I’ve started to consider my miscarriage as a thief of joy. I don’t mean that I don’t encounter happiness, or have joyful moments. More that my overwhelming feeling right now is an absence of joy. A feeling of grief, and an acute awareness of everything I have ‘lost’; everything I am missing out on because of the death of my tiny baby.
I’ve known about my baby’s death now for longer than I knew about its life. So it might seem strange to some people that my grieving is still intense. I still cry most days. I still feel irrevocably sad for myself and my husband.
But from the moment I saw the word pregnant on a digital test, I felt a new and indescribable love for the tiny human life that was forming within me.
I loved my little one intensely for those 8 weeks I knew I was pregnant. I had 8 weeks to think of names, to research NCT classes in my area, to Google my midwife. 8 weeks to consider if I’d like a home birth, or birth on a delivery ward. 8 weeks to research pushchairs and wonder if our tiny car would be big enough for our new family of three. I had wondered where I would buy maternity clothes that were suitable to wear to work. I had imagined singing to my growing bump, and asking my husband to read stories to the life growing inside me.
More than that: I had imagined how it might feel to hold my newborn baby for the first time. I had imagined watching my husband do the same. I’d planned the books I wanted to buy. I had even wondered whether I would cope with the challenges of parenthood, something entirely new to me. How would I know the right way to show my love to my precious baby?
Although there is an increasing awareness that miscarriage is common, and I know of many people who have experienced this theif of joy, I didn’t spend 8 weeks of my life thinking it would happen to me. My pregnancy was ‘normal’. I experienced many symptoms: severe fatigue, sore breasts, and nausea. My daily commute after my morning vomitting became a form of torture. Thankfully I never had to use the sick bags I carried with me every day. I didn’t have a single spot of bleeding. In the week leading up to the scan I’d been feeling a little cramping, but everything suggested that was normal for 12 weeks pregnant. So yes, I knew that miscarriage was a possibility, but I also knew that the risk was pretty low at this point: 12 weeks pregnant, no indications that anything was wrong, having loved my little one every second of every day of those 8 weeks since my positive test.
My 12 week scan is something that will stay with me for my whole life. My tiny, perfectly formed, lifeless baby on the screen. The waiting for somebody to say out loud what I’d already figured out. And then the dreadful walk through the building, surrounded by all these beautifully pregnant ladies with their beautiful bumps with the doctor trying to find us an unoccupied private room to cry in. And it breaks my heart that it took three attempts to find one, because I know that means at that exact same time there were two other pregnant ladies in need of those first two private rooms.
I didn’t spend 8 weeks thinking my ‘normal’ pregnancy would end in miscarriage. But it did.
The reality of this is something I will never be able to change.
I will never meet my October baby. I will never even know whether it was a boy or a girl. I will never name them, or hold them. But I will love them fiercely for the rest of my life.
Every week brings a new wave of hell. I would be 22 weeks pregnant at the end of this week. I wonder how big my little one would be. I wonder what it would feel like to have my baby kicking inside me. I wonder if I’d be big enough that people would jump out of seats for me on the bus. Would I have that 2nd trimester pregnant glow? I would probably have had a second scan by now, and seen all those perfect details on screen. A tiny foot and hand. I might know whether it was a he or she. I wonder. It might have been. But it isn’t. That it not the path my life has taken.
Instead, I’m wondering when I will ovulate this month. I’m wondering when I can next take a pregnancy test. I’m wondering if I can cope with seeing another negative test.
And while I’m doing all this wondering, I know the thief of joy hasn’t finished yet. Because next time I see the word pregnant on a pregnancy test I won’t be imagining myself holding a newborn. I won’t be imagining my husband touching my bump. I won’t be thinking about birth, or names, or pushchairs.
I will be imagining my 12 week scan, and my lifeless baby. And wondering if it is going to happen again.