Coming to terms with a lost pregnancy

I have hesitated for a long time whether to share this part of my story, because it is just that – my story. So, what changed my mind? Firstly, a dear friend of mine suffered a failed pregnancy yesterday. And I was reminded of how lonely that journey can be. Secondly, I realized that we live in world where people eagerly share the Instagrammable parts of their lives, but the struggles with illness, rejection, loss, infertility, and miscarriage are very rarely talked about. And I get it. I really do. Sharing your story is scary and exposing. So, in the spirit of authentic living and storytelling I want to share one of my journal entries from 2017.

1 June 2017

Roller coaster…that is what comes to mind when I think of May 2017. On the 1st of May the test showed 1 to 2 weeks. We did our sums and figured out we were almost 4 weeks pregnant. I remember Peet and I staring at the two tests we did – shocked, but so very, very happy. After waiting many years to start a family, we were pregnant! We never dreamed it would or could happen so quickly. But it did!

And so, the adventure began. A day-by-day book for me and three apps for Peet. And the reading…what to do and what not to do, what to eat and what to avoid. Everyday we read with amazement of what was happening inside of me.

Even though we told ourselves not to get excited, not to think to far ahead, we could not help ourselves. I in evidently started thinking what the nursery would look like. Silly…I know. We decided to keep it quiet until we hit the 12 week mark. I think the toughest part was trying to hide it from our family and friends – making up excuses to explain why I wasn’t drinking a cup of coffee or a glass of wine with them. You would be surprised how much you can blame on your sinuses =)

I feared having a miscarriage so much that I checked for bleeding every time I went to the bathroom – which was a lot (one of the very few pregnancy symptoms I was experiencing). At first, I was worried about the lack of symptoms, but all the books said that not all women experience symptoms, which made me think I was one of the lucky ones.

But deep inside me I had this niggling feeling that just wouldn’t go away. A feeling in my gut that caused me to say to Peet ‘I wonder if I am pregnant’ a few times. At that stage I thought this feeling was due to my symptoms-less pregnancy, but I know think it was coming from somewhere else.

And so, four weeks passed, and the big day arrived – Thursday, 25 May – Ascension Day and the day of our 8 week scan. Excited and scared, with my camera in my handbag and my heart in my throat we drove to the gynie. In the waiting room I made a list of questions I needed to ask – ‘may I exercise?’, ‘colour my hair?’…

I remember laughing at a joke the doctor made and then hearing the words, ‘this is not good.’ The sack was empty…we were pregnant with no embryo. Blighted ovum…anembryonic pregnancy –

‘When a fertilizes egg implants in the uterus but does not develop into an embryo’

I remember the doctor saying that it was no one’s fault…just bad luck. I didn’t want to cry, but I couldn’t help it. It felt silly…almost irrational…to cry about something you never had. To feel sad about something so new. I am still not certain what emotion I felt – probably it was more disappointment than sadness. As I am writing this, a week later, I am still grappling with what I am feeling. I know the textbook answers – I am going through the stages of grieve. But I don’t’ feel that I am grieving a loss, rather coping with a disappointment of lost new chapter.

Two hours after hearing the words ‘blighted ovum’ I drove to the Highschool to deliver the Ascension Day message. Walking across that rugby field surrounded by hundreds of people I have never felt lonelier. Surrounded by children and babies this was probably the most difficult sermon I have ever done. Preaching on the theme ‘Heaven is here and now’, I believed what I was saying, but I was struggling to experience it in that moment.

The next few days can only be described with the word ‘grace’. There were a lot of tears, but also coffee, chocolate, sunflowers, and prayers with my best friend Leanie. I don’t know what I would have done without the love and support I received from Peet and Leanie.

There is no doubt in my mind that it was grace alone that carried me through my Sunday morning service. We were busy with a sermon series on the Reformation and this Sunday’s theme was ‘Grace alone’. The irony did not escape me.

And so the day of the evacuation came. I was fine until the nurse came with the pills to soften the cervix. At that moment it was as if the reality hit me. And it hit me hard. This, whatever it was, was ending. I am so grateful for the sympathy and kindness I received from my doctor and all the staff at the hospital. Going home that afternoon I thought to myself: ‘It is strange to be something in the morning, and then not be it any more in the afternoon’. And even stranger to lose something that, I guess in a sense, never was.

The thing I am finding the most difficult is to sit and be present in my sadness, grief, loss, disappointment…whatever this is I am feeling. What I most want, is to rush on, get back on my feet, because life goes on they say. But for now, I am trying to sit, and feel and give myself enough time.

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