Just before Christmas, I realised I was a few days late on my very on time period. I waited a day or two, already feeling sick with excitement.
I took a test, perched on the edge of the loo with Indy piling books at my feet. Pregnant. I was over the moon, and whispered to my daughter that we should keep this little secret between us a little while longer.
As it was the festive season, I wrapped the pregnancy test up with a bow, it would be my husband's first gift. It would be the thing I always struggle to give him, a surprise - not simply socks - something he really wanted.
A loss for words about miscarriage.
I made it back to the table and through the rest of the meal. Finally we made our excuses and left to find the only shop open for miles. I bought more tests. As I waited, I thought about how I felt. I didn't feel pregnant any more. It was nothing specific, just a heavy,mascara-smudged premonition.
Each test came back negative. I was just over 6 weeks. I felt betrayed by my body, despite the bleeding: I felt morning sick, my body was bloated and my sense of smell was still as keen as a sniffer dog. I had the symptoms but, according to the tests, no pregnancy.
I turned to Dr Google, hoping for the best. As the bleeding continued and the cramps became more intense, I accepted the worst. It seemed I had experienced an early miscarriage or, perhaps, a "chemical pregnancy", something I'd never heard of. It's incredible how little you know about conception, pregnancy, birth and babies until you're trying.
An early miscarriage or what might be a chemical pregnancy is a small miscarriage injustice, when an egg is fertilised and you "hormonally" become pregnant (so you get a positive test) but the pregnancy does not stick. Don’t get me wrong, it is tiny in comparison to a later miscarriage or a stillbirth. I cannot fathom the pain of either so please do not think I am making a fuss about something insignificant. Something so small, it's embryonic.
It is still a loss, though, and it made me more fine-tuned to the language we use about miscarriage: miscarry, like you held it incorrectly; chemical, like it was all in your head.
It also made me keenly aware of the sharp edge of sympathy that often follows a loss. People who thought they were being kind. You weren't very far along (far enough), isn't it just like a heavy period (no), it's really common (but the pregnancy was unique to me), you will get pregnant again (I don’t think I can do this again), well, at least you can get pregnant (um).
But, that's not to say that we should stop talking about it. Around one in six known pregnancies ends in miscarriage, with about 75 per cent of those in the first trimester. So it might be common, just don't say that to someone going through it at the time.
I think part of the problem comes from telling people after the fact, it is often ‘too early’ to tell, so they haven't been on the journey of anticipation and loss with you. I've heard miscarriage called the loneliest of griefs, and it is: so personal, so internalised.
Speaking to other mums who had been through similar was respite. They knew what to say and mostly, they just said 'it's s sh*t’, put away your guilt (it wasn’t that coffee or running for that bus or that forgotten sip of wine) and it's okay to feel sad. Really sad.
I know it isn't the nicest or the easiest thing to talk about, but sometime platitudes can bring more pain. I wanted to write about my own experience because I don't think it should be treated like a dirty little secret. We can't do anything about the incidence of early miscarriage but we can do something about loosing the taboo around it and the language we use to talk about it.
So, if you're going through the same, or have been through it, it's awful and tragic and it's okay to grieve fully, don't blame yourself and please, please know you are not alone.