I Lost My First Child Eight Years Ago -- I Remember It As If It Were Yesterday
It is nearly eight years since I lost my first child, my nine-week-old baby (in utero) who I called Olive, as that was her size when her tiny heart stopped beating.
October 15 is International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. This article relates to miscarriage and pregnancy loss and may be triggering for some readers.
I remember the experience vividly, as if it were yesterday. I remember the devastation I felt when I was told the news that I had already known instinctively. I remember it all because losing a baby is something you can never forget, no matter when it happens.
When I experienced my missed miscarriage, although I was supported so incredibly by my husband, I had never felt more alone. The fact is, when a mother loses a child she wanted, it forever changes her, it impacts her deeply and remains a part of her forever.
There was a difficult time between having the news confirmed and undergoing a dilation and curettage (D&C) to have Olive removed from the place where she should have grown big and strong, yet refused to completely leave.
I sat is an almost catatonic state at home on the couch, completely numb. There were no more tears left to cry and I had no words to express what I felt.
I didn’t know what to do or who to turn to, so I didn’t. I just wrapped myself up in a blanket of denial, cuddled my cat and drank wine because they were the only things I could think of to do.
It was a dark time that is both a blur and vividly clear at points. At least the feelings of grief, failure and the question of why it happened are.
After I had my procedure and Olive was removed, I felt an even greater sense of loss. Now it seemed as if there was nothing left of this baby I was so excited to have join our family.
It was as if it had never happened, that she had never happened. The only things that I had left of her was some ultrasound images and the agonising pain in my heart.
I went back to work, I saw my friends, I kept on ‘living’ my life like I had before. No one asked me about it much and I didn’t divulge any information. I just did what I thought I was supposed to do; move forward.
For about two months, I went on like this until at the most unexpected time an acquaintance mentioned her own pregnancy loss at a party I was at.
Her frankness and honesty about her miscarriage a year prior and how it had changed her as a person made me take notice. It filled me with a sense of hope and a positivity I hadn’t felt since before my own loss.
From this woman sharing her experience to others so openly, I realised for the first time that I could also speak about what had happened to me if I wanted. That I didn’t need to just ‘move forward’ and that to actually deal with my pain and my grief this was actually the best thing I could ever do.
READ MORE: Why We Need To Have Miscarriage Leave
That is what I did. I confided in my friends, who although hadn’t had this experience themselves, did their best to offer me support and understanding. The more I explained it to them, the more they understood.
At work, I shared the experience with some of my colleagues because I needed their support too. Some were incredible and once I had shared my story, they opened up about their own experiences of loss too. They told me how hard it was for them but that not talking about it was even harder because it seemed to indicate some sort of shame or guilt.
As I began sharing my experience with those around me, I also came across individuals who had no idea what to do or say. Perhaps because they had never faced it before or perhaps because they thought it should be kept private.
Some of these people clearly felt uncomfortable. They would say little and leave the conversation as soon as they possibly could. Although these encounters were difficult, I knew this was their issue, not mine and a sign that support for pregnancy loss clearly needed improvement.
The more I shared my experience, the more I healed personally and the more I found others willing to share their experiences too. It was beautiful, powerful and necessary because like any other loss, pregnancy loss at any stage is losing someone you loved.
Although it will never make up for no longer having them, it keeps their memory alive which is something that can never be lost.
If this has raised any issues for you please contact the Sands Australia 24 hour support line on 1300 072 637.
Featured image: Supplied