It was September of last year and we had just gotten back to Dubai after a holiday in the South of France. My periods were late, which never happens to me. We were moving into our new home and had gone to Ikea to get some furniture. I remember saying, “I’m going to get a pregnancy test just to make sure,” so we did. And when I got home from Ikea, I took the test and found out that I was, indeed, pregnant.
We were so happy and excited. I had stopped the pill a few months prior, in February, and we weren’t expecting to get pregnant so soon after. I started to think of all the things I needed to do to prepare for the baby that was going to come into our lives. Everything was going to change.
During our first doctor’s visit, the gynecologist conducted an ultrasound and put a little cross with her cursor on the screen where our baby was. She said, “There it is. That’s your baby.” She gave me a long list of what not to do and said she would see me in a couple of weeks. At that point, I wasn’t telling people that I was pregnant, so things were still relatively normal, but in the back of my head I kept thinking, “I’m going to have a baby.”
During my second doctor’s visit, she noticed a slight detachment of the placenta – not unusual, she explained, for today’s modern women who are always on the go. So she asked me to cancel any upcoming trips I had. These included two business commitments, so I was forced to break the news to people. I was also constantly tired at work, my mood changed, I stopped smoking, and I was always in flats (which is never usually the case), so there was no hiding the news from my colleagues. Plus, I was really excited, so it was hard to keep it in.
I think it’s selfish not to talk about it. It’s selfish not to warn other women.
Around that time, I started prioritizing my rest and began a treatment to compensate for my hormonal deficiencies. Then came my third ultrasound. According to my gynecologist, things were already looking much better, but she was a little bit concerned by the size of the embryo given how far along I was in my pregnancy. She told me not to worry, though, because it’s very hard to pinpoint the exact date that you became pregnant.
On the day of my fourth ultrasound, about three and a half months into my pregnancy, my husband decided to come with me. I’m really grateful that he did. Walking into that fourth ultrasound appointment, you’re happy and expecting to find out whether you’re having a baby boy or girl. You don’t walk in thinking you’re about to get the worst news of your life. My gynecologist had just started my ultrasound when she said, “There’s a problem. There is no heartbeat. There is no more baby.” There was a moment of silence before she spoke again, with tears in her eyes, to tell me that it was over and that I would almost definitely need an operation. And then my world crumbled around me.
I cried for hours after that, unable to put words together or speak to anyone. My friends who knew I was going in for an ultrasound that day kept calling me and trying to reach me, but I couldn’t take their calls.
Because my body didn’t get rid of the fetus by itself, the operation had to be scheduled three days later. Those days were spent in complete shock and anger. I couldn’t understand why or how this was happening to me. It felt so unfair.
Then came the day of the surgery – November 9th. The procedure called for general anesthesia and, when everything was done, I was just sent home. No one checked on how I was feeling. No one came to ask if I was okay. No psychological support or help had been offered to me, neither from my gynecologist nor from the hospital staff. No one even told me that I would continue bleeding for days.
When people found out what had happened, women started coming forward with their own stories of miscarriages. If three quarters of the women around me told me it had happened to them, the other 25 percent had a story of it happening to someone they knew. All of them said, “Don’t worry. It’s normal.” If it’s so normal, I thought, why wasn’t I warned? Why wasn’t I taught this in school? Why did my gynecologist not tell me that a pregnancy so soon after stopping the pill, which I had been on for 15 years, was a risky one?
If you want people to understand your pain, you have to share it.
Why do doctors suggest you not tell anyone about your pregnancy before the end of the first trimester to avoid yourself the embarrassment of having to say that you miscarried? If it’s so “normal”, why is there anything to be embarrassed about?
Thinking back, I know that having been made aware of how common this is would have helped me a great deal, because I would have been prepared. In that way, I was prepared for my second miscarriage, which happened earlier this year.
I think it’s selfish not to talk about it. It’s selfish not to warn other women and not tell them that it can take a really long time to have a baby. As a woman, you have a duty to. So, to that end, here’s what I would like you to know:
Firstly, talking is so important. In the months after my first miscarriage, I didn’t want to be around my friends who were pregnant or who had just given birth. I had baby showers to attend, but I couldn’t bring myself to. I had to be open and honest with those friends. If you want people to understand your pain, you have to share it.
Second, being surrounded by people who love me really helped. I stayed home for a long time, and my friends would drop by with my favorite dessert or to watch my favorite movie. While there is nothing anyone can say to make you feel better, all those little gestures will make a big difference.
This is very hard on your husband too. He will feel completely powerless, and he will also struggle to understand just how hard this is for you. But don’t forget him during this time because, while he may not experience the physical pain that you are going through, he will experience the emotional and psychological pain – not only of having lost a child, but of seeing you suffer. Make sure you talk to each other.
Find a professional to talk to. I am still shocked by the lack of emotional and psychological guidance following such a traumatic experience.
Finally, if having a family is what you want, don’t waste too much time. Now that I know how hard it can be, I wish I had started earlier.