Over the months I would come to tell many of my friends about my miscarriage, usually right at the end of a catch-up after repeatedly wanting to talk about it but then losing confidence. Everything always seemed better after I had spilled my secret. And slowly, I began to learn that many of my friends had also experienced miscarriages. One of my friends had three miscarriages before her first child was born. When I told her what had happened she wisely advised me to take care of myself. Another friend told me that her colleague has experienced seven miscarriages before her first child. Seven! “What an amazing and strong woman!” I thought to myself. God, I hope that doesn’t happen to me, I don’t know if I would have that strength to keep trying.
One of my friends came out with news of a miscarriage seemingly out of the blue. I emailed her to ask how she was and her response was stark. “We had a miscarriage in March, fair to say I’m in a pretty dark place.” “Wow,” I thought. “It takes guts to email something like that.” It was evident that it occupied her mind. I realized that I needed to call her, and we talked for an hour or so that evening. She cried for most of that hour. At the time I think I was slightly taken aback that someone seemingly so strong would remain so affected by the miscarriage that had taken place three months earlier. In hindsight, I know exactly how she feels.
She told me that she’d begun bleeding late in the first trimester and had miscarried in her toilet at home. Her partner was at work at the time. “The indignity of it all,” I thought, “this must happen to so, so many women.” I was angry. At that moment I was also glad that I had been in a hospital bed, and that our little guy was sitting in a jar in my clothes drawer, rather than being lost down a toilet without that chance to say goodbye to him thoughtfully. It still bothers me.
One day several months later I sat opposite a friend at a café and sort of babbled out that we’d experienced a miscarriage but hoped to have a second baby. That was all it took for her to blurt out that she’d recently had a miscarriage, at around seven weeks, and had been rushed to hospital with the pain and bleeding. She hadn’t told anyone. I could feel the relief in her voice that she’d finally told someone. And it was a hugely cathartic experience for both of us to compare notes, so to speak.
We both realized that we’d become obsessive over becoming pregnant. We’d be monitoring every little detail of our monthly cycles trying to figure out when was a good time to try and conceive. We tried to tell each other to relax. How ridiculous. You spend decades of your life desperately trying not to get pregnant and then all of a sudden you want to get pregnant but don’t really understand how your own body works. The more I think about this, the more I think that it might be empowering for women to learn about issues such as fertility, conception and miscarriage at an earlier age.
Perhaps my most disappointing experience was when one of my good friends told me of her pregnancy and due date. I explained what I had experienced. She expressed momentary concern, but then clearly became awkward and uncomfortable and changed the topic. She has never mentioned it again. I still wonder why that is.