Normal heart: A fourth miscarriage

There is a print on the wall of the ultrasound room in the unit where they run our recurrent miscarriage clinic.

It’s of a red heart, drawn in a swirly, slightly abstract way. Possibly it says ‘amour’ underneath in faux-romantic script. When I’m there, I always think I should make a note of what it actually says, and always forget immediately after.

Every time I see it – usually as I’m pulling my pants back on after an internal scan of my uterus, aka, dildo cam – I wonder who chose it. And why. Is the heart meant to give hope to those who receive bad news? An encouraging reminder of the existence of love in the face of all manner of gynaecological ills that might be diagnosed in this particular room – adhesions, tumours, a failed pregnancy.

For me, last week, when they diagnosed another missed miscarriage, just in time for Fathers’ Day, the choice simply felt like bad taste. A heart for when there is no heartbeat.

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

I wanted to tear it off the wall. Snap its plastic Ikea frame into pieces.

It also occurred to me, as I was handed yet another wodge of scratchy NHS paper towel to wipe away the ultrasound gel, how many people will never have to see the inside of this room, with its single, singularly tasteless picture. How many pregnancies go by without call for dildo cam’s services, or a specialist clinic, or scans every week to a fortnight depending on how things are developing. Without ever having to hear the words ‘transvaginal’, ‘foetal pole’, ‘cytogenetics’, or ‘I’m so sorry’.

This time round, that is what I keep coming back to. How much I want that. The normal pregnancy.

Because however I slice it now, however much the clinic doctors tell us we are medically ‘normal’, this isn’t normal is it? Four consecutive miscarriages doesn’t feel very normal. And I don’t see how pregnancy can ever feel normal for us now either.

This is what I think I’m grieving for most this time round – that normal pregnancy. I want it so badly. Not this half-life version, expecting the worst at every corner. I want to look at a positive pregnancy test and feel joy. Simply joy. Not a split second of joy, then panic, then grim resignation and weeks of sideways looks that say: ‘let’s not get our hopes up’.

I want to make a booking-in appointment with the midwife – eagerly, excitedly – something which we haven’t done in these last two pregnancies for fear we will find out a few days later that the baby was already dead while someone talked us through our birth options.

I would like to have one scan in the first trimester. Just one. At 12 weeks. And to see a wriggling, baby-shaped baby: alive.

I would like to decorate a nursery and buy maternity clothes and maybe some onesies. I would like to complain about heartburn and backache and inappropriate strangers on the bus touching my bump and asking: ‘What you got in there, twins?’

All those normal things. Please. Let me at them.

Normal gets a bad rap, doesn’t it? We sneer at it; no one wants to be ‘basic’. We try to be everything but ordinary, uneventful, the same as everyone else.

Not me. Give me a basic-bitch pregnancy. I’m begging, now. Give me the shitty wrap dress and the swollen ankles and the elasticated-waist super-stretch jeans.

Basic and boring has to be better than this. On the outside of parenthood looking in. Four pregnancies with nothing to show for it but the grey, sticky furze left by plasters from blood tests and the cannula from the surgical ‘management’.

No, I want – need – normal, because underneath our atypical experience I am normal, not super-human. I’m not a tragic heroine waiting patiently, beatifically, in a tower for her miracle baby to come. I am not a morality tale; not living, breathing, bleeding virtue to be rewarded. I am not built differently, I was not somehow ‘chosen’ for this, I am no braver, stronger or anything-er than anybody else.

I am just a person. A person who is ready for a family. Who wants what seems to come so naturally for so many others. Who gets angry, who doesn’t understand, who says the wrong thing, who is (sometimes) shallow and (often) makes bad jokes. I spend too much time on Instagram, get grumpy when I haven’t eaten and obsess about what a state my hair looks when it’s humid.

Just a normal person. Normal heart. Only worried how much more abnormal it can take.

 

37 Comments

  1. Wow! Can I want this normal pregnancy for you to? Words escape me, I’m pretty sure a sorry for your loss from a complete stranger won’t mean much. I’m going to pray, hope and want that this be your last miscarriage and you get your ‘normal’. Sending lots of love and positive vibes xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Tori, it means SO much. I am so overwhelmed by the kindness of people who read this blog. It keeps a little flame burning that lovely people like you are thinking of us and willing us on. Thank you. Jennie xxx

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  2. I could’ve written this myself albeit not as succinctly as you.

    I have no words of comfort. Of reassurance. I only have an understanding that right now, life is so overwhelmingly unfair that it hurts. I coped by crying. Lots of crying and hugs from my Husband. And alcohol. Hope is a terrible emotion as it’s often lost along the way but it does return and I really do hope you get your rainbow baby.

