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The Fertile Chick: When Miscarriages Happen

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dreamstime_m_25390688Last weekend, I attended the Pregnancy and Baby Loss Awareness Summit, organized by the awesome Tade Alalade‘s BeiBei Haven Foundation. I knew it was going to be a moving experience, but it completely blew my mind. Women shared their stories raw and unfiltered, and apart from being completely moved to tears, listening to them schooled me in ways I didn’t expect.

Even though I have never suffered a miscarriage before, I thought I perfectly understood the emotions women face when faced with such loss. With the experience from my failed IVF cycle, and first-hand stories I’d heard from my mother, close friends, and our community members, I thought I perfectly understood the pain and suffering that comes with this experience, and I even wrote an article about coping with the Aftermath of a Miscarriage. But earlier this year, all of that changed.

One of my closest friends, I’ll call her Amanda*, got married the year after my twins were born. She was diagnosed with fibroids shortly after her wedding, and eventually had surgery to remove them, sometime in 2014. After the surgery, when she didn’t get pregnant immediately after, as she’d anticipated, she and her husband proceeded to see a fertility specialist, where they were also diagnosed with male factor infertility. They were advised to move on to IVF, which they did in August 2015. Towards the end of  September, Amanda sent me the image of the pregnancy test she’d taken, and for the life of me, I couldn’t see a second line…and neither could she. We thought it was a negative result, and I proceeded with all the pep talk that follows the disappointment of a failed cycle. But when she e-mailed the picture to another friend, who happened to open it on a desktop computer, she could make out the faintest of lines. We then proceeded to expand the picture on our own mobile devices, and there it was. A positive. My friend was pregnant!

The joy that followed was unimaginable. We were beside ourselves with joy! Finally, after years of medical issues, they were finally pregnant. Her due date was around my birthday, and we joked about how my Godchild and I would be birthday mates.

One day, while at work, at 17 weeks, her water broke. When she called me on her way to the hospital, my heart sank to my feet, but I kept a brave face for her, as we held on to hope that her baby would still be fine. But by the time she got to the hospital, a scan showed she had lost pretty much all of her amniotic fluid, and the baby, who was still very much alive at the time, would have to be evacuated. I immediately rushed to see her in the hospital, and I had to exercise all my self restraint to prevent from bawling like a baby. She had been administered meds to induce labour and was beginning to feel early contractions. This was on a Friday. By the time I left her that evening, she was in a lot of pain already, but nowhere close to birthing her baby. And she was in that pain until Saturday afternoon, when she gave birth to her son, who was already dead.

If I, an outsider, found it to be one of the most traumatic things I had ever experienced, I couldn’t imagine how it was for Amanda, who had to go through the throes of her miscarriage for over 24 hours. It was heart wrenching.

In the weeks and months that followed, there were questions. Was the miscarriage caused by a possibly infected cervical stitch? Should she even have gotten the stitch in the first place? Had she been working too hard? Could they have avoided this? Would she ever be able to get pregnant again?

We tried to console her with the usual platitudes, but she retreated into her shell and completely shut everyone out. Before the miscarriage, we used to chat on BBM daily and talk on the phone at least three times a week. Afterwards, messages and calls would go unanswered…for weeks. Understanding this natural reaction, I remember even explaining to a few mutual friends that she needed time. But by the fifth and sixth month, even I started wondering when this dark cloud would shift.

Eventually, it did shift. We finally were able to talk, and I understood when she told me that all she wanted to do during the weekends, when she didn’t have to put up a brave face at work, was to stay under her sheets, cry, and then watch the ID channel on TV, as solving crime puzzles helped keep her mind off her miscarriage. Her experience made me understand that not only do people cope in different ways, there are no timelines to grief. It could last a week…a year…a lifetime.

The summit on Friday opened my eyes to the fact that women heal in very different ways. One of the speakers said she hated hearing the platitudes. She hated hearing the “It is well!”, “God is in control”. She preferred people keeping silent than saying the wrong thing. Another of the speakers said she hated the silence, and worried people were thinking all sorts of things if they didn’t voice them out. What I took away from this was there is no cookie cutter way to help people through this. You just need to show the grieving woman love, support and solidarity…even if it is simply by holding her hand.

In one of the heart breaking stories, one of speakers talked about watching life ebb out of her twins, as they waited in vain for the main doctor to arrive, while they were being attended to by someone who appeared to be a trainee. By the time the doctor arrived at 5am, the twins were already gone. In a counter, Dr. Juwon Alabi of South Shore Women’s Clinic talked about the numerous risks doctors face, commuting in the early hours of the morning, and how he himself has encountered a few security threats in the course of doing just that. In the end, it was agreed that our hospitals should have enough doctors to keep on rotation, so that at any point in time, there is always an experienced physician available.

