Emily shares her story about the grief and heartbreak of miscarriage, and support for those struggling with their mental health.
“We can see a pregnancy sac, but we can’t find a heartbeat. I’m so sorry.” The sonographer’s words reverberated through my mind as I struggled to comprehend them.
Just before my 12 week scan was due, I had a miscarriage. I’d noticed a couple of weeks earlier that the morning sickness and other symptoms had stopped and a little bit hesitantly I’d remarked to my partner that I didn’t feel pregnant anymore. It was my first pregnancy and I didn’t know what to expect, but I told myself that everyone’s symptoms are different.
Nothing can prepare you for how you feel; you are grieving for a life lost, a future that never was, and the emotional and physical trauma that comes with having a miscarriage
Those early few weeks of pregnancy were trepidacious; you are going through a mix of emotions ranging from disbelief, to worry, to the eventual excitement of preparing to have a family. And then suddenly, it was gone.
It was a Tuesday morning in March, the UK was in its first week of lockdown, and I was working from home. I had a meeting scheduled at 9am, and a few minutes before I’d been exchanging messages with a colleague as normal. I went to the toilet before the meeting started and at that moment I knew everything had changed.
At the hospital it was confirmed; I’d had what’s called a ‘missed miscarriage’. For weeks I’d been walking around thinking I was pregnant, but in actual fact, I wasn’t anymore, my intuition was right. As I lay on the hospital bed, my mind went into overdrive and I kept trying to work out the exact moment it had happened and the tiny life forming inside of me had stopped.
Because of Covid-19 my partner couldn’t come into the building with me, and I cried as the midwife told me what was happening, silent tears that turned into sobs as the shock wore off and reality set in.
Nothing can prepare you for how you feel; you are grieving for a life lost, a future that never was, and the emotional and physical trauma that comes with having a miscarriage. Grief is as isolating as it is heartbreaking; you are living your own harsh reality while everything continues as normal around you.
When I opened up about what had happened, I knew I was far from alone. Other people started to open up to me about their own experiences too and I realised that something I’d known very little about beforehand was something that so many of us have the unfortunate experience of, each of us isolated in coming to terms with our pain. It is estimated that 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage, and although there’s no comfort in that statistic, there is something powerful about being supported and listened to, your trauma heard and validated.
There are many difficult firsts that followed my miscarriage that I wasn’t always prepared for; a photo of a friend’s pregnancy scan on social media, a baby being welcomed into the world, even the thought of Christmas and family. While you can share that happiness for others, there is also the part of you that will always remember and feel sadness for those moments you have missed out on experiencing.
To anyone else who has been through a similar experience, you don’t have to face it alone. Talking it through was one of the most important ways I was able to process what had happened and heal through my grief.
Miscarriage has always felt like a taboo subject, one that we can’t easily and openly share what we have loved and lost, but it’s important to talk. A confidential text service such as Shout is invaluable for those moments when you don’t feel you can talk to anyone else about how you are feeling, when you just need to be heard and understood.
I can’t change what happened, but with the right support, I have processed it and can move forward one step at a time.