It's something I've read many times - ‘it’s ok to not be ok’
But do we really believe it? Being ‘just fine’ seems like the polite option. We live in a society of ‘just fine’ people, moving along.
Recently, I have not been just fine. Throughout the last year, I have learned that both sadness and happiness can exist in the same space.
I want to share this story with you, in the hopes that it will make you realise that it truly is okay to not be okay.
I didn't always want to be a mother but in recent years, the desire to have a baby has grown - so much so that my partner and I decided to start trying.
At first it was more of a "let's just see what happens" and (funnily enough), at some point, it did!
I was on holiday in Cyprus with my best friend when I found out. That summer my partner could not come with me, and I was away for 2 weeks.
I suddenly felt so tired and knew something was up. When I got a positive result, I still had a week left of my holiday. I decided to wait and tell him face to face when I returned home. It was a bit of a shock but such a pleasant surprise!
"That's what I got you from Cyprus this year!"
Definitely better than a novelty t-shirt.
However that happiness turned into the deepest sadness I've ever felt, when I experienced a silent miscarriage.
This means that you're still pregnant, but the baby has stopped growing.. I was given the choice to miscarry naturally, which I did. I was 13 weeks pregnant by then.
Dealing with grief:
And so came along probably the darkest time of my life. I was plagued with negative thoughts, and I kept on thinking my baby died inside of me - and I had let it go.
To say that the last year hasn’t been easy for me is an understatement. I experienced depression and anxiety, and later on decided to try therapy - which wasn’t easy.
And of course, throughout this time, life goes on - gotta work, gotta gym, gotta pay the bills. I was functioning, but I wasn’t okay.
That’s when the ‘just fine’ narrative took over. Normal etiquette in polite ‘how are you?’ conversation seems to be ‘yeah I’m fine!’
I didn’t feel like ‘terrible, thanks for asking!’ was an appropriate response.
Perhaps my lowest point was Christmas time. Around one month prior to that, I was feeling good. I’d just had a great experience with my work teammates, who are also precious friends. We spent time in Bali and it was awesome! I relaxed and was feeling optimistic - I could see that I would finally be happy again.
The thing that no one tells you about grief, is that it ebbs and flows - it’s not like a cut that gradually heals and then it’s gone.
And something happened that triggered my depression to a deeper state - once again.
To put it bluntly, I remember Christmas time of 2019 really sucked. I put my Christmas tree up super early and ended up packing it away in tears the day after Christmas as I could not stand it anymore.
I kept on thinking what could have been. The pain was so unbearable I had thoughts I'd never wish anyone to have.
And then 2020 hits:
Flashforward to 2020, and there’s a national lockdown.
As many have, I was affected by it in many ways - but weirdly, being isolated actually helped my mental health
There was just less noise.
Yep the usual phone and video calls for work had to be done, but when I felt blue, I could just be myself.
I have been able to grieve and reflect on how far I’ve come.
My partner and I decided to try again, and I eventually fell pregnant. My intuition told me something was wrong - and this time around, there was no joy, and no thrill.
I experience an ectopic pregnancy - where the embryo implants elsewhere rather than the uterus, usually in a tube. I was admitted to the hospital urgently for it to be removed.
The feeling of loneliness was something I’ve never experienced before - the baby was removed from me.
I can’t count how many times I’ve heard stories of people just asking - "Is it really a baby at that stage, though?"
All I can say is that for me, for the 20% of pregnant women who experience a miscarriage, and for that 1-2% that experience an ectopic pregnancy, these are our babies. Those beautiful babies that could have been.
Learning to live again:
To be honest with you, I've been dreading Christmas this year again. But for some reason I've been thinking that things will be okay. Things are different this time.
This time I am more open about my situation.
This time I am able to talk about it.