It's been a long while since I last wrote a proper blog post. I wonder if anyone is still reading...perhaps if you're like me, you don't clear blogs out of your blog reader when they haven't posted in ages so maybe this will pop up as a surprise. I should warn you, that this is a long and personal post, and not connected to crafting at all.....
If you follow me on Instagram ( I haven't posted recently, more later) you might have seen me posting in the summer about having had 2 miscarriages in 2017. The first, in January 2017, was when I was 10 weeks pregnant. It was such a shock and very hard to process. I fell pregnant about 3 months later, and although it was wonderful it was also terrifying and I was convinced the same thing would happen again. This time I made it to 12 weeks. In fact, it was on the evening of the day I was exactly 12 weeks pregnant, in July, that the bleeding started. This time it was even harder to bear, having just made it to the so-called 'safe' time. It was utterly devastating and I was very angry. I was able to get some counselling through my workplace, which was helpful. Without that outlet, I'm not sure how I would have coped. I also posted about it on Instagram, and received warm and supportive comments that really helped. I started making an embroidery with flowers which was to mark the two pregnancies, and I felt, to some degree, that I had dealt with the awful and intense emotions.
Then, after getting pregnant again shortly after, I had a third miscarriage in October. This time, I had only known for a couple of weeks and it was at an early scan (7 weeks) that it was confirmed that the pregnancy wasn't viable. It was hard to believe it could happen a third time. Part of me was pathetically grateful that I hadn't known for as long as last time and that it was overall less physically and emotionally traumatic. However in thinking that, and telling myself that it 'could have been worse', I was failing to deal with the combined weight of the grief of three miscarriages. At the time, life was very hard going, like wading through mud. I kept feeling like someone had their knee in my back and was pushing me down, not allowing me have something I really wanted.
But, I kept going, trying to concentrate on work, family and home, developing the coping mechanism of cutting out things that were too hard. So, no mental space for blogging. Instagram also had to go - despite it being helpful in the past, it was too hard to see people announcing pregnancies or even just getting on with their lives in a way that I felt I couldn't. Instagram had always been a 'safe space' to talk abotut crafting and I didn't want to feel it with loads of personal stuff or sadness. But equally, the miscarriages were such a big part of my life that I couldn't not talk about them. I had to cut out things to do with pregnancy and babies because it was too hard. So that meant minimising contact with people with small babies (not close friends, they were fine) or sometimes even not getting into the same train carriage as someone with a baby. So even while I was doing this as self-protection, I also felt so sad that I had to limit and control my life in this way just to keep going. Everything felt very unfair. I also resented the fact that being so sad was making it hard to concentrate on the good things in life that I really wanted to enjoy.
Everything came to a head in January this year. After dreading Christmas and New Year, I got through them, only to be faced with the anniversary of my first miscarriage on the 19th January- also on the same day as the due date for the second. Shortly after that, I interviewed for a job I wanted, but when I didn't get it I was so upset that I realised that I needed help. I was tired of being so sad and feeling like I just had no emotional resilience left. I felt like my skin had been stripped off and I was just raw and vulnerable to any emotion. Not that it was any wonder about that - 12 months of a rollercoaster of hope and grief will have that effect. I had used all the tools I had - counselling, talking, making stuff and running, but none of it was enough anymore.
This is where a trip to the Doctor came in. The less said about the first Doctor I saw the better - she was incredibly unempathetic and severely lacked in people skills, leaving me very upset by the encounter. Luckily the second Doctor I saw was lovely and very helpful and the result of our discussion was a prescription of anti-depressants. This wasn't something I knew much about or would have sought but her questioning of my mood and explanation of what they were and how they worked made me feel that this could be something that would help me. The idea of getting relief from the sadness that was so ever-present in my mind, was uplifting.
And so, this is where I am now. I'm still sewing and making things and living life. And after all that explanation, I wanted to talk about sadness and grief, because when I was feeling it the most, I craved reading about other peoples' experiences of grief because it helped me to feel less alone. Much of what I found is about grief after the death of a person. While miscarriage grief shares much of the same characteistics, I found it hard to negotiate because I was grieving for someone I didn't know, so I did wonder how on earth it could be so painful sometimes. But it really is. And none of the miscarriages were any less painful than the others, just different, as I was in a different place emotionally each time. The cumulative weight of the grief is very heavy, and the recalibration from hope to grief to hope and fear to grief to hope and grief yet again has been so exhausting.
Having been throught this experience has given me a greater depth of understanding of grief and of the problems that are caused by not dealing with it - because you never get to escape from it, and it will get you sooner or later. It's taught me the importance of seeing and acknowledging grief - mine and other peoples'. This is particularly relevant for miscarriages. After 3 miscarriages I had spent a total of 29 weeks being pregnant (10,12,7) but no-one would have known about it unless I had chosen to share it. I found that very painful, and sometimes just wanted to tell everyone to let them know how broken I was feeling. It was important for me to acknowledge the pregnancies in some way - I started my embroidery after number 2 which seemed a appropriate means for me to mark the experience, but once I'd had the third miscarriage I was at a loss as it was, quite literally, not in the plan so I didn't know how to include it in my embroidery plan.
And I really do think it is so important to talk about miscarriage, to stop it being a secret, shameful-feeling thing. None of my miscarriages were because of anything I did, or didn't do, in spite of all the crazy theories I have come up with. And I wanted (and needed) to talk about them, a lot. Happily I do have good friends and a husband I can talk to. But there were definitely times I needed to talk more but didn't. Partly because I just didn't know what to say and also because it felt like such a huge weight I was dumping on someone, it was too hard. Having spoke to a counsellor about this, I know that it's silly because I wouldn't feel like someone was 'dumping' a problem on me, and would probably feel honoured they had chosen to trust me with it. Again, it's something that's been underlined to me, is how very hard it is to make space to talk about mental health, depression or grief. We think we are connecting with people, online or even in person, but it is hard to make that space to introduce big, difficult topics. That's why I wanted to write about this here, where it is my own space to write about whatever I choose, on my own terms.
I know that many of you reading will have been through miscarriage or dealt with grief. You are not alone. And if you're struggling to cope, speak to someone or to your Doctor - and make sure they have really heard you. If you are looking for information on miscarriage, on dealing with it or supporting someone who has been through it, I recommend the Miscarriage Association.
I will be back with another post soon about sewing and making. It will be good to be blogging again.