Thursday, 8 October 2020

Why I didn't post about my pregnancy on the internet


As this week is National Baby Loss Awareness Week, I felt it was time to share my story in full. Please note that the title of the post was written many months ago and is not meant to cast judgement on anyone who does share their pregnancy on the internet - it is an incredibly personal thing and everyone will feel differently about it. 


I'm an oversharer. I'm fairly known for it. I will cheerfully tell a total stranger intimate details about my life, and the internet is not much different. So why didn't I say anything about being pregnant until I announced I'd had a baby in January?

Honestly, a year or two ago, it would have confused the life out of me. It did, to be honest. I had a handful of Facebook friends who suddenly seemed to have children appear with not a word said about the process. I didn't get it at all. I mean, it's exciting! Why wouldn't you share it?

Because pregnancy doesn't always end with a baby, that's why.

My first pregnancy didn't.

And while the second pregnancy was very different and had a beautiful ending, it definitely made me more cautious. We'd said the first time that we probably wouldn't say anything until I was pretty far along, but the second time we both agreed to keep it quiet online and only tell family and people we saw in person.

I never properly talked about my miscarriage on the internet. A few one-on-one chats, a tweet to a fellow sufferer that a few of my followers saw (ironically the day before I found out I was pregnant again), but it never felt like the right time. I had a blog post ready to go for months, but kept finding reasons not to share it. By the time I started to feel ready, those angry words didn't feel like me any more. And while we were trying to conceive again, I didn't want to bring that conversation to the forefront of our minds again.

Oddly in real life, I was much more relaxed. Last time, I'd found out about three days before Christmas and proceeded to lie (badly) to pretty much everyone I knew. Other than my husband and I, I think my sister was the only other person who knew for sure. My mum didn't even know. I'll never forget sitting in a hospital room, about to go under general anaesthetic for the first time in my life, frantically trying to call her to tell her that I was about to have emergency surgery. The second time around, most of my team at work knew within a week of me finding out, and half of them had already guessed. I still held out telling the parents for a little longer, but as my bump decided to make an appearance at six bloody weeks, I was quite chilled about people we knew guessing our news. After all, I knew the worst that could happen. And my support network was invaluable during that time.

I don't regret not talking about my pregnancy online. But I do regret not talking about my miscarriage more. Because when it happened to me, I found that knowing I wasn't alone helped me more than anything else. Every time I talked about it, I felt like a little of my grief chipped away. You can find kindness in so many unexpected areas. I'll never forget the GP at my local surgery who I saw a few weeks after, about something else. She moved me to tears by greeting me with "Well, you've had a rough time of it, haven't you?" and then told me that in 30 years, she'd only seen one other woman with what I had, who now had 2 healthy children. It was so kind. I wanted to be that support for other people, but I didn't get the chance. So I guess I'm trying to do it now.

Actually, sharing an abridged version of the story on Instagram was a step in that direction. I received some heartbreaking messages from people who were still in that pit - and it does feel like a pit - and I hope I helped a little. So many people have gone through this - 1 in 4 pregnancies! 1 in 4! - and it's still so rarely talked about. I think there's an element of shame attached, because for whatever reason, your body didn't manage to do this thing that so many other bodies have no trouble with. It's not your fault. I hope you know that. It's not. 

Pregnancies one and two will always be linked in my mind. There were moments after my miscarriage that floored me by how horrible I still felt - the week I should have been 12 weeks, Mother's Day - and I breathed a sigh of relief when I realised that I'd be well into my second trimester by our original due date. It helped. And I couldn't help but compare how I felt with each pregnancy - very different, it turns out, which I felt could only be positive.

What I learned about miscarriages is that every one is different, and I found that most women I knew felt that they didn't have it as badly as other women, which I think is just a testament to our stiff upper lip attitude, really. Because they all suck. Whether it's really early or really late. Whether it's your first pregnancy or your fourth. Whether you had surgery, whether they took something out of you, whether you might not be able to try again. It's terrifying, and it's unfair, and it happens to a lot of us.

I had a cervical ectopic pregnancy. While ectopic pregnancies are fairly common, cervical ectopic pregnancies are very rare, and I think this detail added to my trauma. It wasn't until a few days afterwards that things started to come together and we realised that a lot of the medical professionals we'd seen didn't know what they were seeing. And once they worked it out, they were freaked out. After a day sitting in A&E, confused and scared after a private scan, I was called in for an NHS scan the next day. I went into surgery five hours later. Minutes before I was due to be taken away, our surgeon popped her head in to say she was just getting a second opinion. We were given a plan A, a plan B, a plan C and a plan D. They kept talking about blood transfusions and possible haemorrhage. And just before I went home, our doctor asked if they could publish my case in a medical paper, because they hadn't dealt with one at that hospital for over 5 years.

I was actually very fortunate - plan A worked, no transfusions, no haemorrhage. I kept my tubes and was assured by absolutely everyone that this wouldn't happen again. Just lucky, I guess! At the back of my mind, though, was that while another cervical ectopic pregnancy was pretty much impossible, there were a multitude of other things that could go wrong. I thank my lucky stars every day that they didn't.

The biggest thing I struggled with - and this is the part that always breaks me when I write or talk about it - is that there was a heartbeat. Right up until surgery, my baby was clinging onto life, even though there was no way it could survive where it was. And if it had stayed there, I couldn't survive either. There wasn't room for it to grow. But knowing that never seems to make it any easier. It wasn't already gone.

But when it came to the second time, I tried to use this devastating fact to assure myself that if our child could survive there, it could do it again. I was still absolutely hysterical when it came to that first early scan, and even after they told me it was fine, I couldn't stop crying. I don't really think those feelings ever truly go away. You think about them less over time, and they get less raw, but it doesn't take a lot to put you right back into that place.

My point is that it was shit. And if you're going through something similar, you know that. And it will be shit for a while. And you'll be sad, and you'll be angry - oh  my gosh, you'll be SO angry. I still remember a guy having a go at me in the car park because I dared to sit in my car too long before driving away, and rolling down the window and screaming "I JUST HAD A FUCKING MISCARRIAGE!" at him felt bloody amazing. 

But talking does help. I know not everyone gets the happy ending I did, and every time I complain about early mornings or sleepless nights or being covered in baby sick, I still feel lucky. I hope you find your happy ending, whatever that may be.
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2 comments

  1. Wonderful words, my love. You are so beautiful and so brave. I love you xx

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  2. I'm so sorry that you weren't able to meet your first baby, Sarah 💛 what a heart breaking thing to go through 😔 x

    ReplyDelete

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