The M word
I had a miscarriage at 12 weeks, but the process took much much longer. As I went through the mental roller-coaster and tried to make sense of what had happened, I had to trust my body knew what was best. Charlie was about 14 months at the time and Cooper only a glint in our eye at that stage. After the ordeal was over I was left severely nutrient deficient, especially in iron. I soon got to work on healing myself mentally and physically. There is light after loss. But that's my story.
I've had countless friends experience miscarriage this year already. Some ready to talk about it, others not so much. This is a heavy subject and hard for many of us to come to terms with. I felt compelled to bring this topic into the the light, as many of us who have experienced miscarriage suffer in silence, yet we are surrounded by sisters connected by loss. My beautiful friend Vix has kindly offered her story and how she is healing herself day by day. This is an ode to all my lovely friends and people out there who have experienced loss through miscarriage. Thank you Vix for being brave and sharing your raw diary. I'm hopeful this might help others in their recovery too. I welcome anyone to share their story and recovery suggestions in the yellow comment box at the bottom of this page. We all have gifts of experience that could really help someone cope through a tough time like this.
Guest written by Vix.
" Disclaimer: I am not a healthcare professional, I am working on this day by day. It may work for me. I am not telling you to do the same. It may not work, but this is what I am trying at the moment. Also I don't think this is a disease that can be cured, more that I am broken and I need to mend and heal. I am not doing any exercise that I didn't do before this happened, now is not the time for me to try new things. I am trying to get back to what I did before.
We found out I was pregnant in the new year. We were overjoyed and quietly got excited about what might happen if "things go to plan". We kept saying that. I don't know why. This time I felt different, uncomfortable and nauseous. Totally unlike when I pregnant with Babybel. My skin was really bad, it was like I Had toxins seeping out of my skin. Nevermind, we thought, and we bounced into our 12 week scan already thinking about buggies for two and telling friends and relations.
I will never forget the words of the sonographer, " I am very sorry but your baby has no heartbeat". My world went so quiet. I can still hear those words when there is no noise around me. I looked at my husband trying to hold our daughter and himself together. Everything stopped then. I don't think I could breathe.
That day I have named Terrible Day or TD. Dates will be TD+number of days or weeks or more depending on how long I keep writing. I have no idea how long this will be or how short it will be.
I have been asked how I felt on TD. I can’t really describe it other than to say that when a fisherman guts a calamari they snap the head back and then pull out the entire skeleton. It is quick. That is how I felt. I had no strength to stand, to walk or even talk. We got home, I can’t really remember how, but we did. We didn’t cry, not yet. We waited until our daughter was asleep and then it was primal. It was a howl, then so many tears. It went on until I could do no more. He just held me. He argued with my broken logic, the “why me?” and the “how do I do this?”. He did the right thing for me. Then I had no more, and I started to recompile. To stop sobbing. To breathe.
The next day I was back in booking surgery to remove my baby. I couldn't face the other options (the NHS refer to this as managed miscarriage ). I was in a room that was too hot and airless. I was so physically uncomfortable. I couldn't look at my body, it was pregnant. I wore vests even though it was warm and showered with my eyes closed.
That was Friday, Tuesday I miscarried at home. Alone. In our downstairs loo. I won't tell you what happened, if it has happened to you you know and I promised my husband I would never share those details with anyone else. I told him and he was traumatised. I am traumatised. It was horrid, words cannot describe it. It happened to me, and it happens to more women than I ever realised.
Why am I writing this?
The following Friday I was booked in for surgery. I had to wait several hours in a surgical ward to see the surgeon to tell her I didn't need surgery anymore. The ward was full of women in for the same procedure. Some were texting their friends, trying to be OK. Others were not. One woman was howling. Howling like an animal. It was primal. She was broken. She was where I was on Tuesday. It is a sound I will never forget. If anyone asks me what hell is like, I can tell you I have been there.
Rather than fall apart any more than I already have sitting on the hospital bed I decided that I needed to do something to try and help women like me. Women who go through this, who fall apart physically and mentally. Women who need to heal, to restore their minds and bodies. I looked online and could find very little about how to heal the mind and body.
I am very bad and just sitting still and accepting things. I did this when I was told I might never have a baby and I worked on my body to get it into the best condition I could for rounds of fertility treatment that lasted 8 years in order to have our Babybel. I have always looked after my body, I have always been active. I have done Pilates for 17 years and in Cambridge we cycle everywhere. That's me, that is context.
