Photo credit to Mike Labrum, via Unsplash
This post comes with a trigger warning as it is about miscarriage and grief and contains graphic language. Please do not read it if you feel it may hurt you.
You’ve done a good thing. You’ve got people talking, at least for the moment. It’ll be swept under the carpet again soon, of course, but you will have made people pause and you may have opened conversations for people that needed to have them. In this country, for some unfathomable reason, we are not supposed to grieve when we miscarry. Women and their partners are expected to just get on with it, pull themselves together and just crack on with the next, dismissing the loss as ‘just one of those things’. Excessive sadness is seen as self-indulgent as, in the words of one person at the time, ‘Well, it happens to lots of women’. Yet the pain of baby loss is unimaginable, a poisonous barb that is swallowed whole and it festers within. I hope you will be OK.
A few years ago I went to see a Wise Woman. I was struggling to function; relationships were strenuous and I was stuck. I wanted to be more than the sum of my scars, creaking through life with only one focus. I needed some freedom from my brain and the sadness it held. I was not OK. The Wise Woman told me to find a safe place - not somewhere I would walk past every day. Somewhere I would have to set out for if necessary.
I picked a Tuesday, which was the first sunny day in weeks. An hour and a half and two wrong turns later I drew up outside a church. The sun was filtering through the trees. I tried the door and was upset to find it locked, but it wasn’t Christian solace that I sought. It took me a while to find her but eventually, after a bit of excavation, I found the stone, buried under a heap of slimy leaves. I had remembered to take a scrubbing brush but no water or vase for her flowers, so I trudged off around the graveyard hoping to find something that would do, eventually finding an old jar stuck under a hedge near the compost heap.
‘Granny, I have come to ask you to look after my babies. I need to leave them here, with you, because I know that you will take care of them for me. Please love them and keep them safe.’ I cried angry, angry tears; grief vented at long last.
I introduced each baby to her, by number. The first one, only mine for a few days - product of an ectopic pregnancy and never destined to survive; ripped out of me, breaking my heart and making me hate myself for believing. The only vision I have of Number One is of it’s absence - the dispassionate radiographer who showed me the picture of my empty womb on the monitor. ‘That’s where your baby would have been’, she said.
Number Two, with me for ten weeks and five days, the product of a hundred more needles and hormones that made me want to murder. I had just started to believe that you were going to stay. God I loved you. When I started to bleed I wanted to die. I remember when you tore out of me and I saw part of your body, a little hand, something. I could not imagine how I could survive without you. I felt that I had let you down and I broke completely when you went away.
Number Three, released into my body with the one baby that survived. I saw you on the screen, live and dividing in front of my eyes, then never saw you again.
Numbers Four and Five were with me for moments. Technically twins of the one child I managed to carry to full term, they did not implant after their four years frozen in the lab. Whilst merely cells, I felt their loss as keenly as the others.
It was time to move them to safety. I talked honestly to my Grandmother, holding nothing back. My relationships with my family, my husband, my precious son. My successes, my failures, my hopes. The morning turned into the afternoon. The sun was warm on my back.
It was time to go. I placed six roses on her grave, one for each of my lost babies and one for her. I thanked her.
I felt desperately tired. Walking back to the car I had to rejoin my real life, had to focus on getting back in time to pick up my boy from school. That night I slept deeply and did not wake up until the following morning.
The exhaustion lasted a few days. I don’t know whether my Grandmother heard me but I seemed to accept that my babies were in a better place than before. Good therapy can heal in a way that time alone cannot; what was once a suppurating wound is now more of a deep bruise, which I occasionally knock, and for that I am thankful.
It's Friday, the best night of the week in my little home. My two children are back from school and we have shut the gate to the outside world - everyone is doing exactly what they want to do. It is good.
So if you ask me now if I am OK, I can say I am, thank you. I am OK.
If you have experienced loss and need to talk to someone, https://www.miscarriageassociation.org.uk/ may be able to help. I have not contacted them myself but they look kind.