Miscarriage. It’s not a scary word. It’s not contagious. It’s not going to cause any damage. Miscarriage. That’s twice you’ve read it, and likely twice that you’ve started; paused and twitched. You’ve now twice been conflicted and wanted to move along, forget about the word that you’ve just read. Yes, it’s taboo. It’s an event that can’t be talked about, yet an event that leaves far too many feeling totally alone.
Each person I’ve spoken to about my miscarriage has reacted differently; most haven’t said the word ‘miscarriage’ and have simply offered their condolences. They’re unsure how to talk about it; if they should talk about it, so they offer an apology and move on. Those who have actually said the word are those who have experienced it themselves. I’ve been told that one in four to five pregnancies end in miscarriage. One in four.
I was told that it’s common, that miscarriage is nature’s way of saying that something wasn’t right, that the pregnancy wasn’t viable. As if that is supposed to make me feel better. Nature telling me there was something wrong with the baby I’d started growing inside me was going to make me feel better? Well, it didn’t, it doesn’t and I don’t think it ever will.
I have haemachromotosis – a condition that requires me to regularly donate blood – I’m known as a therapeutic donor. But when anyone donates blood, they’re told to contact the Red Cross should any circumstances change or you feel unwell within the following seven days.
I found out I was pregnant three days after I donated blood. After confirmation from my GP, I made the exciting call to the Red Cross to let them know. They were excited for me and thanked me for telling them. I of course was going to have to follow up with my GP in regards to my ongoing treatment and whether or not I could still donate.
Two weeks ago, I had to call the Red Cross again to say that my circumstances had changed again, and I was no longer pregnant. The lady who took my call was audibly taken aback. She stuttered a bit and didn’t know what to say. She offered her sympathy for what I’d been through, but didn’t know how to react to the word ‘miscarriage’. I was placed on hold as she needed to consult with a nurse. I felt uncomfortable on the call; I turned myself clinical and switched off the emotions inside me. I didn’t help put her at ease; I offered nothing but cold, dry, emotionless words about my circumstances.
I was taken off hold and spoke with the nurse. She wanted to know if it was a miscarriage or an abortion. (Abortion. I am pro-choice, but that would never be my choice. I had been warned that a missed miscarriage is referred to as a missed abortion in medical speak. Why they would use that word, I don’t know.) I informed the nurse that it was a missed miscarriage and not an abortion. I was again offered sympathy, but in a general sense – again, scared of the word ‘miscarriage’. She was sorry for ‘what I’d been through’. I was told that women are usually asked to wait at least 12 months before donating again due to the loss of blood, however as I was a therapeutic donor, it may only need to be six months. She seemed relieved to be able to end the call when I said I was seeing my GP soon and would seek her guidance. I think that is the first time the Red Cross have ended the call.
When I did see my GP, she entered all the details and said that my levels were fine, I was recommended to decrease my frequency from every eight to every twelve weeks. She asked how I was doing, concern etched across her face, genuine in finding out. I love my doctor – she is empathetic, straight to the point and asks me how I’d like to handle things and provides me with options. She genuinely wants to ensure I’m doing well and encourages me to speak, to get out and do things.
A couple of days later I had a call from the Red Cross to confirm my next donation appointment. I reminded this lady that I had recently changed my circumstances and thought there may be some hesitation with booking me back in. She asked me what had happened and I told her that I’d recently suffered a miscarriage. I was offered sympathy; but not generic. I was offered sympathy for my miscarriage. She tried to offer some reassurance and actually used the word. I gave her a genuine thank you. She wasn’t taken aback, she wasn’t afraid. She was real. We booked in my appointment and again, she told me how sorry she was for my miscarriage and wished me all the best. Easily the best call I’ve had with the Red Cross.
I’m not saying that everyone needs to be comfortable with miscarriage, that it is an easy thing to talk about. But it does need to be talked about. Those of us who have experienced it need to know that we’re not alone, that this is common and there is support out there. Women are strong, but we’re stronger together. Hiding from the word, the ‘circumstance’, won’t help us to heal. It only leaves us feeling alienated, alone and scared.
My baby was almost seven weeks along. There was a brain and a tiny human forming. There was a baby growing inside me that suddenly no longer was. I only knew about this baby for three weeks, but I’d wanted this baby for my entire life; for 33 years. For nature to suddenly decide that this wasn’t a feasible pregnancy, that this baby wouldn’t survive, and for others to be scared to talk about it, it’s not fair.
I need to grieve and I needed support to help me grieve. I don’t want to be scared to tell others what I’ve been through; be nervous about them feeling uncomfortable. I want to know that if I say the words ‘I suffered a miscarriage’ I will get concern, sympathy and support; I won’t get discomfort, fear or awkwardness.
Miscarriage. It’s not a scary word. It’s not contagious. It’s not going to cause you any damage. Miscarriage. It’s something that happens in every four to five pregnancies. It’s something that requires empathy and support. It shouldn’t be taboo. Miscarriage.