Why I refuse to be ashamed about my miscarriage

Unfortunately, my husband and I experienced a miscarriage in May. If you’re close friends or family, this will probably not be news to you, but if you’re not, there you go.

When it first happened I felt totally lost. We told only the essential people, and spent lots of time giving our 18 month old daughter lots of extra cuddles and attention. However, when the time came that I felt I wanted to tell a few more people what had been happening in our lives, I was amazed by the amount of women who said ‘I’ve had one too’.

The one statement that I heard more than anything else was ‘it’s not something you just talk about’. Why is that? I was met with a few different responses

I was only 6/7/8 weeks. Not far enough to be too upset.

While I understand that the pain felt due to an early loss would be different to stillbirth, that’s not to say that experiencing pregnancy loss doesn’t hurt. At the end of the day, a life is still a life. From the moment a woman discovers she is pregnant, she starts to form an emotional connection with her baby. She has plans and dreams for them. It’s painful to lose that, and be totally out of control.

2. I don’t want to burden people with my problems.

I want to start by saying that pregnancy loss can be absolutely devastating. I was lucky enough to be surrounded by some incredible people during our difficult time, and anyone who knows me knows that I do not mince my words and I tell it how it is. I do this because I want my daughter to grow up and know that her feelings are VALID, she’s not a burden, and that she deserves to be listened to.

BUT I do understand that not everybody feels comfortable to do that.

However, telling people about your miscarriage or asking others for help does not make you a burden. It makes you BRAVE. The people that love you are happy to help, and it doesn’t make you any less of a person to need help with something that, at the end of the day, is a big deal. Telling people about your miscarriage helps dispel the idea that there’s something wrong with discussing it. It helps you feel less isolated and alone, and it helps reality set in.

My body was designed for one thing, and it failed.

Yes, your body was designed to reproduce, it’s true. But you know what it was also designed for? To run, climb, laugh, love, eat, sleep, play, sing – the list goes on. Yes, you are created to reproduce, but you’re also designed for SO much more. While it’s difficult, don’t reduce yourself to that one function.

1 in 4 pregnancies end in a miscarriage. It’s a scarily high figure, but it means you’re likely not alone. 1 in 4 means for every three children you see, a woman somewhere is mourning for theirs.

So, I refuse to be ashamed about my miscarriage. I won’t keep quiet about it or pretend it never happened. Instead, I choose to see it like this: my baby was never cold, or hungry, or scared. There was never a time in their short little life that they were not loved, and cared for and wanted. They will never have to know how it feels to be alone.

And that’s enough for me.

My daughter will be seen AND heard

I was recently trying to enjoy a nice lunch out with my husband and our daughter. What started as a lovely meal ended with me fuming, with my husband trying to calm me down.

Here’s why.

Here is my gorgeous lady. She’s a happy little soul, she’s usually pretty chilled, but she knows what she wants and how to get it. Know why? Because she’s a good communicator. She uses a mix of Makaton (baby sign), words and gestures to convey her wants and interests. She doesn’t shout very much as my husband and I are both at home with her, so she gets plenty of attention as soon as she needs. I’m confident in her communicative abilities, as are most people we meet. Until that fateful lunch date.

While we were waiting for our food, we noticed our daughter smiling and nodding at someone behind us. This isn’t too unusual, she tries to make friends with everyone she meets (including a few shop manikins). The vast majority of people make a few faces to her, give her a little wave, and then leave us alone. But not this time.

The first sign should have been when the man she had been smiling at came over to us to congratulate us on how cute our ‘son’ was. Never mind the fact that she was very obviously wearing a dress, and I’m sure half the restaurant had heard us saying ‘yes, good girl!’ when she had managed to sign the word ‘bird’ for the first time just minutes previously.

Funnily enough, I’m getting used to people mistaking her for a boy. It’s an easy mistake, her hair is only just starting to grow longer, but I usually politely correct, and there is no further issue. But for some reason, the fact that she was a GIRL meant that we had a further issue. Here’s how the conversation went:

ME: Oh, she’s actually a girl, but thank you. We think she’s very cute!

HIM: A girl?! Well you’ve done a fabulous job there then!

ME: What do you mean?

HIM: well, she’s barely saying a word! That means you’ve raised her right!

ME: Sorry? (half confused, half hoping this isn’t going where I think it’s going!)

HIM: All the girls nowadays are so loud! They’re talking all the time, making so much noise, having an opinion on everything. Not like the good old days, don’t you think?

