel & practically with what you have. I can share my choices & hope it helps in some small way as you choose yours.
I am also aware, even my experience, was days before Covid19, so the way women are right now having to isolate and go through this pain alone, the hospital experience too is very different. This is six things I wish I had known or had to read at the start of my journey.
1. There is no right or wrong way for this to go.
I will share my experiences as it’s all I can share. I remember in everything wishing there was a manual. What’s odd, what’s right, what’s too much, what’s not enough. Should I tell people, should I keep it private. Should I keep something, should I make less of it. Should I be jealous of others, should I be more gracious. Should I be strong or can I collapse. Both of my experiences have been so very different, so I will just share what I know and the choices I made. Yet I hope you know first – there is no right and no wrong. There is you, your heart and your precious baby – you do you mummy x
2. Surgery or Natural?
When we lost Nova, I felt there must be a ‘what to do’. We had had a scan and seen her heartbeat yet then now, we are looking at this scan and there was no heartbeat. We waited to hear again (you have to have it confirmed) that there was none and then had options. As I was 15weeks they said it’ll likely be too traumatic to have her naturally at home so I opted for surgery.
Surgery was ok. You have pre-op appointments and it was a few days at home hoping to not go into labour naturally yet be able to have surgery on the Friday. Everyone was kind.
The main thing I would have liked to know is that your partner/friend/mum whoever you go with won’t be able to stay with you for the final section. I wish I’d known that. We had been in the waiting room for hours, watching something on the iPad together, yet then we walked up to the ward and I was told to get my stuff from my husband as he can’t come. So in front of another couple, who looked equally surprised, he gave me my things, a kiss on the cheek and didn’t get to say any kind of goodbye to Nova before I walked through the doors. It was awkward and clunky and added to the sterile nature of the whole thing.
I found it very hard to get in my gown and wait alone to go to surgery. I went to a toilet and whispered my goodbye to Nova, thanked her for the joy she had brought me. I spoke to her- yes I whispered it in a bathroom because I wasn’t sure if that was ‘right’. Yet now I’m so glad I did. She’d changed my body and I’d housed her for four months- now she was leaving my body. I spoke love to her.
I couldn’t pray. That’s ok too. I told Jesus He needed to be with me. That was enough.
With Evie, it was more sudden the actual loss. Though we’d had four early scans and seen heartbeats and an awful lot of back and forth. We were told all looked good and were a few days away from having the dating ‘all’s fine’ scan. Though we’d had that with Nova, the 12wk scan, I felt sure that if this time we made it to that point all will be ok. We didn’t make it to that point.
I started with the most incredible pain. Having given birth to Poppy I knew I was in labour, yet absolutely would not accept it. She is not coming tonight. She’s coming in October. There must be something else wrong. Yet she came.
What do we do with her now? There’s no right or wrong. I have friends who kept their baby and felt odd admitting it and I have friends who flushed down the toilet and felt odd saying it. There is no right or wrong. There is certainly nothing odd and no place for guilt.
We had been on the phone to the hospital anyway due to the pain being so much I was worried something else was wrong. They said to bring all we had to the hospital as they may need to run tests. So I was glad to be told.
You only have minimal tests, the NHS will run full tests to why this has happened only if you miscarry three times in a row.
I also rang my mum. My parents came at 3am to cry and be with us. Then my Dad slept at our house so he could watch the kids in the morning while we went to hospital. I am so thankful for my parents in more ways I could say.
Having experienced both surgery and natural, I would say surgery was actually easier as I knew what was happening and when. I found the labour very hard and things last for weeks after too. It’s not a one night and it’s all over thing. With Surgery, still things last a long time but at least you know everything major is over. Yet if you’ve had surgery once they recommend not to again as it can bring scarring to your womb so I couldn’t have done anyway even if it hadn’t been so sudden.
3. The Body
Hospital will call what you give birth to ‘the remains’ on paperwork or ‘the foetus’ depending when you give birth and yet if you speak about your baby then they will. It was so odd for me that in all my midwife meetings and the scans she had been called my baby, yet once the loss happened she became ‘remains’ or other clinical words on paper.
It can make you feel odd to say ‘baby’ still to nurses and like maybe you shouldn’t. Again, it is your choice how you see this. For me, this was my baby. Therefore I would like to have my baby in order to bury her.
I also didn’t know the sex, yet to say ‘it’ didn’t feel nice. So I opted for her, both girls, and named them. Then I and others close to me know how to speak. You have to give others the language you’d like them to speak or they just won’t know. So I have Nova and Evie and then for everyone it helps.
Depending what stage you give birth determines what you can legally do with the body. For us, both were young enough to be buried privately where we liked. You could choose for hospital to handle the remains yet we wanted to ourselves.
We took Nova to a place precious to us and have now laid them both to rest there. With Nova we were able to do this the day after surgery- I was exhausted so probably not the best timing! Yet we lost Evie days before Lockdown, so her body was at hospital until a few weeks ago and so we went to bury her.
Hence me standing in Lidl wanting to shout “We buried our baby this morning”!
If you don’t have your baby with you to bury. There are other beautiful things I have seen if you’d like to mark their life. I have friends who have let balloons go, who have planted a special plant in honour, or bought something new to keep in memory. You do what feels right, when it feels right.
4. To tell or not to tell..
This is absolutely your choice. It will depend how private you are, how comfortable to share. For me with Nova, I told a lot of people and blogged about it.
