Eleanor, 34, Northamptonshire
I had three miscarriages in 2018, all under 12 weeks. I became very anxious to the point that it was impacting every area of my life. It affected my sleep and I had very negative thoughts. I spent a lot of time crying and kept having flashbacks to the third, most traumatic miscarriage, particularly when I was trying to sleep or relax. I had such severe bleeding that I was rushed to hospital in an ambulance. My family struggled to understand the impact it had on me. Only one friend, who had also had a miscarriage, seemed to get it. The professionals who dealt with me when I was admitted were clearly ill-equipped to cope with any mental health implications, which was not their fault. It was only when I self-referred for cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) months later that I was able to get the support I needed.
Nicole, 33, London
I found out I had an ectopic pregnancy four months before my wedding day. They had to operate to terminate the pregnancy and I lost a fallopian tube. I think it is difficult for people to understand what it means to lose a pregnancy early on. Terms such as a “bundle of cells” and “not a viable pregnancy” are often used to downplay what it means to lose a pregnancy. My heart breaks every time I think of it and what it meant to be pregnant. While it was a “bundle of cells” to doctors and “not a viable pregnancy”, it was a dream to me to be pregnant. It will always break my heart in a way only other women in my situation will understand.
I have suffered from PTSD symptoms since having six first-trimester miscarriages. This has included vivid flashbacks, nightmares, insomnia, panic attacks and depression. Triggers include menstrual bleeding and the smell or sight of blood. I did not receive any mental health support at the time. I have had to seek out private CBT and EMDR (eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing) therapy to deal with the symptoms. Friends and family haven’t really known what to say and had little understanding of the trauma I was suffering. It has affected every aspect of my life. Thankfully, I have two healthy children, but the pregnancy, immediately following the miscarriages, was very stressful.
Bibi, 40, Austria
After miscarrying at 14 weeks I had to wait a week for the foetus to be expelled naturally. I remember taking at least five long showers a day, sometimes even more, because I felt so disgusting. Afterwards, I began having nightmares and kept asking myself if I was being punished somehow, because I had avoided being pregnant for so long. Everyone kept telling me that it was OK and I would get pregnant again, like: “Who cares if you lost your child? There will be others.” It didn’t matter if my kid was technically not a human being but just a lump of cells – it was my kid, and it was gone.
Since then I no longer want to even think about getting pregnant again. Luckily, my husband (not the father of my miscarried child, we divorced a year after this event) is also child-free, but I grieve the loss of my kid every single day.