I am no stranger to trauma. My usual coping mechanism though, is bottling it up, pushing it to one side and moving on. But after being diagnosed with PTSD, depression and anxiety from a past trauma decades ago, I know going down that path this time is the worst thing I can do. The worst.
After going through two previous miscarriages, the moment I see those two lines is enough to make me feel instantly sick. In truth, I had ignored all the normal tell-tale signs of pregnancy I’d experienced before (hello, sore nipples and queasiness). I had ignored my fertility app on my phone telling me I was late, until, I was really, really late.
I felt instantly sick – no, not from morning sickness – but the looming fear of the unknown: Was this going to end in heartbreak again? Was this really the right time to have a baby? Did I have too much going on with my business to go through this?
Feeling not quite right in myself, with severe abdominal pain on one side, my partner and I decided to go into emergency, just to err on the side of caution. Scans showed there was a cyst, that was most likely the cause of the pain. However, I was told this was “normal” and sent on my way, armed with pain medication and told to check in with my doctor in a few weeks.
A week later I woke up at 2am in crippling pain and was right rushed back. We hoped it was just the cyst pain, or even the cyst rupturing, doing our best to put the seemingly-inevitable M-word as far from our minds as possible. Then two days later, the bleeding began.
I think I knew deep down, sitting there in the emergency department, that it was going to be another miscarriage. The “event” as commonly called on online group chats, happened quite quickly, passing the identifiable little bub, with a broken heart I decided to have a personal ceremony for myself to acknowledge the life that was growing in me.
But a few days later that niggling something just doesn’t feel right feeling was still there. I began to feel extremely light-headed and the pain on my left side returned. But again, we were sent home with antibiotics and told to get a scan the following day – that scan revealed there was still a lot of fluid in my belly and a mass on my left hand side. I was told to go up to the hospital and we were told by doctors that they suspected I had a Heterotopic pregnancy: twins in two locations. Something I didn’t even know was possible.
There was one in my uterus that had miscarried and now one in my fallopian tube (ectopic). After surgery I was finally told that it was ectopic which had ruptured and they had to remove my left tube.
I think it was at that point that the grief really kicked in. My body had not one but two babies in it, and now I have none. I felt more alone that I had in a long time. I was left feeling bereft and heartbroken. Not only for the loss of my now four babies, but also the loss of my tube.
There is an unspoken way society deals with a loss of pregnancy. It remains an almost ‘taboo’ subject for many. The decision to make my journey public was not one to invoke pity, but to stand with other women who have endured this, to combine as one and to help lift others when they need the support. Just like those around me, did to me.
Going through the grieving process is an individual thing. Knowing the statistics didn’t make me feel any better about my whole ordeal, in some respect I felt that my personal loss was just another stat and, in some sense, completely marginalised the whole ordeal. On the other hand, I feel a deep connection to those women with similar stories.
I also made my story public to reiterate the fact that you know your body better than anyone else. In my case, it took four visits to the emergency department. I trusted my instinct of not feeling right and thank goodness I did.
So while my story has a not so happy ending, I see it to be a symbol of life, simply not the right time, but the right time to open up, to speak even when it hurts. And while I still have a bitter sweet feeling when I see pregnant women around me and little bubbas, my heart knows deep down that this is just the beginning of my journey in becoming a mama to that extra special rainbow baby.