The Silent Grief – On miscarriage, pregnancy and loss

I am ashamed to admit that I wavered on whether or not to write about this subject, despite writing about so many other difficult and sometimes personal topics.

Miscarriage impacts about 1 in 4 pregnant women, and it has impacted me multiple times. It is a difficult subject for any person, particularly those who have experienced it. When I was writing The Fictional Woman I had thought about writing something of my miscarriage in 2009 and later changed my mind. It was too dark and unwelcome a memory, and now I had a little girl, had started my own family, and I was not keen to revisit that experience.

And then it happened again. I could not shy away from it. I could not ‘forget’.

For only two sweet days my family and I had been delighted by the news of a positive pregnancy test. I’d felt the changes in my body one night and I knew. I could feel in my body that something was different, just as I had with both of my previous pregnancies. And then there it was in the morning, that crucial second line on the store-bought pregnancy test. We were in Hawaii (above), with family gathered from three continents to holiday together and celebrate my fortieth birthday, and there was no way we could have hidden our joy. We celebrated over dinner with a round of cocktails (mine virgin) and I thought about what would need to happen in my life to accommodate this very welcome news. I’d have to sell my apartment as soon as possible, as our family income would be reduced by somewhat more than half. I’d have to push back the publication of this book, as it would come out when I was due to give birth.

We wanted a second child. It was really happening. We were excited.

Had I waited another two days to take a pregnancy test I might never have known with absolute certainty that I was pregnant. I may have strongly suspected it (I know my body well enough not to miss the signs) but I would not have known for sure. But at the airport, having said goodbye to my sister, my father and stepmum, my body told me that things were not right. I was bleeding and there was no escape. We were already in the gate lounge, among the rows of identical chairs, illuminated with artificial lights that reminded me, too much, of a hospital waiting room. There was no space. No place to cry. We had to catch a plane in an hour. It was time to go home, with one fewer than I’d thought we were becoming. All I could do was buy sanitary napkins and try to come to terms with what was happening inside my body. I reminded myself of the good things in my life, counting them in my head one by one, like the knotted threads on a lifeline. Throughout this I had the significant comfort of my then two-and-a-half-year-old daughter running back and forth in front of me, giggling and shouting, undeterred by our early wake-up that morning. I thought of all the women who, like myself, had always wanted to have children, yet did not have the comfort of their own healthy child when they miscarried. I knew this from conversations with friends, but most of all I knew because the last time it happened to me, I did not have that comfort either. I had miscarried four years earlier, shortly before I got married. I was living with my husband-to-be, Berndt, in my flat in Sydney when two pink lines explained my slightly swollen belly and my late period. I’d taken tests in the previous weeks and they’d come up negative. But something seemed to be up and so there it was.

Two pink lines. I had never seen those lines before and let me tell you, if you are a woman who hopes to one day have a family, the first time you see them it is thrilling and frightening and wonderful.

My fiancé and I were intoxicated with joy at the news. Yes, it was before we’d planned to become pregnant and our wedding was only a couple of months away, but we were damned excited. I’d wear a muu-muu for a wedding dress if I had to. I didn’t care. The experience of being pregnant for the first time was remarkable, truly. We told our families, though swore them to secrecy. We were too thrilled to hold it in.

Hello, you

Almost a person

Swell of my belly

My genderless, nameless hope

Faced with that first, exhilarating news of pregnancy, I managed to forget that I’d only just recovered from a urinary tract infection (a common risk with pregnancy, I later discovered) and that before I’d known I was pregnant, while the tests still came up negative, I had taken medication for a fever. Aspirin. A lot of it. As I now know, it may be safe to take some paracetamol during pregnancy, but not necessarily aspirin. When the pregnancy test came up positive a week and a half later, all that was forgotten. I was too overjoyed to think about what I’d just been through. All I knew was that this was my first pregnancy and I was going to be a mother. But my doctor was uncertain. Thinking back, I remember the look in her eye, her quiet caution. She set up an ultrasound for the following week and when the day came, the day when we would see our pregnancy on the monitor, we walked to the clinic from my city apartment, marvelling at the little swell in my belly, holding hands, giddy.

What we found in my womb, instead of a growing child, was a sac without a heartbeat.

