All my life, I loved flowers. My first word was ‘flower’, as my grandfather had a large garden filled with every kind imaginable (to my little mind, anyway!) I received flowers from my loved ones to celebrate graduations, birthdays, my engagement, job offers. That changed the day of my loss.
I remember every moment of that day as if it happened yesterday. The pain started the previous night, feeling like light cramping. By 5 am the next morning, I was hunched over on the couch, clutching my stomach, side, back. The pain would seem to be in one spot, then move as if to taunt me. It was like extreme period cramps, with an almost stabbing feeling on my left side. I tried to curl up in a ball, so confused about what was happening, although I had a gut feeling.
By 10 am I grabbed my husband, telling him we needed to get to the hospital. The pain was almost excruciating by this stage and I had noticed some brown discharge. I rushed into the emergency department, bursting into tears whenever I had to tell someone what I thought was happening to me. This was the last thing I had ever imagined months before.
The emergency room doctor was haphazard, pressing randomly on different parts of my lower abdomen. It was agonising and she diagnosed it as an infection, due to my cervix remaining sealed. This sliver of hope was worse, knowing what was to come. We immediately were cheered (slightly – I was still clutching my side and wincing). We went through the motions of waiting for an ultrasound, and thankfully I made it in quickly. The technician was moving the equipment over my lower body, searching for an inflammation, infection, swelling – something that would explain my pain.
Then – my water broke.
I started hyperventilating, frantically asking the technician what had happened. She stared back, wide-eyed, and ran to get the nurses.
Then I knew.
I was slowly wheeled back to the emergency department, with mournful faces all around me. My bed was wet beneath me, my face and hair matted from tears. The doctor came into the room and confirmed what I already knew, and my husband wept.
We hadn’t told anyone we were pregnant yet. The day of my miscarriage was the day of our 12-week scan. It seemed a cruel twist of fate.
Then we had to make the calls: parents, friends, colleagues, employers. They found out that we were pregnant, and that we were no longer.
Being sent flowers is a kind gesture, but for some reason (be it grief warping the passage of time or a really great flower company) these flowers lasted for weeks. These bunches reminded me of my loss every single time I looked at them.
Why should flowers get to live, when my baby died?
Why should I look after them, when I couldn’t even care for myself?
There they stood, pretty, proud and perfect. I was lost and wilted.
Eventually, the flowers did die and I threw them out, unceremoniously into the garbage. There was an end, there was finality. And strangely, that is what had happened to me. I grieved long and hard for my baby, but not for the flowers. Both lives had a short beginning and end. I guess that is the mystery of life – some things can give you such beauty for such a short period of time, feeling like they would last forever but also were terminated before they really had a chance to shine.
Almost a year on, I still grieve every now and then. I definitely recommend seeing a counsellor and talking to employers, friends and family. We need to end the stigma around pregnancy loss at any stage. Once I began to speak, I found friends had been through the same thing, and we shared our stories.
I wish every parent to know that there is love and support for you, and it is not something you should keep hidden. You have gone through the worst, and it does get better.