I thought I’d write about something that I’ve not seen given much airtime – even in pieces about pregnancy loss – and that’s body image after miscarriage.
Perhaps it’s simply too shallow for words, and that’s why it’s not really mentioned, but it’s definitely been a thing for me, and if that makes me shallow, well, so be it.
It’s funny though isn’t it? Baby weight is tediously ingrained in general conversation. Pregnant and recently pregnant bodies are interminably picked over. Who’s gained too much/not enough, who’s pinged back and who hasn’t. Whatever you think about this kind of talk (my personal view is: yuck. I mean seriously, who cares?) it’s fair to say it’s accepted that pregnancy is this huge change to a woman’s body, her figure, her self-image, yet with miscarriage……
It’s an understandable omission, given how hard this stuff can be to talk about anyway (I am still useless at discussing miscarriage in real life, in actual spoken words, rather than written ones) and I can see how of all the things you might say to someone who asks how you are the top candidate might not be: “You know what really sucks? I’m not having a baby, but I am half a stone heavier now.”
So no, your non-baby weight isn’t the worst thing in all this, or one that feels…seemly to go on about. But it’s a cruel extra pinch of salt in the wound, nonetheless.
Just when you could do with slipping into your littlest, blackest dress and slinking off to sip cocktails; anything that makes you feel glamorous, adult, and distinctly unmatronly, you are instead feeling at your most lumpen.
Obviously everyone is different, but after my first miscarriage, as well as a tricky load of grief to process, I was stuck with an extra 7lbs and an entirely unfamiliar bra size. After the second, it was more like 5lb. Perhaps there are some women the first trimester leaves unblemished. I am not one them. Both times I have felt at my unfittest, my wobbliest. BMI: Don’t ask. Body fat composition: Foie gras. More than a month on, and on the wrong day, in the wrong dress, I can look four months pregnant, still.
I know I’m not supposed to mind. That in the grand scheme of things it doesn’t matter. The weight will come off. But – oh! – how I resent having to make that effort now, when I don’t get a baby as part of the bargain.
There is a fantastic body-positivity movement online of mums showing the reality of post-partum bodies, baring their scars and stretch-marks (‘tiger stripes’!) declaring love for bodies that gave them their children. How brilliant to be able to declare your pride for a body that, while not super-model perfect, ‘made a human’.
My body didn’t make a human. It failed to make a human twice now, and it looks different as a result. And I don’t yet know what to tell myself about this to make myself feel better about it. The best I can come up with – at a stretch, on a very good day – is ‘it knows what it’s doing’. That somehow, given that many miscarriages are presumed to be caused by chromosome abnormalities, I, and a very poorly baby, have been spared a lot of pain further down the line.
But mostly it’s just another unwelcome reminder of what’s happened this year. Somehow, I have to accept that I’ve been pregnant for five out of the last eight months, and it would be strange if my body weren’t different, I suppose.
Ultimately, this is another facet of what I wrote last week: a lost pregnancy doesn’t just vanish overnight. And it changes you, in every sense.