Monday, 14 November 2016


When one writes ‘The End’ one imagines that it will in fact be the end. That a journey of three years, neatly and emotionally summed up in one last, glorious chapter, would be over. Yet sometimes the game plan has to be adjusted even after the game is over, and this is one of those times. 

This is an entry I never imagined I would write. One I hesitate over even as I know it will reach countless others who have suffered, and those who are yet to receive the news that no one expects and is never welcome. This is an entry about miscarriage - in particular about silent or missed miscarriage – something I had never heard of until it happened to me. To us. Until a shadow I had never thought to fear fell upon a life as yet unnamed and barely felt, but already loved and looked forward to
It is early September. Summer begins her gradual retreat, crowned with a golden trip to Italy which spins by in a burst of colour, heat and happy nuptials. And then two little blue lines catapult us into the first stage of a great adventure, one that changes everything. A few weeks later, on the eve of Felix’s third birthday, a tired and happy little boy goes to bed and I go to the toilet. And see blood. It is hard to explain the feeling as panic rushes to my head and makes me dizzy with fear. I lie down while we call 111, irrationally convinced that if I stay horizontal I can prevent something very bad happening. Reassuring words and advice do nothing to relieve the fluttering wings of fear that beat my heart into a frenzy, and I lie awake hoping that the tiny life does not ebb away.

A few days later, still bleeding, I go to hospital for a scan. Thick with foreboding I lie back while the sonographer enters the blackness of my womb and I pray that the news is good. It is inconclusive, either my dates are wrong or things are not what they should be. We wait a week to see what develops and it is a week both black and white. Fear rubs uneasy shoulders with hope, each muscling the other out of the way in an awkward dance. Life continues as normal and I walk talk and work, look after Felix and outwardly function, yet my soul weeps. I fear I already know the truth. Medical science may not offer the definitive answer but my body has spoken loud and clear and it is only with force of will that I drown it out, clinging to the hope that I am mistaken. But I already know, because on the day of Felix’s birthday I started feeling better. I stopped feeling nauseous, drained and lethargic. All the symptoms and foibles of early pregnancy had eased. Sure enough, a week later, a sentence starting ‘Unfortunately’ confirms our fears. Now what?

Options are explained, sheets of paper with information given. The term 'silent miscarriage' stays with me as we make our way home, ringing as loud as a bell in my ear. Missed miscarriage; a kind of non event when the body pulls the plug on the development of the miniscule foetus but forgets to pull the flush. A kind of horrid limbo when your baby is not actually dead but is not 'viable'. Awful, callous word, meaning it may yet be growing but not fast enough, for in these early stages the foetus must double in size weekly if it is to win the race for life. And mine – ours - hasn’t. It’s still there, growing too slowly to ever be fully grown. And now must be ‘dealt with’,a phrase that reminds me of a contract killing which in fact it kind of is. Option a, wait for nature to take her course. Option b, take some pills, go home, and wait for the bomb to drop. Option c, hospital for a ‘routine procedure’ which vacuums the ‘materials’ out of the womb. We are sent home to consider what to do.

In the manner of the conjuror forcing the marked card on you, option b seems the most reasonable. Not as drawn out as option a, not as severe as option c. Never having had general aneasthetic I fear going under with the simple dread of ignorance, and words such as ‘perforation of the womb’ ‘scarring that may cause infertility’ and ‘possible need for blood transfusions’ despite the ‘very low risk’ coda frighten me into accepting the pills. And so we find ourselves at home waiting for something awful to happen, armed only with codeine enriched paracetamol and my unspoken dread that this will in some way approach the horrors of birth. Nothing happens, and when Monday dawns it is to the realization that it was a waste of time and I will have to have the operation. The routine procedure turns out to be just that and I awake from the aneasthetic feeling oddly refreshed and pleasantly high. That evening I am back home surrounded by family and food, being waited on hand and foot, trying not to make my zen-like stonedness obvious to all, but in the days that follow I arrive back to earth with a bump, realizing that in all the confusion of waiting and hoping and trying to solve ‘the problem’ I have foregone grief. Yes, a flood of tears on hearing confirmation of bad news, and several bouts of crying in the preceding weeks but since then nothing. Just an achy numbness that feels bland and endless. At last there is nothing to focus on apart from the fact that nothing will now happen. That the spring baby we hoped for and created is now gone. That I have become a statistic. 1 in 3 is now me, and how strange and impossible it seems.

And so begins my campaign of talking, of sharing, and to my shock and growing conviction that something must change I find that everyone has a story. And I mean everyone. Wife, sister mother friend aunt, friend of friend, stories of sadness and loss begin to cluster like a gigantic flock of birds, each tiny one forming the speck of a whole that could black out the sky. I start slowly, at work, with friends, undertaking the sad un-telling so characteristic of miscarriage, where anyone you told or hinted to or who somehow suspected needs to be untold. Never have I understood the wisdom of not blabbing during the first trimester better than in that fortnight. And with every telling, with every bit of love and compassion offered in return, with every story shared and every moist eye that reflects my own sadness, I feel like I understand what needs to be done. Miscarriage needs to come out of the closet. Why is it that this is not spoken of, when it seems every human over the age of thirty has been touched by it? Why is there still this taboo, as if you must have done something wrong?

Conviction and strength begin to overcome my lethargy and I become a kind of miscarriage evangelist. I tell anyone who will listen; friends at my volleyball club, my bosses former and current, both of whom have experienced exactly the same. I begin to wonder if there is anyone who has not lost a baby in some way at some point. This is the most common and yet least spoken of thing I have ever experienced, and I wonder why this is? Is it still a hangover from the dark ages, when a woman who could not carry a baby to term would be viewed with contempt and suspicion? How did any women ever survive at all, I wonder, between the dangers of giving birth and the almost inevitable probability of multiple miscarriages throughout life? What horrors did these poor beleaguered women carry in their sad, unhealed wombs, blighting them and possibly killing them. Enough!

I am throwing open the window and saying this is me, and it might well be you. Strength in numbers; and as far as I can see this flock is vast, uncountable, unfathomable. So join me and speak up, speak up for all women now and past and future who will receive this awful news, and for their heartbroken partners and families. Even if we cannot prevent miscarriage, which maybe one day we will, we can overcome the silence that surrounds it, cloaking it in a vestige of shame and blame. I did nothing wrong, you did nothing wrong. We are blameless. We shall overcome, and we shall conceive again.


  1. I hope youre doing ok, this is a really powerful post and takes amazing strength to write, I certainly couldn't do it. I should be 24 weeks pregnant now, but unfortunately didn't make it past 7 weeks. Still feel sad now and then but optimistic for the future.

  2. So beautifully written Kat. Xx

  3. Strength in numbers indeed!
    I too have experienced your loss, it is painful and raw. Sending you love Kat xx