READER REPORT:

Our family's experience of miscarriage

MONICA MACFADYEN
Last updated 10:22 09/07/2014
Monica MacFadyen
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TOGETHER: Monica MacFadyen and her husband.

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In April of 2004, my 8-year-old son and I moved to Auckland from Canada with the man who would be my future husband.

We married in December and I was pregnant by January. I was 41 and he was 43, so we didn't want to put it off.

I had been pregnant twice before. Both pregnancies had gone well and resulted in two strapping sons.

At five in the morning on Wednesday April 7, 2005, I woke with terrific cramps. I crept out of bed, and went to the toilet. I left the bedroom quietly, holding my hand to my mouth because of the wet patch of blood on the bed. I did not wish to wake my husband. I did not wish to disturb the peaceful slumber he appeared to be in and the restful look on his face. I certainly did not want him to wake and see this - this most horrible thing - that made me want to howl in agony.

I lost our baby that morning and we had no choice because of circumstance but to carry on with our day. It was my first miscarriage, I knew what was happening and I was numb to it, but not numb to the physical pain.

The pain and my body expelling our child carried on for two weeks - the vicious cramps that held me in their grip subsided after five days.

There was no reason for it of course, other than perhaps the stressful time we experienced as a family, as my husband was embroiled in a tug of war with his former partner.

That year, we lost two more babies - and although all sit in my mind, there is one memory in particular I recall just like yesterday. My husband and I were going to have the ultrasound during the second pregnancy, and the technician rolled the instrument over my belly for us to hear the heartbeat of our unborn child. It was a magical moment.

That moment turned into a nightmare several weeks later when we returned and this time we were told our baby had died, coldly and clinically by the technician. My husband was the one in greater shock.

Being new to New Zealand, the level of vulnerability I felt and the rawness of the experience were both heightened and fairly acute as there was no family support system in place.

The one person who was there for us was our family doctor, who was loving and kind and provided a huge amount of pastoral and medical care that got us through such a difficult time.

There is a certain amount of heartlessness in our society as a whole, at least that is what has been my experience. We had friends that said, "never mind, it wasn't the right time''.

I wonder how they would feel to lose a child through illness or accident and have someone say those very words to them? To do so, one would be branded callous at best, or insane at worst. The friendship no doubt called into question - yet that is the very experience I had when confiding my three miscarriages to the few people I knew.

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The law recognises a baby when it is born, or of a sufficient length of gestation to be given a birth certificate if delivered and born deceased, but the law of the heart recognises each and every pregnancy.

You see, before you make a baby, you dream of it, and hope for it, and fantasise about the child you will have. It is truly the most wonderful time. 

For that great love to culminate unexpectedly and suddenly in death is an annihilation of the self, and one's dreams. You have to go back and reconstruct yourself and also find the courage to dream again, which for some turns out to be an impossible task.

Miscarriage is agony and heartbreak. It is also heartbreak for our partners as they stand by, helpless, and unable to fix the situation. They are disempowered and need comfort themselves, but many times they are the ones who think they must be strong and bury their grief and agony to concentrate on soothing the mother as best they can.

It has been a few years since we decided not to try to have any more children. Our time has now passed and though we are blessed with four healthy children from each of our former relationships, we still feel the tinge of regret and sadness from time to time, though in recent time much less. 

The strong bitter taste has been replaced by a light sweetness as we both remember the joy we felt each and every time.

Tips

  • Know that it takes a long time to accept and somewhat heal. You move towards acceptance and it is that what tells you to go forward.
  • Learn about the stages of grief.
  • It is imperative to seek support from those that accept your situation, who will respect your feelings and are knowledgeable in the loss and experience of miscarriage.


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