*Trigger warning – this post explores baby loss and miscarriage*
Baby loss and miscarriage, it’s pretty universally acknowledged, is something that we don’t talk about enough so we’re so privileged to be able to share Nathasha of la_sidhu‘s moving and painfully honest account of her journey. Thank you Natasha for your bravery in sharing your story to try and help people in the same position as you feeling so alone.
1. Here’s a virtual hug from me to you, my friend. My name is Natasha and I’m a content creator and product stylist living in London with my husband Ryan, my 15 year old bearded dragon called Inka and about 38,28292 happy houseplants which are my jungle babies. If you love all things interior and botanical, then I’d love for you to stop by and say hello after you’ve read my story
2. Let me take you right back to where my difficult journey began…Early 2019 my (then) boyfriend Ryan and I found out we were expecting our first baby. I can remember the day so clearly. I can remember the emotional impact hit of “OH MY GOD I’M PREGNANT!”, from the instant outpouring of tears, to the warm tight embraces we shared, to the rollercoaster of feelings and emotions. The sheer panic of whether we could do this, to the absolute joy that we were about to embark on the most exciting journey we had ever been on. Several more ecstatic trips to Tesco to buy almost every pregnancy test available, and endless more weeing on sticks to embed the reality in further… this was actually REAL, we weren’t just dreaming!
Ryan and I had been together for ten happy and adventure filled years. He had desperately wanted to have children from early on in our relationship, it had always been me that was trying to avoid it, focussing more on my career and the projects I was always dreaming up. Now BANG…. there it was. That little stick of plastic had my new life and fate sealed and do you know what? I was SO bloody happy about it. I think as someone who likes to be in control of life and a realist, I’d always worried how we would afford a baby. How would we manage in our home? Would I be able to carry on with my work? For 10 years I’d had a pretty stressful, well paid job in the city and had only given it up the year prior to follow my dreams of working for myself, doing something creative and FINALLY, it was all happening for me – BUT, I can tell you now, the moment that little fate-sealed stick delivered me the news, THAT was really all that mattered to me.
For anyone who’s experienced the same, you’ll know that from the moment that fate-sealed stick speaks to you, your whole life has changed. You feel different, you act different, I felt I moved and looked different. My whole thought process was immediately different. There was always someone else with me now who needed me, and from that second, I needed them too. It was instant. God, I’d probably even debated names, baby interiors, Christmas plans and first holidays all in the time it had taken for me to walk down the stairs!
Ironically, the day after we were delivered our happy news, we had our wedding venue viewing. We had planned to get married the following year, but thought we may as well go along and we actually shared our news for the first time with the venue owners to let them know that things were a little up in the air. They were so incredibly happy for us and we felt an almost instant connection to the venue which was a beautiful outdoor forest woodland, set in the heart of Suffolk. As the weeks passed, we gradually shared our news with our nearest and dearest. There was an abundance of happy tears, hugs, plans and late nights staying up together talking of how our lives would soon change for the better.
Sadly, things took a turn for the worse. One morning I noticed bleeding, and we went straight to A&E. I had already had several scans in the Early Pregnancy unit and so we’d been constantly to and from there, living life, unknowing . Eventually, we were dealt the heartbreaking blow that our dreams of becoming a family of three were no more.The world suddenly stopped moving and to be honest, I haven’t really felt it moving properly ever since.
In the midst of the heartbreak, we decided that instead of going ahead with our wedding as planned, we would try to bring it forward by a year. Looking back now, I realise we did that as a form of coping and a way to try to fill an empty void and the suffocating sense of loss. For the months I had lived with a little one inside of me, I had created this happy bubble of love and contentment. Now that bubble had been burst… I was desperately seeking a way to rectify the mess I helplessly felt I had left behind. When we explained our situation to the venue owners, they advised that, ironically, they had had a cancellation for that year and that there was one available date on August 10th 2019. That was it. THAT was how we would try to claw out of the deep, dark hole that we found ourselves in. We had three months to plan an entire wedding from start to finish. At no point during this time did I acknowledge our loss. In fact, I threw myself so viciously into the planning of the wedding that I masked every possible emotion I felt, and completely tried to gloss it all over with the endless preparations and organisation that needed to be done.
