By Amy Nikolovski, Managing Partner and member of the Wellbeing and Resilience Committee
Wellbeing and Resilience Committee article- December Issue 2022
Trigger warning- this article discusses miscarriage and pregnancy loss
For anyone who knows me, I am the last person who should give any advice or guidance on wellbeing or work life balance, as mine is all out of whack. What I thought I could write about however was resilience.
I am writing this article in October, which is not only Mental Health Month, but also includes Pregnancy and Infant Loss awareness day which is on 15 October.
Pregnancy and Infant Loss seems to be the last taboo topic in the profession and in society in general. Despite 1 in 4 pregnancies ending in loss, we are for some reason not supposed to talk about it. I am not sure why. So today, I am going to tell you my story.
After struggling to conceive for 6 years with Niko, when I feel pregnant almost immediately with my second child it seemed like a miracle. I did all the things, had all the tests, and everything looked great. I had my first scan at 8 weeks, when I heard her little heart beating at 171 bpm, it is such a glorious sound. I had another at 10 weeks to go along with my NIPT testing, which confirmed all was well and that we were having a girl. We had our 12 week scan, and got the all clear. Those first 3 scans, I’m sure other parents can relate, you hold your breath just hoping that they are ok and it is such a relief to get the all clear.
Niko found out he was going to be a big brother, and my husband and I announced to the world that a little girl would be joining us in August 2022, we were ecstatic.
That was until Friday 12 February 2021, that day will be forever etched in my memory. I had an OB appointment, I was 14 + 2, well into the second trimester, I thought that I was in the “safe zone”. It’s strange how life can turn so quickly. Only 2 weeks earlier we were celebrating the joyous news that we were having a little girl to make our family complete, so when I attended that day I never expected the heartbreak that was to follow.
As my OB zoomed over my stomach with the ultrasound wand, she said ‘baby is measuring a little small”… to that I thought “oh well, they can’t all be big like Niko”, but then she looked at me and said “I’m sorry, there’s no heartbeat”, she then wrote “NFH” on the screen, “No Foetal Heartbeat”.
I actually said “but she was fine last week” like that was somehow supposed to make a difference.
According to her size she had stopped growing about 2 days earlier, at what would have been 13 weeks and 6 days.
After being comforted by my OB I was booked in for a d&c first thing Monday morning, but I was sent home with my dead baby still inside me.
My body was playing a cruel trick on me, because it hadn’t realised the baby had died and continued to have all of the reactions of a pregnant body. I still looked pregnant, still had morning sickness, nausea, food aversions and a heightened sense of smell, but my baby’s heart was no longer beating.
Monday 15 February, at what should have been 14 +5, just two weeks from learning the glorious news that we would be having a little girl join us in August was the day she was taken away.
The last time my husband Tony and I arrived at Calvary Hospital together it was for the delivery of our beautiful boy, this time our baby wouldn’t be coming home with us.
Because of COVID Tony couldn’t go past the entrance, I was guided into Day Surgery without him, I’ve never felt so alone.
My OB greeted me at the theatre doors and hugged me as I cried on her shoulder. She held my hand as they put me to sleep through my silent tears, this time though the baby she would deliver wouldn’t be coming home with me.
I know I’m not the first, nor will I be the last that this will happen to, I’ve got friends who’ve had to endure the devastation of still birth. However, you lost your baby I’m sorry for your loss.
It has been 8 months, and I am still reminded of her and what might have been. Greif comes in waves, those first few days and weeks were so hard. My body healed relatively quickly from the surgery, but I am not sure my heart ever will.
So why am I telling you this? Because if you, like me are part of this crappy club, I want you to know that it is ok to grieve, to tell your story and celebrate the baby you never had a chance to meet. 1 in 4 women have suffered a miscarriage. I am the one in four.
Following my miscarriage so many people reached out to me, to tell me of their losses, how they never really truly felt like they could properly grieve, because they hadn’t told work, or had deadlines. How they had lost their babies in client meetings, but preserved through.
The stories of those brave women and men, really helped me through those first few weeks, knowing that they had been able to mend their broken hearts and their dreams of a child lost.
I am not sure why the topic is so taboo, when so many of us have experienced this same devasting loss, it really shouldn’t be.
I am here to tell you, to take the time you need to heal, and although the storm seems like it will never end, one day the fog will lift and you will be able to see the beauty in the world again. They say you can’t build resilience if you have never suffered loss or trauma, and although I would have much preferred another way to build my resilience it is true. Little things that seemed so important, don’t so much anymore, because “it could be worse”.
Thank you for reading my story, and if this resonated with you, or you too are part 1 in 4, I am so sorry for your loss.
Amy won the prestigious award for “Best Special Interest Article” in 2022 for this personal and in depth reflection on her experience with pregnancy loss.