12 weeks on

Today marks 12.5 weeks since I found out about my missed miscarriage and 12 weeks since the physical miscarriage happened. In these 12 weeks, I have learnt more about myself than I ever wanted to know and I have become more dependent on people than I have ever been before. There have been good days and there have been bad days. Typically the good outnumber the bad but the last week or two has been particularly difficult and the balance has been off.

I wanted to write this for anyone who is struggling with a miscarriage, whether it is them or a friend/family member who has experienced it. The most important piece of information I have received is this:

You are allowed to grief. You have experienced a loss in the family. If it was someone people in the family knew about, you’d be allowed to grief: this is no different.

Those words were spoken to me by my counsellor. I have avoided going to counselling for many years but, with this, I reached the stage where I couldn’t avoid it any more. My counsellor has made me feel more validated than any other person who has tried to help me, my husband included. I am lucky enough to have a wonderful support network but, even with that network, I feel like I am failing sometimes by having such a strong reaction to the miscarriage. It is important to remember that feeling is not failing. When I’ve had moments where I am really struggling, I have told certain people whom I really trust and I get responses back like:

Well don’t be too hard on yourself. Your head’s doing whatever it needs to do.

Upon telling a friend that I am going to counselling, she said that she thought I was amazing to be tackling it full force and how much she admired me for it. It has given me that strength to keep pushing through on the bad days. I’ve learnt that there is no shame in needing to remove myself from situations that are just too much for me, even if someone else could cope. We each recover differently and that is the key thought for recovering from a miscarriage. Different people feel differently. I seem to be struggling more than other people I know who have had miscarriages but that is OK. 12 weeks on I have learnt that lesson – I hope anyone else reading this can learn it sooner.

Thank you for listening.

P.S. After 64 poems published consecutively, there may be a little break as the writing is dependent on my mood. That being said, I wrote 5 in one day the other week so maybe they will pick up again.

Advertisements

People for whom I am thankful

If I hadn’t miscarried, I would be having my 20 week scan around now. Instead, I have spent the last 8 weeks trying to recover and accept what has happened.

I am lucky enough to be one of those people who makes friends easily. As such, I have gotten closer to people since the miscarriage and they have become invaluable confidantes. I have started trying to see the positives in things and my friendships with these people have been the glimmer of hope emerging from this miscarriage. Thank you, all of you.

R – The epitome of support. This person will say that they are selfish but their unwavering support for me has been one of the most important things over the last couple of months. We grew close in this time for many reasons and have discovered a mutual understanding of mental health issues. This has allowed us to become support nets for each other, although they haven’t needed me to support them yet. Even when topics have gotten difficult and have the potential to trigger their own problems, they haven’t shied away. Instead, they have guided me and encouraged me when I haven’t accepted what I need, being my external Jiminy Cricket whilst the internal one is on sabbatical. Thank you for opening up to me and allowing me to open up to you without judgement or pause.

F – This person has helped without even knowing they are helping I believe. Whenever I see them, they tell me that they love my face. If ever there was a way to put an instant smile on someones face, that is it. Such an endorphin rush for something so silly. They laugh and smile with me, infectious giggling overtaking us on many an occasion. It has been vital for me to have someone around like this person as, when I am vulnerable, I react on how other people are feeling. They also saved me in a way that they don’t know. I was ready to harm myself, the day before I actually harmed myself, and they texted me. It was a random text which had no importance, apart from that it started off a conversation which stunted the urge to harm myself. There are no words to describe my thankfulness for that action.

J – I think I have found my (platonic) soulmate in J. We have such incredible respect for each other whilst both wanting to spend time together whenever feasible. There are few people I have opened up to so quickly and the same is true for them. When I start to feel bad again, I will remember that I’ve created a brilliant friendship due to the miscarriage and hold onto that with all of my strength. Love you J!