The short story is, I absolutely hated my wedding day. I had completely under estimated how much work was required to organise it (it was a dry outdoor venue so absolutely everything needed to be arranged from toilets, to electrics, to sleeping arrangements, to decor, to tables to EVERYTHING) I worked most days from 6am to 3am and it consumed my life entirely. I was SO desperate to make the day perfect as I truly felt I had let everyone down and this was my only chance to rectify it.What I actually ended up doing, was completely burning myself out and becoming distant to the one person I actually needed to be closest with, Ryan. I didn’t have the time to do any pre-wedding appointments like get my hair or nails done, I hadn’t even tried on my dress. The night before we left for the set up day, I still had so much to do I didn’t even sleep. I just worked continually through the night making things and finishing things that sadly, never even saw the light of day. Then what every bride dreads …. the weather. Now you often hear of rain on outdoor wedding days, by NO ONE seems to talk about the wind. Well, as luck would have it, Mother Nature decided to bless us with a storm so bad there were MET warnings out and it was one of the worst storms the country had seen. Just what you want for an outdoor wedding in the middle of August!
The night before I was due to get married I only felt like running away. All of the decorations I had worked for hours on, had got soaked and ripped in the storm. 90% of the wedding couldn’t be set up because of it and we didn’t even know what would be able to go ahead still. Now for any normal person, that is HELL. Given the fact I’m a huge perfectionist and that this was my golden ticket. I (foolishly) believed this day would make everything better – it was TORTURE. The day went ahead and to be honest, it was a total blur to me. I drank way more than I normally would as I was so bloody stressed and deflated, I never got to cut my wedding cake, my dress ripped, none of the hair pieces matched (didn’t have the time to take them out of the pack to check prior) and none of the wedding decor I had spent HOURS on even got to come out of the boxes. There were boxes stacked everywhere, full to the brim with things I had spent endless hours creating, sourcing, making and shopping for. I’m sure many people will say “well you’re married, that’s the main thing” but when you’ve tried to do something to replace something else and it goes horribly wrong, it’s actually a million times worse and I ended up feeling event further apart from the person that I loved than I did before. To this day, I haven’t even changed my name. I don’t really find I can talk about our wedding and it’s almost as if it never happened. The whole year of 2019 was in actual fact a total wish-wash blur. I wish everyday I could completely erase it.
I knew Christmas would be hard as life was already so empty,. It’s a day where the emphasis is on family and little ones and everything seeming so perfect, so I found it almost impossible to face. We decided it would be easier if we were just not here at all, so we actually went to Amsterdam for it together. Because we weren’t our usual happy, loving selves anymore, it wasn’t really as wonderful as we hoped, but we did our best to make of it what we could. I waited for 2020, a fresh start, a whole new chapter like a kid on Christmas Eve. That idea in your head that a brand new year brings a new beginning, and everything would be perfect once again. I’d been feeling unwell over the Christmas period and into the New Year, I just put it down to having “overdone it” over the Christmas season and feeling tired and sick as a result. I think deep down I knew what was going on… you just KNOW, if you know what I mean. But in my heart I just couldn’t bring myself to face it.
A few weeks later, that fate-sealed stick was back and about to deliver the biggest New Years news to us both. There it was. It was happening all over again. MY GOD, It’s happening again. The little line was about to turn our world upside down. This time around, there was a totally different welcome to the news. There were tears, boy were there TEARS, but there was no jumping up and down in excitement, long warm embraces or a sense of a magical summer, sitting happily in a flower filled field together. Deep down though I felt so ecstatically happy and instantly filled. That empty hole that had been left eating away inside of me for the last 10 months, was eventually getting its final piece of the puzzle. I was whole again. Then… instead dread took over once again. We both just looked at each other with a look of helplessness and fear. Everyone Is different, they will react differently, but if truth be told, 2019 had had a HUGE effect on me, on him, on US. I had struggled massively with myself. I felt I had totally lost my sparkle, my savvy, my sheer love of life and of the world. It had been taken from me. Ripped almost. How on earth would I be able to go through this again?
I can’t explain the paralysing sense of fear that rushed through my body. The sense of fear stayed with me, until the day that we were dealt the devastating blow that our little one had left us yet again. Throughout this pregnancy, I became paranoid and worried about almost everything. Don’t sneeze too hard, don’t sit on the toilet too long, don’t exercise, don’t eat this, don’t drink that, don’t move too much, don’t have a hot water bottle this time, omg there’s a pain, omg I think I can feel something coming out, OMG so and so is now pregnant too, what if I loose this baby and they have theirs? Will we be strong enough now to have a child together? I could go ON.. and ON… and ON. Imagine this going round and round and round your head EVERY.SINGLE.SECOND of the day.
