Please note: This is Ep.27
Please go here for Ep.26
Or here to begin at Episode 1
(As everything I write is true, names have been changed to protect identities.)
Baby down the loo, Body Shame on you!
Good Friday falls every year on the Friday before Easter. It’s a sad day of mourning and loss as Christians commemorate the crucifixion of Christ.
Why they call it Good Friday, I’m not sure; the internet has various theories about it. But what I do know is that our first Good Friday after Jai was born certainly was not a good Good Friday.
The morning started out as usual, giving Jai his bottle and breakfast. He’d started weaning on to solids the month before and was enjoying baby rice and home-cooked pureed vegetables. I had an extra spring in my step that morning, cradling the news that we were pregnant again, and as it was a national holiday, Maanav was at home with us. It was a perfect spring morning. We couldn’t wait to announce it to the family when they all returned from their travels. My in-laws were away, and my mother and father had gone on a holiday for the Easter season too.
As it was just us at home, I was planning to make a special dinner for Maanav and me. That dinner never happened though. Somewhere around the middle of the morning, while pondering what to cook, I felt a foreboding ache; I doubled over in pain and felt a strong urge to go to the loo. I’d had similar pains only five months previously. I was in disbelief that I was feeling them again. Those were labour pains. This shouldn’t be happening now.
As I sat on the toilet with a strong dull ache in my lower abdomen and legs, my body convulsed and the toilet bowl filled with blood and dark tissue, I screamed out Maanav’s name.
I bled until it felt as if I were poured out and nothing was left of me. When finally, the cramps stopped, Maanav helped me to our bed and I collapsed in exhaustion and probably some shock at what had just happened. Maanav was on the phone with the NHS helpline in seconds, they said that I needed a scan to confirm whether we had lost the baby or if it was just some spotting, light bleeding, common in early pregnancy.
But as it was Good Friday that day and Easter was on Sunday, followed by a national holiday on Monday, there were no technicians available at the hospitals, even in the Accident and Emergency department. They said I had to wait four days until everything reopened, and in the meantime I was told to move as little as possible — complete bed rest. On Tuesday, when everything reopened, I’d be able to have a scan to see if I had miscarried or if the baby was alright.
Four days! I felt suffocated with no answer. Was my baby alright or not? Was my baby even there or had I just flushed it down the loo? Why did Mother Nature have to do this to me and make me wait four whole days to find out. (I know this sounds very dramatic, but it’s how I felt then. I was eighteen years old and had not yet been toughened up by everything else life had to throw at me.)
My husband was a superhero that weekend and took care of Jai and me. I can’t remember what we ate, but I’m pretty sure he didn’t cook because he had zero cooking skills. He’d take me to awesome restaurants and feed me the best cannelloni and Mississippi mud pie in town, but put him in the kitchen, bless him, he’d likely burn it down. He almost did once.
He’d been trying to reheat some boxes of pizza that had been delivered, and when I say reheat boxes of pizza, I mean just that; he put the actual cardboard boxes in the oven with the pizzas inside and cranked up the heat to full. When black smoke was seeping from around the oven door and lingering like a wispy cloud in the pristine white kitchen, he opened the oven in a panic and it was full of flames. It took the meaning of chargrilled, or flaming hot pizza to a whole new level. Maanav, his sisters and I laughed about it for days and every time it was brought up after that.
When Tuesday came, I had the scan. Yes, my nest was empty. I think I’d known already in my heart that the baby had gone. I’d have been ignorant to be in that much pain and lose that much blood and still believe everything was okay. Having that confirmation that the baby had gone, gone down the toilet, was too awful for me to bear.
When we told our parents, upon their return (we didn’t want to spoil their holidays by telling them earlier), my mother-in-law tried to tell me that it was so common, that she’d probably had a few miscarriages without even realising it and that she’d probably mistaken them for a period.
I tried to absorb what she was saying. I know she wanted to help me be strong and I knew I’d feel better if I believed it, but I was in mourning and I felt my grief was being undermined. I suppose to the rest of the world, a miscarriage may seem common and trivial. Why mourn something you never had?
Even though I had only known for a few days that I was pregnant, and even though the baby would have been the size of a grape probably, the bond was as strong as if I’d held him or her in my arms. And the see-saw of brief pregnancy and post-miscarriage hormones didn’t help. It was like having postnatal depression all over again. I felt an immense sense of loss.
I wanted to tell my mother-in-law there’s a huge difference between a period and a miscarriage. I wanted to tell her how painful it was, physically and emotionally. But I kept my mouth shut. I grieved in my own way. I got a little bonsai tree, which I kept in my bedroom. I named it and tended to it to commemorate the soul who had so briefly connected with me. It made me feel better.
I understood then that only those who are either extremely empathic or have been through certain events themselves will really understand.
Just as only those who are sensitive to their hormones will understand each other. The women who never suffered from PMS/PMT/PMDD, postnatal/postpartum or perimenopausal/menopausal symptoms are the lucky ones. But they, and men, will never fully understand a woman whose life is controlled by the cage of her hormones.
I know some lovely, kind, helpful women who are in the lucky category who are an asset to this world, but when they saw me going through PMDD before my hysterectomy, they’d try and tell me to just get out of bed, that it was nothing. They would tell me that they never had any such issues, and they seemed to doubt mine were even real.
Women always seemed to have something to say about my weight too. No matter what I tried, I’d gain a couple of kilos in bloating, water-weight, every month before my period and it would show in my fingers, feet and face; my eyes would look small and puffy. And just before my hysterectomy, I’d gained 15 kilos (which I’ve since lost). I’ve been called ‘fat face’ and ‘roly poly’ and told that I used to be so ‘beautiful and nice and slim’. What, so I was ugly now?
I know they didn’t mean it like that, but had it been me a few years ago, I would have been devastated by such comments. With Swami ji’s Grace, I’m stronger now and I didn’t let those words affect me, but it took some conscious effort not to feel hurt. When I was in high school, I didn’t have Swami ji or know about mindfulness. As I was naturally very slim then, I was called all sorts of names for being too skinny. Those comments destroyed my self-esteem.
In my twenties, a woman in my life close to me told me I was getting fat when I was well within the normal BMI range for my height. I was 5’6″ and 57 kilos, a completely healthy weight. I remember the exact weight because I used to weigh myself every day (thankfully, I don’t even own a weighing scale anymore). I know she meant well. As I’d been very skinny and underweight my whole life until then, it was unusual for her to see me a few kilos heavier. But I took it so much to heart that I couldn’t get it out of my head and after binge-watching damaging TV shows like Extreme Makeover and America’s Next Top Model, I went and got liposuction that I didn’t even need, with money I didn’t even have (a story for another time).
Rather than be supportive women to each other, we end up undermining what someone’s body and mind might be going through just because we didn’t have the same experience. And we body shame each other. Too weak, too strong, too big, too small, too light, too dark, too tall, too short. Why can’t we just let someone be how they are, be supportive, listen to each other and build each other up. Why can’t we help each other feel confident and comfortable in our skin.
Coming back to the original topic. It’d be lovely to think that this miscarriage was a one-off thing. Just a small blip on the road to having another child that I wanted so much. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to assume that after this, I got pregnant again and Veer was born, the end.
This miscarriage was, however, just the beginning of, if I may quote Lemony Snicket, a series of unfortunate events, where the marriage vow ‘in sickness and in health’ was really put to the test.
Please go here to continue to Ep. 28
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