I saw it on the monitor for only a moment, before they removed the ultrasound wand and told us they were sorry. Berndt had been holding my hand, and I just remember saying, ‘That’s terrible news,’ and falling silent. There was something inside me that had never become someone. Something foreign, and yet inside me. It was horrible and I had not seen it coming at all. Pregnancy was supposed to be a joy. The ultrasound clinic gave me time to cry it out, and then the doctor booked me in to a hospital to have it removed, only a few days later. I wept when they put me under for the dilation and curettage, after several blood tests – performed at my insistence – showed the diagnosis to be absolutely true. The hCG hormones were falling. The pregnancy had not developed. There was no blood flow. A sac with no one in it.

For some reason, the worst part about the experience, the thing that sticks in my head, was that although everyone was very professional, before they put me under a young nurse asked me a list of questions. One of the questions she asked was, ‘Are you pregnant?’ There could hardly have been a crueller question. ‘Am I? Pregnant?’ I repeated incredulously, unable to find any other words. I guess they always ask this before giving a patient a general anaesthetic, but I was blindsided. I didn’t know what to say. Yes and no was the answer. If I took a pregnancy test that day it would come up positive, as some of the hCG hormones were still present. But the hormones were falling, because the pregnancy had failed to develop. That was precisely the thing, wasn’t it? Why else would I be booked in for a D&C other than to clean out my uterus so I wouldn’t get sepsis or suffer a long and drawn-out bloody miscarriage?

They say when you first miscarry you lose your innocence about pregnancy. It was that way for me. The roses and balloons and pink and blue Hallmark cards don’t really cover it. It’s also tears and blood and uncertainty. The cycles of reproduction are grand and yet common, extraordinary, heartbreaking and life-affirming. Pregnancy is life or death, and sometimes both. The brutality and beauty of the way we all come into the world – every last human being – is something truly fragile and beautiful. And mysterious. For all the science we throw at it, with all the control we like to believe we have over our lives, this is the one thing that can’t quite be nailed down. It’s a roll of the dice, every time, even for the healthiest and luckiest of us.

You never were, except to me.

Four years later, at the small Hawaiian airport, waiting for a flight after a long and much-needed family holiday, I was faced with what appeared to be my second miscarriage. Not an invisible one like the first time, where naively I had not even imagined it would happen to me and it took an ultrasound monitor to make it clear, but something I could feel. Something I could see.

I’d only just said goodbye to my father, who was about to fly back to Canada. I had not seen him in over a year, and it would be a year before I saw him again. He’d been so happy when I told him I was pregnant that the tears were visible in his eyes. After such a joyous family holiday, and the wonderful news that a baby was coming, I was in the airport miscarrying as I waited for the plane. I could feel it drain out of me and the brutality cut me to the core.

Some life-changing things, because of their innate darkness and intimacy, and also because they are exclusive to the female experience, are rarely talked about publicly. Until relatively recently, it was taboo to show off a pregnant stomach or even to discuss the details of pregnancy and childbirth. My father had been banished to the waiting room for my sister’s birth, though only a few years later, they allowed him to attend mine. Even to this day, reproduction is misunderstood by many, reproductive rights remain a hot topic, and even sex education and contraception remain highly controversial in many places. Miscarriages are not discussed in public with any ease, or at all. Like so many of the experiences related to sex and reproduction, this common experience remains all but invisible. While on holiday in Hawaii, newly pregnant, I spotted a woman with a beautiful pregnant belly, wearing a bikini, and my stepmother explained that she’d worn a popular pleated style of dress in the early seventies that hid her stomach so well that even close family friends did not know she was pregnant until she was in the hospital after the birth. Pregnancy was simply not discussed and a swollen belly was something to be hidden. Often, pregnant women avoided being seen in public at all.

Things had changed a lot, she told me, and in many ways they have. In other ways, though, things haven’t changed nearly enough.