I want to make a special mention as well to M who is an old friend and therefore doesn’t fall into the above words. M accepts me for who I am, troubles and all. When I told them that I had harmed myself, they accepted it and offered support in whatever way I needed it. They didn’t appear shocked or distressed, just understanding. The act that shocked them was me revealing that I had stopped listening to music for a period of time. I’d had no desire. Music is like our spines to the both of us – without it, we crumble. I still haven’t quite got the craving I used to have for music back but it is getting there.

Mental Health: Personal Awareness

I need help.

I can say that now.

I am well on the way to getting help – I have acknowledged that I am not well.

Like many people, I grew up with a stigma about mental health. I was always told that grit and determination will get you there but that isn’t always the case. I wouldn’t describe myself as having had a tough childhood but there was a lot of pressure on me and I often didn’t let myself come to terms with things that I should have come to terms with. When there was turmoil, I became the pillar caught in the middle, trying not to let everything crumble. Now, I’ve finally cracked.

I had thought of self harm often as a child/young adult but I thought that if I did anything, I would seem weak and people would notice. The other day, I self harmed for the first time. I didn’t want to do it and I kept trying not to but the aggravation within my skin was so intense that I couldn’t not do it. I didn’t penetrate the skin because, thankfully, the knife was pretty blunt, but that doesn’t detract from what I did. It helped relieve me, whilst at the same time showing me how truly fragile my mental state was right now. As I described to a friend, my miscarriage seems to have triggered my historic issues and won’t let me cover them up anymore. As scary as it is to accept, I can now admit that I have a problem and, just as I would if I was physically hurt, I need to do all that I can to take care of myself.

I have shared all my poetry with the hope that it will start to reduce some of the stigma around miscarriage. I have written this as I want to do my part to reduce the stigma around mental health. You will see from some of my future poems that there is a darkness that has stemmed from my mental health rather than the miscarriage – please do not be afraid to acknowledge if some of it resonates with you. Please do not think that you are weak if you need to seek help to stop yourself doing something harmful. You are the strong one for wanting to help yourself and, in turn, the people around you. My husband is worried about me but some of that worry has been relieved by me saying that I have opened up to select people and that I now have counselling arranged. When I feel unworthy of help, I think of him and how I want to be healthy for the both of us. His patience, love, and devotion deserve it.

Where to call for help in the UK

 

Songs that saved my life – May/June 2017

A friend of mine asked me if I would write a “Songs that saved my life” post because she was curious to read it. I once wrote a list of the 100 most important songs to me but this is going to be different. As people who have read the rest of this blog would expect, the three songs listed are all linked to my miscarriage. I will write another one some other time but not just yet. So here goes.

For Good – Wicked the Musical.

About one week after my miscarriage, I was listening to the radio and “For Good” from Wicked came on. I adore this musical and my favourite song has always been “The Wizard and I” because it speaks of naïve hope, something I wish people were allowed to have more. I have listened to the soundtrack multiple times and always appreciated “For Good” but I associated it with my husband or various friends. This time however, all I could think of was my lost child. And I cried.

“People come into our lives for a reason, bringing something we must learn.”

Over the last month, I have heard this song repeatedly and I am so thankful for my new interpretation. I have had issues in the past where I know I should have spoken to someone but I refused to admit to others that I needed help. In the last week I admitted that I needed to talk to someone and I’ve made the first step towards counselling. Two decades of stifling the need for external help and now my lost child has given me that push to accept help. I could never have done that without them.

“Because I knew you, I have been changed for good.”

She Used to be Mine – Waitress the Musical

I love musicals. I always have. They speak of a hope and jollity that doesn’t exist in normal life; but it could if people were a bit lighter. I often reword songs based on what is happening and sing them as my husband and I are in the car or walking down the street. It injects laughter into life and we could all do with some more laughter. “She Used to be Mine” from Waitress is not a song involving laughter. It is a brutal, uncut description of someone who has lost themselves by no fault of their own. I first heard it when I was struggling at work about 8 months ago. I’d lost the love of what I was doing and felt unappreciated and beaten down. I took an action to change and started applying for other jobs, getting one in the same organisation but working on completely different work to reinvigorate myself. I listened to this song and I felt powerful and compelled for my changes.

