I have really struggled to write this post but every time I thought that I should just hit the delete button and quit I realised how important it was to me and it gave me the strength and determination to carry on writing.It is easier to develop recipes and take nice photos than it is to be honest and open about your feelings.
For those of you who are long term followers of my blog you will know that I started it as my online escape to a positive place whilst I was battling breast cancer. Many years have passed since I first started my little blog and it has grown into something much more. I am so lucky to have been able to change career and start to earn a living from blogging but it was not until I shared my cancer story and had so many women reach out to me, some of whom I am still in email contact with that it occurred to me that I am able to do more than make a living I can reach out to people, I can create a community and a discussion on subjects that I feel are important not only to me but to many others. One of the most important factors in dealing with cancer for me, and for the women that reached out to me was a feeling of being alone. The friends and family who are around you at the time are invaluable but it is also important to connect with others who just ‘get it’. Who know what you mean when you talk about treatment or emotions. It is this feeling of not being alone in difficult times that has prompted me to write this post.
I, like many other women really struggled to stay pregnant. Before I was blessed with Sebastian I had lost nine babies, eight miscarriages and a still birth. A few weeks ago I lost my tenth baby and it destroyed me. Given my history I did not relax once during my pregnancy with Sebastian but this time I allowed myself to feel it was okay. However when I went for a scan at what should have been 14 weeks heard the words I have heard far too often, “we can’t find a heartbeat”. I waited a week for a second scan, during that week I tortured myself on Google reading stories of joy and woe and grasping onto any shred of hope I could. The night before I was due to have my second scan I started to bleed. Then I waited a week before I could have a procedure, (how clinical the language is that we use at times like this), as my body was not miscarrying properly! That whole concept seems ridiculous but the truth is many women have what is called a failed miscarriage and have to have medical intervention.
The grief you feel from losing a baby is real grief yet we are expected to grieve in silence, in secret if you will. The majority of women have miscarriages before twelve weeks so we are told not to tell anyone that we are pregnant, in the time when we feel sick and tired and hormonal we are expected to keep it a secret as that is ‘the danger period’ and we might have to then tell people that we had a miscarriage. But why? Why are we expected to grieve in secret, not let people know why we are physically and emotionally destroyed. We are told it is because we should not have to put ourselves through the ordeal of breaking the news to people but that is poppycock (I would use a stronger word but it is my blog rule). The fact is it is other people who don’t want to hear your bad news, who feel awkward because they don’t know what to say. In telling women that we should keep our pain secret, quiet and personal, we are not only subjecting them to an inhumane ordeal but we are isolating them from one another. We are preventing them being able to say to another woman with a shared experience, I went through this and allow them to heal together. To talk to other people about the things that we thought and felt and not feel alone in that.
So to those who are reading this and feeling alone, stop, you are not alone. I will share some of my thoughts to prove to you that you are not alone. I am convinced that it is my fault, that I did something wrong. All science and reason has left the building. It was my job to grow, nurture and protect my baby and I failed. It was my fault because I thought it was bad timing as we were moving. I was my fault because I worried that I would not have enough love for two children. I was my fault because I thought I have nothing warm that fits. It was my fault because I am a bad mother. In between blaming myself I am angry and pissed off at the world and I know that it is unfounded but I am still angry. I cry when I see a pregnant woman or a woman with a baby but I am still happy for them even though it is hard to say so. I am tired of platitudes and ungrateful when people say them, I smile and nod but what I really want to say is shut up, leave me alone and let me be sad I am entitled to be sad and you can take your positivity and stick it. I think that but deep down I know they say what they say because they just want to help, and then I feel guilty for wanting to tell them to stick it. I hate when people say stupid things like; “At least you have Sebastian”, so if one of your children died you would laugh it off and think ahh well I have one left in reserve, no, so don’t say it. Or telling me, “well you must be used to it by now”, my word why would they say that! The truth is grief is different for all of us and my thoughts and emotions may not mirror yours but you are entitled to feel all that you are feeling right now.
When I first started to write this post it was simply about pulling back the curtain on miscarriage but the more I thought about it the more I thought it is more than that it is about depression as well as grief. When people say it all comes at once they are right and the fact of the matter is I have been struggling for a few months and just about keeping my head above water. I lost my baby, I moved away from some wonderful friends, the city where I made my family was attacked and my friend lost both her parents in the blink of an eye, I have some terrible family issues that are clearly never going to be resolved and have left me feeling pretty isolated. My father has over my lifetime actively chosen to not be a part of my life four times now and yes it still hurts and no I always expect it to be better ‘this time’. Add to that the daily grind of no sleep, financial and physical pressures of moving and you get a person who is on the edge. Almost as bad as being on the edge is the fear of anyone else knowing that you are and this is what I want to highlight today. I am a mother of the most perfect boy in the world so I spend his every waking hour smiling and singing. All aspects of my work require me to be happy and peppy and we all live in fear of being ‘that’ person. The person people avoid as they don’t want to hear their woes. But I have to make sure I look okay because I don’t want people worrying that I won’t meet a work deadline, I have to earn money, parent my boy and keep going. That involves washing, dressing well, sometimes popping on some make up and smiling, above all smiling and saying, “I’m fine”. So often we are told that a depressed person looks sad, won’t look you in the eye, has stopped washing but that is not true. Most of us are just about treading water and most days I feel like I am drowning. I keep thinking of a line in a song that went, “I’d like to be un happy but I really don’t have the time”.
The holiday season is a double edged sword it is a great time to come together but it also the time where you put your life under a microscope and expect it to be something that it isn’t. At the same time you convince yourself that those around you are living in a perfect festive bubble, they aren’t.
So I leave you with this message, don’t presume people are fine, tell people you are not fine and more than likely you will find a kindred spirit and trust me it is better than being silent and alone.