Interestingly, it took becoming a parent myself, and becoming a writer on issues of maternity, breastfeeding and child survival for UNICEF, before most of my friends’ experiences with miscarriage became known to me. One friend confided in me that she’d fallen pregnant to her boyfriend and miscarried on the way to my wedding – just a couple of months after I’d had that first miscarriage. Another friend had a surprise pregnancy with her boyfriend and gave birth to a healthy baby girl, but when she tried again, experienced six miscarriages in just one year. She kept a little rock on her mantelpiece to represent each one, needing some tangible way to acknowledge them. Another close friend became pregnant with a third child and when the doctor explained that the foetus was not healthy and would not survive in the womb, she ‘flipped out completely’, as she put it. She told me she’d never seen herself like that. Yet another friend was in her eighth month of pregnancy and laboured through a stillbirth. Of those friends, few of them had told anyone except their doctor and their partner at the time. For most of them, it took many months, even years, to be able to talk about it. Had they been in a car accident or fallen and broken so much as a thumb, they would have felt free to discuss what had happened as soon as it had occurred and would have been receiving commiserations as they healed. But many women tell no one at all about their pregnancy until they show in the second trimester, and may not even tell their husband or partner when they miscarry.

One friend expressed her disgust with the common saying ‘she lost the baby’, as if somehow the woman had misplaced her foetus in a moment of profound forgetfulness. Another explained how barbaric and impersonal the medical terms for miscarriage were. There is something called a ‘blighted ovum’, when the fertilised egg implants in the uterus but doesn’t develop. ‘Blighted’, of course, is also a term meaning spoiled or diseased, and is used to describe the condition of a rundown urban area. Blight is a plant disease. Then there is the spontaneous miscarriage, like I had in the airport, which doctors refer to as a ‘spontaneous abortion’, despite the association with medical terminations that are carried out for unwanted or unsafe pregnancies. There is also the kind of miscarriage, like my first one, called a ‘missed abortion’, when the pregnancy has naturally terminated before the twentieth week but the body has not expelled it. ‘Silent miscarriage’ is the preferred term, but many doctors still use the term ‘missed abortion’, and I saw it on my medical paperwork. I remember how incensed I was by the testimony of US Republican politician Terry England, when he voted in favour of the so-called ‘fetal pain’ bill, House Bill 954, that would ban all abortions after twenty weeks, robbing women of reproductive choice even in cases where the baby was not expected to live, effectively forcing women to carry stillborn foetuses. In his testimony, he said, ‘I’ve had the experience of delivering calves, dead and alive – delivering pigs, dead and alive … It breaks our hearts to see those animals not make it.’21 I recall the doctor who performed the D&C to remove my first miscarriage, and how she gently explained the importance of making sure the body was not carrying dead tissue, because it could cause infection. And then there was this politician, comparing women to cows and pigs, and expressing his sympathies with farm animals as he tried to restrict, by law, with penalty of imprisonment, the possibility of doctors removing the dead foetuses from women’s bodies. Psychologically, not to mention medically, it was a barbaric sentence to try to place on any fellow human being*.

(* It may come as a surprise to some that in 2015 abortion is still listed in the NSW Crimes Act, something activists are hoping to reform. In NSW an abortion is only lawful if the woman’s doctor believes on reasonable grounds that it is necessary to avoid a serious danger to her life or her physical or mental health, taking into account economic and social factors as well as medical ones, and the risks of the abortion are not out of proportion to the danger to be averted (Skene, 2004). Despite decriminalisation in most other states, many Australian women and families are still not entitled to make these crucial and deeply personal reproductive health decisions for themselves.)

In 2009, when I’d called my family in Canada to tell them the sad news that I had miscarried, I remember my father telling me that no one in our family had miscarried before. He seemed really to believe this was true, as if he would somehow know the history of all of the pregnancies and miscarriages in his family tree. He genuinely wondered why it had happened to his daughter when we didn’t have a family history of miscarriage. I knew that he was thousands of miles away, across a crackling phone line, trying to deal with news that made him both sad and puzzled, but it stung. This is the deception that comes from the taboo around miscarriage, the deception that allows us to think that miscarriages only happen to other people. Because we do not talk about it, particularly with men, most people do not know how common it is. March of Dimes – a non-profit organisation concerned with the health of mothers and babies – estimates that half of pregnancies end in miscarriage, often before women even know they have missed their period. Once that first trimester is over, the risk drops significantly. (The majority of medical sources estimate that less than 5 per cent of pregnancies end in miscarriage after that first crucial trimester.)

