When the unexpected happens: my story of recurrent miscarriage

A few weeks ago we excitedly discovered that we were pregnant again, five months following on from my last miscarriage…

But our excitement over the news was shattered almost as quickly as it was discovered by another early miscarriage.

It probably goes without saying, that experiencing two consecutive miscarriages in under a six month period has been pretty unexpected for us.

Because ever since my first miscarriage last Christmas, our main focus has been on getting pregnant again as soon as possible; and that was the end goal.

But in my eagerness to reach that point, it never really occurred to me that another pregnancy might end the same way, or if it did occur to me it was a thought I quickly dismissed as highly improbable, because all anyone ever tells you after a miscarriage is that there’s no reason why you won’t go on to have another normal pregnancy very soon.

After all, miscarriage is a pretty common occurrence, affecting about 1 in 4 pregnancies, and there is usually no real reason for it. It’s essentially just bad luck ..

But two miscarriages in a row? Only 1-2% of women experience two recurrent miscarriages in a row. So no, I was not at all prepared for this turn of events, or for the new conversations that would follow it either. Conversations about further tests and investigations into different possibilities. Conversations exploring all of the ‘what ifs’ and the ‘worst case’ scenarios.

And also so many new questions to explore… How many more times are we willing to go through this? How much longer should we choose living in this waiting place? What are the pros and cons about having a big gap between siblings? Do we really want to be ‘old’ parents? And are we okay with the possibility that we may never even have a second child?

I said in my last blog on the subject of miscarriage which I wrote back in January that I wanted to share my story because I feel like there is still too much mystery, misinformation and stigma surrounding the subject, even though it affects so many couples.

I know that baby loss is a difficult subject, and that it’s often a very personal experience which many couples would prefer to keep to themselves, but I also wonder whether if by not talking about it very much, we are under-preparing women to be able to deal with it well when it happens.

I also know that for me, one of the biggest sources of reassurance and comfort over the past months has been in talking with friends who have been through miscarriage too – comparing stories, getting advice, and hearing that although it sucks for a while, it really won’t be like this forever. There will be an end to all the waiting, hoping and not knowing.

And so I hope that by sharing some of my own experience I can at least add one more voice into this silence space …

Practically speaking I have to admit that our second miscarriage was much easier than the first, if only because I had been there before; I knew the drill, what to do, what to expect, and was consequently less floored by the whole experience.

But emotionally, in some ways it has been far harder too; summed up mainly in a sense of ‘this can’t seriously be happening to us again!’

And the timing could not have been worse either. It began just a few days before we were due to go on our family summer holiday to Spain. And since the hospital couldn’t conclusively rule out all possible complications such ectopicy during my first scan, they asked us to return later in the week for further tests, which would have meant cancelling our summer holiday plans.

After much heavy-hearted soul-searching, we decided that a miscarriage was more than enough bad news for one week, without losing our family holiday too. They agreed to let me delay my follow up appointments for a week and so we jetted off, albeit braced for a slightly different kind of holiday to the one we were expecting…

Sometimes life feels impossibly cruel, doesn’t it?  I mean, I’ve watched countless friends and both of my sisters giving birth to child after child over the past couple of years, each perfectly planned and timed apart – without any complications.

We’ve also just been holidaying with my sister-in-law who is heavily pregnant with a baby that’s due the very same week that our miscarried baby should have been born, and even just last weekend I was at the baby shower of a good friend who’s baby is due a couple of weeks before ours should have been. We should have been spending this maternity leave together.

The hard truth is that life often simply isn’t fair; sometimes really crap things happen, and sometimes the question of ‘why me?’ lingers heavily, ever present but unanswered, in the spaces that lie between us.

Of course I know that my experience is common, and that many other women have had far worse to deal with when it comes to fertility and growing their family.

I also know that I should be grateful to be a mum to even just one child, because not all of my friends have been given that opportunity.

But none of this knowing makes the disappointment or the longing lessen; and over time hope deferred, in any area of life, has the potential to break a person’s heart – not just once, but over and over again.

I never expected this experience to be ours (I mean, who does??). And the truth is that it changes you a bit. It leaves you feeling a bit less self-sure and certain of what you always assumed would be fine.

It changes the way you feel about pregnancy and parenting too. In the past, a healthy pregnancy was always something I just assumed would be our experience, because it was… until suddenly it wasn’t anymore. So where once the idea of growing our family felt like an exciting, new adventure, now it feels a bit bittersweet to me.

It also changes your outlook on life. It reminds you of its fragility and of how much you take it for granted, until it is suddenly taken from you. I guess for me it’s been a massive wake up to the fact that life doesn’t always go as we plan, and a reminder to savour every good moment.

We may still have another child in the future. Statistically speaking, 60% of women who have two recurrent miscarriages eventually do. But I can’t know that for sure right now. Only more time and tests will make our situation clearer.

What I do know right now is that we won’t have a child on 25th July 2018 or on 15th January 2019; those particular lives will never be.

And with each of those failed pregnancies, some of my hopes for the future have had to die too; such as giving my son a sibling that’s close in age, or being able to spend another year off work with my son and a new baby before he starts school. That was the future I had always imagined for myself, but those plans have gradually fallen from my grasp like sand slowly slipping through my fingers with the steady passing of time.

And right now, this waiting space we are in feels quite empty, because it’s hard to make any firm plans for the future when you’re in a state of continuous limbo in your present. But we are trying to remain positive and to fill life with good things to enjoy in the here and now, as best we can.

I know that nothing in this life is guaranteed, and I know that this is still not the end of our story just yet; we don’t yet know what our final ending will be.

And so we wait and we wonder, and in the meantime this middle part seems like enough to deal with for now…

To find out more about baby loss and support that’s available, visit: http://babyloss-awareness.org

If you’d like to read more about my story, you can also check out this blog link too: https://wordpress.com/post/notesonlifebyannabeaumont.wordpress.com/1013 

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