Screaming inwards so loud I can’t breathe
Crying these tears so hard I can’t see
You couldn’t understand how I feel:
This emptiness growing inside of me.
At various points in life I have traveled to Hell and back. Sometimes I have danced around the edges of the cliff-tops, and sometimes I have fallen from them, and buried myself in the burning sand for days, even months. I’ve not only suffered a great deal from other people, from the lack of understanding about where I sit on the NT/ASD scale, and from circumstances beyond anyone’s control, but also from the effects of depression, which some might argue are worse than the causes.
I was bullied in many forms, through different media, and by different but overwhelmingly similar groups of people, from the age of seven to a year after I dropped out of Sixth Form. I grew up not trusting those in authority as they let me down over and over again: one teacher hit me as a young child; subsequent teachers denied my bullying, my depression and my learning difficulties; therapists in my mid-teens refused to understand my issues; people I was supposed to be able to turn to called me a liar and a drama queen throughout my life. I have been sexually assaulted by several different boys / men at several different times in my late childhood / early teens. I was emotionally, psychologically, mildly physically, and severely sexually abused by one guy for eight months, and in the later months he assaulted me horrifically on two occasions, and raped me on another. I lost my unborn brother late in my mother’s pregnancy a few years ago, and had my heart completely broken and stomped on a year before that, after meeting who I truly believe was my soul mate. I have been through years of self harm, two different periods of eating disorders, alcohol abuse, and a suicide attempt, amongst other effects my depression brought about. These are probably the worst things on the list of what I’ve been through – the major events – and they are all stories I have yet to tell fully.
Of everything that has happened to me, despite how horrific and terrible they were at the time and even now as I reflect, I am not sure that anything is as numbingly painful as what I am going through now.
Last Monday night, I discovered to my complete shock and delight that I was pregnant. I was told by my GP two years previously that I would find it difficult to conceive while I still had hormonal issues; my partner and I were not trying for a baby. Once I was past the initial shock, I was overjoyed and excited. I wanted this baby. My partner and I made plans; my parents and I made plans. We were even going to switch the rooms around, which would cramp my seven year old sister into a room too small for her toys, let alone her furniture, but would allow my partner (when he is not at university), myself and our baby the room to be a family together at home until we could afford a place of our own, where my needs (autistic and anxiety related) could still be met.
We had started to look at names. I had fallen in love with a girl’s name and not yet settled on a boy’s. We had looked at sleepsuits and family cars. We were ecstatic.
I tried not to panic when I first started to bleed on Saturday. This was normal, it happened to lots of women in pregnancy. Even the slight cramps in my abdomen were common. Everything was going to be okay. Sunday was worse. The tiny clots in the blood scared me, but still, if I panicked the situation would only get worse. I rang the Maternity helpline, who tried their best to reassure me, but told me to go to A&E “just in case”. Then, I panicked. I packed an overnight bag just in case, a book and my darling Marscapone, a cuddly panda bear who has kept me calm at the worst times for the last five years. There isn’t a night I don’t still sleep with him.
A&E was quite routine. My mother drove me and stayed with me the entire time. They took my blood pressure. They kept us waiting. They asked me for the details over and over, and then they kept us waiting. They took my blood, after four hours, and then kept us waiting. A gynecologist felt my womb, did a quick internal and told me everything looked fine; some women just bled in pregnancy and there was no reason to tell why. They would book me in for an emergency scan anyway, “just in case”. I was allowed to go home.
When we drove to the scan this morning, I was apprehensive but excited. I wanted to see my baby, to hear its heartbeat, to know it was safe in my tummy. In reality, the monitor was faced away from me and I couldn’t see a thing – not that there was much to see. The sonographer kept fiddling with the keyboard and saying “let me just try this”. She wouldn’t tell me anything, and even my mum was squinting at the screen. I knew at once that something was wrong. They stopped and the lady started in her grave voice.
“What I can see here is a pregnancy. I’m sorry, but there is no heartbeat. The pregnancy has stopped at 8 weeks, 1 day. I’m so sorry.”
I broke, with them in the room. Cuddled into my mother, I wept. Great racking sobs, loud moans, floods of tears. The more I cried, the more real it was, the worse I felt, and yet we cry anyway. When I was calmer, I wanted to know. Why? When? Could they be wrong? Could there be a chance?
They couldn’t tell me why, and they couldn’t tell me when it happened. They could offer me a second scan next week, for a second opinion, and, more likely, to check how my body was progressing with naturally passing the miscarriage. They told me not to beat myself up and they told me what support they could offer. They told me the statistics, and that it didn’t mean I couldn’t have any more. But nothing, nothing in the world can offer me any comfort. Of course I feel responsible. I didn’t find out until quite late; what if I had done something? I drank and ate all the things I shouldn’t have done, including large quantities of alcohol and in the last few weeks, green tea. I didn’t start taking folic acid until it was too late. It’s not healthy to think I’m responsible for what happened, and I know that, but it doesn’t stop me thinking, in the empty silences, that I did something wrong.
It hurts more than anything in the world, but it isn’t even over for me yet. There is a dead baby inside me still, and a grieving process which has barely begun. I haven’t just lost a baby; all the hopes and plans and dreams I had for it too are gone. I want to try again, to have a planned, healthy pregnancy this time but it can’t be for months, until my body, my partner and my mental health are all in a healthier state.
I can’t explain how this loss feels. I am numb and yet I am in so much pain my chest feels like it is holding together despite a thousand tonne weight pressing down on me. My stomach keeps turning, as though I might be sick any moment, but I can’t tell if from emotional stress or the stress my body is currently under. It feels like a huge chunk of my life is missing, despite the fact that I never held this baby in my arms. I feel empty, emotionally, inside as though nothing could ever fill the hole in my life except another baby. I ache in every way, and I can’t understand why we cry these torrential tears when they do not ease our pain.
I am thankful for all the support my friends, family and acquaintances have shown me today, but I am too overwhelmed with pain and despair right now that I find it hard to concentrate on the meaning of their words. I want to know why me, after everything I’ve been through. I want to know why I cannot be allowed any longevity in my happiness? Have I not been through enough? Have I not hurt enough already in my twenty years? I want to know why my baby didn’t survive, what caused it and when. Sadly, I know that some questions can never be answered. For those of us who believe in God, we grasp on to the idea that He has a plan for all of us – that there is a reason for our pain. For those who do not, I do not know what you hold on to, but I do know whatever it is does not ease the pain as faith does not ease mine. They say time heals all ailments, but I question that, too.
I am lost right now, so unsure where this latest tragedy is taking me, and all I can hope is that my pain does not engulf me in the way that it threatens to. I can feel depression tugging on my heart, pulling me back to a place I don’t want to be, and so far I can see no light shining on me to show me the way. I can only hope, and pray, that this time, it really will get better, and the happiness I’ve been yearning for my whole life is right around the corner.