I’ve lost my voice recently.
Not physically, that’s still going strong. But emotionally, and publicly, I’ve sort of lost my ability to speak. I haven’t blogged in months, you may have noticed I’ve been leaving all the hard work to Hannah, and rather than just pop back up with a recipe or photos of another holiday (which I have been on by the way…) I feel like I need to find my voice and talk a bit about what life has really been like lately.
The last 6 months have been crazy. We moved house twice, lived in a friend’s spare room for a while and eventually actually bought a house (near the sea, yay!). We’ve moved church, been on holiday, bought carpet, and I’ve been to more hen do’s than is normal for most people in a lifetime. And, well, one other thing… On January 3rd we found out we were expecting our first baby. Our long-prayed-for, waited-for and tried-for baby. We were over the moon and had an exciting few weeks downloading apps to tell us how tiny that bunch of cells was, giggling about ridiculous names (William Williams anyone?!) and figuring out due dates and maternity leave dates. It was awesome. But then it came to an abrupt and painful end. Heartbreakingly, I miscarried at 10 weeks.
Of course we knew it was a possibility, everything you read in that first trimester warns you about it, but somehow you can’t live your life that way, you have to hope. So we were shattered. It all happened really horribly and ended up with 2 weeks of doctors appointments, horrible procedures and one awful night in hospital and we were left exhausted, devastated and confused.
I’m quite a ‘heart on my sleeve’ girl, so we did tell the people around us what had happened. I’m not capable of hiding my emotions so I’d rather tell people what’s going on than have them wonder why I’m crying again! However, pregnancy loss isn’t really spoken about much, is it? It feels so intensely personal, that sharing anything about it on social media or with a ‘wider audience’ in any capacity feels really hard. So we didn’t.
Problem is, I’m not ok yet. 2 months on, I think everyone thinks it’s over, and of course it is, but it is still incredibly raw and painful for me, for us. It seems weird really, this thing that we barely knew was there, hadn’t even felt move, but it has impacted us in such a profound way. It wasn’t just the loss of a pregnancy, but the loss of all of the hopes and dreams we had already had for that little life. The loss of the possibility of being ‘Mummy’ and ‘Daddy,’ the loss of that next step for us as a family. And as I have started to try to find some relief by reading things written by other people who have been here, I’ve realised that sharing the story is so important. Everyone knows loads of people who’ve had a baby, so they know what that looks like. But you also know a lot of people who’ve lost a baby. I only know this because as we started telling people, so many of them said ‘us too!,’ and statistics suggest that between 20 and 25% of pregnancies end in miscarriage, so it’s happening to lots of people! But chances are, those people haven’t told you what that was like for them. We don’t. Everyone gets told now to keep a pregnancy secret til 12 weeks because otherwise you’ll have to tell everyone if you have a miscarriage. Like that would be the worst thing you could ever do! Even the word ‘miscarriage’ suggests you did something wrong, like mis-spoke, or mis-understood! It doesn’t help! So I feel like I’ve lost my voice. As I go to update my Facebook status, I realise that I daren’t write what I’m really feeling. As I’ve thought about blogging, it has seemed absurd to try to write a segment about cooking or eco-cleaning whilst standing amongst these broken pieces of our life right now. If I had been bereaved in any other way, I would have found it much easier to share, that doesn’t seem right!
I think these stories need sharing for 2 reasons. Firstly, if you’re reading this and you’ve lost a pregnancy, you’re not alone! I feel like it’s vital to know that someone else has been there and you’re not going mad! That pain and grief is real and noone can tell you that it isn’t. But secondly, if you know someone going through this, or if you ever end up in a situation where someone tells you they’ve lost a pregnancy, you should know what to say.
So first things first, please PLEASE don’t lead with ‘at least you managed to get pregnant.’ Because I’m not pregnant now so that really doesn’t help. I’m really quite a logical person, I know that getting pregnant was a step forward in our trying to be parents, but it really doesn’t help with this. While we’re at it, neither does ‘it wasn’t meant to be,’ ‘there must have been something wrong with the baby that meant it wasn’t supposed to live,’ or ‘it’s really common.’ The point is that we have lost something so precious and whether it was meant to be, or not, we’re broken by it. Common or not, we’re living it right now and we’re hurting. Divorce is common. Death of a family member is common. No-one leads with that fact when someone shares that kind of hurt! Also, so importantly don’t forget about the man. Women are the ones who physically go through miscarriage, but believe me, Matt has needed at least as much love and support as I have. He is just as sad, just as angry, and has lost just as much! If you are one of the people who has said these things to us, or to others, don’t worry, we totally get that people don’t know what to say, and are trying to bring some comfort, but there are more helpful things to be said…!
So when your friend shares with you that this is what they’re going through, just listen, and hold them, and if you can, bring cake! Tell them that you’re so sorry, and then just be there with them. Let them know that you love them, and if you can bear it, don’t try to make it better! And keep being there. This is not a loss that goes away in a few weeks. I’m certain that even if/when we have a successful pregnancy, we will still feel the loss of this one.
I am so not writing this post to get your sympathy. In fact, that’s the bit I’ve worried most about in writing it, that people will feel they need to say something sympathetic. We’re doing ok, and most days we’re feeling pretty normal. We have some amazing people in our lives who have supported us in ways we couldn’t have imagined. We have incredible friends who have held us together through the past 2 months, and I owe them a debt of gratitude, they’ve done the sympathy bit for us (including in more than one case, quite literally showing up at our door with cake!), we don’t need any more. I’m writing it so you know, and so that people, generally, are made more aware that this happens. I have one friend who shared really honestly about a miscarriage last year, and when we went through it, I remember immediately feeling comfort that I knew someone else had felt what I was feeling and had managed to keep going.
And also, if I can share this without sounding like I want to tack something trite and positive onto the end, we are fortunate that we have a strong faith which has been our security through all of this. Honestly, it hasn’t been that we’ve felt that ‘it’s ok, it must have been God’s will,’ but rather we know that we are known, and loved and that God is walking with us through this pain. The faith we have is tangible and gritty and has been our sustenance on the lowest of days. This verse has been my phone background since the day all of this started, and has really helped me.
So there it is, the broken pieces of what we’ve been living through this past few months. Thanks for listening. I promise next time I post will be far more lighthearted!