It was an hour after my sister’s scheduled scan when the phone rang, and my heart broke as I saw her name flash up on my phone. Without even answering I knew what she was going to say.
The impending feelings of excitement and relief that we thought were moments away, drained, as I processed the news. Her voice was flat, and her spirit was broken.
6 months earlier she had shared the news that I was going to be an aunty for the first time.
As the eldest of three girls by more than half a decade, Iife had delivered me the experience of motherhood first. In the previous year, I had watched the girls transform from being my baby sisters to becoming Aunties to my baby. It was beautiful and exciting, and I was overcome with joy at the thought of being able to share in the experience of that special role.
When you start down the path of pregnancy, you go into it knowing the risks, and the statistics of miscarriage.
It’s daunting, but if you’ve not been affected by pregnancy loss, there’s a level of naivety that everyone shares. You imagine nothing else transpiring than an array of weird cravings, exciting milestones, and an ever-blossoming belly. We had been blessed to fall into this category, with no instance of pregnancy loss within our immediate family. So, when my sister lost her first pregnancy, we were all in utter disbelief.
She and her husband had undertaken genetic testing prior to conceiving, and the results being perfectly normal. Being in their early 20’s, they also were buoyed with the thought of having youth and health on their side. There was absolutely nothing in any of the pre-conception testing, or the pregnancy itself that indicated anything would go wrong. Yet it did.
Now, here we all were again nearly 6 months down the track, staring down the barrel of the same earth-shattering reality, as she lost another pregnancy.
Pregnancy loss has a ripple effect that can’t be fully comprehended until you find the waves gently lapping at your feet, and you look up and see how far they’ve travelled.
Not long after my sister’s first loss, someone asked why I was so upset because it was my sister, and not me. Here’s what I would have said if I’d had the eloquence and the self-awareness.
I would have said, I’m so upset because I know what it’s like to be pregnant.
That I know how instantly your life changes from the moment you see those two lines.
How a space opens up in your heart that is so deep, and so full of love, that you don’t know how you ever defined what love was before it.
I would have said, I’m so upset because I know how every minute of every day is consumed by your hopes and plans for the future of the child you’re growing in your body.
How from the moment you find out you’re pregnant, there’s nothing more terrifying than the mere thought that something could go wrong, let alone anything of the sort eventuating.
Lastly, and most importantly, I would have said I am so upset because I know all of this, and there’s absolutely nothing in the world I can do for her, to take away her pain.
I know the time will come when the rainbow shines brightly not just in the sky, but in their arms.
They will have a beautiful baby who will be showered, or more so, torrentially rained with love. Yet that does not dimmish the journey that it took to get there or the fact that she will always be a mother to four beautiful souls, while she can only hold one in her arms.
With permission, I share her story to honor the lives of her babies. This is my attempt to share what she is feeling, but can’t bring herself to put into words right now. It’s one of the only things I can do. I hope this helps those who are supporting someone through miscarriage, better understand the intensity of their loss.
Lastly, if you know someone who is experiencing a miscarriage or pregnancy loss, know this; you can never be too kind or too empathetic, you can never check in to see if they are okay too many times, or offer your love and support too much. If you don’t know the right words to say, that’s okay too.
Just find your way of letting them know that you are thinking of them.
For more information about supporting someone who’s experiencing miscarriage or pregnancy loss visit https://www.pinkelephants.org.au/