When Your Baby’s Heartbeat Stops
On behalf of all the mother’s who have been through the trauma
of miscarriage and have angel babies in heaven.
This is their story.
We all know the fear.
Every-time we go to the toilet, we pray that there won’t be a blood stain on the paper. We pray like mad it will be clear. And we wait and wait, until we can’t wait any longer.
We wake, early, its 5am and still pitch dark outside. But morning urine is stronger and maybe, just maybe there will be two lines.
Our legs shake, heck our hands shake and we pee on our fingers, as well as the stick. We are so nervous and worry we haven’t done it correctly. Will the test be a waste?
We tell ourselves not to worry. There is a box of pregnancy sticks waiting for just this moment. If this doesn’t work, we will try a fresh one.
Then we sit and wait. We set the timer and tell ourselves not to look until the buzzer has gone off. But impatience sets in and we take a peek.
We squint and check the picture on the box. Could this be true? Two lines?
There are two red lines!!!! We are pregnant!!!!
We shriek and run into the bedroom, jumping on our husband’s sleeping form.
It has worked! We made a baby. We are having a baby!!
We try to hide the euphoric feelings that are buzzing around our body. Calm down we say. Can’t be good for the baby.
The baby! There is a baby in there.
We place our hand over our stomach and shake our head. What a miracle. How we want to protect this tiny new life so very much.
Two weeks pass, the doctor has confirmed the pregnancy and done the bloods. The HCG levels (pregnancy hormones) are a little lower than he would ideally like, but don’t lose heart, he says.
We go to work or look after other children, have coffee with friends, care for our families, all the while thinking and praying for our little bean to be safe.
We continually check for positive signs. Are our breasts tender? Has morning sickness kicked in? We hope morning sickness will begin soon – a sign of strong hormones. Do we have any cravings?
We can’t be sure.
Then one night a few weeks later, when we drag ourselves to the toilet for the hundredth time, we see it.
Bright red blood on our knickers. And a whole lot of blood on the toilet paper.
In that instant our heart drops, right down to our feet.
We feel sick, we shake, we keep saying, “no, no, no, no, not again, please not again”.
We crawl back into bed, trying to ignore the ache in our pelvic area that rises to a painful crescendo, dipping and diving and taunting us within our bodies, of which we have no control.
We tell ourselves that if we can sleep, the blood may be gone by morning. It could just be break-through bleeding. It’s common. It happens – heck some women bleed the whole way through their pregnancy.
We start to Google ‘bleeding when pregnant’ and choose to read only the positive outcomes.
This for now is enough. There is still hope.
We call work and tell them we can’t make it in, we organise a sitter for the kids, we don’t tell a soul or we tell everyone and ask them to pray. For the life of our child. The child that we love with an everlasting fierceness that pierces our soul. We want this baby so very much.
We have waited for this baby for such a long time.
We put off going to the toilet and the potential find of fresh blood. We clench our legs together, willing that little seed to hang in there.
“Mummy is here. You are not alone little love. You are so loved already. So precious”.
We say this over and over like a chant.
We will all of our strength onto the baby. Our hands don’t stop caressing our still-flat stomach.
“Please be ok baby. Please be ok baby. Please be ok baby”.
Over and over and over again.
Our name is called and we walk slowly into the radiographer’s dark room. We lay down onto the crisp white paper, lining the skinny bed with the squeaky rubber mattress. We stare at the mattress. Always the same colour. Dark blue, like the ocean deep, matching the frightened blackness of our souls.
The nurse is so lovely and speaks very quietly and slowly. We are asked to confirm the reason for the visit.
Yes it is bleeding we are experiencing. Our voice is raspy and strained. Our throats ache with the pressure of holding back the wall of emotions that threaten to explode. Everywhere.
All over this tiny cubicle space and all over the people inhabiting it. The dark corners of the room appear to sneer and beckon to us, a reminder that in a few short minutes, our whole world will shatter, all over again, just like before.
Again, very gently, we are told, this could be the start of our beloved baby miscarrying. Our chin wobbles and our eyes fill with hot tears ready to spill any minute.
“Are we having any pain down below”? Again, a nod, ever so slightly, “yes, yes we are”.
“Let’s have a little look at you and baby” she whispers.
