This post is going to be extremely revealing and raw. I’m going to tell you how it is and I’m doing it without holding back. I’m not going to apologise for what comes out and I cried for most of it. I’m not going to apologise for the manner in which people find this, and find out what I’ve been through. I’m writing this for me and this is how I’m choosing to talk about it. How I’m choosing to help myself heal.
I had some incredible personal achievements in 2017: I overcame my fear of financial security by quitting my job and taking a career break; I overcame my fear of loneliness by boarding an aeroplane and travelling solo for six months through South East Asia; I overcame my fear of falling over and did three multiple-day treks in the rain in Vietnam and Myanmar; I overcame my fear of letting go by doing a zip line course in Chiang Mai, Thailand; I overcame my fear of being underwater and completed my scuba dive certification in Koh Tao, Thailand; I overcame my fear of permanence and got a tattoo in Malaysia; I overcame my fear of bridges and did a tour and bungee swing off Victoria Falls Bridge in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe/Zambia; I overcame my fear of small aeroplanes and went sky diving in Swakopmund, Namibia; I overcame my fear of my body and embraced short shorts and a bikini throughout Africa.
I found out who I was as a woman and a person. I am strong, independent, confident, funny and supportive. I am a problem solver and a people builder. I am sexy and attractive and I can put myself out of my comfort zone.
I’ve recently suffered through my equal first biggest failure. Equal only to the exact same failure of approximately 18 months ago.
I accomplished so much in 2017, yet I can’t celebrate any of it, as all I can focus on is this incredible failure. This second failure of my body that has no rhyme or reason. This failure that will never have a cause or an explanation. This one big, fat negative that will eat at my heart and soul for years to come, if not forever.
I came home from Africa pregnant. Even with all the precautions taken, my body somehow fell pregnant. I hadn’t made myself prime for baby making – hell, I’d been partying and having more fun than I’d ever anticipated or had done before. I was not in a routine and above all else, I was careful. Yet something didn’t work and I conceived naturally, against all odds.
I will admit that I suspected I was pregnant for a while, yet didn’t believe it to be true. It was normal for me to be late, and with an unsettled diet and life, periods can be delayed. I wasn’t too concerned. I came home tired and seemed to sleep a lot, but I had just spent two months camping and partying and was no doubt suffering severe jet lag.
I’d made an appointment with my GP for a week or so after I got back – I was due for a follow up pap smear following a change in my results from a year ago. I also wanted to get myself checked over and make sure all was well. I bought the pregnancy tests simply as a way to rule out pregnancy before seeing her. I’m irregular. I have polycystic ovaries and there was a reasonable explanation as to why I may be late.
When two tests both revealed positive, I didn’t really believe them. But there’s no way for a false positive to occur. There’s no other way for HCG levels to appear.
My GP was very matter of fact, much like last time. She asked me about the father, and told me not to be embarrassed when I shied away. I am a grown woman and know about safe sex. I said was confident of who the father was and that we were still in contact. I also reassured her that I would tell him*, but I wanted specific dates first.
So, much like last time, I completed the urine test, had oodles of blood drawn (let’s be honest, as much as I was safe, something didn’t work so as well as testing for pregnancy levels, I also had to be tested for STIs – all negative) and booked myself in for an ultrasound. Due to being unemployed and in a small amount of debt following my incredible year of achievements, I elected to go for the generic ultrasound at a local hospital – fully covered by Medicare.
I told a few friends of my situation and gained their immediate support. I elected not to tell my family until I knew more – I wanted to be sure of dates and that everything was going to be okay. I did manage to get my sister aside and revealed the news to her. She was of course shocked. I’d already told her about my time in Africa and how safe I had been.
I then went on to say that I had to go for a dating ultrasound and how scared I was and didn’t want to go alone. We managed to work out a way for her to come with me – mum and dad needn’t have known as they were heading off on holiday that same day. I didn’t want to worry them or distract them before going, so we agreed that I’d tell them when they returned.
