Two whole years. That seems like a vast amount of time with so much change in our lives and yet it seems like no time at all. It feels weird to write about this again but it’s certainly been on my mind a lot as the two year anniversary has been steadily creeping up. For those of you newer readers, may have gathered that me and my my husband suffered a miscarriage two years ago to the day. I wrote this pretty in-depth post about my feelings, good and bad, not long after it had happened and was overwhelmed by such a huge response from people sharing their own stories of miscarriage and in many cases multiple. It was humbling, encouraging to hear from others who understood and yet so sad to see the statistics come to life in my inbox. It really is heartbreakingly common. I cried with every single story I read as my heart felt raw for each and every couple that had lost a baby. But what happened afterwards? What happens after the meals have stopped arriving at your door, after your hormones settle back down and your cycle starts again as if nothing’s happened. Past the point where you’re on the verge of tears every minute and people stop asking if you’re ok?
The emotional scars don’t just disappear. Two years on, the open wound has healed over but the scar still gets irritated. I guess that’s just the way grief works isn’t it? A couple of months afterwards, my cycle had returned but my hormones were all over the place so things were really irregular. My immediate feeling was that I just wanted to be pregnant again. It was a strange place to sit, not really wanting to hang around but being terrified by the prospect at the same time. I felt like so many friends had just had babies and every time I went on Instagram there was yet another pregnancy announcement and I just became a bit consumed by what we no longer had. I’d convinced myself that the miscarriage was down to there being something wrong with me and hated the idea of having to weather three more of them to have the NHS run the tests that would tell me what I already ‘knew’. I was like a women possessed, riding the peaks and troughs of my crazy, readjusting hormones and trying to take control of a situation that I realistically didn’t have very much control over at all. I booked in privately for a load of hormone tests to see where I stood and received a result that broke me further. Some people had advised me not to take the test and leave it be but I didn’t listen. Then seeing that my progesterone markers were so low on paper that I wasn’t even supposedly ovulating was too much for me to deal with at that fragile stage.
I followed up with a GP appointment hoping he could explain my results better and advise what I could do. Well that was a bad idea! I had a doctor with the least compassion and worst bedside manner I’ve ever experienced. He was angry at me for having taken the tests and rather abruptly reminded me I had ‘only’ had one miscarriage, that they were common and until I’d had three I didn’t need to worry. I immediately burst into tears and spluttered that I didn’t fancy having three. If I wasn’t a mess already, I certainly was after that appointment.
Thankfully I followed up with another GP appointment with my assigned doctor and I’m so glad I did. She was a friendly, women doctor that just treated my like a human with dignity. Her first question was how was I dealing with the grief after the miscarriage, which kind of stumped me. I wasn’t expecting some arbitrary person to be so kind and thoughtful 3 months afterwards. She was a massive blessing from God, at a time when I desperately needed some perspective. She told me that she wouldn’t be surprised if my hormones hadn’t settled down yet, so soon after being pregnant. She said it was very possible that I had taken the test at the wrong point in the month if my cycle was currently longer and so I shouldn’t panic at all. She offered to run some base line tests to check things out and then we’d go from there. I walked out of that appointment with a huge weight lifted as she’d actually listened but also put my mind at rest. I wasn’t even anxious about the tests. Soon after that my cycle did indeed settle back to normal and all the tests came back completely normal and I felt like a massive drama queen.
All of that had distracted me somewhat from dealing with the actual loss but come December A whole new wave of grief hit. My little nephew who was only a couple of months older than Zion was born at the beginning of the month. Sometimes God’s timing seems strange and it’s tempting to think he has a cruel sense of humour but I know he teaches us through these tough and often ironic situations. I really thought we could be pregnant that month and yet that morning I woke up, went the toilet and there was the evidence that I most definitely wasn’t. I walked back into our bedroom to hear Nick reading the WhatsApp message letting us know my sister in law had gone into labour. That day was so strange and filled with so many emotions from start to finish. I was so excited about my nephew coming into the world and yet acutely aware with each WhatsApp update that we would never meet Zion and it was another month passing with no new hope of another baby. I felt blessed that it was a Sunday and I spent the entire day with church family. That’s what I needed, I needed to laugh and cry with them and rejoice in my beautiful nephew who I was instantly in love with and also be a blubbering wreck at the same time.
We were both apprehensive about returning back to my parents for Christmas to stay with my family and meet my nephew for the first time at just three weeks old. I was desperate to see his little squishy face in person and at the same knew how hard it would be. I hated that there would be anything tainting this amazing time but it was hard not to feel heavy hearted, knowing his cousin wasn’t on the way. I would have been nearly 9 months pregnant at that stage and it felt so weird not to be, even though I had no idea what that felt like. My brother and his wife couldn’t have been more sensitive in the build up and even though it was hard and emotional at points, I think seeing him in person and getting to hold him outweighed the sadness I felt. I cried tears of happiness and sadness all at the same time and I just loved being around him. People said it must have been nice in someway to see how much hard work a new baby was, where as we could have a nice restful Christmas ourselves. No, just no. That doesn’t take the edge of the grief. We were never under the impression that having a baby would be a walk in the park but not having to wake up in the night or worry about establishing breastfeeding or comforting the cries every five minutes, wasn’t a welcome trade off. Sure there were blessings in our situation but I’ve always found the, ‘well at least you don’t have…fill on the blank’ to be of little comfort.
