“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” – Ernest Hemingway
As I write, I sit here and bleed. I bleed from my heart, my body, and my mind. Miscarriage is something that no one talks about; a forbidden topic. No one talks about all the questions, the pain, and the unforgivable grief clothed in tears. There is a cone of silence and pure isolation that no one can remove. But now, because I am writing this, you know that it is all over, and you know that my life has changed… forever.
My journey began two years ago as I heard the words, “I’m sorry, but you may never have children.” I hear lots of words from this day. The past two years have been filled with a mad desire to prove my body wrong, and a fear that I won’t. I up hauled my life in every way possible. The majority of my energy was focused spiritually, emotionally and physically in an effort to heal the trauma my body had been holding all these years.
I changed everything about myself: the way I eat, the way I exercise, and even the way I work. I purged my life of everything toxic and healed myself in ways I didn’t even know were possible.
And it worked.
Hard work paid off
I found out that I was pregnant in December of 2017. Something we had been waiting on for so long, something I wanted so desperately. After two years of physical and emotional pain, I finally felt like I was in control again. I AM in charge of my body, I AM invincible, I AM powerful.
The next 8 weeks were full of bliss. I had never seen my husband so happy, nor us so in love.
But within an instant it all fell apart.
I walked into my 8-week scan alone, so excited to see our baby’s heartbeat. I never even saw it coming… My excitement faded as I looked at the sonographer. Her face told a story that I never wanted to see. She hesitated and said, “I’m just going to chat with my supervisor. I will be right back.”
I sat alone and cried because I knew what she meant. She finally came back and told me that they suspected I had a blighted ovum, but that I need to come back for another scan because it may be too early. The next week I remained hopeful and researched everything possible on a blighted ovum. I told myself, “No, it can’t be. It’s way too early to diagnose that. My gestational sac is too small, and it is likely just too early.” And in a sense, I was right. It wasn’t a blighted ovum.
That hope kept me going until I received a phone call from my Obstetrician. I wasn’t supposed to hear from her for another 4 weeks, and suddenly she is requesting to see me right away. Every ounce of hope washed away from my body. I walked into her office and she said the words no mother ever wants to hear, “I’m sorry, but in 100% of cases, these results end in a non-viable pregnancy. You have experienced miscarriage.”
Who would have thought that everything could be lost in an instant…
The next few days were a blur as I sat waiting for a D&C; a procedure I had no choice but to follow through with. Again, I sat alone and cried. I walked in for my D&C and the anesthesiologist says to me, “so how is your new year going so far?” I gave him a blank stare and began to cry.
Does he not know why I am here? Does he not know that my world just crumbled around me?
Next, my nurse walked in. “Don’t worry. This is so common. It happens in 20% of cases.”
The next hour was filled with these statements…
“At least you know you can fall pregnant”
“Obviously there was something wrong with the baby. It is good they didn’t survive. You don’t want that.”
“Everything happens for a reason.”
“It’s so common.”
Nothing I felt seemed common to me. I was surrounded by people, but felt so alone. I sat alone and cried as I drifted off to sleep. When I woke up, I was filled with confusion. I didn’t know where I was or who all of those people were. All I could do was cry. I finally asked, “Is my baby gone now?” It was the only thing on my mind…
My husband and I went away to process everything that we had experienced. We put our masks on and explored, but back at home we cried.
We will be okay, won’t we?
Two days later, and here I am back at the hospital where I am given more bad news. “It looks like you have an ectopic pregnancy,” the doctor tells me. Within an hour the Royal Flying Doctors Service arrived and I was flown to Adelaide. The next day I underwent another D&C laparascopically. When I woke up from the surgery, I was told that my previous surgery removed zero pregnancy tissue, and I acquired an infection.
How can this happen? The suspected ectopic pregnancy was only a corpus lutetium cyst. I should be relieved…right?
I spent the next five days unable to walk, unable to move, and unable to stop the tears from falling down my dace. My days had turned into a mantra of hearing, “Zoe Eliza Smith, 29th of the sixth 1992, 171684”. I was flooded with pain relief and antibiotics through the canula in my hand. I hated that place.
Helpless and Hopeless
My husband carried me to the bathroom, helped me shower, helped me dress, and held me as I cried. I looked in the mirror, but I didn’t know who it was looking back. Surely that isn’t me, I thought to myself. I was independent, powerful, beautiful and strong, so who is this person? Gazing on, I noticed my pregnancy weight, my frail body, and these scars that weren’t there before. My scars were a permanent reminder I will carry with me for the rest of my life; a reminder that I am meant to have a baby. Not all of this.
We traveled home and I began to start picking up the broken pieces of my life. My husband hadn’t slept for days. He is a man who rarely shows emotion, but I have just seen him fall from cloud nine to a dark pit of despair in a matter of days. I wonder if he can see what I have become. Will he love this new me? Is my mask on properly?
I pop pill after pill because the pain is unbearable. The next two weeks were routine nothingness. I moved from my bed to the couch, then back to bed. My husband carried me everywhere. I couldn’t even put my own underwear on. I collapse in the shower. No matter how hard I try, I can’t focus, can’t think, can’t do. I simply exist as I stare into space, hating myself.
Stab after stab
My nieces came to visit, and with excitement they asked to see my tummy only to find scars where a baby once was. They don’t understand what happened. I had to tell them, while their mother is pregnant, that my baby had died. As they tried to understand I got asked so many questions. “Why did your baby have to die?””How does that happen?” “Why do you have scars?” “Why did they take the baby from your tummy?”
