Monday, 19 November 2018

Merry-Go-Round - Blog Post

***WARNING - long graphic post and a little bit of swearing***

I no longer believe in blowing away eyelashes and making wishes.

My whole life I used to get so excited when I saw the tiny hair fall from someone's eyes. I would carefully scoop it up and present it to them... 'Make a wish,' I would fervently say, believing that this was their special moment to call on the magic and power of the universe.

When someone would give me my eyelash, or I would find my own, I would solemnly compose my wish, send it out and blow my wishes into the air. For the last few months my wish has been the same and I would wish our little baby, our second pregnancy, would stay with their mama and papa this time. We affectionately named it a name that would have no meaning in our daily life, but the song was significant and I thought to myself, you can't have a second miscarriage when you have named your baby Chumba - short for Chumbawamba - that would be ridiculous. Yet here we are again, and the poor little one is stuck with a ludicrous name now.

I had lost my innocence of pregnancy the first time around. When we told family and friends that we had become pregnant again, without exception everyone congratulated us and then wished us luck. Every single time I went to the toilet I felt anxiety and scanned my knickers for any signs. I would check for the discharge to make sure it was the right colour and consistency. If I felt a twinge or cramp I would run to the toilet for a quick check. Sometimes I wouldn't even go the toilet, at home I would just drop my knickers and ask my husband to confirm my findings.

On my 8th week I had slight brown coloured discharge.

I was at work and left everything. I called my husband and he collected me and we went straight to Accident & Emergency. We were so lucky as within 30 minutes we had been assessed and sent to the Early Pregnancy Unit (EPU) and was scanned. To our delight we saw our little perfect baby - they were the right size, there was a regular heartbeat and nothing seemed to be wrong. The nurses placated us with how lots of women bleed throughout their first trimester, that we haven't had pain and it was only a little brown blood so there should be no need to worry. Together we hoped so much they were right and I fled to the forums - all of them, I became a forums slut - Mumsnet, Netmums, Babycentre... you name it, I read it. There were so many stories of women who have bled and have been okay, even after miscarrying before.

Two days later at work I found more blood - red blood that filled my knickers - and I again called EPU. The next afternoon I was scanned again, fear filling me up and anxiety nipping at my heels, and I cried when the sonographer let me hear the heartbeat. I saw our baby who was very much alive. The Doctor later came in and gave me an internal, 'Your cervix is closed. There's no sign of cervical erosion. This just happens.'

So I calmed down. There were only spots of brown blood after that. No pain. No problem.

Except it wasn't.

A scan is a snapshot in time.

We went for a 'comfort scan' two weeks before the 12 week nuchal scan and we weren't worried as everything seemed to be back to normal. The bleeding hadn't returned, my belly did not seem so tender and I was feeling all the symptoms.

My husband had to park the car but as we were late I went in to the EPU first. I joked with the sonographer about my bloating, at 10 weeks my belly was so large I was wearing maternity trousers. The sonographer placed the scanner on me and said nothing, then after a while she said there was so much gas she couldn't see what was happening and asked if she could do an internal scan.

I asked if I could go to the toilet, stalling time till my husband arrived because I already knew what she was going to say.

He arrived just as she was placing the internal scanner in me and then she said the words I hate the most, 'I'm sorry.' No woman in the world wants to hear those words when they are being scanned. Ever. Now, whenever I have to let anyone know about my situation and the first words I hear are, 'I'm sorry,' I feel like I am experiencing a flashback and my reaction is anger - honestly, when someone says that, I may be saying some sort of trite response in return but I actually am just trying to find ways to stop myself from scratching that person's eyes out.

This time I left the sonographer's eyes alone but I burst into tears and clung on to my husband for dear life as yet again I realised I had lost a tiny little soul I so desperately wanted to meet.

So here we are again, on the merry-go-round of miscarriage.

I have calculated that I have spent just under six months in first trimester this year. Six months of nausea (and weight gain as the only way to stop my nausea is through eating), painful breasts, peeing constantly, and bloating so much I generally looked six months pregnant with a constant need to sleep at all times. What I have in return for this permanent hungover state is two babies to bury, a very deep and intimate relationship with my bed and so much knowledge about miscarriage and loss I didn't have previously. I am not sure this is much of a return on our investment - it has left me bereft, heartbroken, grief-stricken but most of all, it has made me fucking furious.

One of the hardest part of the situation is the loneliness of it all - the first time around everyone I knew had a story of miscarriage they could tell, they could relate to one miscarriage and the pain, discomfort and unfairness of the situation. Yet, this time around, the usual first response after the ubiquitous, painful, fury-inducing, 'I'm sorry' is about my being tested to see what's wrong with me, compounding the sense of failure I am already feeling. After that, it's usually silence or a random, 'Thinking of you' or an emoticon to let me know they are there. I am now not just a case of bad luck, I am recurrent. I don't blame people, life goes on, there's a world to be part of, but it is an uncomfortable place to be in - full of hard edges and muted impotent responses.

Being on the merry-go-round means I already know how to process the emotional response I am experiencing, I know what to do and where to seek support and advice. I know the process of grief and the journey that is laid out for my husband and I. I know about the possible tests I could take, what I would need to do to start them, how they are not always successful and how there may even be nothing wrong with me. I know about the physical process I am about to embark on and what I could try differently when we try again.

I also know I need to accept that the journey of parenthood is a path to becoming a warrior, whether we have a baby to hold in our hands or not. The whole process is refining us to be people who are courageous in the face of extreme adversity and forcing us to continually embrace acceptance and surrender in the deepest way.

Statistically, I still have a very good chance of becoming a mother. However, I also need to accept I may never become a mother in this lifetime. I may never know the joy of having a child in my arms that I can watch grow and become. I may never experience the labour of a woman who sees their child for the first time with a heartbeat and open eyes. I may only experience loss in this chapter of my life and somehow if I can make peace with this I will find freedom in this process.

I also need to accept that others will have the experience of motherhood and it is just as important for me to be able to remain open-hearted to their joy even in my deepest hurt - to be able to embrace everything this world has to offer so my heart can be open to it all. It will take some time, but that's okay.

But if I see an eyelash, there will be no more wishes.

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