Based on my personal observation, there are two types of people in the world: those who feel and show empathy and those who do not.
It is my main goal in life to always attempt to put myself in the shoes of others and try to be understanding about things I have not experienced myself. To me, empathy is the most important attribute to attain as a human being, especially in today’s world. In 2017 my world, became the baby Loss world and I am so grateful to have come into contact with people who have graced my life with their empathy and compassion. They have not felt the all encompassing pain of losing a child but they’ve made a damn well effort to try and understand what that must be like. There are however, the few who don’t and as a result THEY. JUST. DON’T. GET. IT. This is for those people.
To those who don’t understand,
We all have strengths and weaknesses and I’m sorry that empathy has fallen under the latter for you. I’m sorry that you don’t get what it’s all about. Miscarriage. Baby Loss. It’s not all your fault, society has failed you - society has failed women and their lost babies. We live in a world where the painful parts of our lives aren’t supposed to be discussed. But that is something I will NEVER adhere to. 30th March 2019 will be 2 years since my ears were filled with those dreadful words ‘I can’t find a heartbeat.’ Those words and the chaos they created in my life have consumed me everyday since, so let me explain to you what it’s all about.
It’s about potential. Did you know that a baby’s heart starts to beat as early as 24 days? If you’re reading this put your hand on your heart and feel it. That heart you feel beating inside of you, started beating when you were 24 days grown inside your mother’s womb. You were the size of a tadpole but you were life, with an overwhelming amount of potential. Everyday I look at my intelligent, beautiful 1 year old and I remember the first time I saw her. She was a 7 week old baby on an ultrasound monitor with a huge heartbeat that we could see so clearly. Now she can crawl and stand and almost walk. She can say ‘daddy’ and ‘hiya.’ She laughs and she smiles and she cuddles me. Everything that she is, is everything that I lost.
It’s about love. There are no rules with love and especially when it comes to a mothers love. Where in the baby books does it tell you which week you’re supposed to start loving your baby? Week 5? Week 12? When I found out I was pregnant with my first child I was devastated. I did not feel ready to be a mother and I did not want to have a baby. But even in those first few days where I couldn’t stop throwing up and felt miserable, there was this automatic instinct to protect the life growing inside of me. It was love, a new love I had never felt before. Now, I am not a perfect mother. In fact, I have days where I hate myself and I don’t feel good enough and I truly believe I am the worst mother in the world. But grieving my baby everyday since I lost her is good for one thing and that is to remind me that I am a damn good mother. I am a mother who loves her children to death and more importantly, in spite of it.
It’s about my bathroom. Can you imagine sitting on your toilet for hours whilst blood pours out of you? All the while knowing that there is a tiny human somewhere in amongst all that too? I’m sure many reading this will be female and therefore will have experienced a period. I’ve had heavy, painful periods in the past. Losing a baby is NOT a heavy period. I do not wish to ever read or hear of a miscarriage being compared to it ever again. My baby was 6 weeks when she died and that’s very early on in a pregnancy. I had never seen so much blood before in my life and keep in mind I had already birthed two children previously. The pain was agonising both physically and emotionally. The sight of it all was traumatic. And the knowledge of knowing that my baby was dead and alone and lost in there, as we flushed it all away, will haunt me (and my husband) for the rest of our lives.
Can you imagine what it has been like to sit on that same toilet everyday since? It was tolerable. Up until I had my first period in December 2018. It was like I was re-living the whole thing, looking down at the tissue, covered in blood - the instant panic. I had to remind myself that I wasn’t pregnant. Sometimes, even now when I take my period, my hands shake and my stomach churns as I remember that terrible moment in my past, where everything the sonographer had said was confirmed - my baby was dead. Can you imagine re-living that terrible moment over and over again? Can you imagine re-styling your bathroom so that you can actually bare to sit in it without crying? Changing the colour scheme and adding new items to make it look like a different place because the old place held such terrible memories? This has been my reality. This is what it’s all about.
It’s about the after-care, or lack of it in my case. I was told by a midwife to come back for another scan in a weeks time but if I did start to bleed to call gynaecology. That was it. The extent of my education and preparation for miscarriage. No leaflet or anything. And when I called gynaecology? They asked me how many pads I had been through and when I didn’t give them their magic number they told me they couldn’t bring me into the hospital but to keep an eye on it. They gave me no advice. And when I went back the following week they told me someone would call me about counselling. I’m still waiting for that call. I had a baby after my loss and I did not return to the same hospital.
It’s about breast cancer. Random I know, but everyone has their own stories and a breast cancer scare is part of mines. When I found out I was pregnant I took my health a lot more seriously. There was a lump on my head I needed to get checked as well as an issue with one of my breasts. I was referred to the breast clinic to have scans. My appointment came after we lost our baby and I was an emotional wreck. In the weeks leading up to the appointment I had convinced myself that I must have breast cancer. Some people do that when they have a symptom and they’re really worried about it. But for me, it was about the fact that my baby had just died for no known reason. It wasn’t fair and I was sad and angry and frustrated. The only way I could make sense of it was that I must have breast cancer and that’s why I lost her. Breast cancer would be devastating and awful but at least then I’d have a reason why my baby couldn’t live and why I wouldn’t one day be holding her in my arms.
I had the scans and I did not, thankfully, have breast cancer. And here’s the twisted, screwed up part of it. I was sad. I was sad that I once again didn’t have a reason for my baby dying. I was sad I didn’t have cancer. And I’ve never told anyone, other than my husband, that before. So losing a baby, it’s about being....fucked up. And sorry mum, that was the only adequate way to describe that.
It’s about the dates. 14th February. 30th March. 31st March. 14th October. Not to mention Mother’s Day and Christmas. They may seem like any other day but to me they are filled with all sorts of happy and painful memories. I dread each and every one of them. The build up is usually the worst and the actual day isn’t so bad. Walking around knowing you’re one of the, if not the only person who remembers is heart-wrenching. Having people invite you to things on said dates is truly heart-breaking, especially when you feel like you have to decline without being honest about why to spare their feelings. Baby Loss makes you uncomfortable my dear? Gosh, losing it was terribly uncomfortable I must say.
It’s about never wanting to have a baby again. I became pregnant very quickly after my loss, despite several uses of contraception. It was an upsetting, painful and worrying pregnancy. It was obviously worth it to have my beautiful, healthy daughter who has brought me so much peace. But it mentally, it was a massive struggle. PND is something I have struggled with after the birth of my rainbow last year. My husband and I have decided to have no more children and eliminating the risk of ever having to experience losing a baby in pregnancy again, was a huge factor in making that decision.
It’s about being the dead baby lady. It’s about feeling like an inconvenience, a broken record, a negative nelly, ungrateful and selfish. It’s about the world constantly belittling your experience. It’s about the mental gymnastics that baby Loss and pregnancy after baby Loss entails. It’s about not being heard. It’s about post-natal depression and mental health. It’s about the guilt and the shame and the constant ‘what ifs.’ It’s about the longing to be understood and accepted and acknowledged. It’s about having our babies acknowledged. It’s about changing minds. It’s about education and the lack of it. It’s about feeling like you’ve been failed. It’s about loneliness. It’s about deep heartache that you never imagined was possible. It’s about trauma and painful memories and reliving them. It’s about giving up the greatest thing in the world without even having a reason to show for it. It’s about being broken and damaged and searching for healing. It’s about taking a step forward and being knocked three steps back.
It’s. About. EVERYTHING. There is not one part of my life unaffected by the loss of my baby. It’s all about her and it will always be all about her.
Dahlia Theresa Nicholson.
30th March 2017.