My husband and I got married in 2014, and about a year-and-a-half later we decided we wanted to have children. For us, we were young and healthy and assumed everything would happen without complication and—as expected—I fell pregnant on our first go. I was 28 at the time, and I surprised Tristan with a Father's Day card letting him know that we were pregnant. We walked around in this beautiful bubble of bliss—naive bliss—for about two weeks, despite my incredible morning sickness. It was so worth it, we were so excited.
During that time, I had a really strong intuition with the pregnancy—I felt really connected. As soon as the two of us had gotten to enjoy that moment together, we called family to let them know the news—it was just a really beautiful time. About two weeks later, I woke up in the morning and felt different. It was like it had disappeared. I walked to the bathroom and started to notice blood.
It was an immediate chain reaction, I went to the bathroom and there was blood everywhere—when that happened, only now because I've been through childbirth since, I know what a contraction feels like—I felt my body begin to contract. There, I experienced my first miscarriage.
We went to an emergency medical centre and sat in the waiting room while I was contracting. I was bleeding everywhere. At that point, really, miscarriage had never crossed my mind, it was not something I had ever thought about. Oddly enough, even though I knew something was horribly wrong, I still felt hopeful that maybe, this was normal, maybe something else had happened. When we went in to get a scan, the sonographer couldn't find anything and told me what I already knew—I had lost the pregnancy. From that moment, I went into such a grief-stricken place. We had planned out our future within those two weeks. We had mapped out what that was going to look like, where our children were going to grow up, what type of parents we wanted to be. I had picked out the name because I had such a strong intuition it was a girl.
I was so broken. Once you tell all of your family—or even not—it's such a horrible thing to go through. I wasn't given any resources nor was there any other follow up information, so I just went down this rabbit hole, and all those feelings of blame and shame, because I thought it was something I had done. Something I had eaten or that something was wrong with me.
We were lucky enough to fall pregnant with my daughter Echo very soon after, and she was a rainbow baby, a magical surprise. With my pregnancy with her, I was very scared because I had been through something so traumatic before. For those nine months I was really trying to relax but at the same time, but I was so focused on everything that was happening with my body. Pregnancy does different things to your body, so this time around one little cramp or even very light spotting immediately sends your mind into overdrive, you think something terrible is about to happen.
I was getting ultrasounds so often my doctor at the time said to ease up on the anxiety and the tests. Thankfully, my daughter Echo was born and it was like I had forgotten about the miscarriage, to be honest, she just brought so much joy to my life and all those feelings I had from the first miscarriage went away.
When we went to try again for a second baby, I had a missed miscarriage. That was, I went in for one scan, and my dates were funky but there was something growing, so they told me to wait. I went in for a subsequent scan and was told there was no heartbeat. All of a sudden, everything I felt the first time came flooding back. Because I hadn't dealt with those feelings properly the first time, it was like a double-effect. Again, we had announced to family—I was humiliated, I was broken.
That second experience was also physically traumatic because I had complications. I was bleeding for about 12 weeks straight by the time I got a D&C [dilation and curettage]. This is when I started the video diaries which appear in the documentary. I didn't know how else to cope. I actually just didn't know how to cope. I didn't know who to talk to, I felt ashamed and I felt broken. I didn't want to burden my husband or my family.
Those video journals, at the time, were like a coping mechanism for my grief. I included Tristan in it, it felt like I needed to say something at that moment, or at least just be, because I didn't know if what I was feeling was normal. But maybe if I just show what I'm feeling, someone else can connect with that and feel okay if they're going through that.
I felt guilty because I had a daughter. Then, we tried again in May and I fell pregnant straight away. I woke up, and I really held out for the two weeks—waiting 16 days past my ovulation—and I did the test and it came up positive. I went to work and I started miscarrying at around lunchtime that day. That one again, I only got to have around six hours enjoying that pregnancy.
It was ripped away so fast. Once I had those two in a row, I really felt like perhaps, that was it for me. I didn't know if I could go through it again.
After that pregnancy loss, I fell pregnant with my son Oisín around eight weeks later. He was like a magical surprise as well. I think, for me personally, that's when I really started to think about the grief of that first loss and the fact that I suppressed it so much, and then I really allowed myself to grieve that second and that third. I allowed myself to feel everything. It's such a strange thing, you don't have physical evidence of a baby, and it's so hard to explain to someone the connection you have when you've been trying to have a family, how attached you get to those positive pregnancy lines.
It breaks you, it breaks you in so many ways and I think, looking to Chrissy Teigen, when I saw that come up... every emotion comes back again. I felt so sad. I felt so sad that she had to experience that, it's such horrible grief to go through. You feel like you can't talk to anyone, but thankfully, women are sharing their stories, because so many women do go through it and don't tell anyone.
They are encouraged to just try again, without acknowledging what that actually does to your psyche or your body. For me, especially, I was told to go home and take a Panadol. I've spoken to other women who try to fall pregnant again like it never mattered and for me, it doesn't work like that, and for a lot of women, it doesn't work like that.
I think the more of us who talk about it, the more we understand that it isn't anything you can control, that stigma will vanish. We can somehow remove that shame that you are less of a woman if you lose a child. I want to erase that narrative. It's also this idea that a loss is a burden you must carry alone when there are 282 women a day that are told there is no heartbeat.
What I've learnt along the way is that those feelings and that grief need to be dealt with. One in three women suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder following a miscarriage. Something needs to shift.
Each woman that has gone through this brings a myriad of experience, but a lot of those experiences and emotions are very similar. I've been speaking to a lot of women since the film has been released, and my advice is always: don't try and feel like you need to dismiss it or minimise it. Give yourself permission to grieve and to honour that loss. Don't try and feel like you need to dismiss it or minimise it.
Misunderstandings of Miscarriage is available to watch on Stan.
For more resources on pregnancy loss, visit the below organisations for support.