I looked online for things I could take for the physical recovery. I am taking the following:
1. Black Cohosh to shrink the uterus
2. Iron in a multivitamin for the anaemia and blood loss
3. Evening Primrose is in my multivitamin to help with the hormone crash as the pregnancy hormones left my system suddenly
4. Maca powder
5. Royal Jelly 150mg
6. Yarrow tea - a cup of tea a day to help move things along, and aid with healing my body.
7. Neals Yard super green powder in my juice every morning loaded with vitamins B&C and cleansing with matcha and spurilina
(There isn’t much advice out there, so I am doing my own version of this plan, starting with high iron food, and herbs for natural physical recovery)
I plan to take these for 4 weeks, then move back to my normal vitamins.
Good food / nourish.
I am so lucky my husband cooks when he is stressed. He cooks great food. So I asked him to cook me food with turmeric and ginger to help me heal. So he made me dhal and we added spinach for more iron. It helped us both.
I am eating porridge every morning. Mornings were the hardest for me especially in the first week. Getting out of bed was hard. My brain would ask me why I was trying to do this. What was the point? It would take me 30 minutes to talk myself out of bed. So I reward myself with a yummy start to the day. I nourish my body and mind with this breakfast every day.
Rolled oats porridge
Chia seeds (1 teaspoon)
Flax seeds and ground almonds (1 teaspoon)
Semi-skimmed milk (sometimes if I have it leftover I do half and half with coconut milk)
Mixed seeds sprinkles
85% chocolate pieces
Red fruit most days (raspberries, or red grapes) but I started with banana for the potassium to help me heal and I love it! Next week I am going to try kiwis!
One lemon juiced and filtered hot water with supergreens powder
Green tea (I gave up coffee and traditional tea 7 years ago)
Water, at least a pint to hydrate myself as I am still having to keep an eye on my dehydration after all the blood loss. I make up my water bottle to carry around all day too.
The day after I miscarried I had to take Babybel to toddler group. I hobbled up the road to the group and I sat in a corner while she played. She has no idea what happened. I was tired, I was so tired. But doing something like that needed to be done. Going through the motions of normal was what I needed. I did have to stop on the hobble up there to get an energy drink. I was so anaemic, I had no energy. I then decided to eat some something before I tried to walk home. I just about made it to our local cafe and had soup made by Grannies. It was Minestrone. I went back this week and it was Scotch Broth, it was amazing.
One thing that I haven't got back yet is my cooking mojo. If you ask me what we are going to eat for dinner I can't tell you. I know we have to eat, my brain just goes blank. I think it might be a bit like I was about getting out of bed last week. My brain just can't see why we bother. I am not hungry (I have to make myself eat). So I have ordered a recipe box this week for dinners so they tell me what to eat and have all the ingredients for me too. Babybel has been having a lot of shepherds pie, luckily she likes shepherds pie.
I am a very active person. People in our village know me, I am the crazy lady who is out on her bike with the trailer in the rain. Yup, I fell off my bike last year cycling on ice. I did that. I spoke with the midwives when I went back to hospital and asked about physical recovery, I was advised to be a physically active as I could manage. Once they had scanned me to confirm I had finished miscarrying they even cleared me to ride my bike. So the next day we all cycled to the local botanical gardens. I can tell you I was slower than normal and my husband took the trailer with our Babybel in it but I did it. Getting outside and in the sun was amazing for my head. So I am riding my bike out and about again and it feels good.
I also started back up with my morning Pilates workout at TD+6. I had clearance from the midwives as I had passed the birthing sac. I get up everyday at 05:30 to do this practice on my own. It is my time. My selfish act. It is just for me.
Fitsugar swiss ball workout . Don't worry Pieta, I do your cushion workout with Babybel when I can in the afternoons!
Flashbacks - TD +8
I know I said I wouldn’t talk about the miscarriage itself, but it is interesting what sets me off thinking about those events. I was at a toddler group today and someone got the box of dolls out. Nothing unusual there. Then one of the kids handed me this small doll. I just held it in my hand with a slightly demented smile on my face. It was so small. It fits in my hand. The table was red. I can’t go back there, I must keep going forward. I find I must lock this in a box in my head, close the box and keep it there. I learned the lesson of compartmentalising baby-making when I was having IVF. It was my way of continuing to function in the real world. I am using these skills again now. I don’t like it. Then again I remember that I have decided to write this that I have decided to be honest and open.
I hand the doll back after taking this picture. I can breathe again.
Later in the day I decide that I need to do some work to nourish my mind on this. Walking home I come up with a positive affirmation. This is a phrase I repeat every day. It is working for me.
“My body is amazing. It will heal. I will heal, I will have another happy healthy baby”
Getting back on the bike
Sunshine, bike. Fresh air. Vitamin D
12 miles, not back to my best, but somewhere in between I will take that.