I learnt about the futility of self blame. Someone in the audience tearfully talked about losing her child at 40 weeks, and wishing she had read enough so she could have prevented it. Oh my goodness, my heart broke for this woman. I was happy when the wonderful Yewande Zaccheaus assured her there was nothing she could have done to prevent what happened, and that it was absolutely not her fault.

Another lesson I took away from the summit was that of compassion. I’m sorry to say, but some of us don’t know the meaning of the word. When my friend Amanda* had her miscarriage, I was sickened by the things that filtered to her ears. She heard office whispers about how she caused her miscarriage by working too hard. How she thought it was her father that owned the company, considering the number of hours she typically commits. How she had been foolish to fly to Abuja several times for meetings. How, how, how!!! How on earth can all these ‘hows’ change what has happened or offer compassion to someone already heartbroken? One of the speakers talked about how she was blamed for her miscarriages, and even her still-born, because of her active social media life. “Why won’t she lose her baby when she is always posting pictures on Instagram?!”.Really? These kind of comments are borne solely from spite, malice, and maybe even envy. Please, if you have nothing positive to say, it is much better to say nothing at all.

But what gladdened my heart was the message that there is always light at the end of tunnel. All the speakers there are now mothers to gorgeous kids today, and the one that got me the most misty eyed was the testimony of Reverend Laurie Idahosa. After suffering years of infertility and finally conceiving a son through IVF, he had died hours after his birth. I cried as she talked about asking to be able to take her dead son home. She said they’d had a 200-person baby shower, and had a nursery full of wonderful things for their baby…a baby who unfortunately would never be able to enjoy any of these nice things. At the very least, she wanted to be able to bring him home. She talked about cradling him in his nursery, and as she cried, she was able to release herself to the will of God. A year to the day her son was buried, she gave birth to another son. Three years later, another son followed, and two years after, yet another. All of them conceived naturally. Isn’t God just wonderful?

To all the women who have walked, or are still walking this road, my heart goes out to you. It is impossible for anyone to be able to fully understand how you are feeling. Even women who have also suffered loss will not understand the peculiar pains and turmoil of the next woman. Grieve however you feel you need to. There is no textbook method to this. Find what works for you, and do it. If the people around you are struggling with what to say to you, or don’t know how to relate with you in your pain, please understand that, most times, they mean no harm and even though they might not be saying the ‘right’ things, they love you very much and want to be there for you. And please don’t blame yourself, your husband, your doctor, your hospital, etc. Dwelling on what coulda, shoulda, woulda been won’t heal your loss. What’s important is for you not to miss the learning points, and if it means changing a few things next time, at least you know now. And remember that though it might seem darkest now, there is always…always…light at the end of the tunnel.

Baby dust to all!

Photo Credit: Monkey Business Images | Dreamstime.com

Nicole is a woman in her late 30s, with a passion for all things fertility related. She suffered infertility for the first 3 years of her marriage, and found it extremely isolating. After she had her kids, she started The Fertile Chick (www.thefertilechickonline.com) to create a community and happy-place for all women, in various stages of the fertility journey.

16 Comments

  1. Bamidele Daramola

    October 20, 2016 at 9:48 am

    Whaow! A journey I passed tru some years ago, miscarriage n still birth, not funny n so sad. Took me years to let go the pain n post trauma reflections but thank God the ever faithful father who gave me assurance that all is well. There is always light at the end of the tunnel!!

    • Nicole The Fertile Chick

      October 21, 2016 at 11:13 am

      There most surely is, Daramola! Praying you get your rainbow babies soon xoxo

  2. Toyin

    October 20, 2016 at 10:12 am

    Articles like this sometimes stirs back old thoughts and pains that folks are trying hard to forget. There has been many articles on this issue lately and I get on one hand it is meant to encourage and uplift but also on the other hand it can open up old memories people want to forget. I think it would be a good idea to publish prayer points, prophecies and testimonies from reputable Men of God like Daddy Adeboye or Dr. D K Olukoya. prayers is what is needed not talking about the same issue is different ways all the time. just saying

    • tori

      October 20, 2016 at 2:40 pm

      how many belle has adeboye and olukoya carried or how many miscarriages have they had!!! This is why Nigeria is how it is, we are encouraged to pray and not talk, talking is therapeutic and I am sure many people gained a lot from this. That’s why people are repressed and wicked, we are encouraged to be silent about everything from abuse to miscarriage. Abeg move over with this crap!!!

