Trigger warning – this post mentions baby loss and miscarriages.
Baby Loss: Is It Time To Move On?
A New Diagnosis
This month marks the anniversary of one of my miscarriages. One of our lost babies was also due in November. And last week I was finally diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from the miscarriages. All this means that our experience of baby loss is very much on my mind.
It wasn’t a surprise to be given a diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). I know that experiencing baby loss has radically affected my life. But I still found the diagnosis hard to hear. Because it made me realise, that although I will never forget my babies, it is time to move past the miscarriages and get on with my life.
I’ve been referred for EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing) therapy. This is now the form of therapy that NICE and the World Health Organisation recommend for PTSD. It’s likely that there will be a long waiting list for this form of therapy. So, in the meantime, I have also been referred for bereavement counselling.
I don’t know what to expect from either of these forms of therapy. But I know that I will have to relive some of the worst moments of my life. The baby that was referred to as the retained product of conception and was then delivered in a private room on the maternity ward. A chemical pregnancy that involved my sobbing at the side of the street while I bled heavily and had uncontrollable diarrhoea. The missed miscarriage that occurred a few days after Little Miss H had been in a hospital with suspected meningitis.
They are memories that I know I need to face. But they are memories that I don’t wish to have to relive. That I would prefer to keep buried deep inside me. Although, they aren’t buried deep inside me because they often bubble to the surface and to engulf me.
Holding On To The Memories
They are also memories that I want to hold on to. I even long to keep the pain. Because they are the only thing that I have left of my four babies.
When we were going through the miscarriages, I didn’t want to remember. I couldn’t cope with the idea of planting a rose in memory. Or buying a necklace for my babies. If I let myself think about the fact that we’d lost four babies then I would have given up. We wouldn’t have kept on trying. Little Mister H would not be walking this earth.
So all I have of my four angel babies is a piece of ribbon that tied a bouquet of flowers my parents sent after the first miscarriage and a name. I know many people who have named their lost babies. This isn’t us. But since Little Mister H was born I’ve given them a name. One name for four babies. Lyra Kristen. It’s the name that we would have given Little Mister H if he’d been a girl. It is a name that I still love. And it is now the name for the babies who didn’t get to be given a name.
But this isn’t enough. These babies are still a part of my life. The loss of them has infused through every part of the last 6 years.
Letting Go Of The Baby Loss
And this is what I want to leave behind. But I don’t know if I’m ready to let go of the miscarriages. How can I forget our four babies? How can I forget the pain that we went through when we lost each one of those precious babies? Why do I want to assign their memory to the past?
Yet, holding on is affecting my mental health. It’s making me ill. When I remember my heart physically aches. My whole demeanour changes. And I remember too often. I bring baby loss into a conversation too much. I sometimes seem like I’m obsessed.
Talking about our experiences of baby loss has meant that I have helped 100s of women who have miscarried. I’ve even coached a number of readers and friends through their miscarriages. Preparing them emotionally and mentally for the ordeal ahead of them. Being there to love and support them when they have needed it. It’s been a privilege to help these women. And it has turned my heart breaking experiences into a positive.
Then there is this blog. A blog where I write honestly about mental health and baby loss. A place where I shared my reactions to the miscarriages. Where I lived through the baby loss with you by my side. I’m not sure I can walk away from writing about those experiences. Not when I know how much it has helped other women feel less alone.
So where does that leave me? Well, I’m not sure. Knowing that I need to move forward is different from wanting to move forward. Because I can’t let the baby loss keep holding me back. I won’t let the pain of the miscarriages prevent me from enjoying the current happiness I have with my family. The nightmares, where I relive those heartbreaking events, need to stop. Dates need to come and go without ripping holes in my heart. I need to let go and I need to move forward.
Yet, I can’t forget. I can never forget. I won’t let myself forget those babies. The memory of finding out we were expecting. The tender strokes that I gave my developing bump. The tiny beating heartbeats that we sometimes saw at early scans.
But I want to be able to remember without pain. Because I can’t continue to feel such pain. I need to move forward in whatever way that looks like. I have to learn how to move on from baby loss.