Things You Only Know If You've Had A Miscarriage At 21
The Debrief: You might be totally unprepared to have a child, but doesn't mean you won't feel sad about it...
I found out I was pregnant in the run up to my 21st birthday. My relationship had been failing for a year, and it was suddenly clear things weren’t going to get any better. We were both in love with each other, but we just couldn't make it work, so we decided it was time to end it, which meant the last thing I was in the mood for was a big birthday celebration. I'd planned a night out with friends but felt horribly sick in the run up to it. My period was late, but I put this down to me not taking the pill properly during the break up. Eventually I took a test, but I would have betted money that I was going to come out negative. Instead it turns out I was 12 weeks pregnant. About a week later, I started bleeding and from there my HCG levels dropped massively, and I miscarried.
My doctor told me it was quite common - plenty of women don’t even know it’s a miscarriage and put it down to a late period. But in those two weeks, every thought imaginable went through my mind. How do I tell my parents or my boyfriend? What should I do about university? Should I just pretend it's not happening? Once the bleeding and pain stopped, there were a lot of things I learnt from the experience, some good and some bad. But all in all, it's totally moulded who I am as a person.
It’s okay to be angry and cry a lot
Being bitter and pissed off wasn’t something I thought I would feel. I did though. I felt cheated, like I’d been given something and the world was laughing at me while it was taken back, watching as I was struggling to make my decision, all the while knowing I wouldn’t ever have to make it anyway. Helpless and alone were two strong contenders for ‘Most Overpowering Feeling’ too. I’d always been a lover of babies and kids, having loads of younger half-sisters and half-brothers, and it was always important for me to have children. Whether or not I was only 21, I was weighing up the pros and cons very rationally and thinking about it from all angles. Even when the cons list seemed to just about outweigh the pros, I was still angry that I was having to make this decision, that I would potentially have to go through it alone and that memories of my 21st birthday would always revolve around this (this sounds silly now when I look back, because a miscarriage is something that affects you for life, not just for your 21st birthday).
'You’re only 21, you have the rest of your life ahead of you' isn’t good advice
This is a common thing people will say to try and make you feel better. One of my friends said it to me, and I snapped at her. Some of the best mums in the world are young mums, who chose to have a baby and dedicate their lives to being a mother. While I do have other ambitions before motherhood, I always wanted to be a young mum and have kids while my parents and grandparents were still around to enjoy them too. Age is really nothing but a number, it’s just about whether you feel ready. I didn’t have enough time to wrap my head around whether I was ready or not, but either way, a miscarriage isn’t less painful because you’re young. It’s a traumatic thing to happen, whatever age you are.
You become more ambitious
When realising that even if I planned to keep the baby, I wouldn’t really be able to afford to do so, it motivated me more than ever before. When you come to realize that your financial stability could be responsible for a whole new person’s life, suddenly you are ready to delve into a 9-5 or push even harder to work towards your dream job. Of course, it’s so difficult to be a young student, trying to work towards a first or a 2:1, maybe balancing a part-time job or looking for an internship somewhere. To think about saving a huge chunk of money on top of that is not something that’s easy to do, but when you’re no longer in a relationship and imagine this little baby depending on mummy to give him/her a good future, it’s easier than you think to push yourself to go that extra mile.
You only need a few good friends, and they will help you recover more than you know
I cried for a while, drank lots of wine and crawled into bed with mum when things were too difficult to handle alone. A few close friends knew what had happened too, and they offered more support than I ever expected, so it helped me to rekindle some of the friendships I’d ignored while I was wrapped up in my misery. Always coming round with food and drinks, they supported me and didn’t judge one bit. They knew how hard it was for me and tried their best to understand what I was going through. Lots of box sets were watched and holidays for the future planned. It was a great relief, and they helped with a lot of the grief I was feeling.
You realise everything happens for a reason
As cheesy as it sounds, everything does happen for a reason. Had I been left with the decision between an abortion or having a baby at 21, to this day I don’t really know what I would have done. I guess I would have probably wanted to keep the baby if I’m honest, and with no boyfriend and no job, it would have been difficult beyond my wildest imaginations. Me and the boyfriend broke up for good (I thought) shortly after the miscarriage, and went our separate ways for six months, before eventually getting back together. It’s like a whole different relationship now, and we are both happier and more appreciative of one another, something that probably wouldn’t have happened had the miscarriage never happened. During those months alone, I travelled, went on my first girls’ holiday, finished a six month internship that gave me excellent connections for my future and overall, found peace.
The experience makes you grow and gives you unimaginable amounts of strength
Having a miscarriage at any age is hard and takes a long time to fully get over. Any pregnancy scares in the future will be hugely magnified and scare the life out of you. Whether you were only 10 weeks or 4 months pregnant, no one has the right to tell you to 'it’s time to move on from it,' or that 'it was a blessing in disguise.' Of course it’s important not to wallow in misery for the rest of your life, because you’ll be missing out on so many other important, life-changing opportunities along the way. But, if you do wallow for a while then that’s fine. It’s your body and your experience and you can feel however the hell you want to. Move on whenever you are ready and let the experience push you to be the best version of yourself possible. That way, when you graduate or finish your internships and you’re no longer 21, one day you’ll decide you’re in the right place with the right person to try for a baby. You’ll appreciate it so much and it’ll be the best moment of your life.
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Picture: Ada Hamza
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