Losing a baby during pregnancy is more common than many people think; it’s estimated that up to one in four pregnancies ends in miscarriage. Jodi Geddes’s family is one of the millions of families that are affected by pregnancy and baby loss each year. She shares her painful story and reflects on the lessons learned.
I am one of the millions of parents who lose a baby each year to miscarriage. My miscarriage happened at 14 weeks, but the number of weeks is insignificant. The grief and pain are still the same.
My husband and I met later in life, engaged after a year, and married the year following. Three days before our wedding, I found out I was pregnant. Actually, it was my last day of work before the wedding and I remember freaking out because my team threw me a farewell brunch, and all I could see and smell was cheese. I didn’t know if it was safe to eat soft cheese. Everything was new to me, and it had happened so quickly that I wasn’t prepared.
Our wedding photos show us touching my belly with our faces beaming. We were beside ourselves with excitement. The honeymoon followed, then the countdown to the 12-week mark. At work, I’d seen countless parents celebrate the joyous 12-week scan with an announcement to the team. I couldn’t wait for it to be my turn. I never imagined something would take away that big moment.
As a Virgo, I’m a very organised person and like to have everything in place. The day before my 12-week scan, I booked a team meeting to take place a few hours after my scan. I couldn’t wait to break the news. I had it all planned.
The thing is, on the day of the scan, I didn’t go back to work.
To this day, it’s still hard to share the details, but I’ll give it a go. We had a horrific experience and were told that our baby would not likely survive the next few weeks. I was in shock. I didn’t understand how this could happen – everyone I knew always had such life-affirming scans and came back into the office smiling from ear to ear… Not us.
The next awful few weeks were some of the darkest I will ever remember. Here’ is what I learnt:
- Don’t ever assume it won’t happen to you.
- There’ is no need to struggle in silence simply because it’s the social norm. I wished I had shared my baby news with close friends earlier, and recommend sharing with a trusted loved one as early as you can. Therefore, if something does happen, they’ll be there to support you. I needed my friends more than ever before.
- Your team will understand and will be there for you. I used one of my direct reports to let the team know what had happened. What followed was an incredible amount of love and support that I’ will never forget.
- Life will go on. It will be hard, you won’t forget, but slowly the life you knew before will return and you may even have a chance at another pregnancy journey.
- Speak to a counsellor. There were times when I would get angry at my family and tell them, “I am fine.” But I wasn’t. I ended up seeing a counsellor and it saved me.
- Take time off from work to process your emotions and focus on your well-being. Your manager will understand. Speak to them about what leave you can access. Don’t rush the return and when you do, ease yourself back.
- Think about what you’ll say to people who ask if you’re OK. Keep it short. Prepare your response with your partner and practice.
- It can take months to recover physically. Your body was pregnant and is filled with hormones. It takes a while to feel like yourself again, so be kind to yourself.
- Don’t forget your partner is grieving too. I was the one always crying, but it didn’t mean I was the only one hurting.
- Find something else to focus on. For us, it was a decision to buy a new house and move. It was a great distraction and allowed my husband and I to spend our time dreaming and thinking about our future.
If you’re experiencing pain from a similar experience or need support, speak to a counsellor or health professional. Below is a list of independent organisations that provide support for miscarriage, stillbirth, and newborn death.
Australia: Sands Australia