Full disclosure, my husband and I are a terrible cliché. We were cast as lovers in our high school play, then we were lovers in college for real. Traveling companions on a gap year and cohabiters when we returned. We got kittens, then a hamster which wasn’t ideal. The kittens are now cats and the hamster’s body was never found. We broke up once and I begged him to take me back. He asked me to marry him and I did. He followed his dreams to drama school and I went unwillingly, scared to leave my friends. I told him he’d owe me for the rest of his life and he makes up for it every day despite it being the best thing we ever did. We got a dog who is scared of the cats but bigger than them so it works and we tell each other every day that love each other and remind ourselves we are lucky.
We decided to stop trying not to have a baby. We had never been very technical with our contraceptives and certainly never chemical. I never knew when my period was coming so I left it up to him. When he was ready to no longer try not to have a baby, I suddenly found myself quite horny. After a year I downloaded an app to track my periods and wondered in a very lacks daisy way why I wasn’t getting pregnant. I bought some ovulation strips from eBay and peed on them now again for another year or so, happily horny and not on the pill. I got promoted, he went on tour with The National Theatre and we had regular, but untimed, sex that was quite good fun. People don’t tell you that trying for a baby isn’t fun. I’m sure falling pregnant with someone you love is fun, but it’s not fun when you’re having sex because the timing’s right but you’re shattered. When you have to get up early and the dog is watching, that’s not fun. After a couple of years of not trying not to have a baby we tried hard for about a year to have a baby. We longed with every fallen eyelash, we wished with all the lucky white heather. After I’d dropped one too many cheap ovulation sticks down the toilet, I upgraded to digital. We went on a mini break to Poland and came home to a positive pregnancy test two weeks later. It was Good Friday and we celebrated with a mocktail in Zizzi’s in Stratford Upon Avon and a night at the theatre where we bought our baby’s first vest.
Not the next Tuesday, but the one after I was working in Birmingham. I was presenting, and it was development stuff above my responsibilities. I’d been given extra work because I was good at my job and I was pregnant and it was amazing. But I didn’t tell anyone there, my colleagues. It was too early. I’d had some spotting, but the doctor had told me there was nothing I could do. The internal scan had shown a pregnancy sac and the nurse said I needed to relax and stay positive and come back when the baby’s legs were as long as my husbands. She had tripped over his long legs in the cramped room in the Early Pregnancy Assessment Unit. She was kind. Back at the meeting I waited for my presenting slot, ignoring the few light blood spots that had appeared on tissue paper earlier. There was nothing I could do. Hope beyond hope kept me from believing that we could lose this precious miracle.
I’ve heard it called a “whoosh, but I can’t think of a less accurate way of describing what I felt. A whoosh sounds fun and exciting. In that board room I felt the energy seep from the roots of every hair on my head, past the back of eyes, to every fingertip, through my torso, past my hips, inside my knees and all the way out of my toes. In seconds. Shortly after, I was called to the front and I delivered my presentation. I made jokes and the audience were warm and when I finished, I went to the toilet to see that the blood spots could no longer be ignored. I said my goodbyes, missed a train, got the next one and called my husband to ask him to pick me up at the station and take me to A&E. All the while, I never stopped hoping.
As we left A&E at midnight, I emailed my boss to tell him that I was expecting, that I’d had to go to hospital and that I was waiting for test results. Announcing your pregnancy whilst you simultaneously announce your potential loss is heart-breaking and there is no need for it. We got our results and I bled and I cried and I didn’t stop crying for the whole day. My husband cried and then went to work whilst I bled and cried and worked on a cross stitch for my niece who was due to be born that year. There was nothing else that I could do. The miscarriage was happening and I couldn’t stop it.
Here’s the bit that I want people to know. Miscarriages don’t whoosh and it’s over. Even at only 6 weeks and 4 days pregnant they take weeks to pass, maybe months. The week after my miscarriage started, we had a pre-planned trip “home”. There were three major events that we had fit into our 10-day tour of the North East of Scotland. My best friend’s birthday, my sister-in-law’s baby shower and a fundraiser for friends who had miscarried at 15 and a half weeks. Our hearts were breaking and I was bleeding but there was nothing else we could do. We smiled to the people who didn’t know what we were going through and I cried to the people who did. I got out of my mind drunk and smoked and hated my body and I felt so angry. Apparently, we were the lucky ones because it happened so early. I celebrated the impending birth of my niece and supported my friends dealing with their loss and I felt censored. I proudly wear my heart on my sleeve, and have few secrets, but I felt like the world didn’t want to hear about a loss that was so early. A loss that didn’t have a name, a gender or a face. I visited loved ones and drank copious amounts of tea and left what felt like parts of my baby in used sanitary towels in my loved ones’ bathroom bins. There was no memory box for us. Just clots of blood and then a pregnancy sac that got left in a bin in a rented caravan in Lossiemouth.
The following 6 months saw 3 more baby showers, the safe arrival of my beautiful niece, and a pregnancy announcement from our best man. I can genuinely say that each one gave me happiness. Joy for my gorgeous friends, hope for us and love for my husband. If it didn’t happen for us, I believed we would find our way, some other way. Thankfully, truly, it did happen again and we are expecting in July this year. We told people differently this time. It wasn’t a secret. We didn’t wait for a monumental moment like a 12-week scan. Two pink lines on my first response pregnancy stick is enough. Heartbeat confirmed by a scan at 13 and a half weeks, once again we are the lucky ones.
Now my body is changing and people say, look after yourself, don’t lift that, can you eat that? I try to take their well wishes but what I want to say is, if I lose this baby, it’s not my fault. It’s not because I’m not looking after myself or the baby. Losing a pregnancy is not nature’s way of telling me something and I didn’t jinx it by telling you before I had a scan picture to prove it. Losing a pregnancy is really sad and sometimes unexplained and knowing that it happens to 1 in 4 does not make it easier. All too often after I tell someone of our loss and respond with my condolences for theirs. Loss is told to me like a confession. We seldom talk about the very early ones we lose because we didn’t tell anyone they existed. They are remembered, in hushed tones like a dirty secret. Let’s stop trying to feel better about miscarriage. Let’s stop waiting until the scan to announce our pregnancies. Announcing it earlier won’t change the number that miscarry but it will change the number of miscarriages that we hear about. It will definitely change the number of women who can say, “I’m sorry I can’t be there today, I’m having a miscarriage.”
Lara Jo x