There are a lot of assumptions surrounding miscarriage. It’s assumed that your level of heartbreak directly correlates to how far along you were. It’s assumed that if you already have children, it shouldn’t hurt as much. It’s assumed that, if you get your rainbow, you will be ok.
But none of those things are true.
Three years ago, we started trying for our third baby. The 18 months that followed were the most difficult of my life.
The joy of that positive pregnancy test, followed by the horror of starting to bleed a few weeks later. The quiet confidence of falling pregnant again, thinking you couldn’t be unlucky enough to go through it twice. The beating heart at an early scan. The silence in a dimly lit room, 5 weeks later, when that little heart, beat no more. The longer recovery. The fear and trepidation upon seeing those two lines once more. The sickening feeling of relief when the bleeding starts because at least it means you don’t have to worry anymore. The worst has happened. The 6 months of fortnightly tests when you learn that this one was molar.
The reluctant excitement, almost smothered by anxiety, that comes with a new pregnancy. The 9 months of overwhelming fear. A sticky one. A keeper.
The disbelief when he’s placed in your arms. A living, breathing, rainbow after the storm.
No two journeys will be the same, but we all will bear the scars.
When I look at my rainbow, I know that he was worth it. I can accept my miscarriages as a part of my journey to him. But it doesn’t mean I’m “over it”. There are things that linger. Feelings that refuse to leave. Physiological reactions that are beyond my control. Wounds left deep inside. A reminder of the trauma that is pregnancy loss.
The idea of ever being pregnant again, petrifies me. Even though I always wanted four. Even though there’s no reason it would happen again. I’ve been left with a fear I can’t imagine I’ll ever overcome. I can no longer hear a pregnancy announcement without my stomach dropping. Even though it’s ok. Even though it’s happy news. My body’s default response is gut-wrenching despair. Only for a moment, but it’s there all the same. I feel a creeping resentment when people discuss their pregnancies with the innocence of someone who has no reason to fear bad news. I was like that once. And now I envy it. Sometimes, I even feel anger. I want to shout “things might still go wrong!” because I can barely stand to listen to their unwavering confidence, knowing how easily it can all come crashing down in an instant. Once a month, I go to the bathroom and experience that heart-stopping terror, followed immediately by a wave of nausea washing over me, when I see blood in my knickers. Of course, I’m not pregnant, it’s just my period; but every single time, I relive my worst moments all over again. It’s these, seemingly small things; these ingrained symptoms of a past suffering, that we have to live with now.
And of course there’s the “what ifs”. You’ll be watching your children playing together, your brood complete and out of nowhere, you’ll suddenly find yourself picturing the life that you could have had. Should have had, if things had gone to plan. And then you feel guilty because you know that life is perfect the way it is, but it’s impossible to forget entirely, the ones that came before. The ones that could have been.
That’s the thing about miscarriage, that no one really talks about. The aftermath. About how you might never recover. How you might always stumble over these triggers. How there’s a whole posse of us out there, who might be spending our lives, surviving these moments, by hiding behind our bravest face.