A miscarriage. You just never think it would happen to you. You do all you can to eat healthy and heed the advice of doctors and other mothers but in the end, your little precious baby is still lost. It doesn’t matter at what stage you miscarried, it’s just so tragic. It hurts. A lot. Today marks four weeks since our little one passed and I’ve decided to write my experience, as part of my own healing and maybe somewhere out there, this will help someone else who’s going through the same. For the purpose of this post though, I won’t go into detail about the miscarriage because my focus here is on recovering.
Background: We knew our little one was on the way since December. January felt very tiring, but I continued being active. Nigel, my husband, named him ‘Jaime’. This worked for either sex but we were hoping for a boy. February felt impossible and with the help of an ultra sound, we discovered multiple fibroids threatened our little Jaime. February to March found me on bedrest advised by my doctor. And finally, at our second ultra sound at the end of March, we discovered that we had lost him. Have you ever felt like you’re falling and there’s nothing to grab at to stop the fall? He was in his 15th week. Is it possible to recover? Not easy but here’s my approach:
I decided not to keep it private. I’m embarrassed to cry in public and so I’ve always had a terrible habit of suppressing everything and allowing issues to eat at me from the inside out until I’m totally depressed. Thankfully, I realized early that this simply would not work. Daring to relive the experience by sharing aloud, I began by talking about it in the company of friends and family (even via WhatsApp), where I felt comfortable, and soon I felt strong enough to share with others. I spoke about the moments I remembered of the pregnancy, whatever they were; and, I talked about the miscarriage; how we discovered it, how we felt, what happened next, etc. I still tell my story whenever I can. Yes, I have ended up blubbering in public, which has been quite embarrassing, but hey, you know what? It gets a little easier every time.
People have just been so kind. They have comforted, encouraged and advised me. Some of it could sound a little insensitive but I just remember that their main goal is to raise my spirits. Some people have said nothing at all, when I was hoping that they would. Many have actually said to me, “Fayola, I just don’t know what to say.” And that’s the truth: they find our story so shocking and horrible that they are lost for words and maybe sometimes when words do come out, they are the wrong ones, so I forgive them. I thank them because at least, they tried. Even those who’ve been silent, I know they thought about us or even prayed for us and they probably just don’t want to upset me by bringing it up. I also discovered that many like us have miscarried and they came forward to support us. They helped me see that it was not the end of the world. They themselves have recovered with time and most of them have gone on to have successful pregnancies. Hearing from them has been very reassuring.
In my own quiet moments however, the tragedy plays over and over in my mind. Memories and flashbacks rush at me and I often find myself back in those painful moments vividly reliving the emotions. That’s o.k. I allow them to play through because I figure that’s the way the mind processes loss and comes to terms with it. And there has been much to process. For me, my body served as a constant reminder of what had happened. Initially, there was just so much physical pain to deal with; it just felt like some cruel sort of punishment. Although I had no baby to hold, my body went through all the changes it needed for the baby. Three days after our baby passed, I cried all day long. The pain was just so much and that made my heart hurt too. The body just takes a while to return to normal.
The question: “WHY???” relentlessly assails my thoughts; and of course, thoughts and feelings of guilt: ‘I moved too much when I knew I shouldn’t have.’ ‘Maybe, there was something more I could have done to help him.’ ‘My baby died and I didn’t even know he was in trouble. So really, what kind of mother would I even have been?’ My friend told me, “Just STOP!” The truth is there is nothing more we can do and beating myself up over it won’t help. As to a reason, the words of my ultra sound technician resound in my ear, “Sometimes, we just don’t know why they go…” This was tough to hear at the time but in my reflection, I’ve come to accept that we won’t ever know the reason for everything. It is impossible. Even with all the advancements in science, there are still many unanswered questions. It could be nature’s way of righting something that’s going wrong. Another friend told me that Mother Nature seems cruel but she is always wise.
I still return to pictures and videos taken while I was pregnant. They are hard to look at but they help me to confront the truth and some are even comforting. The video taken while breaking the good news to my 4 year old niece always makes me smile. [Watch video here.]
“Don’t stay inside!” my friend said over the phone. In hospital, when I realized the doctors only offered one week of sick leave for patients who had miscarried, I thought it was just so cruel. After all, the only thing I wanted to do was curl up in a ball for a long, long time. And whenever Nigel mentioned going back to work, it only stirred up tears, but you know what? Switching my mind to other projects has helped me pick myself up. I still took an extra week before I returned to work, however, and that not only helped me get my mind prepared but it also gave my body more time to heal. And the truth is when your body feels more like itself, it contributes to your inner healing too. Before going out to work, I tried to occupy myself. I cleaned a lot. And this is just not normal for me (as I’m not a neat freak) but somehow, it felt good so I did! It was facilitating the release of some of that stress, and I started thinking clearly again in preparation for returning to work. So I say to anyone in the same situation, do something that feels good (but that is not self-destructive). Recently, I have been following my cousin on Facebook who is doing his own processing and releasing in the form of his paintings accompanied by written reflections. And it really is some powerful stuff. Each individual just does what they need to do, the way they know how and in their own time.
I’m back to work now. I was nervous going back but I felt ready to do so. We continue to mourn. We continue to talk about Jaime, maybe we always will and I think that that’s o.k. The truth is I believe that God will see us through. With Him all things are possible. Thank you to my mum, my family and to all who reached out to us in thoughts, in word, in kind, in food. Your love and care has made us stronger. Special thanks to my sister who came every week day to feed me when I was on bedrest. Thank you to the nurses and doctors who cared for me and offered me an encouraging word in my dark hour. Most of all, thank you to my husband, who took on the work of two: worked 8-4, coached, managed the home and always maintained a brave face in my presence. I couldn’t do it without you. Finally, thanks to you for reading and please help me to share my experience by liking, sharing, forwarding.
One year Update…
Reading this exactly one year later, I feel like a totally different person. This experience propelled me to do a lot of reflection and make many thinking and behavioural changes in my life. The best being that where anxiety was my norm before, I am a much calmer individual today. But that’s another blog post. Instead I just want to leave you with some wonderful news that we found out after posting this article. Like I said earlier we were hoping for a boy. We also felt it was going to be a boy and referred to baby as such. Well, our lab report later told us that Jaime was indeed a boy! It was a bitter sweet moment but it felt great to get that confirmation. Our family celebrated this news with us, my mum and sister summing it up saying: “we miss getting to meet him.” We felt and still feel very blessed.