Close friends wanted to celebrate our news and couldn’t understand why we weren’t ecstatic about it, family members went into overdrive with worry, always looking out for us. The time on the clock seemed to never move. I honestly just felt like I was living in constant fear and that I was going to do something wrong and totally fuck this up all over again.
I will admit though, I felt COMPLETELY different this time round. Constant morning sickness, new tingles, new cravings, I felt my stomach was so different in how it felt and looked. Deep down, amongst the worry and fear, I was convinced we would be ok this time round. I would never ever dream of saying it out loud at the time, but surely this time around, we would be walking out of the hospital with a baby in our arms and not a broken heart in our body.
Endless scans, hospital calls, visits, research, googling (we have a love/hate relationship, let me tell you that!) and I really thought this could be happening for us. I cannot tell you the crippling fear that erupts through every single cell of your being when you go for a scan. Absolutely no signs that things were going wrong this time, so you can imagine the soul- destroying dagger to the heart we felt when we went to another scan to discover there was no heartbeat. It was done. It was over. Everything was fucking over YET AGAIN. I lived for the next couple of weeks like a numb, empty, lifeless, drained human being with nothing left inside. How on earth would we ever recover this time round? We hadn’t even spoken or dealt with the first loss yet, so how the hell is this going to be possible?
I experienced zero bleeding still so in my mind, I was convinced this was all a huge mistake and they had got it wrong. I’d read this had happened many times before, so maybe, just maybe, I was one of the lucky ones. I was still feeling tired, being sick, all the signs were still there so surely this couldn’t be the end? As with my first miscarriage, I had no medical assistance to remove the baby. The first time around I was already miscarrying, so sadly, nature had to run its course (which I can tell you now is a harrowing and devastating experience in itself). The second time round, things unfortunately took a turn for the worst and I ended up being rushed to hospital by ambulance, basically unconscious and thinking I was going to die. Here’s a little video I recorded to share my experience in the hope that it might be helpful to myself and others.
3. It’s so important to me to share my experience for Others Day to remind others that they are NOT alone, during what I would say is actually one of the most loneliest experiences of my entire life. As someone who has a platform on a social media channel which can be filled with unrealistic visions of everyday life, I want people who are suffering and feeling how I do to have a place there too. I want others to know the truth behind what a damaging effect experiences such as baby loss and recurrent miscarriages can have on a person and how it effects almost every aspect of their lives. My end goal is to somehow do something within my power to make a positive change to the dark world of baby loss and try to improve the aftercare and general sector as I feel it sadly fails so many of us
Another key reason I chose to share is seemingly more selfish, I suppose. I have massively struggled with my life post losses and I always find it a huge (although scary) form of therapy for me to be able to speak or write about it (which is also the reason why this small article has turned into a short novel, so thank you if you’re still reading this!) When I share, I always feel like a huge heavy cloud has been ever so lightly lifted from me by doing so and that helps hugely.
4. It’s sad but true to say that I received absolutely zero aftercare on both occasions. I was given a rather brief and insensitive piece of paper seconds after we were told about our baby losses and a short call each week for a few weeks to discuss my bleeding status (is that even a thing?!) and that is sadly it. No one asked if I was ok, how I was doing or offered any guidance and that for me is the part that I feel drastically needs to change. As someone who I would say has now struggled with their mental health, suffering depression and anxiety as a result of all of this, whilst my body internally is important and doing what it can to repair itself from the trauma from a medical perspective, it’s actually my mind that has taken the most damaging blow and that for me is the part that I feel needs a considerable amount of care, love and attention post loss.
The “uncomfortable” world of miscarriage is simply not publicly spoken about enough, therefore, people aren’t equipped to know what to say, what to do or how to cope whether it be for themselves, or others suffering. Of course, grief and loss is always going to require careful navigation, but I feel if it was more widely addressed and discussed, the sense of shame, embarrassment and failure that I and many others feel, would not be so present. I also truly believe that the most painful times are straight after you discover you have experienced a miscarriage, these are the times you need to be supported most and be with your partner. Partners are given two weeks paternity leave after the safe arrival of their baby, why aren’t partners given two weeks off to deal with baby loss? It killed me that the day after my miscarriages Ryan had to go back to work and I was left alone in the house to go through it all alone.