According to most estimates, about one in four known pregnancies end in miscarriage. The real numbers are hard to calculate, of course, because many people don’t know they are pregnant before a miscarriage shows as a late, heavy period. And because, well, we don’t often talk about it. One reason we don’t talk about it is that miscarriage is personal and often intensely difficult news for someone who hopes to have a child. The other reason, I believe, is internalised shame. As with most subjects on which we remain silent, the silence connects with a feeling of inadequacy and personal grief. Many women experience a concern that others will see them as a failure or ‘damaged’ in some way if they reveal they have experienced a miscarriage. Then there are inevitable questions of ‘What happened?’ (or What did you do wrong?) when there are often no answers, or the internalised question of ‘What’s wrong with me?’, one that can come up so often in life but is especially brutal in matters of reproduction, as if unless we are able to reproduce, we don’t quite fully exist ourselves. Sometimes there is a reason for the miscarriage that can be identified – a health condition or, in the case of my miscarriage in 2009, an infection and medication that interrupted the fragile early stages of development. But often there is no clear reason at all, and the body has simply decided it is not the right one, or the right time. The vast majority (an estimated two thirds) of early miscarriages occur because of chromosomal problems in early development. With pregnancy tests now being widely available and increasingly accurate, women can know they are pregnant long before they would have in the past. Increasingly, this knowledge will come very early. Some chemist packs, like the one I used, claim to be accurate six days before your missed period, little more than a week after conception. Because the confirmation comes so early, perhaps as much as half of the time it will end something like it did in that airport for me – with a woman knowing without a trace of doubt that she was pregnant and now she is miscarrying.

It is a common convention to announce a pregnancy only after the first trimester, though we don’t often mention why that is. We don’t talk about it. One friend of mine passed out at a lectern in front of a crowd of people early in her first pregnancy. Though some of the women in the audience might have guessed the reason, she felt she could not simply come out and explain why she had passed out. As a result of this taboo, these ongoing fictions about pregnancy, women around the world suffer dizziness, nausea, and even fainting spells in silence. Enough. Back at home after the Hawaiian trip I could finally do the crying I couldn’t do in the airport. After a week or so of feeling unusual fatigue and a touch of nausea (both common signs of pregnancy), my hormones were slowly levelling out, hour by hour. I had miscarried a very early pregnancy. With the news confirmed by my doctor, I was able to grieve and start to come to terms with it. And this time, because of my previous experience and what I’d learned from it, and because of the discussions I’d had with my father, and what he’d learned, I had a completely different experience when I told my family the news. This time we had the tools to understand what had happened and were able to deal with it and support one another, and it brought us together. I felt far better for talking it out with my loved ones, and I feel far better for writing about the experience here (as for many writers, the page has been a solace throughout my life).

A few days later, I was scheduled to appear at the Sydney Opera House to speak on a panel as part of the Festival of Dangerous Ideas. I had been looking forward to participating – particularly as I admired my co-panellists, Emily Maguire, Dan Savage and Christos Tsiolkas – though I’d had no idea I would be going through something like this. My family were a great support, and though I wasn’t quite through the physical experience of the miscarriage yet – I was still slightly nauseous and suffering from light cramps – I felt I could cope. As it happened, just before we went on stage one of my fellow panellists, Seattle sex columnist Dan Savage, explained to us that he had been up all night vomiting due to food poisoning. He hadn’t slept and warned us that he might need to leave part-way through the session to be ill. We all expressed our sympathy and understanding. It occurred to me that if we had a different relationship to the realities of miscarriage, it would be possible for me to explain that I was unwell because I had been miscarrying, and might need to excuse myself if overcome by nausea, dizziness or severe cramping. But of course I said nothing. It felt surreal to step onto the stage, but the session went off without a hitch, and both Dan and I made it through, the audience none the wiser.

Slowly, I was getting to the other side. And so was my husband, Berndt:

As an event, it’s important. There’s so much hope when you first find out about the pregnancy, and then so much sorrow with a miscarriage. But it’s given the status of a non-event: you don’t tell anyone your partner is pregnant, just in case it doesn’t work out, and then when this fear is realised, and you’re gutted by it, you can’t say anything. But talking it through with friends helped to make it real: something that happened, something sad, which I could then get past.

By keeping these discussions taboo, we rob people of the basic support and understanding necessary to deal with their loss. By keeping these discussions taboo, we force women and families to suffer in silence.

Since writing about this issue in The Fictional Woman I have sadly suffered further miscarriages. It has been a hard road and my heart still aches for it. I am grateful for the family I have, and for my good health. I will cherish both.