The first time I listened to this song after the miscarriage, I felt even more resonance with it than I had ever done before. The lyrics

It’s not easy to know
I’m not anything like I used be

allowed me to admit that I had changed but that it wasn’t an issue that I had done so. My mental state is perfectly described by one section of lyrics:

She’s imperfect, but she tries
She is good, but she lies
She is hard on herself
She is broken and won’t ask for help
She is messy, but she’s kind
She is lonely most of the time
She is all of this mixed up and baked in a beautiful pie
She is gone, but she used to be mine

I knew that I needed to stop feeling like a failure but I couldn’t quite get there. To see me, no one would know that that was going on inside; I always presented myself as a beautiful pie.

How Long Will I Love You – Jon Boden

My husband and I have loved this song since we saw the film “About Time”. I remember the Ellie Goulding version coming out and us complaining that it was rubbish in comparison to the Jon Boden version. I quite like the original by The Waterboys as well but my husband isn’t as keen on the folksy side of it.

I love to dance and I think there is nothing more romantic than a husband and wife ignoring the world and dancing to a beautiful song together. The first day I felt truly OK after the miscarriage, I put this song on when I was sat with my husband. He is not a dancer but he knows that if I put this song on, he must dance. He pulled me in close and we danced for the short duration of the song. I felt like I could be whole again because I knew that no matter what, he would be there for me.

How long will I want you?
As long as you want me to
And longer by far.

I knew that he meant every word of the song as he sang along to it and I needed that healing power of his words at that moment in time. I cried but this time it was a combination of happy, relief tears and tears of the child we had lost who we would have loved so much. I felt safe for the first time in weeks.

Miscarriage

One month ago today, I went into hospital to have medical assistance for my miscarriage. Four days before that, I went to have my 12 week scan. There was no heartbeat and the baby measured at 9 weeks in size. It was the worst experience of my life.

For about 10 days after finding out, I was very closed off and, although I attempted to talk to people as though life was normal, all I could think about was that I wanted my child. After a breakdown following a conversation about babies, my husband made me go to the doctor to see if there was anyone who could help. I went to the doctor and broke down with her. She said the most important words to me, words which every family who have a miscarriage, however early, need to hear.

“You cannot go back to work like this. You need time to grieve.”

On those words I realised that I hadn’t allowed myself the opportunity to grieve for the child I had lost. I knew they were gone but I hadn’t grieved it. I felt like I would be judged for grieving the loss of a child I had never met but it was something I needed to do. Doing this changed me.

I had very dark thoughts during the start but after visiting the doctor, the edges of my mind started to have glints of light. Up until this point I had only written a sort of diary as my creativity had disappeared but, after the doctor, I started to write poetry again. I opened up my first poem “Poem 1” to a few friends who loved it. I then shared more of this poetry with a good friend who encouraged me to share it with the world. She said it helped her understand some of what I was going through and know how to respond to me without hurting my feelings. I have since shared a poem a day and I have more to come. Some are dark; some are hopeful; some have no relation to the miscarriage but I still want to share them.

No two people will experience miscarriage the same way and whether or not these poems help anyone, I will continue to expose them to the world just in case they provide some tiny comfort to a grieving family. I will end this with a fitting quote from C.S. Lewis:

“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. I am not afraid,
but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach,
the same restlessness, the yawning. I keep on swallowing.”

Poem 2

Emptiness

Loneliness

A feeling not quite right

There’s something missing

The light, the light

It calls and hounds and

Follows me through

Making sure I don’t forget you.

Emptiness

Loneliness

A vacant womb

Wondering away from the shadowy tomb

Spirits gathering and causing a fright

Helping mourners pass the night.

Emptiness

Loneliness

What’s done is done.

Where is the barrel of the gun?