Ten years ago this week my husband and I rode a rollercoaster of emotions that I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemy, yet so many couples experience it. In the space of a week, we were overjoyed to find out we were pregnant with our first child, the baby we desperately wanted, and just 7 days later our worst fears were confirmed and we had lost the baby.
Miscarriage is extremely common, and once you experience it you realise just how many women have gone through it too. It leaves you heartbroken, devastated, confused and feeling guilty… what did I do wrong? We are told that the pregnancy wasn’t meant to be, that there must have been something wrong with the baby and it wouldn’t have gone full term anyway. We are provided with statistics that as many as 50% of pregnancies end in miscarriage, with 1 in 4 known pregnancies ending in miscarriage. That doesn’t stop those feelings of guilt creeping in – I shouldn’t have carried that heavy box; I shouldn’t have had that glass of wine; I shouldn’t have taken that Panadol. It can take a long time to get over that guilt (if ever), but as they say, time does heal.
Miscarriage at 6 weeks doesn’t sound so bad. However, once we knew we were pregnant, every waking (and some sleeping) moment was jam-packed full with thoughts of our future baby. The tiny little tadpole in my womb was suddenly the attention of our entire world. Everything we did and thought and spoke about revolved around the baby and our future.
Our baby was due in March 2006, in the same week as the birthday of three immediate family members. It was going to become a joyous time in years to come, celebrating these birthdays around the same time. We discussed everything first time parents-to-be discuss - possible names, what year the child would start school, our first holiday as a family. The chances of a boy versus a girl, nursery colours, baby clothing and a cot. We’d started looking into prams and car seats. I had even started planning our subsequent children and when approximately we would start trying for baby number 2.
It never crossed my mind that everything we dreamt of wouldn’t fall into place. Until I was at work and visited the toilet. That was when our dream turned into a nightmare.
The days after our miscarriage was confirmed remain a blur. We decided not to keep it a secret and we wanted our family and close friends to know what we were going through. It was hard telling people, and we had some varied reactions. My brother was actually the only person who asked me if I was in pain - and yes, I was emotionally and physically. I can so clearly remember a dear work colleague, who herself had experienced miscarriage but had 3 healthy sons, saying to me at the time ‘You will go on to have children Kate, but you’ll never forget this baby’.
Mourning the loss of a future baby is difficult. As with all grief, everyone does it differently, including husbands and wives. Seeing another pregnant woman was heartbreaking, yet it didn’t trigger the same reaction to my husband. Two months after the miscarriage we went to Bali on holiday. I remember one night, walking back along the beach after dinner. The waves were roaring and we stopped and sat on the sand and I howled my lungs out with my husband’s arms wrapped around me. It was liked the ocean started healing me that night.
Our baby’s due date was one of the hardest days of my life, but it was made slightly easier as by then, I was 8 weeks pregnant with Molly.
Ten years on, I have thought about that baby every single day. I know I’m one of the lucky ones. I went on to have three very healthy and amazing children. Some people never get that chance and my heart goes out to them. But don’t think for a minute that we don’t reflect and speculate and wonder what our lives would have been like had that baby been born into our family. At the time, I was convinced the baby was a boy, and we went on to have three daughters - what could have been?
Hindsight is an amazing thing. I’m fully aware that had our first pregnancy been successful, we would not have the family we have today. And I wouldn’t change my three amazing girls for anything. But there a many a time when the mind starts wandering and I imagine that we would have an almost 10 year old with us now. So many unanswered questions and broken dreams.
To our little star in the sky, we think of you often and thank you for watching over your three sisters.