A Story of Loss, Luck and Lessons Learnt Along The Way

***Find Your Inner Glow with Prenatal Yoga and Coaching in this 5 day FREE Immersion, starting November 21st***

***Trigger Warning – this episode refers to sensitive content about miscarriage and child loss***

My Story 

Welcome to my own story about loss and recovery. It’s also a story about luck and lessons learnt along the way.

I’m sharing it now, because since this happened, over 5 years ago, I haven’t really written it down, or shared my full experience. I feel it’s time to close a wound.

I’m also sharing it because the one thing that saved me and made me feel better, was listening to other women’s experiences about their own miscarriages. It wasn’t the ‘’I hope you feel better’’, or ‘’it happened for a reason’’ or ‘’it’s ok, 1 in X women go through this’’ or ‘’it’s nature’s way of telling you something isn’t right.’’ Those things are all true, but they didn’t help me at the time. Who cares if the probability is high, I just kept thinking, why me?

Hearing that I wasn’t alone is was helped me. Not in the sense of statistics. But the actual stories. I knew people around me had had miscarriages and still births, but I’d never heard their full stories, the details of how, where, when it happened, the feelings they went through, their emotions. Hearing their full story helped me and got me through my loss.

I’d also like to recognise that it’s easier to share this now, after having given birth to two healthy children. So here is my story of loss, as well as luck, and my lessons learnt along the way. And it’s here for you if you need it.

***Find Your Inner Glow with Prenatal Yoga and Coaching in this 5 day FREE Immersion, starting November 21st***

I want to have a baby, now what?

We were at the point in our marriage where the time was right.

I literally went to the doctor, said, we want to have a baby now. What do I need to do (apart from the obvious of course!). I was ready to change my diet, quit alcohol and coffee, and all she said was ‘’take these vitamins, and come back after a year if you haven’t had luck’’.

A year???? Wait it takes that long?

It really felt like the clock was ticking. That time when every month you get your period you feel down about it. So, when it only took 4 months to get pregnant, we were thrilled!

We had this amazing secret that was just for us. I actually felt invincible, I beat the odds of the 1 year the doctor stated, and got pregnant naturally within 4 months. Wasn’t I a superwoman, right?

I called the midwife, she said to come at 12 weeks for a check-up, and in the meantime continue with life as normal.

So I went ahead with the planned holidays I had booked. I was going to join my dad on a visit to my grandmother’s. We were going to spent a long weekend in the Canary Islands, the island where my father is from and where I was born.

At the boarding gate in Schipol, Amsterdam, my home at the time, I went for a pee just before boarding the plane. I saw light blotches of blood. I came out and immediately called my husband who was at work and wasn’t joining me this weekend.

We didn’t know what else to do but to google it.

I was getting nervous. Here I was boarding a 4.5 hr flight, and he was googling ‘’blood loss in early pregnancy’’ and sharing the results with me over the phone. Was it normal? Was it serious?

I eventually had to turn my phone off and sit with the uncertainty. Nervous and anxious, I kept going to the bathroom to check, and kept seeing light signs of bleeding.

Finally, I had to ask the stewardess for a sanitary pad. They only had tampons! I felt like this wasn’t a tampon like situation, and had to explain that I was pregnant and bleeding, it wasn’t a period. I broke down crying in front of them at the back of the plane.

These two lovely young air-hostess could only say, ‘’I’m really sorry, I’ve never been pregnant so I have no idea!’’ They did however, ask if there was a doctor on the plane.

An older lady showed up in reference to the call. She was a retired GP and asked me some questions. Her conclusion was ‘’It’s normal to have some bleeding during pregnancy, but as soon as you land, please go see a doctor’’.

My mind exploded. It’s normal, but go see a doctor ASAP? I could hear the urgency in her voice.

She came to check on me a few times during the flight, and as we disembarked she repeated, ‘’go straight from the airport to a doctor.’’

So when my uncle came to pick me up, and opened his arms wide to hug me, I just burst out crying. At this point, nobody knew I was pregnant. I had to tell him ‘’ I’m pregnant, but I’m bleeding’’.

He immediately put a plan together. Told me to call my Dutch Health Insurance, called the family to say I’d be home a bit later, called my aunt for support, took to me to the A&E hospital (it was Friday night at this point).

It was just what I need. Simple practical instructions and someone to guide me.

At the hospital, the gynecologist examined me. He said the foetus looked smaller than what I said it was (I think I was 6 weeks but he said it looked smaller than that). The prescription was total bed-rest. If the bleeding increased or continued I to come back over the weekend.

Suddenly from superwoman I went to someone who was prescribed bedrest.

I stayed up for my dad to arrive from his flight. As soon as I saw him I said I have good news and bad news.

Good news is that I’m pregnant.

Bad news is that I’m bleeding.

After updating him on my plane and hospital saga, he cancelled all his weekend plans (we were planning on taking a ferry to go to the other island to visit more family and friends!) and said he’d stay at home with me.

At this point I was thinking, how am I supposed to do bed-rest, and go back home to Amsterdam on Monday? What am I going to tell my boss?

