I am 1 in 4. I am one of the 25% of pregnant women who will experience miscarriage or pregnancy loss. That’s a lot of women. I am one in a very large group. But we don’t talk about it. No, the 25% will suffer in silence. That’s what’s expected of us. Ingrained into our society is a long-standing tradition that we all seem to abide by: you don’t announce your pregnancy until you’re beyond that risky first trimester. Why do we do this? Why don’t we shout out joyous news from the rooftops straight away? In case anything goes wrong. Because if it does, you’re supposed to just pretend it never happened and carry on. No one wants to hear that you lost your baby. That might make others feel uncomfortable and that’s not the British way. We don’t talk about things that make others feel awkward.
“You have a cold? Oh me too! I can relate to that. Let’s talk about how shitty we feel.”
“I’m feeling shitty because I’m grieving for a baby that I never even got to meet.”
See? It’s just not the done thing. Instead, we put on a brave face, keep calm and carry on.
These other women and I, we hide our pain. We share our grief in clandestine online forums, hidden from the eyes and ears of those we may offend with our talk of heartbreaking scans, of lost babies, of agonising pain, blood, hormones, mourning. Emptiness. We wouldn’t want to depress anyone. To scare anyone. To appear defective. To taint those whose pregnancies are healthy. So we hide away and some of us share our stories amongst ourselves. A sad little group, holding each other up. Giving strength to others whilst barely having any left for ourselves.
Never one to stick to the rules, I have flouted taboo over this past year and spoken openly about my experiences and struggles in our bid to complete our family. And this blog post is no exception. I’m going to tell you about the latest bump in my road. And in doing so, I hope that I’m able to shed some light on this dark little corner we miscarriers are hiding in and show you that there’s no shame in suffering (whatever the reason) and there’s no shame in talking about it. October is Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness month. I’m sure we’re all “aware” of this, but there is so little support, so little understanding available and such a stigma attached, that it has remained this unspoken thing. That’s not the way it should be. Women go through enough crap that we’re expected to be discreet about (yes, periods, I’m talking about you). But going through something difficult and painful that will drain you both emotionally and physically, is not something you should be hiding from people. Your pain deserves to be acknowledged, as does your baby.
So in August, I discovered I was pregnant again. Of course I was happy and I tried to remain positive, but the anxiety I felt was almost overwhelming. Over-analysing every twinge, every symptom. Checking my pants 20 times a day for any sign of blood. Spending hours, poring over Google, trying to find out if what I was feeling was normal. I started to bleed at 8 weeks. It came almost as a relief. At least now the worrying was over – the worst had happened. A scan confirmed that I had indeed miscarried for the third time. I wasn’t just 1 in 4 anymore. I was 1 in 100. A recurrent miscarrier. And this week, I became 1 in 1000 when I was diagnosed as having had a Complete Molar Pregnancy.
In simple terms – instead of growing a baby, I grew a tumour. If, like me, you still remain clueless, here are some snippets of information from the Cancer Research UK website:
“Gestational trophoblastic disease is a term covering pregnancy conditions, notably molar pregnancy, that involve the foetal tissue turning cancerous or cancer-like.”
“If you have a complete molar pregnancy, no parts of a baby (foetal tissue) are formed. There is only molar tissue in the womb. The molar tissue is usually removed with surgery. Afterwards, in around 10-15% of women, some molar tissue remains in the deeper tissues of the womb or other parts of the body. This is called persistent gestational tumour. These women need to have chemotherapy.”
Well it turns out that bad luck doesn’t discriminate. Sometimes lightning really does keep on striking. Or maybe I’m just feeling sorry for myself. The prospect of chemotherapy’ll do that to you.
My usual response in times of tribulation is to look on the bright side, but you know what, sometimes it’s ok to say, “Why me?” What the f**k did I do to deserve this?” There are no answers to these questions sometimes life gives you lemons. Sometimes it gives you a whole f**king citrus farm.
So for now, I’ll have a bit of a mope, feel a bit sorry for myself, get irrationally angry when I see someone complaining about inanities on Facebook and then I’ll get up and crack on. Life goes on. Mine will just go on under a little cancerous shadow for a while, with fortnightly blood tests. And still no third baby. Maybe never a third baby. We’ll cross that bridge in time.
Meanwhile, I have a beautiful, feisty and vivacious 3-year-old who just said “for f**ks sake”; and a cheeky, loveable 1-year-old who keeps calling me stupid. As long as I have them, I’ll keep making lemonade.
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Keep your head held high, your chin up and be proud of the little life that you made.