Warning: This post contains details about pregnancy loss, if you think this may be distressing for you please close the page and seek support if you need to.
Wave of Light is a once a year event which takes place at 7pm and it’s an opportunity to join with bereaved parents, families and friends around the globe to commemorate all babies who sadly died too soon. You light a candle to remember. I’ve previously observed this day silently and alone, out of choice but this year I decided to post about it.
Only a select few know what I’ve been though, not that I’m ashamed or I wouldn’t talk about it but I just don’t bring it up in conversation, and there’s some people in my life who I don’t really discuss these kinds of things with. Violet is my rainbow baby because she was a healthy live baby who was born after a pregnancy loss. She wasn’t my first pregnancy, there were four before her, two of those were when I was actively trying to conceive. This is most of the reason why I stopped blogging, I went into a really dark place where it became my sole focus and I didn’t have the energy or will for anything else. Last year was probably the worst year of my life.
After losing two accidental pregnancies I just felt like intentional pregnancies would be different, that sounds pretty naïve to me now but at the time I was hopeful. It happened for us relatively quickly and we started planning for what the future may look like. Then I started to bleed. Having experienced this before I was on pins and needles, sat in the early pregnancy unit watching couples coming out crying and hoping with my entire being that we wouldn’t get bad news. At 7 weeks everything was okay, no sign of a bleed in the womb and a visible heart beat, the baby was a good size and we were reassured that the pregnancy was progressing as planned. I had a couple more bleeds and was checked every time, every time everything was normal.
Then at 11 weeks and 6 days, the week before we were due our 12 week scan I bled again and I just knew, I felt that dull ache inside. I just knew. The sonographer looked and looked, then looked again, desperate to give us good news, but there was no good news. ‘There’s no heartbeat’. There’s no heartbeat. Those words will haunt me forever. Then we became the crying couple leaving the early pregnancy unit. The worst part for me, this being what they call a silent miscarriage, was that our baby had passed away at around 9 weeks old, the heart had just stopped beating, but my body hadn’t realised yet, due to the hormones. My body was refusing to let go and I had been carrying around a dead baby for weeks without realising it. I felt stupid for having imagined the baby’s future. I had been planning on telling our family for mother’s day, putting a surprise in their cards but now I had to sit there, feeling empty inside waiting for my surgery, another mother’s day passing to remind me of my failings.
After the initial bad news there is another pain entirely, the actual losing of the baby. I’ve had a natural loss once, the medical method once and the surgical method twice. I had no choice with the natural method as it was very early and spontaneous. As it was early there wasn’t much to pass and it was over quickly, at least physically. The medical method was painful, they insert a pessary which brings on contractions, and mine felt almost as bad as real labour. I was kept in for a whole day while they monitored what my body expelled. I did feel cared for on the ward but it was a private room on the same ward as all the new mothers which I still find eternally cruel. I watched families pass by, bringing presents and balloons, and I left the ward in the night, empty and empty handed.
The surgical method was the worst, the first time I had it I was on the same ward again, I just don’t understand how they can do it. I felt barren after, it’s a horrible ache in the deepest parts of you that nothing on this earth can touch. The second surgery I had was worse, my bed was on a mixed ward, although my room was all women who had had gynaecological procedures. They came and discussed my condition with no privacy using terms such as ‘leftover product’ to describe the baby, the only person who acknowledged my loss and called it a baby was a healthcare support worker. The doctors and nurses were so cold and clinical in their handling of me at such a fragile time. I even had the surgery cancelled the first day I went in as there was no room. They looked at me incredulously as I balled my eyes out walking down the corridor out of the ward as if they couldn’t understand that I just couldn’t stand another day of carrying around my dead child inside me while my body refused to naturally let them go. The reason why I would still have the surgery if it did happen to me again is that you get knocked out and don’t have to experience the passing of the baby, this is especially important to me when it comes to a pregnancy which is a bit later on in the first trimester. I absolutely hated seeing the remains of the baby during the medical method.
It wasn’t too long after that that we got lucky again, but almost as soon as I had found out that I was pregnant, it was taken away from me again. An early loss. I tried to console myself that the loss wasn’t as bad as the first three, as bad as that sounds. It was at this point, after having three miscarriages in relative closeness, that we received a referral to see a fertility consultant just in case there were problems. I had a constant feeling like I was at fault, or that I was being punished for something I had done. Ridiculous thoughts to me now, but in that lowest of low moments I felt like my soul had been destroyed and that I would never be happy again.
After all my losses I couldn’t look at a pregnant woman without getting upset, I had to leave the room when people brought their babies into work. I had a stabbing feeling within the deepest parts of me which I now recognise as grief, but also a seething and ugly jealousy that I really struggled to deal with. It was around this time that I found out my sister in law was expecting and I wanted the earth to open me up and swallow me whole. I just didn’t know how to be happy for her, nor could I fathom how I would see her get bigger and have her baby, and watch that baby grow up when I didn’t know if it would ever happen for me. I had counselling after that last loss, through work, doing some Acceptance and Commitment Therapy which I found endlessly helpful, but also just the act of letting the darkness out in a safe environment was cathartic.
After seeing the fertility consultant I was given a long list of tests I had to have, blood tests, an ultrasound to check for womb abnormalities and a procedure where a camera would be inserted into the womb. My husband wasn’t asked to complete a single test and that still makes me really angry. However, none of it mattered in the end as the next day I found out I was pregnant again. I found out early at 3 weeks and 2 days, on what would have been the due date of baby number 3. She’s a special one because we found out on the due date of baby number 3, the first day of what would have been my first missed period was the date I lost baby number 1, we told our families in December, and we’d lost baby number 2 in December, and she was born in June, the month we had lost baby number 4 and when baby number 2 should have been born. She is our rainbow baby and Violet is the last colour in the rainbow. I’m hoping she’s my last and only rainbow baby and we don’t have to go through all that again.
I walked into all the appointments, all the way through the pregnancy just waiting to hear bad news. I held my breath at every scan waiting for the ‘there’s no heartbeat’ I was so used to. Every day I was sure it was going to happen again, even the weeks leading up to her birth I had all sorts of horrible thoughts of things going wrong. I just felt like it was never going to actually happen for me. But she’s here now, after causing me trouble for a lot of the pregnancy and a bit of a traumatic birth that I won’t go into. She is perfect and so loved, I think even more so because of the journey to get here, I think it makes you more appreciative even when it gets hard. So yeah, this is my first time writing about this for everyone to see but the stigma needs to be broken, I am observing the wave of light and I’m not alone.
Help and support for those who have experienced pregnancy loss