Evelyn is my beautiful, clever, happy / sometimes Devil incarnate toddler – who I love (along with her brother) more than life itself. Next week, we’ll be celebrating her second birthday with a terrifyingly shit Peppa Pig cake I’ve cobbled together, and the whole Baby Annabel section of the Argos catalogue. But… Evelyn shouldn’t really be here. She was never meant to be my second child… It should have been another baby.
I’m very open about most things in my life, as a lot of you will know, but oddly there’s one thing I’ve never really talked about – the fact I’ve had a miscarriage.
Today marks the start of Babyloss Awareness Week in the UK – a time, described by the Miscarriage Awareness Trust ‘as a special opportunity to mark the brief lives of babies lost in pregnancy or at or soon after birth.’
In the interest of ‘breaking the silence’ around miscarriage, I’ve decided to open up about my own experience – in a bid to help others feel like they can too. Not wanting to rip off Bob Hoskins, or BT, but you know what? It really is good to talk. Even though I’m sharing via the medium of a computer and the internet, it feels cathartic – almost like I’m ‘coming clean’ about something… ridiculous really. Why should losing a baby feel like a ‘dirty secret’? But sadly, it does.
Hubs and I had been trying for a fair while when we finally got the news we’d been waiting for…a positive pregnancy test. On top of the elation we felt at the prospect of becoming parents again, we were also delighted at the thought of not having to engage in sexual relations with one another for a few glorious and cystitis-free months. Unfortunately, our joy was to be short-lived…
I’ll never forget the moment miscarriage rocked our world – half way through an episode of ‘I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here’, on a dark and rainy November evening. I wasn’t far off my 12 week scan when I stood up, mid some classic Ant and Dec slapstick humour, to retrieve my sixth Jammie Dodger of the night from the snack cupboard. I’d only just made it over the kitchen threshold when I felt something ‘drop’. To this day I can still recall the body numbing shock of discovering the blood. I can still hear the panic in my voice as I screamed to my husband, and I can still feel the burning pain of grief in my chest as I sat on the toilet and sobbed my heart out. I knew. I knew right there and then what was happening – there was no way a baby could survive that.
The hours and days that followed were grim. I waiting three days for a referral to the Early Pregnancy Unit at my local hospital. Three days of crying, three days of bleeding, and three days of praying for a miracle I knew wouldn’t happen.
The scan confirmed what my gut and internet googling had already told me. The baby had gone. Heartbroken, we were led into a bleak consultation room, containing a box of tissues, some information leaflets, and a sympathetic but remarkably upbeat midwife. “Early pregnancy loss is incredibly common.” She said, cheerfully. “Don’t worry, we’ll be seeing you again in no time for a 12 week scan.”
I didn’t want another baby, I wanted that baby.
I was totally unaware of how common early pregnancy loss was. I’d been lucky up until that point… I fell pregnant with Jack quickly and apart from the sickness (and birth) – it had all been relatively complication free. I also didn’t have any friends who had been through miscarriage either… well, so I thought. It was only months after the event, when I drunkenly blurted it all out to a friend, who then confessed the exact same thing had happened to her, I realised how often it happens and how little it’s spoken about.
To me, it almost felt like because I didn’t make it to 12 weeks – that my baby didn’t really count…I felt daft talking about it – that my grief was nothing in comparison to someone who’d lost a baby in later pregnancy, or at birth. It took me a little while to rationalise that grief is, in fact, relative to the person who is dealing with it – it’s personal and can’t be compared. Yes, my baby had been a bundle of cells… but from the minute I knew I was pregnant those cells had been my child – I’d speculated on their gender, name, appearance, personality, and our lives together as a family.
Sometimes early pregnancy loss can be trivialised with sweeping statements like, “Oh you’ll get pregnant again, don’t worry about it”, or, “It’s really common”, and a lot of the time it just gets brushed under the carpet because of social awkwardness – people simply don’t know what to say.
Yes it’s common, yes statistically most women fall pregnant again and go on to have happy, healthy babies – but that doesn’t mean our grief should be discounted. We need to talk about our loss – and about how much those little, albeit brief lives, mattered to us.
My advice to anyone going through something similar would be to try and open up to someone about it – a friend, your partner, family members, a helpline – if it’s easier. It’ll be hard to find the words at first, but you might just find solace in sharing – and you never know, you might even help someone else with their own struggle by doing so. To anyone doing the listening – be sympathetic, be a shoulder to cry on, say you’re sorry for their loss, ask them questions, and try to make them smile again.
This might seem a little weird… but I’ve kept the positive pregnancy test for all my babies, including the one I lost – perhaps because it’s the only real proof I have to show he / she existed… All lives, no matter how short-lived, are worth remembering – so every now and again, I take that test out of the drawer and I remember. I also say a thank you to that baby – a thank you for making me appreciate my children more, and a thank you for giving me the gift of Evelyn – because after all, she wouldn’t exist if things had turned out differently that night in November.
Each year 9-15 October is Baby Loss Awareness Week. Throughout the week bereaved parents, their families and friends, unite with each other and others across the world to commemorate their babies’ lives.
Baby Loss Awareness Week also provides a chance to raise awareness about the issues surrounding pregnancy and baby loss in the UK. This year, more than 40 UK charities have collaborated to call for improved bereavement support for families affected by baby and pregnancy loss.
For more information, advice, or support on baby loss or still birth – head to: