I don’t know…because biology is a bastard and nature doesn’t care about my feelings? That’s what I have felt like saying after I have had to explain to people that I have had yet another miscarriage, or told them about how many I’ve had. There’s an assumption that there must be a problem, something wrong (with me…obviously, which feels great. Thanks), something that can be done about it. The truth is, although I have been pregnant six times in total and I have one perfectly healthy little boy, there is nothing particularly abnormal about this. In fact, because we do have a healthy child, who was conceived naturally, carried to full term without any complications and was born after spontaneous labour began (which ended in a c-section, but that because he was enormous!), that is even more reason to believe there is absolutely nothing wrong with me (or Charlie). Biology is a bastard and nature doesn’t care about my feelings. All nature cares about is progressing our genes, carrying them on and if something isn’t right, it stops biology in it’s tracks. Really, It’s amazing that any of us are here at all.
I am fit and healthy. I don’t smoke or take drugs. I drink lightly and certainly not everyday. I have a balanced, healthy diet. I’m not overweight, or underweight. I exercise, mainly by walking everywhere I can, but also with a bit of running (fast shuffling, see These Shoes for more on that!) and swimming. I have the usual amounts of stress in my life, my marriage is loving and supportive – thank God. When I either have been trying to get pregnant or found myself pregnant, I have started taking my folic acid and vitamin D tablets. I’ve done whatever my GP, midwives, consultants have asked me to do. Yet, I’ve still had four early miscarriages and lost Luna at 19 weeks due to Turners Syndrome, granted, not something anyone could have predicted or prevented from happening.
The truth is, even though there has been more in the media in recent years to bring miscarriage and stillbirth into the light, people are still really ignorant about how common it is. Going onto the NHS website, you can read just how common miscarriage is. Defined as any pregnancy loss during the first 23 weeks, they say that amongst women who know they are pregnant (key point) it is as much as 1 in 8 of these pregnancy’s will end in miscarriage. Many more happen before women even realise they are pregnant. So actually, the true number isn’t really known and it may be even more common than we think. Stillbirths happen in about 1 in every 200 pregnancy’s. That’s a lot, isn’t it? Too many. I remember Sally, our bereavement midwife telling us how she would really like to put these statistics up in the waiting area of the antenatal clinic. She felt that she would (or has) receive push back, not from women and their families necessarily, but from other midwives, doctors, clinicians, etc. Think about that for a moment. Ok…any mum’s (and dad’s) that haven’t experienced a miscarriage or stillbirth before may find the stats upsetting/worrying. But health professionals? Shouldn’t they be most interested in educating the rest of us, to try and reduce these risks in the first place? Or, just giving us the message that IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT?
With miscarriage, there may be some things you can do to reduce your risk, but really only if you’re lifestyle isn’t the healthiest. So smoking, drinking, drug taking – stop it, they aren’t good for an unborn baby. The rest of miscarriage though, and the majority, are most likely caused by chromosomal errors (biology – bastard, nature – uncaring). Even so, wouldn’t it be a good idea to hear this message more? I know what I thought after learning of every single miscarriage and learning of Luna’s Turner Syndrome: “What did I do?”. Even though logically, I know I didn’t do anything. It was totally out of my hands. If this message was seen more, talked about more, maybe some of that initial guilt could be dulled a bit and other people’s reactions to learning of your miscarriage may be moderated. And stillbirth, well, there may be more preventative measures, but sometimes it too just happens. No one is at fault, there’s nothing wrong with the baby, it just happens. But if you are really aware of your baby’s movements and then think “hang on, he/she hasn’t been moving as much as before” and you had the knowledge and the confidence to call your midwife to check it out, well, that could save lives. And that’s what we should be interested in, no matter how uncomfortable the feelings a poster in a antenatal clinic waiting room may cause us.
So here I am, six pregnancies in: four miscarriages, one termination (that was heading towards miscarriage, stillbirth or death after birth) and one live birth. I’m able to talk about it because the shine of pregnancy has been worn off a bit. I no longer think pregnancy equals nine months of gestation and a live baby to show for it at the end. I’m able to see it for what it is: hope and no guarantees. Where does that leave me? Well, I’m currently waiting (a long time) for some further tests. I see this more as an exercise. I think they will (eventually) take some blood samples from me and Charlie, test them and say what they have been saying all along, “You are both perfectly healthy. We can see no reason why the next pregnancy can’t be successful. Whenever you’re ready, you can try again.” Right. So no answers there then. I could be wrong, part of me hopes I am, but ultimately we have to decide whether the risk is worth it, whether we have enough hope left and what we will do if it doesn’t work out. That’s where we are at the moment. If I am wrong, and there is something, a “why”, that might give us a clear reason to stop. That may be a relief.
“What??” I hear you say, but I do mean it. If there is some reason for all of this, that we have a higher risk of it happening again, we may just decide that the risk is too great and it would be best to stop where we are. But more crucial, we can hopefully head off any feelings of regret (awful, insidious emotion) that may creep up on us years down the line, when it really would be too late to do anything about it. I am trying to head off any regret, wherever possible, in my life. Mistakes I can handle, at least I tried. No, regret is something much more damaging. I’m terrified of it actually. This is how I try to answer my own questions to anything really, not just this humongous one: Would I regret it if I didn’t at least try?