The jelly will be cold we are told.
The screen is turned away from us.
There is silence.
The nurse’s face gives nothing away. One minute, two minutes pass.
We don’t hear a thump, thump, thumpity-thump of a heartbeat. We think we may be sick.
Then our little bellies are wiped clean and we are asked to sit up when we are ready.
And it comes, the words we have been dreading ever since we fell pregnant,
“I am terribly sorry but it appears your baby has no heartbeat and the pregnancy is not viable. The symptoms you are experiencing are consistent with a miscarriage”.
There are more words of condolence but we don’t hear them in the fog of grief, shock and overwhelming sadness.
The dam bursts and we sob and sob. Between gulps we manage to ask if it was anything we did wrong.
“Could it have been the sushi consumed whilst unaware of the pregnancy? Or the glass of wine a few weeks ago”?
But her kind eyes says it all.
As many as 50% of pregnancies end in miscarriage.
There is nothing that has made this happen. It is an act of nature that baby just wasn’t ready for this world.
Empty words which feel so painful to hear.
Our bleak minds compute the fact that we could neither protect our baby or sustain life. We are powerless in a way.
And that is the hardest pill to swallow. This being outside of our control. We feel so very broken.
But how we want this child!!! So very much and it seems so unfair all at the same time.
This story literally describes millions and millions of women all over the world in this exact situation. Miscarriage has been described as the silent grief.
These precious women warriors are unable to ever meet their children, the ones that were formed in their womb and grew as much as they possibly could. And worst still, oftentimes there isn’t a solid reason as to why the miscarriage occurred.
It is an ending of confusion and grief, which is tragically all too common.
Empty comfort for those, whose pregnancies never have the opportunity to continue.
Here are a few things that can help a grieving mummy friend or yourself:
-1 Stop and acknowledge the existence of your child.
You have been a mother since your baby was conceived and the loss of your little one doesn’t make you any less of a mother. It makes you a mother who grieves your child. Have a thanksgiving service with close family. Say a prayer, make a plaque and name your baby. Say goodbye in a way that acknowledges life.
-2 Share with your trusted tribe that you are hurting.
These need to be women you can cry with, who will sit with you whilst you talk (or not), ones who can hold you during your most difficult stages.
Part of the healing lies in fully comprehending the loss.
-3 Try not to alienate your partner because you were the one it happened to.
You are both parents and the loss is the same for mum and dad. Even though your partner may be grieving in a different way than you, he is still grieving. Give each other a double portion of grace and kindness and journey this painful path together.
-4 Take all the time you need to recover.
Don’t rush yourself back to normal. If you need a period of time to reflect and heal, take it. Believe me, you will be a much healthier and stronger person if you do give yourself some grace to work through the trauma of losing your child.
Seek professional help if you are struggling to let go.
-5 Take care of yourself.
Don’t allow grief to swallow you whole because it is so vile and will do so if you don’t try and build back into yourself. Look after yourself with good food, have long soothing baths, read feel-good books, take walks outside, buy yourself a new outfit or some great shoes. Whatever it is that feeds back into your heart – go do it. And do it often. It will make an enormous difference to your healthy recovery.
-6 Lastly, expect for something to trigger the hurt and grief all over again.
It could be something quite innocent said to you by someone in passing, which hits right at the heart of your sorrow all over again.
Ride with it and tell someone what has happened. Talk about it and before you know it, you will be back on your feet again. You will find that these lows won’t occur quite so much and you can look back and recognise how far you have come in your grief and journey loss.
And finally, don’t lose hope because hope anchors the soul to keep believing for the one thing that you desire. And absolutely, don’t give up. Not on your body, nor your future little love.
‘Hope can feel a bit like a gentle breeze that ruffles your hair.
It is not always loud or courageous, swirling madly about your feet.
It is often swinging your legs out of bed in the morning and starting your day,
despite feeling so very sad and really quite unable.
Hope is whispering, “yes”, when you want to scream, “no”.
Hope is believing that the gentle breeze will be there tomorrow
and acknowledging its presence beside you.
And one day, when the sun shines warm on your face and you smile more than cry,
and that breeze caresses your face once again,
you will realise how far you have come in this difficult and beautiful thing we call life.
Hope is trusting all over again that life will begin and flourish once more’.