My Miscarriage Story: The Curtain At The End Of The Hall
In my local maternity hospital, there’s a certain area that I used to wonder about when I was getting my check-ups on my first pregnancy. It was at the end of a corridor close to where the ultrasounds took place. What intrigued me was that the curtain didn’t reach all the way to the floor, and it wasn’t a traditional hospital curtain, it was brown in colour and you could see the lower legs of the people behind it. Mostly there were two pairs of legs, one male, one female, sometimes two female, but occasionally there was a single pair, always female. After my daughter arrived safely in 2009, I became a Mammy and I duly forgot about the curtain.
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I didn’t think about the curtain again until November 2014 when mine and my husband’s legs were the ones behind it. As my first daughter wasn’t (still isn’t) a great sleeper, and I didn’t get a proper night’s sleep again until she was almost five only then did I contemplate having another child. Just like my first pregnancy, I was lucky enough to get pregnant almost immediately, however, this time around something felt off. Call it instinct or paranoia, it just didn’t feel quite right. Five weeks in I started spotting, I contacted the hospital who brought me in for a scan and said everything was normal and that this happened sometimes in early pregnancy, although it had never happened with my first child. So caught up was I in my own anxieties that I barely glanced at the curtain down the hall. Two weeks later I was behind it. The spotting had increased, I had strange flu-like symptoms, shortly after which I felt as if I was alone in my body again. A scan confirmed my worst fears, I had miscarried.
Almost immediately afterwards my husband and I were escorted down the hall to the space behind the curtain where we remained for close to two and a half hours. Barely speaking and mostly crying, I don’t think there has been a sadder point in our marriage. After the doctor eventually spoke to us and said what to expect in the next few days we went home. It’s a journey I don’t remember taking, I can’t recall anything up to the point where I climbed back into my bed and wept for the next few days.
My story is not that unusual, I really hadn’t realised how frequently miscarriages occur until it happened to me. In fact, I was totally unaware that one in five pregnancies end in miscarriage, that’s 14,000 per year in Ireland alone. I wasn’t aware of it because people don’t tend to speak of it, it’s a sad subject so people shy away from it. It wasn’t until I began to speak openly about it that women who were close to me began to open- up about their own experiences, friends and colleagues who had all had their own encounters with the curtain. It still amazes me that some of these women I thought I knew almost everything about kept this massively sad experience to themselves. I, on the other hand, find it extremely comforting to share my sadness, to know that I am not the only person that this has happened to. But everyone deals with grief in their own way and not every woman wants to tell her story.
Fortunately, my one has a happy ending, four months later I got pregnant again and despite major anxiety in the early months, my second daughter was born just over a year after my stint behind the curtain. From time to time I think about the pairs of legs currently occupying that space and hope that they find comfort and peace in the months ahead.