    Sending you gentle hugs x

    Ps “dildo cam” is quite possibly THE best description of that bloody awful transvaginal scan probe…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you. It really doesn’t mean a lot. And I’m sorry you’ve been here too. I’m coping by keeping busy, yoga and driving Dan mad with plans for the house and garden – and yes, lots of crying too. As for dildo cam… what I would give to never have to see it again (unlikely). Jennie xxx

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  3. Thanks for sharing this it is so important to keep the conversation going. I know you probably hate everything and everyone right now (I know I did … sometimes still do!) I want to scream at the people in the street, do you know what’s happened to me? But il refrain cause I don’t want to get locked up! I hated being forced to be in this community of those who had miscarried, but I soon realised what amazing people they are. There are no super humans here, just everyday people, forced to endure this terrible sadness and navigating their way back into society again. Take your time to breathe and process. We are all here for you. Xxx

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Well said, Sian. While obviously I feel crushed by this last one, and although not exactly easy, it has been made so much easier by the online community around this subject. No superhumans (although I think you’re all pretty amazing) just ordinary people doing what they can. I hope you’re doing OK. Jennie xxx

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  4. My heart absolutely broke when I saw the headline of this post in my inbox. When you hadn’t poster in awhile, I suspected you might be pregnant and was hoping (much like I know you did) to eventually share the happy news post, the, “We made it!”

    I am so, so sorry. I know when I had my fourth loss that that one got me particularly hard. Suddenly it was without doubt that we were “RPLers.” Since I had seen so many of even the two and three loss in a row moms get their rainbow right after those.

    So if you’re like me, I’m sure now is when you’ll bury yourself in internet research. You’ll start taking the supplements if you haven’t already. And you’ll fight every month whether to wear a rubber as soon as you know ovulation comes around.

    I’m here. Whether email, blog, or whatever, let me know if you need any advice or want to know every possible thing so many of us have delved into trying to figure out why this is happening.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. I know what you mean about ‘4’ – you start to feel like such an outlier. Although I was anxious, I really believed deep down that this would be it. We’ve got a few things we’re exploring next test-wise, which I’ll post about at some point. Thanks for being so supportive. Jennie xxx

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  5. I am sorry Jennie. I have been through five miscarriages myself, everything you have said is so how I feel too. I have been blessed with a rainbow baby after my first miscarriage and since my baby I have had four miscarriages in a row. This last time which was four weeks ago I felt so cross that I was being told ‘ it’s just one of those things!’ I couldn’t hear that again! I became more angry with being brushed off and went to my consultant full of more knowledge to get more support with medication. Who knows if this will help but I have to try something I can’t try again with out trying something new,
    Thinking of you at such an awful time xxxx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Melissa, I’m so sorry for your losses. I know exactly what you mean. I have got to the stage now where I just can’t really believe it’s ‘just one of those things’. Though I know that could be right, I really don’t want to hear it any more. I’m trying a bit of acupuncture now, and a lot of lifestyle changes coming up, as well as some other tests, which I’ll post about when we get going. But for now just giving ourselves a bit of time and space. Thank you for reading and I’m sorry you’ve found yourself here. Jennie xxx

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  6. Thanks for sharing your story with every brutal detail Jennie. You are going through terrible times I can’t even imagine but your writing helps to normalise it for others and that is so wonderful in such a bleak time for women in the same situation.

    All our love. Xxxxxx

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I am so very sorry to hear this jennie – it’s so utterly unfair and I know the pain and heartache you are feeling all to well. Maybe this isn’t what you want to hear and a lot of people said this to me after my 4th and I thought it’s ok for you to say!! But please don’t give up, there is always hope and I truly hope you get your rainbow I really do. I’m 15 weeks in after 4 miscarriages and it’s been an anxiety ridden few months where we’ve been constantly expecting the worse and I never thought we’d get this far. We still have a long was to go but all we can do is hope it’s the only thing that has ever got me through it all.
    If you want to message me, to ask anything or to chat at any point then please do. Sending you both all the love and strength to get you through this difficult time. Take care of yourself and indulge a little – buy and new dress, drink coffee in the sunshine and go out for a nice meal you both deserve to have some pleasure and happiness right now. Rachel xxx

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Rachel, thank you. It’s totally OK to say. I’m not giving up. There is still hope here, underneath the frustration, the anger at the universe and, yes, deep sadness. I really hope you are doing OK. It so nice to hear other people’s rainbow baby news. (I really mean that). And don’t worry… I have ALL of the coffee and treats. Got my eye on a new top next and a new swimsuit for a well over-due holiday. Lots of love and strength to you. Pregnancy after loss is not easy. Jennie xxx

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  8. I’m so sorry for your loss… *hugs*. I found your blog while searching for miscarriages. I’m currently going through my 3rd loss and your words resonate so much with me. Each loss is so painful, frustrating and triggering. You grieve the baby and pregnancy you didn’t get, while simultaneously grieving the pregnancy bliss and innocence of any future pregnancies. Wishing you your rainbow baby soon!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello – I’m so sorry you are going through this again. It’s just shit. There’s no two-ways about it. I know exactly what you mean about grieving that blissful, innocent pregnancy. I will never get that pure, golden joy of our first pregnancy again. I really mourn that. I hope you have good real-life support. Message me any time. So much love and strength to you. Jennie xxx

