So Friday was the day to find out our results. It was the middle of the morning, so I had to dash from work, especially when the person covering me arrived late. OF ALL THE DAYS.
In the panic, I forgot to get change for parking and therefore had to abandon my car with no pay-and-display ticket. So, I scribbled a desperate, pleading note in my car, basically along the lines of I will do anything you want on my return but please, for the love of god, please don’t ticket my car… Aaaaaaand on arriving at the clinic, breathing like an asthmatic pug being chased by a wild bear, they were running late.
Of course they were.
Naturally. On the day where every minute seems like 4 frickin’ hours, it is without doubt that this, THIS is the day where they’re half an hour behind. Gold.
To add to perfection of the day unfolding, the husband was nowhere in sight. 20 minutes after our appointment time, he’s still not there. I’m calling, texting, calling his work, emailing him… no answer. Minutes later, a voicemail. He’s forgotten to come and is on his way.
WHAT? FORGOTTEN? Are you KIDDING me?! How on this earth is it possible to forget the one bloody appointment we’ve been waiting for since the last miscarriage 8 weeks ago? Did we not just speak about it this morning? How is he not thinking about it every second of every lingering minute? The thought occurs to me that the next time I see the him, it can’t be helped if I punch him full on in the face.
And then the nurse arrives and in I go. Within seconds, I know.
Nothing is wrong. Not even slightly wrong. Not even vaguely borderline odd results. I wait for relief to flood through me, like I’ve imagined for weeks and weeks that it would. And, like my results, there’s nothing. Nothing even close to a single emotion. I don’t know what’s worse; nothing, meaning they can do just that – nothing to help – or if I wanted to have something wrong so they could give me a pill, a medicine to fix me, a procedure, a magic cure to just help us on that path to a baby.
But after all this time, all we’re left with is…well, nothing. No further on. No plan of action. Just carry on. And so I feel nothing. Blank.
She scans me. Perfect ovaries; well, as perfect as they can be for polycystic ones, I guess. Perfect womb lining, she says. Verdict? My injections can begin again. Again, though, I wait for that glimmer of excitement and relief that I had the night before when I thought about it. And it doesn’t come. Why? What is wrong with me?
My lovely nurse leaves me to go prepare my prescription, so the 10 minute wait begins. I always feel sick during this time and irrational thoughts take over, like she’ll discuss me with a doctor and they’ll suddenly decide I can’t be given injections, or that they’ve run out, or that the NHS has changed their policy and I’ll owe them hundreds of pounds, or that they’ve decided I’m not eligible for injections anymore, or they just don’t like me, and the like. So I get this game out on my phone, like I do every time. Two Dots. I only ever play it at the clinic – it’s become a ritual, something to take my mind off what might/could/will happen next. And there’s a text – the husband is here. I put my head round the door, he comes into the room and he speaks.
Within one of his words, it hits me. That horrible, vile realisation that my utterly unshakable, solid-as-a-rock husband, the one who has been earthquake-resistant during this horrendously turbulent 27 months of trying to create our family, the one who has held me when I have screamed, cried and been emotionally and physically in bits, and has held us together…
He is affected just as much as me.
He forgot, not because he doesn’t think about it, but because his mind is just not with it. It’s been like this for months. Little things, things no one else would notice unless you know him like I do. He’s said he’s not felt himself. He’s been stressed over small things, frustrated with events that wouldn’t normally even register on his so-laid-back-he’s-horizontal radar. I joke with everyone that he is the most calm, unshakable person in the world – and he is…normally. Although he’s found the last months hard, he’s stayed so positive, so calm and with it. He has held me physically and held me together mentally. But our experiences, our horrible gut-wrenching life story since September 2014 when we lost our first baby through to the third in January 2015, and then the subsequent testing, have changed him. In the same way that I’ve changed, in even the basics of feeling no relief when hearing the incredible news that our test results are normal, or that we can begin treatment again, HE, too, has changed. Men feel. They might deal with it differently, but it’s there, eating away optimism, simple joy in life, concentration.
His face tells me everything I need to know and I don’t even need to hear his apology. Some people might tell me I’m crazy for not being angry – of course, I was. But being angry at someone for doing something they would never, ever do otherwise… that would be like him being angry with me when I’ve yelled at him for not doing something trivial around the house because that day, someone else announced their pregnancy and I couldn’t cope. Or him becoming frustrated at me for refusing to do anything around the house, because I’ve hit such a low point, I don’t even want to exist. Or him guilt-tripping me when I’ve decided that what we planned to do this weekend isn’t going to happen now, because I just cannot leave the house. For him to do that would be wrong. For me to be angry with him would be wrong.
This is the ONLY thing he has done wrong. And he would not have done it if we weren’t attempting to survive through this hellish time. Yes, the irony that he forgot the one thing always in the back of his mind, but with that, immense work pressure and general life all added up together… How can I be mad?
So imagine being told, later that day, that our miscarriages are pretty much no big deal.
