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My miscarriage: 'I kept hoping mine would be one of those miracle stories, where the baby would survive'

Kitty Maguire works with a lot of women who have suffered miscarriages. Today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, and until now, Kitty hadn’t written about her own loss.

Kitty Maguire

The issue of miscarriage has come to the fore recently, after Chrissy Teigen and John Legend publicly shared their experience of the loss of their baby on 1 October. They described a ‘kind of deep pain you only hear about, the kind of pain we’ve never felt before’. The couple were praised for their bravery in sharing such difficult news publicly.

This week, Instagram influencer and star of Made in Chelsea, Binky Felstead, also shared details of her own miscarriage and hearing those words that sadly are familiar to so many women, ‘I’m afraid there’s no heartbeat’.

Today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day and as part of that, we asked Kitty Maguire, a menstrual cycle facilitator, to write about her own experience of miscarriage:

OVER THE YEARS as a women’s circle and menstrual cycle facilitator, you can always be sure the story of pregnancy release and loss will come up in the circle.

One thing that comes through for many who attend (not all) is loneliness, the lack of education around miscarriage and how to move forward in grief.

I always felt such a deep level of empathy for anyone who experienced pregnancy loss, but I don’t think I fully understood just how deep the wound could cut, until I experienced my own pregnancy loss in December 2018.

Even now, almost two years later and following loads of healing work, where I allowed the tears to fall and flow, attended therapy sessions, it is a sadness that I feel lives in my bones and nothing seems to take it away.

Yes, of course, the initial grief and trauma have definitely eased but there’s a feeling deep down in my body that feels like a silent void.

I have heard so many stories about miscarriage over the years through my work and from friends, but I won’t share them, I’ll just share mine because they are not my stories to tell and every miscarriage, like every pregnancy, is different.

I’m hopeful that we can normalise the conversation around our womb stories and remove any shame or stigma that hangs in the air around those stories.

Our joy

My fiancé Sam and I had decided we’d try for a baby and after a few months thankfully I was pregnant. It was a huge surprise. even though we’d hoped it would happen I didn’t think it would happen so quickly.

We were ecstatic and I never felt happiness like it. Sam was beaming. Faces sore from smiling and soaked from tears. What a feeling.

You can’t help it, the talks on names, local schools, how we’d share the news with our families and friends when we’d head back to the Aussie Grandparents and family. I had a special bike picked out with a big baby carrier on it.

It was just so lovely. We decided to tell Sam’s family in Oz first and tell my family around a Christmas dinner when we would be together. I’ll never forget the squeal of joy from Sam’s sister when we told her, it was incredible and a priceless moment.

I had the usual tiredness for sure but no morning sickness. I just felt content and at peace. We both did. To say we were excited is an understatement. The next morning Sam was going in to work later than normal and we were beaming after sharing the news with his family. I had slept really well, I felt great when I woke up.

Our loss

As I was heading into the bathroom I could feel a sticky feeling on my legs but just thought it was all part of the physical changes that come with growing a human.

There was some blood on my pyjamas. I just screamed out to Sam and started sobbing. He didn’t need an explanation, it was obvious it didn’t look good.

We called the doctors straight away and got an appointment for later that morning. They said they couldn’t be 100% sure although it didn’t sound great, it was best to come in and see the doctor. So there was a tiny feeling of hope but it felt tiny. But you always have hope, don’t you?

The doctor confirmed I’d had a miscarriage and that he was sorry for our loss and off we went to let nature run its course at home. We walked out of the doctor’s office, both different people. The sadness was immense. We just hugged and hugged each other.

The feeling of the rug being whipped in an instant out from under our feet was huge. It was really hard to wrap my head around. To go from such happiness to grief so suddenly was really challenging.

My brain started going over everything that I could have done or could I of prevented this? I felt robbed of explanations. Just sometimes it doesn’t work out.

“One in four women miscarry”

This tends to be the statistic offered to you after a miscarriage. I Googled the subject, I guess for comfort and answers but it all seemed so empty and lacking in soul. I was reading all these facts and stats and was thinking:

Where’s the heart in miscarriage? I’ve just lost my baby and you’re talking about me as a statistic.

I just felt like there was nowhere to turn for answers and that’s the really frustrating part, is the not knowing why this happened. I was numb and didn’t really know how to begin to process the overwhelming sensation of sadness that kept filling me up and now I just had to wait for the pregnancy to pass.

And so I waited and nothing, no blood came. But what did come was sickness. The day after the blood spotting I began feeling ill and spent the next few weeks vomiting. I had no appetite, couldn’t eat when I did want to eat and just felt such a weight in my body.

A good memory from that foggy time was my friend’s dog John Joe came to stay for a few days, he’s a huge Weimaraner and was the perfect dog lover’s companion because he just kept cuddling in. He was slumped over me, beside me or one foot touching off me at all times. He did make me laugh in a week that was rough. I felt he was minding me and it was really easy to have a good cry with John Joe when you didn’t want to show your all your pain to humans.

Every woman has a story

I felt like our womb stories are potent in womanhood, a rite of passage. First bleed, birth, loss, menopause. You have to weather the storm and it can feel quite isolated at times and then you figure out who you are now with this new insight.

On Christmas Day, after my miscarriage, my mother had come to stay and was cooking the dinner. At one point I just ran to the bathroom and was sick.

It was driving me mad because some part of me felt maybe I’m one of those miracle stories you read in those little magazines, that the baby actually was alive against all odds. I just didn’t want to let the dream go.