Then the day arrived and she couldn’t come with me. She had to take them to the ferry terminal and short of revealing my biggest secret; I had no choice but to go alone.
I had told my friends about my appointment and asked them all to think happy, healthy heartbeat. That’s all I wanted. I just wanted to hear and see my baby’s happy, healthy heartbeat on the screen.
I got to the hospital and the radiologist was running half an hour late – I was lucky to have to sit for an hour with a full bladder and panic. The last time I’d had a scan, the results hadn’t been good.
Finally, I was called in. He placed the gel on my belly and proceeded to run the machine over me. After a few minutes, he said that he was concerned with the size and couldn’t see clearly enough. He wanted to do an internal scan.
He left to have a female staff member join us as I got changed. I went into auto pilot mode, knowing that this was going to be the same. I had tried telling him as I first went in that I was nervous, as my last dating scan had revealed I’d had a miscarriage. As much as I’d wished for a happy, healthy heartbeat, I knew. I knew I wasn’t going to hear one.
The images came up on screen once more, a little clearer now and he showed me my sac, where the baby was. How small it was in comparison. He showed me the heat and blood flowing around the sac, not inside. He said that there should have been a fluttering movement for the heartbeat, but there was nothing.
I froze – how can this happen again? Why is this happening again? Surely this is a mistake?
I had an appointment with my GP immediately after – there was no report ready due to the timeframe but I told her what he had said. She said that we didn’t need to lose hope yet. My bloods had come back and showed the right hormone levels for my approximate dates. She referred me back to the original radiologist I’d seen last time – they were specific for obstetrics and would show a more accurate result. I had more blood taken and booked in to see her the following afternoon then was on my way back to the radiologist.
The appointment was brief. He confirmed what the other radiologist had said and showed me again my sac and the foetus. How it was smaller than it should have been and that there was no heartbeat or movement or blood flowing through.
I was told of my failure. I was diagnosed with my second missed miscarriage.
I was alone for all of this. My friends thought I was with my sister. My sister thought I was with a friend. I wasn’t. I was alone. I had to deal with this and then drive home from the city.
I was surprisingly calm throughout. I knew the steps needed and what had to be done. I became extremely pragmatic and stopped to buy pads. If I started to bleed, I couldn’t use tampons. I kept a focus on my belly and checked for cramps. I tried not to tell myself that this was my fault. I tried to remove all emotion and just get it done.
I cried when I got home. I allowed myself moments of pain and tears then got myself together. I made myself a cheese sauce, as I no longer had to worry about the fat. I ate ice cream, as I no longer had to worry about the sugar.
The next day, I had to go to a job network appointment as part of my conditions for receiving Centrelink payments. I had to focus on moving forward and being practical. I then stopped by my bestie’s and told her what had happened. I needed to fill in time before my GP appointment. I said I was doing well, “better than last time”. Last time it wasn’t just the baby; last time it was also my relationship I had lost.
This time it was ‘just’ a baby.
I went back to my GP and received the same look from her as I had 18 months earlier, sadness and devastation filling her face. She asked how I was, and I again said, “better than last time”. She arranged for me to go to the Women’s Hospital the next morning and confirm my next steps. I said that I wasn’t keen for surgery this time and wanted to know more about medical assistance.
My friend told me that she’d come with me and I had no say in the matter. So, next morning we catch the tram to the hospital and again, I’m numb inside. I know where I need to go but don’t want to seem knowledgeable on the area. I hated being here last time. I hated being here again.
Eventually I was called in and spoke with a gynaecologist. She wanted to know why I didn’t want surgical assistance. I knew all options were horrible, but I didn’t want to wake up in a room again full of other women recovering from IVF treatments when I’d just had my dead baby removed from my body. I didn’t want to go through it again. I didn’t think I’d ever have to make this choice again, yet here I am, 18 months later in the exact same scenario.
In the end, she did convince me that a surgical D&C suction was the best – it would remove the tissue in one go and I wouldn’t have to go through as much bleeding and cramping.
