Yesterday Karl and I went shopping for a very special plant, something to nurture and love, and something to forever remind us.
I had a miscarriage at 7.5 weeks and this special plant would be where I would lay my sweet little baby to rest.
Now, miscarriage is not something that most people talk about, although 1 in 4 pregnancies statistically ends in miscarriage (I know), I have never taken the time to intimately ask friends who experienced this what it was like, in detail, for them.
I had no idea.
So when it happened to me, I didn't know what to expect. I didn't know, in truth, just how devastating and brutal it was until it was unfolding in my very own body.
This is why I'm sharing this. Because I am someone who is terrible at surface talk and small talk. I am only interested in truth, authenticity and being real. And I wish I knew that this was what it was like, so I could offer true support to so many women I've known who have gone through the miscarriage of their baby.
Sometimes in life, death occurs, even for babies or children. And as horrifying as this is, it doesn't help if we cannot talk about it.
Miscarriage is perceived by many as 'not a real pregnancy' or babies below a certain gestation are not 'real babies' - I think this prevents women from grieving the loss of their babies in a healthy way that allows closure and peace. It stops us from talking about it out of fear of seeming 'weird' or 'dramatic' and 'why don't you just get on with it' and 'you can always try again', etc, etc.
It is something that is hushed and overlooked. It is not a cool topic of conversation.
Yet, it still happens. And if it happens to you, I want you to know you are not alone, and I want you to know what to expect, and that you are allowed to celebrate and grieve and create ritual around your child in whatever way you choose.
You are allowed to feel WHATEVER you feel. Heartbroken, relieved or somewhere in between.
Here is my very fresh, and very raw story.
When I started bleeding, I knew something was wrong, but I hoped it could still be normal. The blood looked mostly brown, and while I knew that light spotting could be normal in early pregnancy, this did seem like more than that, and the consistency seemed strange. The brown blood looked old, and it was mixed with what looked like tissue. I didn't know who to call, or what to do, so I called the hospital who told me to book in with my GP, but that nothing could be done if it was a miscarriage, and that I should try to rest tonight. I made an appointment for the following day.
That night as I lay in bed crying, I spoke to the baby in my mind, telling it I loved it, that it was welcome and wanted. But also that I understood if it couldn't stay. That I trusted it to follow its truth too. I tried to surrender to life as much as I possibly could, as I always try to do when I can.
I swear I felt it's beautiful spirit let go that night. I didn't want to admit it, but I knew my baby was gone.
When the ultrasound the next day confirmed this, and that my cervix had started to open, I acted as if it was routine information to receive. I had prepared myself for the worst mentally. I was there on my own, and couldn't cry in that moment. I couldn't let that feeling come in front of strangers and then walk out into that waiting room as broken as I felt. By the way, the ultrasound is an internal one at that gestation, which means a giant rod up your vagina, which feels totally violating and intrusive and just instinctually wrong as you are bleeding and wondering if your baby is ok.
When I left the clinic I felt overwhelmed with sadness. I sat in my car and cried. I didn't know what to feel. Confused. I never thought that would happen to me? My body knows how to do this? Did I do something wrong? Was it something I ate? Was it when I fell while hiking? Did I wish this away out of fear because it was terrible timing? Did I cause this? Is this my fault?
Knowing your dead baby is inside you, but cannot stay, is true heartbreak.
A few hours later at home the cramping started, increasing in intensity, similar to a mild labour, but this didn't feel like positive pain. Still, I trusted my body to know what to do, and I knew that I wanted to miscarry naturally. I know that isn't for everyone, but something about that felt important for my personal healing - so I just tried to trust as much as I could.
The sensation grew to a sharp crescendo - what I imagine was my cervix opening enough - and then I could feel it start. A small pop and large gush of blood. The opening, the bleeding, the emptying.
So simple and so brutal at the same time.
More blood than I ever imagined. I wondered if this was normal? So much blood? Pouring out? Pieces and chunks of tissue. Clots. More blood pouring. Could you haemorrhage from a miscarriage? How much was too much? I tried not to feel scared and dropped into my heart and trusted.
I got in the shower and then immediately realized that I didn't want her remains to go down the drain. Karl got me a container, and I collected any big or little pieces that came out. With each surge of intensity came more blood, more tissue. I felt numb and just focused on what my body was doing. Millie was in the shower with me, totally oblivious and enjoying the water. I wondered each time if the little body and the sac had left me? But when it did, it was undeniable. I held it in my blood stained hand and cried for all the possibility that was no more. It was really over. My baby was really gone. Resting now right there in my hand. It was an image I will never forget. The future changed in an instant.
We felt her soul was feminine, and decided she was a little girl we called Lily. Avi thought it was a little girl, and she's right intuitively about most things.
Last night to lay her little body to rest, we put on music meaningful to us, and I sat and held her in my hand for a while, and showed her little body to Karl, the cord, the start of her placenta. The tears stung and soothed. At 7.5 weeks she didn't look like a normal baby yet, but she looked beautiful to me. She was still mine. As weird as it sounds, I wanted to touch her, stroke her little body and have her feel that I am her mum, even though it's crazy and even just for a while.
I said over and over in my mind 'I love you my little darling, I'm not angry, I know you couldn't stay, I know you'll come back when you can' and that's when I realised it would be hard to actually lay her physically down to rest in the soil. Then I could never again 'see', hold her in my hand or touch her. She would only be in my memory. Did it even happen? Was she real? Did she ever exist? I suddenly longed to be her mum, to have her be the baby and then little girl I thought she'd be. I'd never get to cuddle her, or get to know her and grow in closeness like with my other daughters. Karl reminded me that her soul was already gone, and all around me. That she was everywhere, and I could feel this was true.
We wrapped her gently in a soft cloth and placed her on the soil, with a rose quartz crystal resting on top. And then we added her peace lily plant, with its roots surrounding her.
It felt so incredibly sad, and strangely, so incredibly peaceful at the same time. All I could feel was intense love for this little soul who had come to wake me up further into love, further into surrender and further into living from my heart - living intuitively. My heart had grown bigger again, and I knew I was better because of her existing, even for only a little while.
I wish our journey was not so short together for now, but I'll always remember and be eternally grateful for my little Lily, who I will learn to love in another form. Until we meet again little sweetheart.
Oh life. You beautiful, painful, perfect thing. I am grateful for and heartbroken-open by it all.
Mothers who lose their babies don't need you to change the subject, distract them or pretend it never happened. They need you to listen. They need to acknowledge the life of their baby. They need to feel validated.
It's ok to say their child's name if they had one, in fact, please do.
It's ok to ask what happened, and it may important for that mama's healing.
A life is no less a life because it's time here was short. Some of the greatest impacts can be made in an split second.
When we can collectively acknowledge death - we can start talking about it - as a part of life.
Not an easy part, but still a part, and that doesn't change just because we don't talk about it.
It only makes it harder to deal with when it happens to you.