My orchid had a miscarriage and it helped me better understand my own.
In December 2014 I had a missed miscarriage, and I was devastated. As soon as it was confirmed by the scan, I immediately thought to myself “but I didn’t do anything wrong”, I immediately started questioning myself, my body, and looking to understand why it had gone wrong, how was I responsible? I worried my husband would blame me. Over the next days, and weeks, and months, medical professionals, friends, family, all expressed condolences and gave me some variety of “these things happen” or “it wasn’t meant to be”, “you can try again” and none of it helped. I was depressed, and it lingered. My husband started talking about finding me a therapist to help me work through the grief and negative feelings, as I seemed to be stuck. He was right, I was drowning and I couldn’t find my way out from under the darkness.
At the same time, on my desk at work I had an orchid. It had one stem. It grew 5 green buds. I watched them each day. I noticed how the second and third buds turned brown and failed to blossom, but the other 3 buds grew and over days they opened into beautiful flowers. I didn’t have an instant epiphany. It was a slow absorption over days of what I was seeing. One stem, same plant, same soil, same water, same air, same light, my same voice talking around it. All the same conditions for the 5 green buds. But 2 turned brown and never opened. The other 3 blossomed into flowers that lasted weeks. And I finally understood what people had been saying to me for months, that, “nature knows best”. And then I no longer blamed myself for the miscarriage, I no longer doubted my body or felt responsible. While I remained sad, I was healing, and the grief turned into a scar, rather than an open aching wound.
In July 2017 I had another D&C, another missed miscarriage. A scan three weeks previous showed a strong heartbeat and baby measured 8 weeks 2 days. A week later scan showed no heartbeat and baby only measured 8 weeks 5 days. With this miscarriage I felt different, I did not blame myself or doubt my body. I know I behaved responsibly while pregnant, and looked after myself. This baby just wasn’t meant to be. While I understand it, I am sad, I had really wanted to meet this baby, to love this baby, I can be sad, and yet accept the situation, that this baby won’t join our family, even though we so wanted it.
A number of my friends and family relations have suffered miscarriages. It is unfortunately common. I have been repeatedly reminded of the statistics, 1 in 4 pregnancies result in miscarriage. It is devastating for every family. The physical, emotional, mental anguish can be overwhelming. To my friends and family that are yet to begin their family planning journeys, I really hope you never have to go through this, but unfortunately, you more than likely will. So I wanted to share my experience, in the hopes you will take away from this the message that some things are out of your control, and there is nothing to be gained from suffering or doubting yourself when a big part of the course of a pregnancy is out of your control.
In keeping with my conviction that the topic of miscarriages needs to be talked about more, openly and without shame or taboo, I write this post to sadly announce another miscarriage. This week my husband and I lost another little one, at just 7 weeks, there was a strong heartbeat … and then there wasn’t. 1 in 4 pregnancies result in miscarriage. 1 in 4 is an average. Some women never have the misfortune. Some women suffer many losses. There is no identifiable reason for us. I am making an effort to recognise that I am not to blame though it feels like I must somehow be responsible or deficient in some way.
When my GP confirmed my most recent pregnancy, I expressed my joy and excitement at sharing the news, but he advised me to wait til 12 weeks "in case anything goes wrong", which I totally disagree with. It didn't make sense to me to keep the pregnancy a secret, I wanted family and friends to share my joy, and I knew I would have their support should it end in miscarriage. With my first pregnancy I was naive, I didn't understand the statistics and I didn't think miscarriage could happen to me. I never wanted to suffer alone or in silence, although that's what happened, as I couldn't shake the feeling that I was somehow responsible. I didn't understand that not all conceptions create a viable foetus. I've since learnt that a big part of a pregnancy is out of my control. While I would still have been devastated, I think if the topic was more openly discussed, I would have had more realistic expectations. That's all that I want for my friends and family, while I can't spare anyone the pain of loss, I hope I can help to better prepare someone for the experience and normalise talking openly about the many ways a miscarriage can impact a couple. I don't think 'miscarriage' will ever become part of casual conversation but I do believe it needs to be talked about more. I'm fortunate my husband understood my pain was lingering, and sought to help me through it.
There is a lack of education on miscarriages, and I think the media contribute to this. A miscarriage isn’t like in the movies where the woman has a sharp pain and then one big gush where everything is passed. It can vary depending on type of miscarriage. I have had two missed miscarriages, where I had no pain and no bleeding, but baby simply stopped growing and I didn’t know until I went for a scan. For these I had to have D&C, which is a procedure under general anaesthetic to remove the pregnancy sac. This week I have had a complete miscarriage, which for me was painful and involves a lot of heavy bleeding over a number of days/weeks. Last week there was a strong heartbeat, this week the pregnancy sac is gone and I will likely bleed for another ten or so days. Bleeding while pregnant is normal, it is usually as result of uterus expanding, and is just light spotting, so if you have bleeding please don’t panic and jump to conclusion that you are having a miscarriage, though do nonetheless get checked out if you’re concerned. It is important not to stress.
I wrote about taking comfort from my orchid showing me that miscarriages occur throughout nature, and for no obvious reason. But today I am struggling. I’m sad, and I’m sore. Time will dry my tears, and there will be another scar in my heart that I will carry forever.
My thoughts to all of you going through similar, you are not alone, you are not to blame, you have support here.
*There was a picture of an orchid on the waiting room wall before going in to theatre for my second D&C, and it gave me great comfort