My friend again told me she was coming and I was to stay at her place that and the next night. I went home and packed some things, including my teddy bears – always there in my moments of need.
I’d only cried a couple of times by this stage and honestly thought I was doing “better than last time”. I knew what was involved this time, there was nothing to be scared of – I’d done it all before.
The next morning I went back into the Women’s day surgery and spoke with multiple medical staff. I was matter of fact and understanding with all they were telling me; I didn’t have any questions. Apart from the obvious.
Why? Why again? Why the same time frame? Why a missed miscarriage? Why can’t I keep a baby? Why has my body failed me again? What have I done to deserve this?
There is no explanation for any of it. My baby simply stopped living. My body simply didn’t realise my baby’s heartbeat had stopped. Only when you’ve had three miscarriages do they undertake further testing. I was only at two, so there’s no need to test. There’s no reason why I shouldn’t fall pregnant again and go full term. No reason at all. Exactly like I was told last time.
It was as I walked into the operating room that the tears started. It all hit me. The emotion I’d been holding back for two days came out. I couldn’t stop. The nurse held my hand as the anaesthetist gave me gas to relax and then put me to sleep; I squeezed her fingers tighter than I’d ever squeezed anything before.
Once again I was crying, tears falling down the sides of my face as I woke up. The nurse was lovely and immediately wiped them away and gave me a handful of tissues. She gave me meds for the pain and I nodded as she explained that my itchy nose was due to the pain meds. I remembered that from last time. The stupid itch of my nose and face. I didn’t want to have to know or remember anything from last time. I didn’t want to have to have gone through it all again.
An odd thing to be reassured about, the recovery room wasn’t full of women who were talking about IVF. I suspect there was one lady in there like me – she had my look of devastation about her when I’d seen her earlier in the waiting room. I didn’t come out to a ward full of happy women this time.
I wanted to sleep for hours – I didn’t want to leave the bed or the ward at all. But the nurses didn’t let me sleep. There was so much activity going on and then after my cup of tea and sandwiches it was time to go. I was discharged and told to take it easy and follow up with my GP.
I went back to my friend’s house and after some catch up TV, we both had afternoon naps. I had to go back on living. I stayed up that night and did research for a job interview I had the next day.
I had to go back to auto pilot mode and turn myself numb. I had a life I needed to get back in order and set myself up for.
I’ve cried most days since and keep telling myself it’s not fair. And it’s not.
I had a year full of achievements and highs. Accomplishments and happiness. I was nicknamed ‘Mama Oz’ on my tour. I looked after the group, while also leading them astray. I built others up, while building myself up at the same time. I loved who I was and who I was becoming. I was no longer dwelling on the pain of my lost baby. I had come to accept that I might not be a mum. That perhaps I would build and inspire in other ways, not in a direct motherhood way.
Not long after I got home, my six-year-old niece asked, “Aunty Law, when are you going to have babies?” I responded that I didn’t know, that perhaps I wasn’t going to. And I was happy with that.
But to have this second baby taken away from me, that’s not fair. That’s not my choice and not something I want to have to accept. It’s not fair. Why fall pregnant against the odds, only to have it all taken away again? Tell me what’s fair about that.
My year was full of highs, nothing but the highest of highs. I know real life has to go on, and for me it will. It has before and it will again. I wish I had tens of thousands of dollars so I could run away and travel again. But I don’t. So, for now, I’ll focus on one day at a time and will slowly start going through my pictures and remembering and sharing the highs. Until then, I’m going to take some time out and be kind to me.
2018 will also be filled with highs and accomplishments. We’re only one month down – eleven to go. I can achieve great things in that time frame. This year doesn’t have to be about this failure. It can – and will – be about more.
*I haven’t told the father about the baby or the miscarriage. Considering what has happened, nothing can be achieved from telling him. It will simply cause me great pain and discomfort having to tell him and there’s nothing he can do.