Having done that I met so many incredible women of all ages who had been through the same. Women who, though maybe it was years ago, had been through loosing a baby and the pain as they told me was still clear. Watery eyes of kindness that shared how it gets easier but always stays. This confirmed for me how great the loss, how real and right it is to take time to grieve. So with Nova I had a long time, I had some time with my husband without the kids, I was off work and I slowly came back.
You also have those who say, hopefully well meaning, comments and actually hurt you. That’s the risk in sharing. Then all you can choose is how to respond. For me that’s meant this time my inner circle has been smaller. For you it may mean you chose to not share.
I am also in the unique position in terms of my work, I lead a church. I love my church and the people and I had learned with Nova, that them knowing we had lost our baby, gave them the opportunity for kindness- and they did kindness! It gave them more grace for me and many felt more able to be open. We therefore told again this time.
We lost Evie a few days before my 30th birthday and before lockdown. So it’s just been odd. I couldn’t have time, I’m now a full time mum, teacher, carer, wife, entertainer- as well as my job.
I have not always been kind. I’ve not had as much love as I should. Yet I have walked each day best I could. When burying Evie I sent out a little invite to those who have so loved us on this path inviting them to light a candle & say a prayer.
To sit that night & have the love come in was overwhelming! I’m so glad I invited people in. My instinct is actually to shut people out as the pain can make me feel so angry and want to close the door. Yet to allow people in meant I felt others holding us. I am glad I shared and helped people know how.
5. The Emotions
I don’t fully know where to start with the emotions! Firstly remember everyone is different, this is my experience.
For me this has been the hardest thing I have walked through. With Nova, it sunk me. I did feel so low at times I could see why people self-harm. A scary place to be as I had never experienced that before, I didn’t self-harm thankfully I just felt I knew why people do. I felt the depths of despair and wasn’t sure how to function except that I have amazing family who kept me going and a Faithful God who knew me well.
I didn’t always feel Jesus close, yet I have learned to pull my soul into the closeness with him. This time, I have made myself worship. I would rather not, I would like to drink wine and watch the Kardashian’s on repeat- and sometimes I do. Yet I have found that that doesn’t lift me. Only the presence of God lifts me.
This time I have felt the pull to despair come and want to choke me. I have felt the head spin of questions “why me?”, “how has it happened again?”, “why does everyone else get their joy and I am here with such loss?”. Good, question, be real, shout and belly-cry. Do it close to Jesus, do it with worship on.
The drive to bury Evie was the perfect example of this. The night before I had said to Loz that I just feel so angry. So angry at seeing others getting all they hope for (though I know many don’t) and feeling how unfair it is! Why have I had to go through this again. At this time too when lockdown is here and I can’t hug my sister or go to my Nanans house, I can’t go out for a fun night with my friends like we kareoke’d our way through last time!
Yet on the drive to bury her, I chose worship. I chose Steffany Gretzinger’s new album and the words in each song were God with us. His healing balm, His closeness, the truth of His deep love for us.
I believe He loves me. Over my emotions, over the pain and confusion, over the sadness and fear – I believe in Jesus and His great love for me. In His great love for you today. You are not alone.
My simple prayer has been ‘guide me’. I want Him to guide me through this time so that I come out the other side stronger, changed, yet stronger. I am His and He is mine.
6. The Future
This is so down to you! I took a lot of time off when we lost Nova, I didn’t work for weeks. Yet with Evie, I was back in after a few days and then when we buried her I took days off in holiday.
I am in counselling. I know it helps so much, for anyone actually, to have that time to speak freely to someone who can listen- it’s amazing what you find comes out that you didn’t expect to learn about yourself!
I am excited for the future of the Church, I believe we are in hard yet exciting days if the Church will actually move and step into all God may be wanting to do with us. So I wanted to get back to work. I try to be kind to myself and am thankful for the colleagues who continue to support me.
I will trust God with our family. He has gifted me with two gorgeous children here and two are with Him. I wish they were with me, I am not happy about it. That’s ok. Yet I do trust Him and want what He has for me. I know he hates death, He didn’t want this for my family. He only loves us. If we have more children, however they come, I trust Him and for today will heal.
What do you need today?
I hope if you are in this place that you can find some comfort in knowing you aren’t alone. You are loved. There is no right or wrong way. You are a mummy now, and you always will be. Take each day at a time. What worked yesterday may not today, that’s ok.
We have a star named after Nova, a friend bought it and it’s framed in our bedroom. I have a bracelet with a tiny ‘N’ and now a tiny ‘E’, I have a necklace with tiny rings on it to symbolise our family..all six of us. Whatever you need, if you would like something to stay with you- you do it.
Tell others what you need from them. If someone you love is pregnant and it hurts, you choose what you need and kindly tell them. Yet we also rejoice with those who rejoice, if you can, do.
If you can’t, don’t. I realised that I kept putting my hand in the fire. Even though I knew it hurt I kept looking. Don’t! If someone you love keeps posting photos that are too hard to see, you press unfollow for this time. If someone is being more toxic than life giving for you right now, you can pause them for this time.
Yet this pain doesn’t allow you to stay there, it doesn’t allow us to be mean and it sadly doesn’t get to decide to make us bitter- though I wish it did because sometimes I want to be!
You are a person of life, love and future. Don’t stay in the sadness too long- yes grieve and allow the waves to come but also choose worship, or to dance when you don’t feel like it or to speak to someone when you need to or to write out how you feel on paper- keep moving.
‘Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death’ you keep moving, you walk through it, you don’t stay here. There’s life ahead…