I actually thought my previous post would be my last word on our blog before Christmas. But this cycle did not end when I got confirmation of the miscarriage on Monday, and I wanted to talk about this a bit.
Because on Monday I knew it was all over. I was told to stop taking the drugs – the progesterone pessaries, the oestrogen pills and the steroids – and let things take their course. But that was not the end. From Tuesday onwards my physical pain and blood loss increased exponentially, and my body started to freewheel from the effects of cutting all the medication cold-turkey.
It turns out that excessive blood loss, hormone withdrawal, steroid cessation and stress eating carbs all act in conjunction to leave one feeling pretty darn tired and pubescent. I am bloated from water retention, I have greasy, spotty skin, limp, greasy hair, and am utterly exhausted. Did I mention the grease?
I know it will start to improve now. I’m already almost done bleeding (I think), after two weeks of very heavy loss, and I will stop stress eating tomorrow – a fortnight is long enough. The water retention will abate as the steroids and hormones leave my system and as I stop eating carbs again. But right now I just want my body back. I want the mood swings to level out, for everyone’s sake. I want to be able to have a shower and only see water going down the drain, and not have to think about what I’m losing.
I write about this aftermath because I think we often feel like people should move on from their heartache quickly. Be it grief, trauma, loss, whatever, in our culture I think we expect, even if it is subconsciously, for one to get back on with normal life after an acceptable period of grace. I have heard said that it can take *at least* a year to grieve the death of someone. A year of experiencing each anniversary without that person. And yet I’ve noticed that at around the 4-6 month mark, people often seem to expect that you’ve moved on. You’re perhaps not talking about it as much as before. Their lives have moved on and they don’t think about the loss at all. It’s difficult to remember that for the person in grief, it is still very raw. I have discovered my tendancy to do this even with my own husband, after the loss of his father 3 years ago. I am often reminded that for him, time has moved more slowly in his grief, and in places it is still very raw.
So what is the acceptable grace period for someone going through IVF to grief an (early stage) miscarriage? 6 months? Perhaps not – it was, after all, only an early stage miscarriage. Until they stop bleeding – which could be anything from a week after the event to a month or more? How does one know if they’re still bleeding – should we ask? Or perhaps after they have successfully conceived the next embryo – it’s worked now, so let’s forget the past and move forward?
I don’t know the answer. I don’t think there is an acceptable period. I am surprised by my own feelings much of the time, so how can expect others to understand them amd act accordingly? Physically, I still feel like stranger in my own body, 2 weeks after my miscarriage began. Emotionally, I want to move on, to talk about other things. But I get whacked in the chest by unexpected grief and sadness at the strangest of times with the strangest of triggers, and I know I am not moved on at all.
I still cry at night, even though I’m fine most days.
If you are going through this too, it is OK to not be OK. There are no set rules for your pain and your grief and your longing. If people around you don’t understand that your miscarriage isn’t quite done with yet, even though you’re drinking wine and eating cheese again, then tell them. They love you.
You are loved. And this too shall pass. I promise. Be kind to yourself.