miscarriage – why is it still taboo?

miscarriage – why is it still taboo?

Miscarriage… why is it still taboo?

October is Baby loss awareness month. And during this month, a week is set aside every year to start conversations to break the taboo about miscarriage and infant death. 

I have a confession to make. Although I’m here for all my clients as I support ladies around fertility pregnancy and sometimes loss; I find this month helpful to me personally as I had a miscarriage myself.

My baby would be 18 this year. Every year you mark times you would be celebrating firsts, like school, secondary school, and going off to Uni. As it stays with you as grieving the loss of any family member would. I  remember giving him the name Ben ( I instinctively knew it was a boy).

I was given a due date of mid August 2003 after I went for a scan on Christmas eve, where I heard the heartbeat for the first time. The sonographer gave me the date and I kept the scan card in my keepsakes probably until around 2017, when I was finally able to throw it away without feeling sad about it. 

The pregnancy was a shock, as at the time my boyfriend and I were not trying for a baby. I remember taking 4 pregnancy tests to confirm the pregnancy and illogically asked my sister to do one ( the weird things you do when faced with something you know is the truth!)  but at 30 with a house and a good job I thought after the initial shock that this was something I could do. Sadly it broke us and me for a long time as although I was in a good place he wasn’t.  

At around 9 weeks into the pregnancy I started to miscarry. I was involved in a really serious car accident 10 days prior to this, and I often wonder if the shock and blow I took to head and body had something to do with it as my little fiat uno was crushed to a pulp by a Dutch 18 wheeler who pulled into my lane without seeing me and crushed me against the barriers. The miscarriage happened a week and a half later and It was the day after the new year, so still a lot of party people getting too drunk and ending up in Accident and Emergency – bad timing on my bodies part when I got there it as it was a heinously busy night.  It started around 12:45am and like really bad period pains it soon became apparent I was miscarrying as it built into huge waves of pain and bleeding. When I got to the hospital I was left in Accident and Emergency on the side and nobody came to help me for 4 hours despite asking quietly at first and then calling out as I was in a lot of pain. Finally after lying on a stretcher bed for 4 hours a registra peeled back my trousers and gasped at the bleed everywhere and mumbled ‘yes that’s miscarriage, lets admit you overnight as this looks quite bad.

I finally got admitted to the ward around 5am, rigged up to an IV as I’d lost so much blood and had really low blood pressure and a lovely auxiliary nurse cleaned me up and  ‘helped me along’ with the removal, as she said it would help if we got things out in terms of my recovery. The ward was dark at this point and this all happened with her holding a torch and the curtain around my bed.  I cried through the whole thing and afterwards as I lay there wondering why it had all happened, what I had done wrong to make the baby go away and in the process my boyfriend and how desperately alone I felt. ( something I later realised is a common thing most women go through when they have a miscarriage)

I left the hospital and slept walked through the next few days. When I returned to work my manager at the time who I had rung to tell her about the miscarriage said on email ‘ I don’t know what to write on your return to work form so come into my office for a chat’ A conversations that introduced me to the world of the taboo around miscarriage. I soon discovered –  Like the movie and line in fight club ‘ the first rule about miscarriage is ‘ nobody talks about miscarriage’ as my colleagues knew about it but nobody talked to me or even offered a sympathetic word or hug apart from the lady I sat next to. 

I was gobsmacked and a bit taken back when my manager seemed reluctant to start the conversations when we finally met in her office,  about what to write on the form – to which I replied      ‘… its obvious isn’t it? I lost my baby so write that down..’ My manager then fumbled ‘ I’ll just write women gynaecological issues shall I?  –  I haven’t had a miscarriage before… I hope you are ok now? I just got up and left the room after that mumbling a bit, knowing that that was about as much sympathy I’d be getting from work about my ‘unfortunate miscarriage’ as she put it.

The worst thing about miscarriage is you often feel shame, sadness and anger all rolled up into one and are faced with pregnancies all around you! I was in a team in the EU office at the time where both ladies around my age were pregnant and only a few weeks further on than me happily talking about their milestones – and all the while there I sat silently dealing, listening and giving support and words of encouragement at the right times to my colleagues about their happy event – when what I wanted to do was run away or curl up back at home in my own space. 

After the whole ordeal and lack of support from everyone round me  (it was 2003 and things have come a long way from there thankfully)  – It took me years to even talk about it properly. I kept it all bottled up and this is probably the first time I’ve even pieced it all together. 

A year later, I decided a fresh start was needed so I left Nottingham, moved to London, sold my house and started a nutrition course. During this time I really focused on hormones and strangely enough some of my case studies became pregnancy, and hormone related, so you could say I went looking for answers and Nutrition and hormones helped me see a way forward. 

However alongside this, had I been better informed and supported I might have been given some  counselling by the GP I visited afterwards when I wasn’t coping about lovely organisations like Tommys and SANDS who are there to help women through miscarriage and still birth to help them deal with the emotions and feelings that come up at any point as you grieve the loss of a family you had imagined to have, even if only briefly. 

Every year over 250,000 women go though a miscarriage and the statistic is one is four babies are lost before 12 weeks. 

Its changed a lot since 2003 in terms of being more open, but its still the last taboo. Mostly women suffer in silence due to ‘not wanting to make a fuss’  or making anyone feel uncomfortable, including friends and family. Then come the ones who do talk to you with words of advice  telling you ‘ its for the best’ or .

..’there must have been something wrong with it’ Or ‘you didn’t want a baby did you? a double Scorpio sting for ladies who get pregnant unexpectedly and then miscarry –   almost stopping you feeling grief like you didn’t have the right to grieve at all. 

Miscarriage is always met with ‘ advice’ However despite all of the support I give women preparing them for pregnancy, it can be tricky to prevent miscarriage especially if there have been multiple miscarriages.

Despite all the preparation and emotional support, the blood tests and the invasive testing, the advances in modern technology that can pinpoint gender and abnormalities at such an early stage,  I still find it difficult to give answers as to why miscarriage happens – but you can guarantee I look into things with a  fine toothed comb and have had some brilliant success stories with women carrying to term after 4-6 miscarriages. 

Often when working in this area after doing a huge amount of digging – The truth is  sometimes we don’t know. I am reluctant to say its ‘ chromosomal’ as it could be any number of things such as progesterone issues, failure to thrive, placental issues, incomplete cervix or any number of things. Rather unhelpfully the NHS in the UK will only test if you have 3 recurring miscarriages. 

What I do, is always give support and a familiar voice at the end of the line if they need it, as mostly when you decide to talk it all comes flooding out.

I feel having a miscarriage myself was what the driving force behind my business – to  help women  conceive and carry to term is my greatest triumph. Having a miscarriage has as helped me to become a better more caring practitioner and one who knows what to say when others don’t.

A journalist I follow on Instagram wrote a story on her miscarriage in the guardian a few years back ( this post has been sitting in my files for a few years and I visit it and ask whether it’s the right year to release it and with a larger milestone happening ie 18 years since the miscarriage I finally think I can say things with a bit more head than heart these days and feel a sense of release for what He may have wanted me to do). But its taken time. Its always good to talk, or listen and even more so if its taboo.  

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