My thoughts go out to those of you who are going through this, particularly those suffering in silence.

I cannot be silent anymore.

– Tara Moss

 

This blog includes an updated excerpt from The Fictional Woman, HarperCollins 2014.

Miscarriage, stillbirth and newborn death support services:

Pregnancy Loss Australia

List of Australia wide services 

SANDS

Bears of Hope

Fertile Minds 

(Please let me know about additional services in the comments below and I will add them. Thank you.)

22 Comments

  1. Tara
    I hear the pain in these words. I found, after my own story of miscarriages, so few therapists who work in this part of fertility. So I trained to become one of those therapists and run fertile minds. Thank you for such a moving piece.

  2. Larissa

    I took a week off work when I miscarried the first time, then obeying social conventions, pretended I’d had the flu. Hiding my grief, the pretence and the isolation was almost more than I could bear. With my next pregnancy I announced it to my family, friends and colleagues as soon as it was confirmed. When I miscarried again I at least had sympathy, support and understanding and was free to mourn. I was also shocked by the number of women who shared their stories. 1 in 4 seems an underestimation. My mother-in-law shared stories of her miscarriages and also her mothers. It sparked my scientific curiosity and genetic tests revealed my husband carried a mutation that was causing the problems. His mother, brother and some of his cousins have also tested positive for this mutation. Now the family know the risks, know it’s beyond their control and are prepared for it. Knowledge is power. Silence achieves nothing.

  3. Thank you Tara for always shedding the light where it is needed most.
    I think that we also need to allow the light in on another aspect of pregnancy loss, termination.
    In 2014 I had to make the heart breaking decision to terminate a pregnancy that I had ached for, I was 41.
    I was also in an unstable home situation, my partner became very mentally unwell and eventually had a break down. I made the decision based on so many factors and still grieve that loss today.
    I know that miscarriage is out of our hands, termination is not.
    I have suffered both now xx

  4. Jen

    Thank you for also breaking the silence on this subject that many of us go through. I’m so sorry for your losses. It’s a horrible thing to go through at all but even more terrifying to go through it many times over. And with each heartbreaking loss our hearts shatter just that little bit more.
    I’ve also decided to break the silence as we were miscarrying in October. I wrote about it on a blog I created for this very subject. You are welcome to read it if you would like: https://waitingforamiracleblog.wordpress.com/2015/10/10/our-journey-to-now/
    Sending you lots of love and know you’re not alone. Than you for also standing up and breaking the taboo. If we all do it then it will no longer be something that we all have to suffer in silence about xxxx

  5. Kristie Morrison

    I suffered an ectopic pregnancy at 21, only finding out many years later that having your appendix out can cause it by leaving scar tissue on your fallopian tubes. I also had two miscarriages when I was in my late 20s. I am 44 now and will never have children because of other medical issues. It’s hard when people judge you without knowing the whole story, so it’s awesome that people are finally bringing this sorrowful secret into the light.

  6. Kelly

    Yes, yes, and yes. I, too, had a ‘missed miscarriage’. It was our first pregnancy. It was back in August. I have to say, I was just starting to think I felt normal again, but your description of being excited by the pregnancy made me bawl pretty good. I thank you for that. It’s all therapeutic, right?

    I told a lot of people when we were early on in the news because I knew I would need the support. And, when the horrible happened, it was amazing- as you say- how many people could provide support because they had been there before. I am very open with my miscarriage- even posted on Facebook, because I truly hope that the more of us that share, the less us women will feel shame over something so helpless.

    Take care of yourselves! But to do that, we need support.

    Thank you.

  7. Margot

    I attended a work conference a week after having a miscarriage. My son was 2. A “friend” asked me when I was going to have another child. My response: I don’t know but I had a miscarriage a week ago. She slunk off. I hope she never asked anyone else that question. The reproductive “plans” of anyone are no one’s business. I did have another child and my beautiful kids are now 18 and 15. My dad is an Anglican minister and he was often called to the local hospital to baptise babies who we’re not going to live much beyond birth. That was in the 1960s and 70s. Why are miscarriages so secret these days when people share their whole lives on social media?

  8. Janette

    Thank you for sharing your story Tara. So many women around the world are still told to “go home and get on with your life”. A baby is a life changing event even if it’s in your life just for a moment.