ME: No, I’m afraid I don’t agree, and I doubt my husband would either. I’m sure your mother would be thrilled to know you think all women should be seen and not heard.

HIM: (smiling awkwardly and going a beautiful shade of white). Congratulations. (While walking away he forcefully pats my shoulder in some weird form of congratulations for having a quiet baby? And dislocates my shoulder due to my EDS.

I know what you’re thinking. That sounds scripted! Nobody would approach a stranger to say something like that! Well I promise you, it happened, and I was fuming. And you guessed it, I’ve got more than one issue with this encounter.

The phrase ‘seen and not heard’ originates from the 15th Century, so there’s no ‘I’m from another generation’ excuse for starters. Unless you’re 600+ years old, there’s no way you can get away with using that excuse.

Secondly, this mentality doesn’t just expect young children (or in this case, women) to be quiet, it denies them a voice completely. Why should she (or I) be expected to be quiet simply due to gender? For starters, to deny her a voice would be to deny her her freedom, the ability to share her ideas and creativity, and it reinforces the idea that she is only worthwhile when a man gives her permission to be. And I am NOT going to reinforce that.

IMAGINE praising a child for not speaking (or not being able to). Not everyone would agree with me, but I believe the only time a child should not be allowed to talk is….never. Children are naturally curious beings, how are they supposed to grow and develop if they can’t express their questions and frustrations?

So, I’m raising my daughter to be noisy. I’m raising her to express herself however she chooses, to be loving and creative and happy and free.

You know why? Because well-behaved women seldom make history.

Have you encountered a similar mindset? How did you react?

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Five years later…

“Suicide does end the chances of life getting worse. But it does eliminate the chances of it ever getting better”

It’s that time of year again. Maybe sometime, I’ll shut up about it. But all the time I know that I might be helping someone else by talking about my experiences, I’ll share them.

  • In April 2011, I started to notice severe symptoms of depression within myself, after 5 years of battling with self harm.
  • December 2012, I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety and given 6 months of Sertraline.
  • May 15th 2013, my mental illness took over and I decided to act on my negative feelings in attempt to end everything, as a result I was hospitalised.
  • A minimum of six disastrous months on several antidepressants that did nothing for me.
  • March 26th 2016, I was diagnosed with PND, GAD and PTSD following a traumatic labour.
  • June 2016, it was suggested that I could have BPD
  • 1 year of mirtazapine and a 4 stone weight gain.
  • January 29th 2018, I was diagnosed with Cyclothymic disorder (a milder, yet more chronic form of Bipolar Disorder) and Borderline Personality Disorder.

To me May 15th 2013 was like a semi colon (;) , representing where my story could have ended, but instead continued.

Five years on is such a bitter sweet feeling. Not only am I proud, when I think about how far I’ve come. But I am pained when I think that it’s taken me 5 years to get close to the help that I need and deserve.

The contrast between wanting to die and not being able to – with wanting to be alive and almost dying numerous times due to things that are out of your control is terrifying. It really reiterates how quickly your life can go full circle in such a short space of time.

I remember, sitting there in hospital wishing that I’d have died. Wishing so much that I could have just let go. I was convinced that I’d never get better. That I’d never feel better. That I’d never get a correct diagnosis. That i’d never get the help that I needed. I was in the bottom of a pit. There wasn’t a way out.

I have received my correct diagnosis and had many other mental health struggles since my most serious suicide attempt. I’d go as far to say that life since has been harder than I ever imagined. My pain hadn’t peaked on that night, I didn’t realise the depths of despair I’d get to – but my resilience and strength has just kept growing. Of course my mental health relapses due to the cyclical nature of my diagnoses. But, even when I feel like the worst person in the world with nowhere to go- I look at my baby and know that I at least got something right. Her smiles brighten my day and her laugh brings tears of joy to my eyes. Most days, just getting out of bed hurts and exhausts me so much I can barely carry on. but I constantly WORK so HARD to just keep going.

Anyone can go through a mental health issues or illnesses, it’s a hell of an ordeal. Recovery can be lifelong. Most days are a challenge, but there’s always days worth fighting for. This is anything but a cry out for attention, I just want anyone going through the same to know they’re not alone. Your experiences make you, who you are. You owe it to yourself to live for another day and give yourself another chance.

“Keep strong little fighter, soon it’ll be brighter.”

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