In the last year, I have experienced two miscarriages, with the last one being just more than 12 weeks ago. During this time one of the things that I found difficult was the silence around miscarriage and how the Indian community doesn’t openly speak about this issue. Miscarriage is common and around one in six pregnancies, where the woman knows she is pregnant, will end in miscarriage.
It is often referred to as a silent loss – as before you’ve even shared the news of your pregnancy to anyone, you’re faced with losing your unborn child. My plan to start a family happened later than I envisaged. I met my husband when I was 33 years old and we got married when I was 35. Not long afterward we had my beautiful son when I was 37.
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My husband and I were always on the same page about wanting several children. When almost 12 weeks pregnant with our second baby, I had my first miscarriage. I started to bleed very heavily, my husband called 111, an ambulance was sent and I passed out soon afterward. When I arrived at the hospital the medical team worked quickly to get me into the operation theatre to stop the bleeding. After waking up from surgery I was completely traumatised.
My recovery took months, both physically and emotionally. Physically, I gradually started to get stronger and my husband took good care of me at home, but emotionally I was grief-stricken and angry. I blamed myself, I blamed my husband and I blamed the world. My husband bore the brunt of it and my marriage cracked in more places than I would have wanted. Thankfully, we worked through it, especially for the sake of our two-year-old son.
After eight months we felt ready to try again and I quickly became pregnant. Sadly, during an early pregnancy scan, I was told that the pregnancy was not progressing. As I had full-blown morning sickness, the thought that the pregnancy had ended never occurred to me. My husband and I both felt a deep pain in our hearts and I was consumed with guilt that I could not give my husband another child and my son a sibling.
Unfortunately, all the theatres at the hospital were fully booked. I had to wait a week before having the surgical procedure, and carried my unborn baby’s remains until the operation — it was agonising. Even though the hurt was deep, I made the decision to walk a journey of acceptance and no blame. This time both my husband and I walked a much stronger path together.
So why we should talk openly about miscarriage? I feel as if the Indian community does not openly discuss and share the subject of miscarriage, nor is it fully understood. When I told people what had happened to me, on many occasions I felt misunderstood. At times it was as if I was expected to continue as normal. Could you carry on the same after losing someone close to you? Just like losing a loved one who has lived, I still experienced anger, guilt, and sadness as part of my grieving process. People asked questions like,
Did you lift anything heavy? Did you not know something was wrong? Was it a boy or a girl?
Miscarriages are often nature’s way of letting you know something was not right and you may not even be aware your pregnancy has ended. Family and friends had good intentions, giving me advice, recommendations and solutions. People wanted me to feel better but that comes in your own time.
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My strength came from those closest to me in the days afterward. They simply gave me the time, whether it was to listen to me cry, talk, be angry or sit with me quietly. They held a space for me, especially in the initial weeks, to be able to express my thoughts and feelings without judgment or expectations to hold it together. This is what I appreciated the most.
By keeping this silent loss, we take away the opportunity for women to be able to share their pain and grief, to know that we are not alone and that there are many others who have faced the same loss and found the courage to move forward. By being open we can support one another.
But first we must try and understand this silent loss: To a mother and father who do not see their baby make it into the world, it’s no different to losing a loved one who has lived. When you get pregnant you make room in your heart for a new member in your family, but when that is taken away all that remains is an empty space and the pain cuts deep. I know that I am incredibly blessed to have my son, but this does not replace this emptiness.
It is important to appreciate that no one is to blame, the grieving process is normal and men feel the pain just as much as women. Often they deal with it in their own way but walking the path together as a couple can give you the power to heal and find peace together.
By being aware of this it may encourage our community to be more open, to soften the grief for so many of us who have endured miscarriages. It would help give those of us grieving the strength we need on the days we don’t have it for ourselves. Let’s make sure that this silent loss does not stay silent.
If you or anyone close to you has suffered a miscarriage, contact the below: In the U.K. – Call the Miscarriage Association Helpline on 01924 200 799. In the U.S.A. – The American Pregnancy Association, a national nonprofit health organisation provides information on emotionally surviving a miscarriage.