As I said, God’s timing is so often ironic so finding out were actually pregnant and had been while we were back home for Christmas was an almost funny thought. Even funnier was that the day my whole pregnancy was tracked from was the day my nephew had been born. What a strange turn of events! Many of you who read my pregnancy announcement post may remember that the pregnancy didn’t get off to the smoothest start as we actually found out because I was bleeding. I was convinced I was miscarrying again but thankfully that wasn’t the case and it turned out to be an innocent heamatoma that cleared up on it’s own. The first trimester was a very strange time filled with extreme nausea, tiredness and anxiety. I was a mess of emotions! I was so happy to be pregnant and to have already seen a heartbeat at 6 weeks but I was still on the look out for even the slightest change to fret over. At the same time this overlapped with Zion’s due date, which was a hard time. I was still getting weekly Bounty email updates telling me how old my baby would now be which broke my heart each time I saw it in my inbox, but strangely couldn’t bring myself to stop the emails. I often felt guilty for being happy about the new baby growing inside of me, as if I was forgetting our previous baby and moving on too quickly.This meant that I really struggled to connect with Maggie until our 20 week scan. It was a mixture of guilt and still wanting Zion more than this new baby. I guess I was trying to remain as detached as possible to protect myself if something went wrong. That sounds awful, writing it down! We didn’t talk about her much pre-scan and didn’t buy a single thing. Come the scan we knew we wanted to find out the sex of the baby and whilst I was just praying and hoping it would be healthy, I was secretly hoping it was a girl. A part of me had always felt that Zion was a boy and so I wasn’t sure I could deal with a boy potentially taking that place, so soon after. I’m not sure that even sounds logical but grief isn’t logical. When we found out it was a girl we were both so happy and it was like something clicked into place and I think we both finally felt connected to the baby and like it was really happening.
The next months leading up to the Maggie’s birth were peppered with little pockets of sadness but were mainly a bit of a heavily-pregnant blur. When we were talking names it brought memories flooding back of doing the very same thing in Copenhagen except all we come up with were boy’s names. Obviously the first anniversary of the miscarriage arrived and that was hard and surreal as I couldn’t quite believe how much had changed in a year but nothing prepared me for the huge wave of grief that would overtake me when Maggie was actually born.
Obviously with having just had a baby, comes a whole cocktail of emotions as it is but I’m not sure I’d ever felt so much joy and deep sadness at the exact same time. She arrived and we were fortunate enough to straight away feel that unexplainable love that people talk about. I couldn’t stop looking at her a crying because I felt so thankful to God that she was here and she was safe and she was just the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen and yet I felt that deep, raw sense of loss once more. Having her and being able to see and touch her, really reminded us that our family wasn’t complete. Zion wouldn’t be joining us, she’d never know her sibling and we would never know all the intricacies of that baby’s character like we would with Maggie. I’m not even sure I can put all of what I was feeling into words but we both were so acutely aware of missing Zion and yet knew that if we hadn’t had that loss there literally would have been no way we would have ever been parents to Maggie. As soon as we’d long for Zion we’d remember that would mean no Maggie which was an awful thought and so the only place we could rest was God’s sovereignty, his total control and perfect timing. It was a weird lake of emotions to be wading through though.People often ask me if having a baby has helped us heal from the miscarriage and my answer is ‘yes and no’. I think the biggest healer is time and God’s grace to see you made stronger through weakness but of course there is a certain amount of distraction that comes with having another baby. Some of those longings you had for a baby in a general sense are satisfied but it doesn’t stop you still mourning that individual baby that was unique and you will never meet earth side. At least that’s how I felt. Having another baby certainly isn’t a magic remedy. It’s hard not to think how old Zion would be now and watch each stage that Maggie goes through and wonder would Zion have been crawling by now or started teething so early or have been as tall as Maggie or looked more like me than she does. I think it’s made us appreciate each part of Maggie’s life even more. Even when things have been more challenging it’s been easy to quickly remember what a privilege it is to have a baby and just how blessed we are even if we’re exhausted or baffled by her not settling or having issues at that start of breastfeeding. I’ve constantly found the question, ‘ is this your first?’ hard to answer. When it’s a stranger it’s often easier to just say yes but a part of me winces on the inside, leaving a horrible, pang of guilt.
Two years on and we still walk around with the scars, as I said. Our loss doesn’t weigh on my mind all the time but it’s still very much a part of me. I’m thankful for how it gives me such a strong sense of empathy for those who also go through it but beyond that I feel like its given me more empathy for anyone going though any trials. I feel things so much more since having a miscarriage and even more since having Maggie. I’m thankful for how it’s made me treasure Maggie even more than I perhaps would have because I take very little for granted. There are so many positives that God has graciously brought from the grief and yet we miss you Zion. We always will and can’t wait to meet you one day, in a place without pain, suffering and heartache.