I remember saying to my Mam, “do you think there’s a slight chance that” and she just hugged me and said, “Kitty it’s okay, it’s going to be okay”. The vomiting continued on for a few more weeks. I had PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder, the shock of the loss just shook me to the bones.

When I eventually started to bleed it was around the second week in January, roughly five or six weeks after that first show of blood that morning. I felt relief that my body had finally let it go but also the reality that this is a different bleed than any other monthly bleeds. It was wracked with grief but it also felt incredibly sacred, if that makes sense.

The bleeding went on for about 11 days, stopped and then began again the end of January. It felt like it was never going to end but it did and my body eventually began to feel stronger and more like me. I remember having this feeling of trusting my body and its intelligence, not blaming myself for what had happened because I have full trust in my body and it did what it needed to do.

Letting go

In the weeks after I could see the grief starting to hit Sam. He hadn’t fully been able to go there as I’d been so ill. We spoke a lot about the whole experience. We wanted to mark our baby’s life, so one night we got dressed up, had a meal, lit a candle and took some time to honour what had been. It was lovely and very special for us.

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We told our close friends and family, which I’m so glad we did. We got a lot of support in a vulnerable time. Some of the words that gave me great comfort from a good friend were “you’re stronger than you feel right now and you will not always feel this way”. And in that time I needed those simple kind words.

Everyone handles this experience differently, has different ways of coping. For me, I also had some rituals in our garden, planted flowers and gave offerings to the earth to acknowledge our spirit baby. It brought us some peace and connection.

Through holding pregnancy release circles or private sessions it’s been really special to see the sense of peace that some people feel or find when they are given the space to cry, speak or just have someone to hold a space for them.
Words often aren’t required. Creating a supportive and safe container for a group or person to let go of the pain is.

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We are shocked and in the kind of deep pain you only hear about, the kind of pain we’ve never felt before. We were never able to stop the bleeding and give our baby the fluids he needed, despite bags and bags of blood transfusions. It just wasn’t enough. . . We never decide on our babies’ names until the last possible moment after they’re born, just before we leave the hospital.  But we, for some reason, had started to call this little guy in my belly Jack.  So he will always be Jack to us.  Jack worked so hard to be a part of our little family, and he will be, forever. . . To our Jack - I’m so sorry that the first few moments of your life were met with so many complications, that we couldn’t give you the home you needed to survive.  We will always love you. . . Thank you to everyone who has been sending us positive energy, thoughts and prayers.  We feel all of your love and truly appreciate you. . . We are so grateful for the life we have, for our wonderful babies Luna and Miles, for all the amazing things we’ve been able to experience.  But everyday can’t be full of sunshine.  On this darkest of days, we will grieve, we will cry our eyes out. But we will hug and love each other harder and get through it.

A post shared by chrissy teigen (@chrissyteigen) on

I have worked with many women who have miscarried and they have told me that these comments or questions that people say or ask are not helpful when you’ve had a miscarriage:

Look on the bright side, at least you know you can get pregnant.
How far along where you into your pregnancy?
Yes, miscarriage is very common, one in four people have one.

Most people are uncomfortable with loss and grief so seeing someone upset is really hard for them to sit with. So if someone does tell you they’ve had a miscarriage it’s worth remembering if the information hasn’t been volunteered by the person who miscarried how far along they were you don’t need to ask.

This can seem like your level of empathy will depend on how pregnant they were. Yes, of course, the further along a pregnancy is will add to the tragedy but at that moment it’s not more questions that are needed – it’s compassion, kindness and support.

You don’t need to fix the problem. You can’t, nobody can. And that’s okay because it’s part of the journey. A simple comment like, ‘I’m sorry this has happened to you or would you like a hug’ is really kind.

If your close friends dropping off a care package of things you might like or a hot meal to nourish a tired body is lovely. When it’s a couple I’ve often heard, how the partner is forgotten in their grief so a small act goes a long way, especially when you have no energy to cook a meal.

When Chrissy Teigan lost her baby recently, it stirred a lot of conversation around her decision to share her story. There’s still a huge stigma about keeping this kind of thing quiet. Why? We are told from a young age to keep our womb stories or anything that’s not pretty swept under the carpet and for too long people carry on in silence without getting some support.

When TheJournal.ie spoke to me about doing a piece on my miscarriage and the circles I hold, I instantly thought, of course, I would share my story, if it’s going to help raise awareness.

It wasn’t until I sat down and tried to write about this that I realised how tender this wound still feels some days. Sam and I both felt it was a really cathartic experience to share and see how far we’ve come from that dark with a light time in our life.
https://open.spotify.com/show/4cXLwOBxAVr7UGt4eMHhhw?si=fpKmTVQhTtyUJIkePAG0uQ

If you’re trying to get your head around this subject, I’d recommend this podcast, Who’s Shame is it anyway? I’ll be a guest on it soon and there are some really inspirational women documenting their miscarriages here. Siobhan Lynch has done a great job.

I hope this piece helps and I really hope anyone experiencing pregnancy loss at the moment has the chance to grieve, to find some support and do what they need to bring them a sense of peace.

Kitty Maguire is a Menstrual Cycle Awareness facilitator, (MCA) and also teaches yoga for reproductive health, pregnancy and pregnancy release circles, Yin Yoga and Yoni Yoga teacher. Images by Marion Bergin. Kitty will be running a pregnancy release circle on 28 October.

If you need advice or support or have been affected by any of the themes in this article, you can contact the Miscarriage Association of Ireland on 01 873 5702, visit miscarriage.ie, or contact a health professional.

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Kitty Maguire

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