They exclaimed, “That’s not fair! We wanted a baby!” And they were right, because it’s not fair.
Two weeks pass by, and I feel as though I should be getting better, right? My husband went back to work and I just sat alone and cried. All of the sudden I feel a pain so excruciating. I can’t stop this feeling of being sick; I can’t move. What is happening to me?
Back to the hospital I went and spent the next 4 days hearing more and more terrible news. “You have a severe infection, and we are worried you may become septic.”
Again, I hear the mantra, “Zoe Eliza Smith, 29th of the Sixth 1992, 171684.” I am flooded with six different antibiotics through the canula in my hand. When will this torture end?
Repeat the Cycle
I leave with a bag full of pills and more broken pieces that I am expected to put back together. And it all starts again.
My husband hasn’t slept in days. The next two weeks are back to routine nothingness. I move from my bed to the couch, then back to bed. My husband carries me everywhere. No matter how hard I try, I can’t focus, can’t think, can’t do. I simply exist as I stare into space, hating myself.
No one tells you it will be like this. All of these tears with nowhere to go. You cry because your baby is gone, because all of your hopes and dreams have crumbled, because you have lost every sense of who you are and what you will be. Sometimes you cry, and you don’t even know why. Our baby had a name, a future, a soul. It is hard to grieve a dream. I have nothing to hold, and nothing feels real. It is like she never existed, our Willow. Our sweet precious Willow. I sit alone and I cry. Soon tears turn to anger. I am angry at the world, at everyone who has what I can’t have, at myself. I truly hate myself.
Another two weeks go by, and physically I begin to feel better. I can walk an entire 80 metres by myself. Go me! Hey, I should be proud, shouldn’t I? Should I be happy? CAN I be happy?
My sister gives birth to her baby girl, Rumi, that weekend. Again, I am filled with doubts of whether or not I can experience happiness anymore. I am filled with more emotions than any one person can handle. My God, I do love this child. Isn’t she just perfect?Isn’t she the most incredible thing on this earth?
But it should be me…
I put on my mask as I go to visit them. I repeat to myself, “Don’t cry, don’t cry, don’t cry.” I’m doing well, aren’t I? No tears yet. One of my nieces looks at me with a confused look in her eye as I hold Rumi. She says to me, “You don’t have a baby, but we do.”
Her little brain is just trying to understand what has happened. My mask fell off. I couldn’t hold it anymore. As I held Rumi, I began to cry.
I finally went back to work, a place I haven’t seen in 6 whole weeks at this point. I am terrified, and I still hate myself. When I walk in the door, I am filled with panic. A million questions are running through my mind.
What will they say? What am I going to be expected to do? Oh God, everyone knows… What if they ask me what happened? Can they tell that Zoe doesn’t exist anymore? Is my mask on properly? I force a smile, force myself to sit, and force myself to exist. Someone finally speaks to me and I run out in a panic. I am OUT! Who the heck am I???
Masks are exhausting, so I spend my whole weekend sleeping. I spent the entirety of the next week just existing. Pretending I am okay. Pretending Zoe is still here.
Monday comes around and that pain is back AGAIN. What is happening to me? I push through. People expect me to be here. I can’t do this again. I push until I can’t push anymore, and I collapse.
When I wake, I am back in the hospital. They say, “You have a severe infection, we are worried you may become septic. We must have missed something.”Once again, I hear the mantra “Zoe Eliza Smith, 29th of the Sixth 1992, 171684.” My body is pumped with 4 different antibiotics. I am more than ready for this torture to end.
I go home and it all starts again, as though I am stuck in a time warp. My husband is my caretaker again. My mind is clouded again. The one thing that hasn’t changed is that I never stopped hating myself.
Surely it is over now. I glance in the mirror expecting to see Zoe looking back, but instead I see nothing. I am not who you think I am, in fact my disguise is so thin that I am surprised you can’t see straight through me. This figure looking back at me is only an empty shell of the person I once was. Who is this person? Is there anyone in there? Will this pain ever end? I hate my body, my mind, what I have become.
After looking at my body in disbelief, I head to the bathroom to make a horrible discovery. My period is back after four months, and I am devastated. My husband gets home and I become someone I have never seen before. I can’t handle all of the emotions running through me. My body is in pain, my hormones are raging. All over again, I am filled with grief until I just explode. I smash everything I can grab, punch the walls, and scream, “I can’t do this!”
In that moment I crumbled into a pile of nothing. The cries that escape my mouth come straight from my core. I can’t stop. I yell, over and over, “Help me, please, just help me!” Who is this person? Surely this isn’t me. Again, like all the other times, my husband carries me to bed and just holds me. He deserves so much more than this new me. Why can’t I just find me again? Who AM I?
Will it ever end?
Five days later, and I am back at the hospital again. They don’t know what is wrong this time. The doctors tell me that they can’t help me, and I start to think that maybe no one can. The pain and sickness are back; I can’t stop shaking. Once again, I hear the familiar mantra,”Zoe Eliza Smith, 29th of the Sixth of 1992, 171684″ as I am flooded with antibiotics once more. I am scheduled to see the Obstetrician and Surgeon, who tell me that I may have to have exploratory surgery. Something must have gone wrong. Everything is wrong. Maybe I am wrong. I sit and contemplate as my brain generates question after question.
What is wrong with me? Will I ever get better? Who is this person looking back at me in the mirror? Will I ever find Zoe again? Will I ever fall pregnant again? Oh God, what if this happens again!? Who, what, when, why how…. I don’t know… I just don’t know how this story ends….
Forever Mothers story submitted by Zoe Smith.
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