After collecting my numerous boxes of medication and a McDonald’s (as has become habitual after good news… or bad news… or after any news, if I’m being totally honest), I headed back to work. It was lunch time and there was just one colleague in the lunchroom. She asked me how I was feeling – a question loaded with more genuine care than I have heard from her before. She was in the middle of telling me about her miscarriage when someone else joined us, someone I’d confided in before, and joined in the conversation. After my first colleague finished telling us that she’d heard her baby’s heartbeat at one scan but at 12 weeks it was gone, the second declared that that must be just awful.
And, get this, it must be so much easier to deal with when you haven’t ever heard the heartbeat.
I felt my first colleague stiffen next to me and she looked at me. I couldn’t help but snap. How is it easier? How? All miscarriages are hard – But when you’re so early on, you haven’t heard it being alive. And when you hear the heartbeat, then it’s not there, it’s like you weren’t really pregnant at all. That must be hardest to deal with. Not hearing it must be easier.
What? Like the baby didn’t exist?! That we just take it that it’s not there until we hear a heartbeat?
Yes, and it’s so easy attending a scan, hearing no heartbeat and being told you’ll miscarry in the ‘next few days’, only for it to be a fortnight later. It’s easy hearing a heartbeat at the next scan, but it being too slow and knowing the end is unavoidable. It’s no big deal. It’s simple to endure days upon days of cramping pain so bad that you cannot function properly, just like it’s easy when the contractions start so quickly and become so strong that you are sweating and crying and screaming as your baby leaves your body, and your husband sits on the bathroom floor, utterly helpless while his wife is in so much pain, it’s making her delirious. It’s not a problem, your GP rushing you to A&E because they think you have an infection. It’s easy, telling your family, your friends, seeing them broken. It’s fine, to be stuck in what feels like some horrific deja vu, when days after finding out you’ve conceived again, feeling that cramping, knowing that it will end again, just like the first one did.
It’s easy to sit in a packed waiting room at A&E with blood pouring out of you, waiting to be admitted because they don’t know if it’s ectopic.
It’s easy to go through the recurrent pregnancy investigations, no big deal to be prodded and poked and hurt; easy to wait, weeks and weeks and weeks of it on end, knowing that at the end of it, you won’t feel much better than you did when they began because there’s still a gazillion questions.
Eeasy to wonder if you’ll have to go through IVF, something you just can’t afford, and wondering what you’ll have to do to be able to afford it; easy to have endless questions about your life now, doubts about what you should have done earlier in life and worries about how your life might turn out. When you can’t make plans for the future, putting your life on hold because you just don’t have any idea about where you’ll be, what money you’ll need, what you’ll be doing.
It’s no problem to know that friends don’t treat you quite the same. Knowing you’re pushing others friends away because you can’t cope with their pregnancy announcements, which knock you down so hard, you feel like you can’t breathe.
Shutting yourself away because nothing feels like it has any point any longer.
To hear people telling you, ‘Things happen for a reason’ or ‘Just relax and it will happen’ or ‘You can just try again’ or other well-meaning, yet horribly patronising words.
It’s so easy to see the most unshakeable person you have ever met, your absolute rock, the one person you thought would never break, really and truly break right in front of your eyes.
And I tell you, it’s SO EASY when you know that even if you’re so lucky to see those beautiful double lines on a test once more, that it still might not be ok, that it’s still so very possible that the utter heartbreak, torture and darkness that surrounds a miscarriage may well happen to you all over again.
And if it does, you have no idea how you’ll get through it.
To know that the whole time you’ve been going through absolute hell, crying so much you wonder if you’ll ever stop, wondering how you’ll even get up some mornings, how you’ll make it through the day, that some heartless people think that your hell is, quite frankly, no big deal.
Of course. Yes. It’s all so fucking easy, all because I didn’t hear a heartbeat.
Miscarriage is so much more than a physical loss. It is the loss of every hope and dream you have had in your head from the moment you saw those lines, no matter how hard you try not to get carried away. It may be, like it is for my husband and I, the barbaric, bloody end to years of trying for something that seems to come to others so easily, of wondering what you’ve done wrong, blaming yourselves. Or it might be the end to something you didn’t know you really truly wanted, until it was gone. It’s a journey that consumes every cell of your body. And I know most people that read this will know, sadly first hand, just what I mean.
Unless you’ve experienced it, you will not, simply cannot, understand the pain both emotionally and physically that it causes. Whether it’s 5 weeks, 8 weeks, 12 or 16 weeks, missed or spontaneous, no miscarriage can ever, ever be called easier than another. Twin that kind of loss with another miscarriage, stillbirth or infertility – or, god forbid, any of those at the same time – you are entering territory of pain that is almost indescribable and pushes you down into the depths of darkness so dense that many millions of women, men, couples wonder how they’ll ever see light again. That’s not to say one miscarriage is ‘easier’ to deal with, but multiple ones or inability to get pregnant again keep you in that dark place emotionally that you wish to god no one had to ever see. And it’s still all so taboo that it’s not even seen as ‘right’ to discuss it.
So those who don’t understand it, haven’t experienced it – you have no idea. Do not judge or put a label on what is hard, easy or easier to handle because you just do not know how it feels to have your life ripped apart once, twice, three times and more.
Please, just don’t talk.
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