Pregnancy is such a personal experience and women complete the ever so long 40-week journey in so many different ways. Starting from the moment those 2 tiny lines appear and you:
A: Hyperventilate on the floor,
B: Jump around squealing in joy
C; Hysterically cry and think “HOW ON EARTH DID THIS HAPPEN?”
D: breathe relief, you have tried so hard for so long and all you can do is stare in disbelief that this month/year – its finally worked!!!!!!
We have all read generic type articles about pregnancy “How to keep your pregnancy glow post baby” or “what to expect when your expecting” type articles – the truth is – even though there are definite symptoms of pregnancy that a lot of us experience, no 2 pregnancies are the same because no two women are the same. I’ve taken to the mothers of Australia to find out about their personal experiences and you maybe quite surprised.
One story that came into my inbox that really touched me & I want to tell you about first, it was so brutally honest and full of raw emotion, it made me realize that while 80% of us go on to enjoy weak bladders, baby brain and swollen bellies, 20% of women experience miscarriage. Early or late term miscarriages can be absolutely devastating but one that’s not so commonly spoken about is a “Missed Miscarriage”, this is where your body doesn’t recognize the baby has passed and all those glorious pregnancy symptoms are still in full swing. It’s not until your next scan you realize there is no flicker of a heart beat on the ultrasound and there will be no happy ending to your journey. Mourning your loss is inevitable and moving forward seems impossible, and yet 1 in 4 women have to face this reality every single day.
Here is one woman’s “missed Miscarriage” story:
At 6w5d I had my first ultrasound, two children in tow all excited to see their baby brother or sister we found a sack no baby…no big deal I thought, I was told as long as I haven’t bled and had no pain I’m safe, so off we went. 2 weeks later my second ultrasound (my children and I are on holidays visiting family), we are off to see this beautiful heartbeat that I had explained to my son and daughter, now 4 and 3 years old. I expected to see this gorgeous ‘peanut’ bouncing around like my other two had done at 9 weeks gestation. 20 minutes later we had found out that our gorgeous third ‘peanut’ had passed away. Having to have to tell my husband over the phone this sad news and explain to my children why they couldn’t see this little flicker of heart beat would have to be the most heartbreaking moment for myself. This loss was not just felt by my husband and our children, but I as well. The four of us had to grieve together. As a parent I had to explain at an age appropriate level what had happened. The next 2 weeks whilst I was away leaving the children with family having to travel to Sydney for work was hard, knowing everything that was going on yet having to try to ignore the situation and stay strong. My diagnosis was a ‘missed miscarriage’; my body hadn’t recognized the loss, which meant “medical intervention” was my only option. 16 days later I took three tiny pills to make my body release my baby. The emotions and thoughts that I went through, I pray I never feel them again.
While sometimes pregnancy is filled with struggle and loss, 80% of pregnancies go onto to have happy endings and funny moments along the way, here are a few incidents that have happened to other Australian Mums –
Baby Brain strikes again!
I was in a hurry one day, and weeks away from delivery… I left the house to take my son to school and run a few errands. It wasn’t until the cashier at the market said, ‘Did you know you have a towel on your head?’ I then realized I hadn’t done my hair after a shower. I had gone to 2 other places like that before someone said something!
I defrosted a big lot of bacon during a 4am craving. I cooked and half and thought I put the rest in the fridge. The next day I go to cook myself a big bacon sandwich and I get a plate out of the cupboard and there's the bacon... Sitting in the cupboard not in the fridge.
I was quite small before my pregnancy. So it wasn’t until I was 30 weeks pregnant that I finally had a belly. I would quite often knock things off the table/shelf/anything that was level with my belly. This was my first child and I often forgot my belly was there. One day I was going through the end checkout (where they have railing to separate the checkout from the entry) as I went to pay I went to walk between the railing & my trolley ... I got stuck!! I tried to squish through like it wasn't a problem but got even more stuck. The look the lady at the checkout gave me was one of which, she'd never had that happen before & I hadn't either. I tried to use the eftpos machine with the trolley stuck in the middle (trying not to hold other customers up). I had to try to pull myself up the height of the railing to get out. I was so embarrassed, but was more worried about if bub was injured as I was really squished. When our baby was born a week later, I noticed he had like a little dint in his head & I always wondered - was that the trolley?
I couldn't watch TV shows like the biggest loser or X Factor, without crying for the contestants.
I thought, “this baby must have a great deal of hair”, as I’ve heard you get heartburn from a baby with hair. As it turns out, it as the 4 liters of orange or apple juice I craved a day. I was sick my whole pregnancy. I couldn't believe when people would say "so how long till the next one". My reaction was, no way am I having another, I don't know how other ladies can do this to themselves time over & over. It wasn't till my baby was about 6 months old that I realized...hmm people must have other babies to entertain the first.
One night, late in my pregnancy – you know, the uncomfortable stage where you can’t sleep and it feels as though the baby is kicking through your stomach & using the mattress as a trampoline. I was watching TV and a Kleenex add came on starring the cutest Labrador puppy – the dog was so adorable I started to cry, I then woke my husband up to show him the adorable puppy and when he showed no interest in a puppy on TV at 2am I then cried hysterically – that night I cried for 4 hours strait over the puppies cuteness and my husbands lack of interest.
Embarrassing but Natural Endings
On my wedding day when they brought out the cake I embarrassingly threw up everywhere. The rest of the pregnancy was semi normal (besides my boobs changing color and then the amount of stretch marks that appeared) after that and then due date arrived. I am a very private shy person and lucky for me, my husband has a good sense of humor. He had never seen me ever go to the toilet and to my horror I was sitting on the loo in the middle of contractions at 8cm dilated doing the biggest poo with him there. We have never laughed together so much (even though I was so sore and had no drugs) it was just so funny and one our most memorable moments.
One thing we must remember, is that despite the constant and ongoing parental debates of, what to eat v’s what not to eat, breastfeeding v’s bottle, natural birth v’s caesarean, puree v’s lead weaning – we all must be a little kinder to not only ourselves but each other because no matter how your pregnancy journey went or how it ended – we all survived, we all gave birth and all entered the wonderful world of parenthood.
P.S: If you have suffered a loss, early or late term, it is important to speak about it, and seek support. There is a dedicated website and hotline for Miscarriages, stillbirth and newborn death support. www.sands.org.au and hotline number is 1300 072637