Sian blogs about the grief and heartbreak of miscarriage, and the impact it has had on her mental health.
Sian is 37 years old and lives in Reading. She is a PE teacher as well as having her own sports coaching business.
I dream of being a mum. It is the most meaningful and empowering feeling I own. Yet after five unexplained miscarriages it is also the most heart-breaking and saddening experience.
I envy the naivety of my younger self who was full of optimism, innocence and a belief that I would be cradling my baby as soon as I had the opportunity. That opportunity came four years ago, when after many years of struggling with an eating disorder as a teenager and into adult life, I got my periods back. I hadn't had them for 15 years, but I knew I had to acknowledge that I needed to take vital steps in order for things to change.
"I discovered hope in being able to fulfil my dream."
I wanted to make my dream of becoming a mum a reality, so I sort help in a very supportive therapist, who among other things, gave me the self-belief and guidance to overcome many of my physical and mental barriers I had. This enabled me to enter the world of womanhood again and I discovered hope in being able to fulfil my dream. The hard part was over, so I thought.
I have struggled with my mental health for many years. This gave rise to an internal voice of negative thoughts that controlled and punished me every minute of the day. Thoughts that I didn’t belong, that I wasn't good enough, that I don’t deserve things, that I mustn’t do this, I can’t do that, influenced my every move.
To cope with this I used what I now see as dysfunctional coping methods to cover my low mood and anxiety, mainly through food and exercise. So deciding to get help and begin my journey to create a family empowered me to take control back for myself and lead a life I wanted to lead. I could see my purpose and direction and I was determined to go for it.
Being single was not a barrier and my independence drove me forwards to embark on becoming a mum through IVF using a donor. Injecting myself with hormones daily, growing then harvesting my eggs, having a bloated stomach, internal scans and eventually steroids and blood thinners didn’t faze me, as my maternal drive overpowered all of this.
"Little did I know that after getting pregnant five times in five cycles of IVF, seeing a heartbeat, discovering real excitement for the first time in many many years, I would be left so very alone, so deeply saddened."
I became an egg donor in my first cycle as I thought that I would soon have the family I so longed for and I wanted to help other women to achieve their motherhood dream too. Everything was set and everything was clear. My confidence boosted as I felt my path had been laid and I was following it. Little did I know that after getting pregnant five times in five cycles of IVF, seeing a heartbeat, discovering real excitement for the first time in many many years, I would be left so very alone, so deeply saddened, hurt and grieving the loss of my so very loved and cherished babies.
As soon as I saw the line on the pregnancy test, I knew there was life inside me, and I looked to the future and all the things that we would do together. One day I would take my child back to these treasured places to experience them together. These photos encompassed hope and longing, but they have turned into ones of such sadness and heartache.
"Miscarriage is a very lonely and isolating experience."
The impact of what I've been through has been immense. Miscarriage is a very lonely and isolating experience. Despite having support from loved ones around me, I felt nothing but emptiness, darkness and a deep, deep numbness.
Hand in hand with my depression came anxiety. I feared that I would lose everyone around me and I thought that if I couldn’t keep my babies then this was telling me I didn’t deserve anyone in my life. Although I continued to bury myself with work, at the end of the day I would close the door to my house and shut down in overwhelming despair. The tears I cried lasted hours and quite often throughout the night, where I would lay awake staring at nothing, then curl up and sob.
"All the years of hating my body came flooding back – it had failed, I had failed and I truly felt I had nothing to live for."
The heaviness deep inside my chest was unbearable and I grew jealous and angry at every mother with her baby. I blamed myself for failing to give life like I felt a woman is meant to. All the years of hating my body came flooding back – it had failed, I had failed and I truly felt I had nothing to live for.
My world became so black and I tried many harmful ways to punish my body further. My thoughts became suicidal and any day I could have acted on them. That's why I've helped the Miscarriage Association develop their new resources on pregnancy loss and mental health, and why I am sharing my experience for Mind too.
"Talking with professionals and close friends has helped me to share my thoughts and anxieties openly on a very closed subject."
I will never forget my losses and they will always be with me, but talking with professionals and close friends has helped me to share my thoughts and anxieties openly on a very closed subject. I also write poems, and use my love of exercise to raise awareness by doing sponsored swims. These both mentally and physically benefit me in such dark times.
My story is not one of success, but I hope by sharing the grief and heartache head on, it can open the discussion in exploring the link between mental health and miscarriage. These are two silent stigmas in society that I hope can be talked about more, to provide help and support to women who experience such loss.
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