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  9. Your description of the room is so evocative it made me weep! I know exactly what you mean about the atmosphere of those rooms, the scratchy towels to wipe yourself. Sending lots of love and thank you for sharing your words and your story with us, you will be helping so many other people in the same/similar situations x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Kat – so sorry for the tears! But thank you for being so nice about my writing. I would quite like never see the inside of one of those rooms again, to be totally honest. But obviously that would mean never being pregnant again…. which is not what I want at all. None of this is easy. Sending you lots of love – and hope. Jennie. Xxx

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  10. So sorry for your loss….and thank you for sharing your story!- everything you have said really resonates with my own experience, thank you so much for putting it into words. I can’t tell you how similar your consultant story is to mine. I burst into tears and demanded more testing when I was told it’s ‘just bad luck’ and ‘the facts and figures are in your favour’. I had mentioned further testing of NK cells and a prescription of progesterone – the doctor looked as though I had spat in her eye. I desperately wanted something ‘concrete’ to be wrong…so then it can be fixed. No such luck, my husband thinks I’m mad..and now onto trying….again. After reading our story, I’m feeling reassured I’m not on my own.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Jayne, you’re SO not alone, although I know it feels that way sometimes. It’s so frustrating that need for answers when no one can give you any. I am looking into NK cells testing too, and a bit of an all-round lifestyle overhaul (less stress – I hope – and shorter working hours, to give myself a bit of a break after everything that’s happened). Sending you lots of luck for next time – thank you so much for reading, Jennie xxx

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  11. Wow. This is the best fertility related post/blog/article I think I’ve ever read. I went through fertility treatments to conceive (and am currently a nervous wreck 11.5 weeks into my first pregnancy). I’ve seen enough friends go through miscarriages to have it always in the back of my mind and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

    When I went through fertility treatments something that always bothered me was a constant lingo that certain women were somehow “chosen” to go through it because we’re somehow “strong enough” to handle it. I’d see this type of language and think “what else am I going to do? Just curl up in a hole and whither away? Throw my hands up in the air and say ‘Welp, no kids for me!!” None of my friends who have dealt with with infertility/miscarraige are super human paragons of virtue either. Just normal ladies waiting for basic bitch pregnancies.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Elle – that’s really kind of you to say. The being ‘chosen’ for this stuff really bothers me, people obviously mean it as a compliment, an encouragement, but really I think it’s just a way of distancing themselves from you, explaining it away like it could never have happened to them. It’s a really dangerous mindset actually, because pregnancy losses – and all kinds of loss – can and do happen to anyone, regardless of how resilient they are. I wish you and all your friends who’ve sadly been through this lots of luck. Hope you start to feel a bit less of nervous wreck post 12 week scan. I’ll have everything crossed for you. Jennie xxx

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  12. I just wanted to say that your posts resonate so deeply with me. I’ve struggled to find the courage to tell anyone about the miscarriages we have had, but you pretty much sum up my thoughts in a way I never thought posible! All I want is a normal pregnancy – one that doesn’t involve walking through the maternity ward to the EPU (I’d love to meet the person responsible for that layout decision!) or having a “dildo cam” (loving the nickname!) wiggling around while the nurse looks sympathetically down at me! I just want to say thank you for sharing your story. I really hope you get your normal! X

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi George – thank you, that is so kind of you to say. And I’m so sorry you find yourself here. Dildo cam has a lot to answer for, I feel! I really hope you get your normal too. (And soon!) Keep going. Jennie xxx

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  13. My husband and I are lying in bed next to each other both reading your blog posts, holding hands with tears silently running down our cheeks. It’s so refreshing, yet heartbreaking, to read about someone else having been through, and going through, what we are. Thank you for you beautifully written honesty and truth about everything – from the scratchy NHS paper towels and ‘dildo cam’ experiences, to your longing for a normal, carefree pregnancy. Please know what an amazing comfort you provide to people and I hope and wish you get your normal pregnancy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh Ali, I’m so sorry. And I’m glad you found some comfort here in my words. I do sometimes wonder why on earth I’m doing this, and I think it all comes down to just trying to write what I would want to read in those moments…but can’t find anywhere else. It is comforting to me too to know that other people feel the same, that we’re not alone in this. Sending you and your husband so much love and strength – I hope you get your normal pregnancy too. Jennie xxx

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  14. I am sorry for what you have been through. I am so sorry that I am reading this. Recurrent miscarriage is crap. I know. I too had 4 in a row. Last year I was in your exact situation and decided something HAD to change/be done. In my relentless pursuit I managed to find a plausible cause for my miscarriages and suitable treatment. I am thankfully sat here with my newborn son…

    What I’m saying is try to see this grief through and when you feel ready, do whatever you feel able to find some answers. The right kind of help is out there. Xx 🤞

    Liked by 1 person

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