Thursday, 15 November 2012

Paying it forward

I found out this week that a wonderful woman I use to work with suffered a full-term still birth. I was saddened to hear the news and enormously inspired by the courage and strength she had shown. She was determined to share her story in an effort to keep attention focussed on figuring out why this still happens. I thought it was an important cause to support.
It’s not just stillbirths that sometimes have no explanation, it’s miscarriages too. I have read so many stories about women who miscarry and the tests shows there was nothing wrong with the baby. It just doesn’t make any sense. And how can people be expected to get over and heal from something that just doesn’t make sense?
When I think about it, I know four women who have suffered miscarriages. I have relied heavily on one of those women to share her knowledge, encouragement and support to help me through this. She is the only one who can sit opposite me and nod her head in absolute understanding of what I am going through. But surely, there must be more of my friends who have suffered this?
I’ve learnt that some people just don’t know what to say or do in these situations.  Some of my friends have seemed to approach me gingerly and feel bad for not speaking to me sooner. Some of them just don’t even bring the topic up.  I can certainly understand the difficultness of the situation. In the past, I have tried to console friends who have had miscarriages and felt useless as I couldn’t possibly imagine what they were going through. Now I do know, I realise how important it is just to show your friends you are thinking about them and caring about them. In the midst of all the grief, that’s all you want to know – that people care about you!
So, inspired by my brave friend who had the tragic loss of her daughter, I posted my story on Facebook today. Today was significant as I was originally booked in for my scan and would have been announcing to the world that I was 13 weeks pregnant. I questioned whether I should – I was worried about people judging me, people at work knowing and people thinking I was just searching for sympathy. But, I knew my motivation was pure - I didn’t post it searching for sympathy or nice comments, I posted it so that if any of my friends had experienced the same thing, or do experience the same thing, they know they can call me and I will be there for them as my friend was there for me.  And, I realised that being worried about what people thought is the main reason women don’t talk about it and that was the whole reason for doing it. In that moment, I quickly realised I didn’t care what anyone thought – that was enormously empowering!
Within a few hours of posting it, four friends had told me about their miscarriages. The majority of those had gone on to have babies, but clearly, the pain and the memory was still there. For another friend, her experience was very recent and she was going through a lot of the same thought processes as me. All I could do was tell her I totally understood where she was coming from and send her the link to this blog.
In the end, my post was about paying it forward. If we can all stand proud in our experience, it releases the feelings of guilt and shame we carry around. If I can help one person through their miscarriage, then my experience hasn’t been in vain. I’m so glad to realise so quickly that my instinct was correct and people have already valued it. I hope and pray that none of my friends ever have to experience this, but I’m ready to turn up to their house in a moment’s notice if needed.

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