    For support you can also contact Angel Gowns Australia, we create handcrafted garments from donated wedding dresses. To give families dignity and a moment of beauty as they say goodbye.

  9. Annon

    Thank you for talking about something so personal and difficult. I had a miscarriage when I was 16 weeks and 24 years old. This is something that all but 3 people in the world know and I too find it difficult to talk about even 8 years on. Every year I think they would be this old, the worst is when other woman say things like you wouldn’t understand you are not a mother and oh when are you going to have children? I want to scream out I am a mother my child would be 8 this August just gone, I know the pain of childbirth, instead I smile and say one day.

  10. Rebecca

    I miscarried our first child and like you had to have a D&C at 11 weeks on the day of my 26th birthday. I was distraught, inconsolable and felt absolutely desolate. One of the biggest healing factors which helped me was telling my Year 7 Humanities class why I had been absent for a week. At first I just told them I was unwell, but they could see the tears coming from my eyes and there was no other option. Their innocence, shock and compassion helped me to see that my grief was real and not something to hide.
    Since that day, I have openly shared with friends, family and strangers and in turn they opened up to me about their own experiences. I discovered my grandmother had miscarried many times and had a still born at home and my mother lost 3 of her 8 pregnancies.
    Today I am fortunate to have 3 beautiful boys who I love, yet I will never forget the love for my angel I never got to meet or hold. Thank you Tara for a poignant and well written piece to open up a common experience for so many women and their families.

  11. Little S with big dreams

    I really needed to read this. You are right, it’s so intimate and often not talked of. How do you even begin that conversation?

    I didn’t tell anyone because of how much I hate myself for this.

    And the endless questions – Am I too fat? Do I not get enough sleep? Am I being punished? Was I exercising too much? Work stress? Am I just deep down a horrible person that the universe decided this isn’t for me?!

    I often ponder how all the girlfriends and sisters have gone on to have their first, second and now third babies and I’m still 0. Ten years and nothing to show for it.
    I hide behind my career and my degrees and my false bravado with proclamations that I love being child free. I would love to shout “I can’t seem to hold onto them and I hate myself for it” but that’s just not acceptable.

    I’m so sorry for your loss Tara. And I so thankyou for having spoken out on this and told your story. So much will resonate with so many.

  12. Allyeska

    I was diagnosed with infertility 2 years ago. Being a mum was the one thing in life I wanted. We fell pregnant from a cycle of IVF, despite not responding well to the treatment. This was our first ever pregnancy. Once we had a good, strong heart beat at 7 and a half weeks we knew our risk was down to around only 4%, so at that stage I gave myself permission to get excited. I am very passionate about breaking down taboos and so we had shared our journey of fertility treatment with family and friends, colleagues, and updates on facebook. At 9 weeks 2 days I was told there was no heartbeat. Out little baby girl had stopped growing only a few days earlier, or maybe up to a week. Having shared our journey meant also sharing our grief and it was the best thing I have done. It helped immensely and honoured the short life of our baby girl. My colleagues were able to understand that I was unable to immediately return to my usual work with pregnant women, and they supported my gradual return. They werent forced to ask me “are you feeling better? did you have the flu?”, because they knew why I had time off. They were free to give me a hug and offer their support and many came forward to tell me their own experiences. I felt so incredibly supported.

    It was the medical system that hurt me. The dr who announced there was no heartbeat fled when I cried and never returned. We left with no information on what could happen and what to do. We left in limbo knowing our baby had died but was still inside me. The dr told my OB he had never seen someone so upset. I was judged in my grief, and I wasnt even wailing. But I knew my loss meant going through IVF treatment and surgery all over again for only a small chance of success. The midwife for my OB kept referring to my loss as “VERY early pregnancy loss” despite me challenging her and referring to my “loss” as “my baby”. She woudlnt use my terminology, she insisted on her clinical terms which indicated to me I had no right to be grieving so badly. my D&C was delayed by 6 days and noone told me what I might expect in the meantime. When I started having contractions (50 seconds long, every 2 to 3 mins) I was terrified. I did not want the added trauma of haemorrhaging. The pre op blood test asked “are you pregnant” and “when was your last miscarriage”. I couldnt even fill out the form I was so upset by these questions. Noone gave me information on support for miscarriage, until a colleague took it upon herself to visit me after surgery and give me a pack from Pregnancy Loss Australia.

