I have shared parts of my story before but never the whole thing, please bear with me as it is not a short tale.
I was abused when I was a child and when I was 14, I fell pregnant. As you can imagine, I panicked, I didn’t know what to do. I had tried telling my parents of the abuse when I was younger, but it was brushed under the carpet and never discussed again, so whatever I did, I knew I had to do it alone.
Rather naively, I thought that ‘a bottle of gin and a hot bath‘ would do the trick so that’s exactly what I did. I don’t know if it was the gin or if it was just destined to happen anyway, but I lost the baby. I was around 3 months pregnant and I will never forget the sight of that poor little thing as I said goodbye. The shock of seeing such a tiny, perfectly formed little person was more than I’d expected. I never realised that it wouldn’t just be a heavy period and it was an awful lot for me to deal with. I know that keeping it was never an option, but the guilt of that day has haunted me ever since.
When I was 16, I was walking home from a night out with friends when I was attacked by a group of men. I don’t want to go into the details because I relive them most nights, but the short story is that I ended up pregnant again. I miscarried again, at around 6 weeks (just when I was getting to the stage of utter panic of ‘how on earth I was going to deal with this situation’ and how stupid I had been to ‘let myself get into this situation again’. Guilt, the one thing that unifies women across the globe!).
Fast forward nearly a decade: I am married to a wonderful man, a man who truly saved me and made me see that I am worth something; and we are trying for our first child. I know from previous smear tests that I have cervical damage and that it’s “rather unlikely” I will get pregnant, but, after 6 months of trying, I do.
We were so excited. You can imagine how excited. Being a mother was all I have ever wanted in my life. Once my husband had finally convinced me that I wasn’t worthless and unlovable and I realised that it was more than just a pipe dream and was actually going to happen, I was just over the moon! My husband told both our families, which wasn’t something I wanted, but in the excitement I agreed. Obviously we lost the baby. I was only 4 1/2 weeks, but it was a real blow. I had been so focussed on whether I could actually get pregnant at all that it never occurred to me that this was only part of the struggle. We were dealt with by a cold and callous doctor who made a pretty miserable experience even more so.
The next month we caught again. I knew deep down it wouldn’t stick and neither of us felt any excitement at the positive test. That in itself was a sign so we told no one and essentially sat waiting for the bleeding to start. It did, at around 6 weeks. That was a low point in my life. I could get pregnant, but what use was that if I was too damaged to hold onto them? What if they were both perfectly healthy little babies, but it was my stupid body that just couldn’t hold onto them. We decided to stop trying for a month to give both my body and my mind a rest.
The month after that, we caught again (3 times in 4 months? My husband was chuffed, to say the least!) and, 9 months later, I got my rainbow baby. 9 months of trying and 9 months of waiting: I couldn’t believe that I actually got to be a mum, and take this beautiful little creature home with me!
We started trying for number two almost straight away. As I was breastfeeding, we expected it to take a while and was tracking my cycles so imagine my surprise when, on a whim during what I thought was just a very heavy period, I tested and found myself staring at two very strong lines. A scan confirmed a baby measuring 8 weeks with no heartbeat.
How could I not even have known I was pregnant?! How could I not have known that that little life was inside of me? How could I not have seen it, from my fertility charting!? I felt so much guilt because I did not deserve to grieve over something I never knew I had in the first place. I was absolutely devastated and wondered if I would have to go through 4 dead babies before I got to take home another, if this was to be my pattern in life.
Well, 9 months after we first started trying, we got our second rainbow baby. After an incredible healing birth we were a family of four. Our family was complete.
Until a year later when, once again, on a whim, I tested. Again, I was pregnant. A bit of a miracle, seeing as my husband had had a vasectomy two months after our second was born, but gosh I was excited! Not in our plans in the slightest, but being a mother is something I adore so we would make it work. I was able to get a scan the very next day. I was nearly 11 weeks, but once again there was no heartbeat.
This was not a situation I knew how to deal with; all my previous losses had started with bleeding, now I was in the awful situation of waiting around for it to begin. Luckily it didn’t take long, but it has been the most traumatic loss so far. The memories that seeing that little baby brought back were almost more than I could cope with, and I have struggled ever since. The guilt of not knowing it was there very nearly consumed me and, 6 weeks on, I am still feeling very raw about the whole thing. I’m not quite sure what to do to make it right, I think it’ll just be a case of muddling on through as I have always done but I can’t help feeling such guilt over the 6 little babies that never made it, one because of my own actions, however impractical the alternative would have been.
I am ridiculously grateful for my two rainbow babies, and their faces make me thank my lucky stars that I was able to have them. One baby was more than I had dreamed I would get; two was just ridiculously perfect.
But, no matter how grateful I am for my children, I can’t help feeling desperately sad over the ones that I never got to meet…
I’m sorry, there isn’t much ‘point’ to this story, but if there is just one other person out there who thinks ‘me too’, and feels a little less alone when they read it, then it was worth it.