I think I am doing really well. The first few days it would take me at least half an hour to will myself to get out of bed. Now I wake up. I remember what happened. I can get out of bed in about 5 minutes. I do my positive affirmation. I start my day with breakfast and Pilates. I feel human. I am not better, but I am back. I am healing. The sadness is becoming a part of me, more manageable. I know it is isn’t over but I can see progress, I am healing. I am coming back together. I can think about other things. Not ready for the bigger issues but I can process thoughts and provide answers to questions.
On a less serious note I am getting my sense of humour back. I am drinking from this coffee cup!
I went for my first run today. I held off until now due to damage to my cervix from all the examinations I have had over the years. I felt a bit safer today so I ran. Well I ran and walked. The sun was out and it felt good to be out running again. It is part of what I do when I am me. I didn't have any "accidents" so I think it went ok. Babybel enjoyed it too. It used to be part of our weekly routine, I run then we go to a playground and play football. Something for me and something for her.
We had our first house guests over today as well. We've been on lockdown for two weeks. We just couldn't deal with people in our bubble yet. It is hard enough outside the front door. People mean well, but even light conversation was hard in the beginning for us. I decided the tell people, I didn't want people asking me if I was OK and saying, "Well actually this terrible thing happened...." That being said that is a huge thing to drop on people. I have found some people (who mean well) just are not able to deal with such a big piece of news. Generally it isn't talked about so we don't know how to talk about it. Then again I have been amazed, some of my friends have been incredible. They have not only supported me, but they have given me incredible insight into their own tragedies but also their own perspectives. Some conversations are hard for both sides but I find it helpful to be open. I have learned to not mention certain things to certain people, they don't want to open that box. That is ok.
One thing I have been wrestling with has been how to honour this baby. This baby is gone. Now I am not going to preach here. However, I have read that many women find it is an important part of healing. Some pray, some make shrines. I decided to light a candle and say thank you for this baby. It was hard. Very hard. I did it. I was alone, well as alone as you get with a toddler. It was a big milestone for me. I was only ready to do this recently. I lit a candle in a local church.
I know it isn’t something people like to talk about and I did say I wouldn’t talk about the details of the miscarriage. However, one physical effect of the miscarriage is loss of blood. So much blood. I was a blood donor for 10 years so I thought I was OK about blood. I have had a baby so I thought I knew about blood. No I did not. I had 24 hours of not being able to leave the house. I am lucky. My body is amazing, it has dealt with the situation efficiently. That is what the midwives told me. When I was scanned on TD+8 they were amazed at how efficiently my body had expelled what needed to be expelled. From what I have read and been told by friends who have gone through similar experiences this is not always the case. Today I have stopped bleeding. Many of my friends bled for 6-8 weeks, I have heard of women who bleed for longer. My heart goes out to them. I found this to be a physical reminder of what was happening to me. I have decided to stop taking the Black Cohosh pills today, they were to shrink the uterus, but are powerful and are usually taken by women going through the menopause. Now to help my body get back to its normal cycles. Mmmm what is normal again?
Having a great weekend/ A bouquet of spinach
I have written before about the power of sunshine for me. However, the weather this weekend was incredible. Unseasonably so. We had a lovely family weekend. So healing for the mind. We had a kids party on the Saturday to go to. Outside in the afternoon sunshine watching other people’s kids play in sandpits and slides may not be how everyone would like to heal, but for me once there it was a pure joy to see. To be around friends who know what we have been through who have supported us, sometimes with their silence and sometimes with their caring words and hugs, was just lovely. It reminded me that I am here, I am walking around and I am healthy. My body is healing, and my mind is coping. I feel strong, recharged. I make sure I take time to appreciate this feeling, I have learned in the last few weeks to do this with both positive feelings and negative feelings. One friend gave me a bouquet of spinach from his garden. He said he didn’t think flowers were right. He knew I needed iron in my diet. So right. So right for me. We laughed. Laughing is good. I can remember how to do that now. I am going to do more of that.
I went for my first run in three months this weekend. I stopped doing that when I was pregnant. It did’t feel right. It didn’t feel comfortable. I am in agony from running, however it felt so good putting on my shoes again and going out on the route I always run. Only managed 2K but still am happy. I will run again this weekend. Might even try and have a hot bath afterwards too now. I didn’t before because of the bleeding.
We had Pieta’s pancakes for picnic brunch in the garden after the run and it was lovely.
More information links:
Miscarriage Association support available for women and their partners:
Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists information pack on recovery from surgical miscarriage
Petals Charity who provide specialised counselling for early pregnancy loss at Addenbrookes Hospital, Cambridge
I am a 41 year old stay-at-home Mum to Babybel. After working in television and digital media for 12 years I moved up to Cambridge with my husband. I cycle everywhere I can with Babybel. "