    I am now pregnant again (7 weeks 3 days) from IVF and just had a heart beat confirmed. I felt terrified, convinced there would be bad news. Now we have good news I feel disconnected, like I heard results for someone else’s pregnancy – my head thinks “good news”, yet I feel nothing. I feel empty. I feel too scared that I will lose this one too.

    We announced on facebook and a hubby’s friend commented, instead of “congrats”, that perhaps it was early to be sharing this news at 7 weeks when it is generally accepted one waits until 12. It is THIS, VERY, attitude that is so harmful. WHy should we keep it to ourselves if we woul rather share it? Why should we suffer our journey alone, and suffer any loss alone? Why is a loss before 12 weeks apparently no big thing and doesnt need to be shared, yet its ok to share a loss after 12 weeks?

    We need to break the taboo. People need support with their loss, not to be forced to suffer disenfranchised grief on top of their substantial pain.

  13. Fiona

    Beautifully written. You made my heart ache for your losses and mine. You’ve given me the words I needed to express my own feelings better than I ever thought possible. Brave Tara

  14. Eliza

    Thank you for talking about your miscarriages. It is only when more and more women (and partners) have the courage to ‘speak out’ that slowly, a difference will be made and talking about miscarriage will no longer be considered taboo. I am a Midwife and a Grief & Loss Counsellor in Melbourne who looks after couples experiencing the death of their baby(ies). I just want to let you know that sadly PLA (Pregnancy Loss Australia) no longer exists and I refer couples to Bears of Hope. I look forward to coming to hear you speak June 23……..

  15. Nat

    I just lost our baby heart stopped beating at 11 weeks. I feel a lot of anger how we were treated at the obgyn and hospital. After his words sorry there is no longer a heartbeat he started to pressure me into a d&c. I just wanted to go home there was nothing wrong with me no bleeding or pain just ran out. My husband phoned the doctor and all he said well if she didn’t run out we could have done it tonight. I asked if they could include the sex of our baby at pathology so we could name him or her. It was denied as I would just be more upset his words! He never gave me any options how I wanted to miscarry and it was all about if we had private insurance. At the hospital there was no support they left me waiting till last I wanted to leave but wasn’t allowed it had to happen. He rubbed the top of my head before the procedure no words just like if I was a pet. I faked being well enough after the procedure it was 11pm I wanted to go home and cry. We never received cards or flowers like it never happened. When a baby is born you get gifts etc , when someone dies you get a card etc. When a baby is lost during pregnancy you get nothing. I look at my ultrasound picture and wonder where are you now as no one told me what happens to the remains. Are they discarded like medical waste? I am to afraid to ask as I already can’t sleep how would I cope knowing this to be the truth.

  16. Claire Rowlands

    I can see how much strength it took to write this. Only by speaking out can society learn how devastating this is can we learn to give appropriate support. Many people also forget how hard it is for the partner who also suffers terrbly. I am fortunate never to have been in your position and cannot imagine how I would cope. I can only say thank you for your words and send my support.

  17. Margaret

    Thank you so much for sharing you experience Tara, it’s helped me a lot. You see, my sister has miscarried several times, in fact I don’t know how many because she doesn’t speak about it. It breaks my heart that this is a pain that only she and her partner endure in silence. I want to be a better support but I just don’t know how. I don’t know what I can do for her or what I can say to let her know that I care, for her, her partner and the angels they have lost.
    I feel like I’ve barely acknowledged her miscarriages because I just don’t know what to say.
    What are the right things to say to someone who has suffered in such a terrible way?
    We really need to overcome this taboo because it’s ripple affects are much wider than we realise.
    I’d love it if anyone has any advice to share on subtle ways I can show support without making my sister feel like she’s being treated as this fragile being, because she’s not, she’s stronger than I will ever know.

  18. Victoria

    Thank you Tara for being open about the reality of miscarriages. I couldn’t read it all because it was so honest and raw but I will eventually finish it off. It’s giving me closure to an event that has happened where so little knowledge is relayed between women especially. Nothing could have prepared me or anyone else to experience what happens during and post miscarriage. Thank you again.

  19. Kate

    SIDS and Kids SA is the only South Australian organisation to offer free unlimited counselling to families affected by the death of a child from conception to 6 years of age.

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