5. Experiencing baby loss of any form is such a cold, lonely and numbing experience because of the points I made above. If you haven’t been through it, you won’t really understand the process itself and why it affects a person in the way it does. I found that I have completely isolated myself from loved ones both times in the fear that someone is going to say something insensitive, or further damaging to me by accident. I ended up feeling like an embarrassment and failure and my home has become my safe space where I can just avoid everyone and everything in the hope that it will make things easier to deal with. Another key factor is that it is almost IMPOSSIBLE to be around people who are pregnant or have children as it’s just a constant reminder of what you don’t have. That can make friendships and relationships extremely difficult.
6. For those going through similar situations, it’s actually impossible to know what the correct thing is to say, as everyone deals with things differently. Everyone’s pregnancy meant something different to them. Although people try to help, I don’t think they realise how upsetting their words can sometimes be. I’ve had so many hurtful things said to me over the last year such as: “Oh well, it’s so common now it happens so often these days”, “When you eventually manage to have a child”, “You wouldn’t want a child anyway, all they do is cry and make a mess. Count yourselves lucky”, “Well _____ had six miscarriages and so did _____ and ______ and _________”, “There was obviously something wrong with IT”. I could go on and on and on, I’m sure anyone in my position will have inevitably had something said to them and it has such a damaging effect, so please know you’re not alone in feeling like you want to punch someone in the face …. you’re not!
There are also some amazing charities out there who dedicate their time to supporting people like us. The hard part of this is, you actually have to seek the help out yourself and I know first hand, that is incredibly hard to do when you don’t feel like you can even face yourself in the mirror most days, let alone take the time to reach out to someone you don’t even know. If you can do it though, they’re waiting to support you. I personally find it impossible to talk face to face or over the phone theses days, so I’ve often wrote lengthy emails to them instead in my time of need. Also, don’t feel like you have to operate as normal. Take the time for yourself and do the things (if you can) that would usually bring you joy. For me, it’s looking after my plants, travelling, being with nature, doing arts and crafts and working on home projects.
7. I understand that these experiences are not only incredibly hard for the woman or couple experiencing it. There’s a whole chain of others it’ll also effect. Partners who feel helpless as to how to help their other half, friends who want to be there but are unsure of what they should do or say, and family members who will no doubt be constantly worrying about you, how you’re coping and what they can offer as a support network to you. Where partners are concerned, baby loss unfortunately tends to lead you down one of two paths. There’s the path where you’ll unite, grow closer in your navigation of grief and become more together than ever. Sadly, there’s also the path where you may find you end up growing apart. Your path seems to have made it impossible to walk together anymore. Both individuals might require something different on their road to baby loss recovery, and for whatever reason, they haven’t been able to seek it out in one another.For couples, I would say that communication is key. Both people are more than likely unsure of what to do and say, or how to help one another through such a sensitive, unknown journey. I’ve learnt that constantly sweeping things under the carpet just doesn’t resolve things long term. They’ll inevitably come back to haunt you one day. Finding ways to fall back In love and creating a safe cocoon around each other is my best advice. Find joy in the simplest of things like going for a walk in the rain, or getting dressed up for a little date night.
For friends and family who want to so desperately help, acknowledging your loved ones pain is sometimes such a powerful thing in itself. They may be hurting too much to accept your hand, respond to your messages or agree to your offer of meeting up …. but know that they see and appreciate it. The rollercoaster ride of baby loss is a rocky one. Some days they may seem like they’re riding happily though, then others can be like their whole world has turned upside down yet again. Just support them through their ride as best you can. Remember them at times when others are enjoying pivotal moments in life, like Mother’s Day, like birthdays, like Christmas. Their pain will never go away, and on occasions such a these, they’ll be feeling it more then ever. Whilst I’ll not be receiving a hand scribbled Mother’s Day card or flowers from my little one this year, I am truly grateful for the wonderful people I have around me, who want to do nothing more than support us through these difficult times. So I write this for them and for everyone else who needs it… Thank you, from the bottom of (my slightly broken heart) for taking the time to help me heal by reading my story xxx