Writing by Sharna Southen // photograph by Lux Graves
For five years we were trying to conceive. We wanted a family so bad. Those five years were filled with uncertainty, specialist appointments and a lot of questioning if it was ever going to happen for us.
Although on paper we were healthy, for as far back as I can remember, my cycles were irregular and because of this irregularity, I was put on the pill from age 13. Doctors didn’t even check for hormonal imbalances and they didn’t even tell me that it can take a few years for a girl’s period to regulate anyway.
This led me to not being aware of my body’s signs once I came off the pill to get pregnant. I didn’t know when I was ovulating and I didn’t know I had missed a period (and was thus pregnant) because my young cycle was so irregular, I assumed it was just that irregularity.
I don’t know about you, but I never thought falling pregnant would be this hard, five years of trying to conceive and many, many doctors appointments.
I was told in school “If you don’t wear a condom, you will fall pregnant.”
My mum was unintentionally reinforcing this idea as well. She said she would fall pregnant by holding hands with my dad, that it was SUPER EASY to fall pregnant.
I started to question myself – “Did I leave it too late?” “Has it taken me so long to fall pregnant now because I wanted to be ‘selfish’ in my 20’s and now I’m being punished?”
My period was late, I couldn’t wait for my husband to be at home to take the test to be sure, so I did the test at home before meeting up with him later that afternoon.
I calculated I was about 10 weeks pregnant.
My husband was excited and we booked our doctor’s appointment to confirm the home pregnancy test.
‘POSITIVE!’ She confirmed, “Yes, you are pregnant!”
My husband and I were so excited – even my doctor was excited.
The next step was to book the ultrasound appointment to see the little one and measure how old he/she was.
The day of our appointment arrived, I had been feeling physically exhausted, which I thought was a good sign.
I had drunk so much water in order to expand everything. When we started the scan, the ultrasound technician was silent, moving his wand around, clicking, and seemingly trying to find something.
He said, sometimes your bladder can be too full, so I went off to empty my bladder.
When I came back and lay down, he continued searching.
“We might have to do an internal ultrasound,” the technician said. I was starting to get worried by this point and the bedside manner of this technician left a lot to be desired!
I prepared for an internal ultrasound which is also known as a vaginal ultrasound. It’s uncomfortable but they can get a better picture through this method if the pregnancy is fairly early on.
Again he searched and again he was silent.
Until, those soul shattering, life altering words
“I’m sorry there’s no heartbeat.”
I felt the room close in on me! In my head I was saying “No, keep looking there has to be!” I didn’t want this to be my reality.
I turned into my husband’s chest and cried. The technician left to get a senior technician to confirm what he’d just told us.
Once again we heard the worst words
“I’m sorry I can’t find a heartbeat.”
Our baby measured 7 weeks, which means it stopped growing at 7 weeks and I had experienced a missed miscarriage.
Grief hit hard. We were ushered back to the doctors’ rooms to go through what to expect now that I had been confirmed to have had a miscarriage.
When I returned to my doctor, she confirmed a missed miscarriage. She said that it can take about 3 weeks for your body to realise the pregnancy isn’t viable and naturally miscarry.
I was sent home to naturally miscarry but I was not prepared for anything that was about to come.
A few days in and I started to bleed which quickly led to me bleeding uncontrollably to the point I was passing out. I started to experience contractions on top of this.
No-one prepared me for the bleeding, for the pain and for the fact that I would think I was going to die.
Two days passed and I finally went back to the doctors. They immediately called the ambulance – which was a 45 minute ride. The Ambulance officer asked me, “Why didn’t you call sooner?” – my response was “I didn’t know this wasn’t normal.”
They rushed me in to get a D&C procedure because my body wasn’t completing the miscarriage process on it’s own and I was losing too much blood.
I had an incredible nurse that sat with myself and my husband the whole time but the bedside manner of the theater staff left a lot to be desired too!
Another nurse said to me “You will be fertile after this procedure.” which was absolutely not what I needed to hear at that moment.
The procedure was done and I woke up on my own in recovery. I was feeling so numb and spaced out that it really didn’t hit me at this point what I had just experienced. I just waited for my husband to be allowed in to get me.
We were sent home with empty arms, no support system, nothing but our grief.
I felt angry that I was sent home to navigate the aftermath on my own.
Pregnancy Loss affects 1 in 4 pregnancies. That is a lot of women walking around with this trauma so why aren’t we speaking about this more? Why don’t we have support systems in place? Why aren’t there more readily available resources.
If you are reading this and you have experienced loss yourself, take your power back! You can’t control what people will say or do but you can control how it will let it affect you. And how you will react to the grief you are feeling.
Put boundaries in place and have strategies on what to say when people cross those boundaries!
Remember “No.” is a complete sentence. You can say “No.” to people if they are asking something from you, you cannot give or commit to. Or you can say “I’ll get back to you.” which allows you time to say what you really want to say without the pressure!
Remember, you are not alone – I see you, I have been in your shoes and I have been able to heal through my experience and I know you can too.
Time doesn’t heal all wounds but time changes how you cope with your grief and how you start to integrate joy back into your life.
I am here for you if you need someone who understands and can support you through your grief, to reconnect to your passions and meaning in life again. We need to support each other and share our experiences so we can open up this conversation and help women who are going through this and feel completely alone.