Miscarriage and opening up in the first trimester
In 2005 I had a miscarriage and only a dozen people knew about it. I felt embarrassed. Ashamed. Guilty. Responsible. It took me a long time to get over those feelings. Then as I got older, had a pregnancy that went to term and then another one, I made friends with fellow mums and I realised just how common it is.
However it is still a taboo subject.
I now know lots of friends, including close ones, who have had miscarriages. With a first baby, in between siblings, when hoping to have one last baby.
Each time it’s talked about in hushed whispers. Like a dirty secret. And the taboo continues.
Everyone lives their miscarriage(s) differently. I have some friends who were quite indifferent. C’est la vie and they’d get pregnant another time. Whilst for others it really was the end of the world.
For me I can safely say that it is the shittiest I’ve ever felt in my life, both physically and emotionally, as my body started to empty itself of the baby that I had already visualised in my head, named and guessed what sex it was.
And I miscarried at just 5 weeks.
Nobody knew that we were actively trying for a baby, although we had been married for 2 years at that stage. I think this made it worse in a way as it meant I got all the well-meaning remarks from family friends, neighbours and colleagues:
“Ooh, you don’t want to leave it too long to start a family! You’re nearly 30, you’d better get on with it!”
And so on, and so forth.
It feels great hearing this as your baby that will never be is slowly leaving your body. (Yes, that is sarcasm.)
Whilst I want everyone to think very carefully about what they say to any woman, ever, about fertility and conception (not every woman wants a baby, not every woman can have a baby so keep any thoughts to yourself!), what I really want to talk about today is opening up during that first trimester.
I know that some women prefer to keep it to themselves for the first 12 weeks, and others can’t talk about it at work for various reasons. But I would really encourage you to share your condition with others if you can.
I wasn’t able to talk about my miscarriage with anyone as no one knew I was pregnant, and I felt stupid and guilty enough as it was without wanting to tell people we HAD been trying and I HAD been pregnant. So when I got pregnant with Léna I told people immediately, literally at 4-5 weeks pregnant.
I explained that I had been pregnant before and had lost the baby, that it was early days, and that we hoped that this time I would go to full-term, but that I wanted support if it didn’t work out.
Having laid my cards on the table I felt so much more comfortable about the pregnancy, as I knew people would stop throwing their nosy remarks in my face.
I did the same with my second pregnancy with Clémence, and both times round I am glad to say I had no issues and I carried both to full term.
Not only did I tell our friends and family but I also told everyone at work, and I’m so glad I did. Firstly to be honest with my employers so they knew what to expect for me when we were long term planning. Secondly so they understood that I might not be 100% on form.
I’m so glad I did because with Léna I was signed off work with very low blood pressure at around 10 weeks, and I didn’t have to worry about explaining that one away. Also it meant I didn’t have to hide why I was so tired, kept dashing to the toilet, couldn’t go for after work drinks etc.
Most of my mum friends and I agree that the first trimester is the hardest time of the pregnancy – the exhaustion, the nausea, the sickness, the loss of appetite, the loss of interest in anything. It is also a vital time of the pregnancy when key areas of the baby are being developed, so all the more important for us to be gentle with ourselves and for others to make allowances too.
I know there is a big stigma about announcing a pregnancy before the golden 12 week mark – in the UK more than in France I would say – but miscarriages happen after 12 weeks too, and wouldn’t you want support and understanding from friends, family and colleagues if you had to go through something as sad and sometimes traumatic as a miscarriage?
So let’s break down the taboo.
Tell people you’re pregnant, ask for their help and support.
If someone tells you she’s pregnant and it’s early days don’t say “ooh, should you be telling people?!” (as I heard many a time), congratulate them, ask if they need anything – a pillow to rest their head on / a bucket to be sick into…
Let’s open up in the first trimester and support each other, so that if the worst happens we help each other through it.
(Just in case you’re wondering why I’m writing this now, we’re not trying and I haven’t had a miscarriage since that one in 2005. But I know so many people close to me who have gone through miscarriage, and I’ve wanted to write about this subject pretty much since I started my blog, and I finally felt ready to share about my own experience.)
I’m going to run a free webinar soon and it will be for you if any of the following applies to you:
- you struggle to make decisions
- you’re afraid of change
- you don’t know which risks to take and which to avoid
- you have fears around all of this (fear of making the wrong decision, fear of change, fear of other people’s opinions of the decisions you make, fear of failure etc).
A little bit of background for those who don’t know me…
10 years ago I had just moved into my forever home, which we’d seen go from architect’s plans to our family home, I was pregnant with my first child, and in a good, well-paid job. In the last decade we have sold the forever home, moved country twice (including to one where we know no one and have never visited, in Africa), I have given up two good, well-paid jobs to set up on my own and known failure and success.
I get emails from you, my lovely readers, every day asking me how I / we made those decisions, and asking for advice. So I thought I’d share how I’ve done it, the thought processes I go through and more. If this sounds like something you’d be interested in please drop me a line with your time zone and what time/day would suit you: FranglaiseMummy@gmail.com