Thursday, 18 April 2013

My miscarriage

My miscarriage
18 April 2013

A miscarriage is a terrible and deep sorrow.  One that lives with a person for a really, really long time.

I have always been one for planning.  For mapping things out in advance.  And from when I was small, I wanted to get married when I was 23 years old.  I wanted my first baby by age 25.  Naturally it would be a boy.  Then three years later I would have another little baby.  This time a girl.  And then, just for fun, another three years later I'd have a boy yet again.

And by age 27 I was certainly on track.  Grant and I got married when I was 23.  Luke was born when I was 25.  And at 27 it was time to start planning baby number two – naturally a little girl.

And then for some or other reason, I didn't seem to fall pregnant, which was decidedly odd.  This didn't suit me at all.  I was on a deadline and didn't have time to waste.  I was following a schedule and hadn't allowed any time for delay.

In fact, in anticipation of not falling pregnant the very first month, we actually started with auditions for a new baby well in advance.  And given the fact that we really wanted a little girl, we followed a pink recipe of sorts.  One prescribed by an obstetrician/gynae.  She was amazing and had been on team-baby-Luke since the very first scan.  I had to eat certain foods, count the days in my cycle and indulge in couch rugby at certain times only.

Still nothing took.  Then we did monthly scans, watching my egg develop with each cycle and Clomed was prescribed to ensure healthy and regular egg development.  And each month thanks to Clomed I hatched quite a few.  There was even talk of twins.  Still nothing.  Egg production was stepped up a notch and monthly injections followed so that we could pinpoint the exact correct potential conception date.

And finally, to our very great relief, I was pregnant once more.  Oh happy days.  But from the get-go things felt a little bit off.  I had never been so exceptionally tired in all of my life.

My first scan was all okay, with a bit of concern expressed at how small our baby bean was.  Then we had another scan a week later and the baby bean's heartbeat could not be found.  I was petrified and the doctor was super quiet.  Swishing the scan probe all over my stomach.  Finally huge was our relief, when the little pulsing heart was seen on the screen.

And then a week later I had to go for another scan.  And this time all was really not well.  Our little bean was just lying there.  No life at all.  The room was quiet for the very longest time.  I could see the doctor's concern on her face.  None of us uttered a word.  We all simply knew.  It shouldn't take so long for the baby to move.

Finally, with deep sympathy she told me that the baby had died.  I wept and simply had no words.  I got up off the table, stumbled to the bathroom and cried some more.  When I got back inside to her room, certain decisions had to be made.  I had to have a DNC to remove the baby.

I cried the whole way home and we went straight to my mom to tell her.  She shared our sorrow.  When we eventually went home, I went straight to bed to cry some more.  I didn't want to see anyone or talk to anyone.  And I asked Grant to deal with the task of telling one and all.

It seemed like just the other day when we eagerly phoned everyone up to tell them our great pregnancy news.  I declined to have a DNC that day, or even the next.  I had my own business, with clients and commitments and scheduled the op for three days later on a Friday so that I could recoup over the weekend.  The mere thought of the logistics in arranging it earlier, hurt my head.  I would have to make endless phone calls, explaining the story again with each and every call, inconvenience lots of people, and do lots of catch-up work afterwards.  Everyone expressed concern about my choice.  My GP, a close friend also asked me to come and see him.  He advised me against it and said that the best was to remove it at once.  But I simply couldn't.

I carried on working and explained the story to one and all.  Everyone was sympathetic and shared in our grief.  But I was determined to stay relatively strong.

And I was.  Until they wheeled me to the theatre and I broke down and sobbed.  It all felt so unfair.  So utterly horrible.  Too horrific for words.  My anxiety was amplified though.  As my op was scheduled for about 14h00 in the afternoon and I had mentally prepared myself for this.  But then unexpectedly the theatre was needed for a rush emergency Caesar which felt so terribly cruel.  And thus I waited and waited and waited.  I only went in at about 18h00 in the end.

And when I finally came to after the op and was once again wheeled to my room, I was shattered and just so terribly sad.  A cruel twist of fate, had my room backing a little courtyard off the maternity ward.  And all I could hear wafting into my room, was the sound of an elated and excited new father, phoning to tell the world that his baby had just been born.  It seemed like he was phoning every single person on the planet.  It just kept on going forever.

And funny enough, for weeks after my op, my body still thought it was pregnant.  My breasts remained tender and the exhaustion continued.  I slept a lot.  But perhaps this was a coping mechanism.

Biologically, the reason for this happening, did not really mean much to me.  I was sort of unable to compute it at all.  The term “blighted ovum” meant nothing.  And though I had initially been greatly concerned about the cause, and absolving myself from any wrongdoing or playing a part in this happening, once I finally knew the cause, it didn’t change my feelings.  Or the emotions I was dealing with.

People say the oddest things to you when something like this happens.  And I understand why they do.  What does one say after all?   Words can seem so inadequate.  Yet, I think that “sorry” goes a really long way.  Address the elephant in the room when something like this happens.  Acknowledge the loss and express concern.

Some said to me "It's okay.  The next baby will bring double the joy".  Huh?  I didn't really care.  The logic in that statement eluded me.  Because I wanted this baby.  Then there was "You can make another one".  Huh?  Once again, I didn't really care.  Because I wanted this baby.  Besides which, it's not like baking a bread.  You don't just make another one.  Also "Just think of all the fun you'll have making another baby".  Right, like sex was what I was feeling like at the time.  Another little gem was "At least you weren't far along".  And for this one I really fail to see the significance.

But the most used phrase was that I had lost the baby.  This was not so.  I never lost it.  I knew where it was the whole time.  I kept it safe in my womb and nourished it well.  I promise I never misplaced it.  Not even once.  Never uncaringly left it lying around.  I thought I'd covered my bases by having it tucked deep inside.

Life has a rather wicked way of keeping us grounded.  Of reminding us that we're not in control after all.  Of keeping us humble and grateful for that which we have.

The fact that I was only 9 weeks along when I had my miscarriage, did not matter at all.  And the reason for this is quite simple.  From the very first moment that one realises that you're pregnant, you picture your little baby.  And let me tell you that you picture that baby once it is born.  Not the way it actually looks at that particular gestational age.  Shaped like a bean looking slightly like a shrimp.  You envision holding that baby and the joy that child will bring.  And therefore this was the loss that I mourned.  The fully formed little baby, all sweet smelling and warm.

On the one hand, I also had the oddest sensation that some hidden floodgates had been opened.  Floodgates I had not even been aware of being in place.  For after my miscarriage, I was astounded by the very large number of women who spoke to me of similar experiences.  I would never have been able to imagine that so very many women shared this too and had also gone through this themselves.  More and more and more.  Women I had no inclination about.  Women who appeared to be healthy and whole.  It was like a silent code, unspoken of, until you are a part of the sisterhood, and can tell your own tale too. 

I am happy to report that eventually the ache faded.  And I did have another baby.  In fact I had two.  But every year, on the 28th of February my heart aches just a little bit.  I think of what could have been and how life can sometimes just take a turn.

But, as my mom said at the time, “Don’t worry, Daddy will look after her for you”.  And I’m sure she’s just fine.  I know that my dad will most certainly ensure it.

In fact, I bet they're both doing great.

6 Week scan

I still have all of the scans as well as a teeny-tiny little pair of baby socks - tucked away deep into a closet, so that I don't stumble across it often


  1. I so loved reading this. You tell it so well. And yes, I too miscarried twins at 9 weeks and whenever I see a set of twins, I wonder!

  2. Im also a member of that Sisterhood. 12 weeks and then 7 months. Still feel sad but now I have Victorius Vincent!