    • Chu

      October 20, 2016 at 4:23 pm

      Talking about an issue always brings closure, the more you can talk about it the more the pain fades away, not everyone believes in Pastor Adeboye’s or MFM prayers so while we pray for them to heal, we talk about it. Spiritual consciousness is good but earthly reality is also important, people need to heal.

  3. Mrs O

    October 20, 2016 at 10:37 am

    I’ve had my own fair shares of miscarriages. First one was at 8weeks, I bled for 10 days, I was in severe pain and refused to go to the hospital. I was believing God that it was just spotting because I had friends who said they’ve had episodes of bleeding during pregnancy and their baby was intact. I held unto my faith but one morning I had this serious urge to push due to the pain I was feeling. I rushed to the bathroom to check my sanitary pad, lo and behold I saw the fetus curled up in thick blood. I instantly knew it was over and I sat in the bathroom there crying my eyes out until my husband found me. I held unto that sanitary pad for over three hours looking at my baby.

    Three months later I got pregnant again, this time around I was very careful. No stress, praying and believing. One fateful night towards the end of my first trimester, I had a sharp pain and as soon as I got up I noticed I was bleeding. My husband rushed me to the hospital and the doctor said I had to have an evacuation done urgently. I was like huh! again… I was totally broken, I cried, screamed, yelled, cursed…

    I got over this hurt and pain with the support of my husband. I gave out all the baby cloths I had bought. I threw away all the pregnancy test kits I had at home. I listened to Hillsong a lot and cried a lot too. After one month, I was fully healed and I decided to face my work squarely.

    My doctor advised to stay off trying to conceive again for at least three months.
    During the second month of resting and using contraceptives, I fell very sick. I did every test but pregnancy test because I wasn’t expecting to be pregnant.

    After three weeks of not getting any better, one morning I casually took a pregnancy test at home and lo and behold I was pregnant. Trust me I cried and ask God why He was testing me like this. I wasn’t even ready for another pregnancy let alone another miscarriage. My doctor was equally surprised and I spent over a month in the hospital on bed rest.

    Everyday I waited for the miscarriage to happen. I kept looking out for all the signs I was used to. Days turned into weeks, weeks into months and by the ninth month, I gave birth to the most beautiful baby boy ever.

    It was an emotional rollercoaster but through it all I look back now and can say that God is faithful.

    • Ro

      October 20, 2016 at 4:29 pm

      Oh my God, you went through a lot, thank God for the testimony at the end.
      But I will implore us to always seek doctor’s opinion. My pastor used to say covenant health is curative not preventive, that is not to say that if you fall ill its a sin but what we have the right to divine health, when our body breaks down medical attention is needed even as we pray.

    • Nicole The Fertile Chick

      October 21, 2016 at 11:14 am

      Oh my goodness. You story gave me goosebumps. So sorry for everything you went through, but elated you got your happy ending. God is wonderful!!!

  4. Oluwaseun odo

    October 20, 2016 at 10:50 am

    i also had the experience. not good at all.

  5. Frida

    October 20, 2016 at 1:53 pm

    This really cut me deep. Lovely article. Most people don’t understand what women go through during a miscarriage.
    It’s a taboo topic in our culture.
    I’m so glad people are taking pains to talk about it.
    May God comfort all women going through a miscarriage right now….while I understand that every baby is precious and no baby can substitute for another, I pray God gives them another child to at least wipe away some tears.

    • Nicole The Fertile Chick

      October 21, 2016 at 11:15 am

      AMEN! God bless you, Frida!

  6. Ro

    October 20, 2016 at 4:25 pm

    I almost though you were talking about my friend, she experienced same, I had just heard Pastor Idahosa’s testimony that year so I got a copy and sent to her since I did not know any other way to reach her, I hope it made a difference..

    • Nicole The Fertile Chick

      October 21, 2016 at 11:15 am

      Ro, I’m sure it did. Not only is Reverend Idahosa’s testimony a powerful one, that gesture was enough to show her you were thinking about her and you care. God bless you for being a wonderful friend xoxo

  7. SIsi

    October 20, 2016 at 4:29 pm

    So happy to see more people talking about this subject, we need it. We owe it to ourselves as women to talk about these things.

  8. MiddyO

    October 20, 2016 at 7:48 pm

    My exact same story except the timelines are a bit different. I am glad you have a beautiful child at the end of it all. I have a son as well. God is faithful!

    • Nicole The Fertile Chick

      October 21, 2016 at 11:16 am

      He is indeed, MiddyO! He is indeed! xoxoxo

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