Everytime the ‘opportunity’ arises to speak about our loss or ‘non-linear’ journey to starting a family, I always find myself conflicted on what to share, how much to share and if people care to hear the story at all.
Well, I know people care, but I’ve also learnt that they just prefer not to talk or hear about it, because unlike the death of “someone who once lived” speaking about the death of a child who never made it out of the womb alive is an uncomfortable topic for many to have.
But, what I’ve also learnt in the two years since our first loss is that my story matters, and so does that of millions of other women who’ve gone through a miscarriage, stillbirth, abortion, ectopic pregnancy or infant loss.
“A quarter of all pregnancies end in miscarriage.”
Everyone of us, whether we know it or not, has someone in our lives who has suffered a child loss. Statistics (albeit American) show that a quarter of all pregnancies end in miscarriage.
That is, for every three “we’re are pregnant” announcements you see on Facebook, accompanied by a proud couple holding cute baby booties, there is one couple crying unconsolably because they have just been told that “there is no heartbeat.”
So, sharing my story is less about my experience (as important and valid as that is) and more about the millions of women (and men) who continue to live in shame and silence because society refuses to acknowledge their loss and pain. The more we normalise child loss, the easier it will become for others to share their stories and start the process of healing.
So This Is Our Story…
I was sitting in a doctor’s room, just hours after being told that the blood test results had confirmed that the excrutiating pain I had been experiencing for nearly a week was a result of pregnancy.
Without being too alarming, the doctor had also told me that I wasn’t supposed to be in any kind of pain and had to urgently get a scan to see exactly what was happening.
Scared and lowkey excited for a child I never even knew I wanted before that moment, my mother and I rushed to the nearest hospital as I softly whispered to myself and my unborn child “please be okay, just hang in there” between updating my equally alarmed and confused husband on the phone.
A couple of minutes later the gynaecologist confirmed that I was indeed pregnant but that the pregnancy was not viable because it had been growing in one of my tubes.
“Pregnant, fallopian tubes, emergency surgery, removal of tubes, ectopic pregnancy, life threatening” so much was suddenly happening and there wasn’t even a single moment to catch my breath.
We weren’t even planning for children and besides, I was on contraception, so how was any of this happening?
But, it was happening and it was only the start of what would become the biggest battle and testimony of my life yet.
A couple of hours later, just as my husband arrived at the hospital, I was rushed into surgery to remove both my child and left fallopian tube. The surgery itself – which went “well” – and the night I spent in hospital are a convinient blur.
The next memory I have is driving back home with my husband of only three months in complete silence, coupled with moments of small talk to dilute the “awkward” pain we were both clearly going through.
I remember telling him about how my mother sneaked into the hospital at 4am because she worried through the night about me, or the very sweet intern doctor who somehow brought me comfort without hardly trying to. I don’t remember any of his responses to my stories or if he even did say anything.
But then it finally came, the moment we had been trying so hard to avoid. We finally walked into the house and immediately collapsed into each other’s arms, crying uncontrollabling (well, more me than him but both equally shattered). The days that followed were all the same – dull, dark and painful.
We both drifted to a dark place. I thought back to conversations I had had many years ago where I (without reason) diagnosed myself with infertility. Maybe I did this to myself or perhaps God is punishing me for this or the other. At that moment every “bad” choice I had made in my life seemed to be reason enough to disqualify me from motherhood.
But in all of those moments, when I was crying myself to sleep, blaming myself and trying to find a reason for why I deserved what was happening, God would gently and relentlessly show up and whisper “it is not your fault, you are loved, you are forgiven, there is Grace, it’s okay to be feeling the way you’re feeling, my heart is also breaking, I hear your prayers, I am here with you and you will not break forever.” In all our falling apart and feeling like we could never carry on, there was never a moment where we felt abandoned, forgotten or unloved by God.
Yes, we struggled to make sense of it, and still do today. But, we have come to accept that everything which has happened in our lives had to unfold the way it has, although we may never get to know the reason while on this earth. However, our focus should not be on knowing or understanding all of God’s ways and his thinking but on trusting Him.
Life is unpredictable and uncertain, there is absolutely nothing we can do to avoid pain and heartache or loss, even as children of God and followers of Christ.
The only certainty that we have in this life is that none of it has a hold over us; that we can come out on the other side, because provision has been made for us.
But overcoming in itself, does not look like what we imagine it to be. It’s ugly, unpredictable, painful and can sometimes last a life time. But every bit of it is worth it.
That is where I am today. I am overcoming. I am navigating healing daily and learning that the process is not linear. It does not have an ending and can coexist with joy and happiness.
The pain itself is unpredictable; it can feel like a little today and a lot the next. A heavy storm one day and a light shower the next moment.
But like the rain, we have no control over when it starts, how long it lasts and its intensity. What we have Grace to control is our response to the showers.
Choosing to wait out the storm, dance in the rain and remembering that no good and fruitful harvest happens in the absence of rain.
The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.” – Psalm 9:9-10
Blog Feature by Mmatshepo Oganne
Mmatshepo Oganne is a mama, wife, entrepreneur, digital content creator & freelance wellness journalist. Follow her wellbeing journey on Instagram @wellnessjourno