Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Needing my friends

I have to react to the appeal from Mumsnet to write about miscarriage. I did experience it four years ago, it was my first pregnancy and it ended in the 12th week. I was told it happens to one in four women (or couples) and I was the fourth one, because three other couples we knew were expecting, two of them pretty much at the same time as us.
I got pregnant within half year of getting married, it felt like such a natural progression. Life was as it should be: we met, fell in love, moved in together (which in our case meant leaving different continents and countries and settling in a 'neutral base' in Britain), he proposed, we got married and now we were pregnant. We told everybody straight away, well, everybody close enough to us. Parents were pressuring us for grandchildren since we moved in together ('You are not getting any younger!!!!), all our friends were already settled and had their first children, we were catching up with them while they did their 'round two'.
When I talk about friends I mean mostly friends of my husband. He is a peoples' person and he has got a strong base of friends, some of them live here in Britain, too and few of them are now in our close circle, they are the ones we see most often. I spent too much time traveling to manage building such strong and lasting friendships, plus I am very comfortable on my own. So I joined the group and we shared our experiences together.
Until I miscarried. I know the point of this campaign is to get better care from healthcare professionals for women who experience miscarriage. But I can not say the care was too bad. I would say it was average. We visited the A&E early Sunday morning because I was bleeding all night. I had bit cramps few days before and then a discharge for few days. I had a bed feeling about all of it but hoped it was just because it was my first pregnancy. Otherwise, apart from being tired, I felt OK until then. My urine test was positive, blood test was taken and a tired looking obstetrician came to see me, clearly wanted to send me home but at the end he did bring the small scan machine, warned us it may not show anything as it wasn't the proper scan machine and then we saw a baby with a heartbeat. Husband was happy with it and felt reassured, I had mixed feelings. We left with an appointment for a scan the next day.
My bleeding didn't stop and the next day the scan show only tissues, there was no baby, no heart beat. Another blood test was made. We did wait in a separate room and the nurse who took care of us on the day was great, she had very strong empathy. She called me the next day. Both blood tests showed my pregnancy hormones were dropping. I was told to rest, let the nature to take its course and return in a week time for another scan. I was told I can go to the hospital if I feel I needed it but I wanted to be left alone, like an animal, I wanted to go, stay in bed and sleep it through.
So I can not say there was anything wrong. I didn't know what to expect and I didn't demand much. It just happened so fast and I felt so horrible, I didn't think anyone could help me.

What I want to write about are the people around me, the people I needed most. The bad thing about telling everyone the moment you have a positive test is that then you have to tell everyone that you lost the child. The more people know, the more people you have to call and explain. My husband did most of the calls, luckily.
My mother straight away started to speculate what I did wrong. She was great on the phone when I spoke to her and glad that I reached up to her almost immediately (we don't have an all sharing relationship), but in the weeks and months that followed she kept questioning my decisions and abilities, lifestyle choices, and of course my age. I miscarried in July and when we came for Christmas she asked me why don't we try IVF. As if the fact I wasn't pregnant again meant all was lost for me. It took us more then two years to have a baby and during the time she didn't question the health of my husband or his sperm once, it was always me that had something wrong and she even confessed to my sister that husband may leave me if I don't give him a child. The fact that people may live a happy life without having children or that they may adopt didn't cross her mind. Now I am the mother of her first grandchild but it doesn't mean I am any better. When child was six month old she mentioned: 'I was pregnant already when your sister was that old.' and of course I don't do anything right. But that's my mother, I am used to it and, luckily, she lives faraway.
Husband was supportive and great. As much as a man can be. Because I don't think a man can understand the feeling of loosing a child that wasn't even visible. I didn't have a bump, he didn't feel a kick, he was excited about becoming a dad but he wasn't a dad when it happened, whereas I already was a mum. The day we were told it was all over he told me: 'OK, that's it, I accept it. It happened. Lets move on.' But I couldn't. I needed to grieve, recover and accept. But first I needed to loose that child. The baby came out few days later during the night. I woke up, went to the toilet and there it was on the pad. It broke my heart. It was an alien looking thing but it was a confirmation that the 'tissue' which was seen on the ultrasound came out and nature took its cause. I came to the kitchen where my husband was with a wrapped pad in my hand. There was a bin in our bathroom but I couldn't just put it there. 'The baby just came out,' I told him.
'What do you mean? What are you taking about? The baby is already gone.'
'But I just found it. It came out.' I was crying and shaking.
'The baby was already gone,' he insisted and seemed annoyed. I don't think he was ready to go to the very details of miscarriage. For him it was over for few days already, he only needed me to get back to normal. And it didn't go according to his plans, clearly. I felt too confused and hurt to argue. At the end I did put the pad into the bin and went back to bed. He would make me tea, feed me and be nice but I will never forget his reaction. He couldn't deal with THAT, the physical presence of the miscarriage so he left me in it. I don't blame him. Some things are really too alien for our men. In the coming days and weeks he was surprised I wasn't ready to be normal again. He realized I need much more time then he thought.
I can accept his reaction and behavior or my mother's because I know them both. But what really hurt me was our friends. The lot of them acted as if nothing have happened. Apart from one - the pregnant lady from one of us four almost parents who came to me with tears in her eyes and said: 'I am so very sorry Lucinda,' they all acted as if nothing have happened. I was ready for questions, I was prepared for sympathy and unwanted hugs but I wasn't ready for that. So I sat there while they all behaved as per normal and fought tears. I really wanted to cry and I felt hurt. Later husband explained to me that people feel uncomfortable and they are not used to talk about it. Miscarriage isn't something you talk about, end of story. He told me to understand and it really pissed me off and it is still pissing me off today that he expected  me to respect them. Who will respect me? To be honest what hurts me most about this maybe stupid episode is that by being silent our friends denied the very existence of our lost child. So by never being born this child wasn't acknowledged as existing. It wasn't about me, it was about my child. It existed and it was lost. To be honest I still remember that the people who are sort of family replacement in a country we all chose to live in didn't acknowledge my miscarriage and it shapes my relationship with them. I respect them and see them when we meet but there is a barrier between us.
They all went on with their lives, had their second babies and kept asking if we are pregnant yet and pretending they have an idea what we are going through although they didn't because they never miscarried and never struggled to conceive. Before I was pregnant I tried to avoid them as much as I could because they only talked about their kids and it was frustrating when I was supposed to sit through all that while enjoying yet another period. And thanks to their miscarriage denial I really didn't feel I could talk to them so I isolated myself. I went for yoga and meditation workshops or had work to catch up on the weekends they made some plans. Husband wasn't happy about it but he understood that they were his friends, not mine.
At the end we did get pregnant and this time I insisted we will wait with the news. Husband agreed but found it very hard because people kept asking and he didn't know how to swiftly change the subject. So for a while there was a funny situation when everyone knew but pretended they didn't, husband pretended he had no idea of anything and I knew that they all knew and didn't give a monkey. I enjoyed that secret part of pregnancy a lot. Before all the advise and questions. Suddenly everybody had something to say to me.

I am going for quite a while now and I don't want to sound pathetic. But please if you know somebody who went through a miscarriage or is going through it now, please acknowledge it. And make your husband (if you friend knows him) to give her a hug and say he is sorry. You don't have to do much. Just be there. It happens to one in four of us. And it isn't the end.

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