Miscarriage can be the darkest of places.
Initially, you may have to work your way through the hall of horrors when you find out your pregnancy has failed. Fear, adrenaline and a desire to get as far away as possible take over.
You might make a temporary stop at the parlour of pain when your body expels the child you believed would join your life. Your heart feels like it could break into a thousand tiny pieces at any second. You may be surrounded by familiarity, comfort, people who love you, but all you can feel is that incessant pain.
Once the miscarriage is over, you may take up long-term residence in the land of loneliness, wondering if you can ever find your way back to normality, to happiness, to…yourself.
Forgive me the terrible metaphors – and I acknowledge that it will be completely different for each woman – but through each of my three miscarriages, I’ve visited these places, devastated that once more the dream has died and I have to repeat this heartbreaking journey.
But what I’ve been grateful for every time is the opportunity to share my feelings with some precious women that I’m lucky enough to have in my life.
Although some haven’t, most of these women have been through miscarriage themselves. Of course, I would rather none of us had to go through any of this. But the support we find in each other helps us to process our experiences and, often, our hopes or fears for the future.
I covered this briefly in my ‘About me’ section, the belief perpetuated by society that women are self-serving and judgemental, saying one thing to your face and another behind your back. Backstabbers and bitches. I take offence at that, everyone should. While this may be true in some cases, and we can all be unkind at times, I believe that the vast majority of women are far from this negative stereotype. And my experiences have firmly reinforced this over the last year and a half.
Online, women have provided me with an unwavering support network. I didn’t have to prove myself, to complete some arbitrary task in order to join the ‘grief club’. All I had to do was turn up, ask for comfort, and it was provided.
I’ve formed bonds with some of these amazing women, despite our TTC journeys being vastly different. One particular woman I met on a forum and we got chatting, following each other’s ‘two week wait’ – the time between ovulation and your period, when your fertilised egg might implant.
We’ve both had miscarriages previously. But she already has 3 children of her own, plus 2 stepchildren. And I have none. She is about to give birth to her final baby now, and I am still no closer to having a baby of my own.
But through it all, we have provided a safe place for each other, somewhere we can share our feelings on pregnancy, miscarriage, our families, the NHS. Some of the feelings aren’t pretty but that is the beauty of this friendship – we know we won’t be judged for it.
Real world support
Offline, since my baby-making journey began, I have become much more closely bonded with existing friends that I know I can talk to about what I’m going through.
One friend in particular has seen me at my lowest. When all I could do was cry, she gave me the biggest hugs. When I couldn’t hide my jealousy over yet another friend announcing their pregnancy, she didn’t make me feel like I was a bad person, or that my feelings weren’t justified. She just listened.
And I think this is the most important thing for me, that I can be listened to by women I care about. To have the opportunity to share with them the whens, the whats, the hows of my baby-related (or non-baby-related) world. To know I can talk to them about the things I’m not quite ready to discuss with my husband. To be able to say to them when I need to ’I’m not avoiding you, I’m just having a hard day and need some time alone’.
And to know they will understand.