Our first baby was due on 14th January 2013.
Although, I struggle to remember the due dates for the other babies I’ll always remember the day that our first baby was due to enter our lives.
Sadly, that little boy or girl was never meant to be ours to hold. At 11 weeks pregnant, we discovered that the baby was dead. Their heartbeat had stopped when I was 6 weeks pregnant.
When the midwife told me that the baby didn’t have a heartbeat, time stood still. I couldn’t breathe. And silent tears ran down my cheeks.
I wanted to scream but I couldn’t. I wanted to do something that would bring the baby back to life. Yet there was absolutely nothing I could do. Our baby was dead. I was completely and utterly helpless.
After the miscarriage, we were heartbroken and bereft. I grieved for a short time. But then I had to move on. I went back to work and it wasn’t long before I was pregnant again. And our darling daughter was born in May 2013.
Shortly after Little Miss H was born we decided that we wanted another baby. Unfortunately, we had three more miscarriages before our second rainbow baby arrived in 2016.
Each time we miscarried I was heartbroken. Yet I realise now that I never actually grieved the loss of our babies.
And during 2017, the grief of baby loss crept up on me and tapped me on the shoulder. It had never gone away. It had just been hiding. And waiting for the right time to reappear in my life.
It was waiting for a time when I wasn’t trying for a baby; I wasn’t pregnant; I wasn’t recovering emotionally, physically and mentally from a miscarriage and I wasn’t looking after a newborn baby. Really, it is only right that the grief of baby loss should hit me now. That it should give me a great big smack on the face and shatter me all over again.
In many ways, I am to blame.
When we were going through the miscarriages, I acted in particular ways and built walls to protect myself. I didn’t want to keep a memento of the babies. All scans and notes were shredded. I had to get them out of my life. And after a while, I couldn’t think about losing the babies. If I did, then my heart would break into a thousand pieces and I would never have been able to continue trying for another baby.
But now, I NEED to accept that we have four babies that we never got to hold. That there are four children that never got a chance at life. Four little ones that never got to laugh and play as their siblings do. They never got to be held by their mother. And I never got to whisper I love you in their ear as they drifted off to sleep in my arms.
I need to grieve. I have to learn to process what we went through to have our family. And I want to begin to say goodbye. I also yearn to be able to remember without the heartbreak. I would like to be able to treasure the happy moments of my pregnancies. Because for a few short weeks they were our children and they were growing in my belly. And that is beautiful.
So I’m finally allowing myself to grieve properly. It’s hard. Really bloody hard. And my nature is to rally against it. To fight it.
But my depression has taught me that if I fight it or deny that it exists then it will fester. It will grow and grow until it consumes me.
I can’t let the grief of baby loss do this to me. I have to deal with it now. For me and my family.
In November, I attended a remembrance service run by the charity Saying Goodbye. The service is designed for the family and friends of those that have lost a baby.
Before going, I felt sick to my stomach. I almost decided not to go. However, I knew that it was something I needed to do. I needed to go to this service to help me say goodbye.
The service was a turning point for me. It allowed me to cry for my babies in a way that I’d never been able to in the past. I sobbed and clung to my mum as I soaked her shoulder with my tears.
During the service, I lit candles for them and I rang a bell, ringing a chime for each of their little lives. So for a moment, they were seen and heard.
Since then I’ve been able to acknowledge the grief of baby loss and the presence it has in my life. I’ve accepted that it will always be a part of my life. I will never forget those babies and the weeks I had when they were growing in my belly.
Eventually, I’ll learn to remember that time and not be heartbroken. And I’ll be happy for the brief time those four babies were present in our lives. But not now. Not yet.
For now is a time to grieve and to learn to say goodbye.
I have also produced two videos about our first miscarriage.
Part one: Symptoms and diagnosis
Part two: the medical management of the miscarriage