The next day, the bleeding got heavier and I started getting cramps. This was nothing like a regular period. At one point I saw a tiny, round shaped, transparent looking thing in my sanitary pad. I wondered if that was supposed to be my baby.

By Sunday morning, we decided to go back to the hospital. A different gynecologist saw me this time, and I already knew the result from her face during the ultrasound check. Unlike the doctor on Friday, she didn’t share the screen with me. She was spending a long time looking for something inside me, in silence. Finally she said, I don’t see anything here.

The loss

So, that was that.

I cried with her, and asked her what did I do? Did I do something wrong? She hugged me and told me it happens, it was only 6 weeks and it doesn’t mean I won’t be able to get pregnant again. That was the first time I heard the statistic: 1 in every 8 women have a miscarriage.

Just wait for two months, and try again. In the meantime, I have to stay put, rest, and I wasn’t allowed to fly back for at least another week and just had to let me body do its thing.

So, I called my boss. Sorry, this has happened and I can’t get on a plane.

Staying at my grandmother’s house, we had to tell her why I wasn’t going to the beach every day and lying in bed instead! I told her the truth. Her reaction was incredible. I was fearing an emotional outburst that would just end up with me feeling terrible. But there was none of that. She just said, it’s ok, these things happen. You can’t do anything about it. Then she told me her story of her loss and made sure I had nurturing and healthy food all week.

My husband flew out to join me. And at this point, my Canary Island family knew what was going on. It’s not something you can hide anymore. So, on a daily basis, I had 3 amazing aunts and 2 uncles coming to hang out with me, whilst I rested in bed, lending me feel-good books and just giving me company and making sure I was as comfortable as possible. I didn’t have to go to any follow-up appointment alone. I had people to laugh and cry with around me.

It was also during this time that many women in my family opened up to me and told me their stories. Things you kind of know, because someone else told you, but this time they were sharing it directly with me, with all the uncomfortable details I’m sharing with you.

The recovery

After about 10 days the gynaecologist gave me the OK to fly back to Amsterdam. She said I should consider taking 4 weeks of sick leave.

I’m lucky that I didn’t take that return flight on my home, but had my husband with me.

My work was respectful of the time I needed, but after a few days back at home in Amsterdam, I couldn’t take it anymore. The empty house after being surrounded by so much loving family, and the reality of what had happened started to hit me, making me feel worse and grieve after something I had only known for less than 3 weeks.

I couldn’t stop replaying every moment since I’d found out I was pregnant to when I boarded the plane. What did I do for this to happen? Was it because I taught that yoga class, or was it when I carried the groceries home? Was it the air-pressure changes on the plane? I couldn’t help but making me responsible for what happened. There was a strong sense of self-blame.

About two months after, I went online and started reading up on people’s stories. This was the only thing that eased this sense of blame, allowed me space to grieve, and made me, very slowly realise that it wasn’t my fault. I had NO idea, absolutely none, that the chances of having an early miscarriage were so high.

As the kind doc predicted, my 3rd period never came, I was pregnant again.

And maybe it’s easier for me to reflect on this now, two healthy pregnancies and children later. But I believe I was lucky, lucky that what happened to me happened early on, and surrounded by loving people who could provide me the emotional support I needed at the time.

I hope my story gives you a bit of hope, if not some companionship during this journey!

***Find Your Inner Glow with Prenatal Yoga and Coaching in this 5 day FREE Immersion, starting November 21st***

Lessons learnt along the way

  1. You can’t rush nature. I felt like the clock was ticking, the time was right, ok, I have to get pregnant now. The miscarriage put us back by a few months. Knock, knock, guess what? You aren’t always in charge. Nature can’t always be tampered with.
  2. Don’t be afraid to tell people you need their support. At first I thought, great, nobody is supposed to know I’m pregnant, and here I am surrounded by family. How am I supposed to keep it a secret. I’m glad I told them what had happened, they were there for me when I needed them most. Do not underestimate the power of a support network.
  3. The self-blame game, especially when it comes to your children (born or unborn) doesn’t get you anywhere.
  4. Pregnancy is to be enjoyed and not feared. When I got pregnant again, I was a bit more careful (I stopped cycling and yoga during the first trimester) but the rest was life as normal. I got to 12 weeks, resumed life as normal and rode my bike and taught yoga until week 38.
  5. I wish I would’ve gone to therapy or spoken about it earlier. I was too busy absorbing other people’s stories of miscarriage to make me feel better, but I didn’t really stop and deal with mine.
  6. Allow yourself to feel. By rushing back to work I didn’t allow myself to wallow and grieve or process everything that had happened. It seemed easier to keep busy and go back to work than to sit in an empty flat all day.

And thanks to this last point, I’m adding a new element to my Yoga offerings. Starting in November, Krish Yoga will have a Perinatal Emotional and Mental Health Coach joining the team, Helen Wright.

Join me and Helen for a 5 day Free Prenatal Yoga Immersion from the 21st-25 of November. I’ll show you how to stay strong, calm, rested and feel empowered with yoga, and Helen will facilitate a conversation on the importance of emotional and mental perinatal health.

***Find Your Inner Glow with Prenatal Yoga and Coaching in this 5 day FREE immersion, starting November 21st***

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