October 2016

by - 10/11/2016

I feel as though I start every lifestyle post this way, but, I actually don't know where to start. I've typed and deleted around six different introductions now, so I'll just jump straight into it.

This week (as most of you may know) is mental health awareness week. It is also babyloss awareness week. 

Although I have touched on my mental health on my blog numerous times, I've never mentioned babyloss or miscarriage. Mainly because it has only just happened and I'm still emotionally healing. On August 9th 2016, I miscarried at approx. 7 weeks. It makes me feel physically sick to even be writing this and I still feel so ashamed that my body cannot even do the ONE THING that I've been put on this planet to do (reproduced: if that wasn't clear). I do blame myself, not because I made bad lifestyle choices, just because I cannot blame anyone else for the functioning of my body. I'm the kind of person that has to justify everything and give blame to every situation, so that's why. I'm writing this because, for me, it damaged my mental health, just when I thought I couldn't get any worse. It broke me down and tore me up. The pain and bleeding was like no other and I still feel suffocated with guilt every time I sit and think about it. Why am I telling you this? Because when I went to the hospital, I was told some statistics that I really could not believe. Miscarriage is more common than you'd think; even when I told my friends the stats, they couldn't grasp how common it is. 1 in 4 pregnancies ends in miscarriage (inc. early miscarriage). 1 in 4. Let that sink in. In women who already know they're pregnant, it's 1 in 6. 1 in 90 pregnancies are ectopic (ectopic pregnancy: a pregnancy that develops in the fallopian tubes instead of in the womb. Some can even develop in the abdominal cavity. It is serious and life-threatening and will end in miscarriage). Up to 75% of miscarriages will happen within the first trimester. Approx. 1 in 100 women experience recurring miscarriages. 1 in 3 women who are attending miscarriage specialist clinics within hospitals are clinically depressed. To me, these statistics are shocking and heartbreaking. Although there isn't much we can do to prevent a miscarriage (other than promote a healthy lifestyle including no smoking and no alcohol), we can help with mental health. 

Personally, I was very embarrassed when I visited the doctors' surgery and the hospital. I thought of babyloss as a kind of taboo subject. Nobody had ever spoken to me about it when I was growing up. It was never part of sex ed. It was never part of health and social. I'd never been exposed to the idea that one day, a living human inside me could just die and I'd never know who, what or why. Additionally, I always had this strange idea that getting pregnant was easy (as a biologist, I'm ashamed of myself), but, actually, getting pregnant is difficult. Think about how long couples try for a baby and how many months it actually takes. People, especially young girls, need to be educated about this, so they don't face the brick wall I did. They need to know where to go to seek medical advice for both the physical and mental health. For me, my GP surgery was good enough; they referred me to the correct instiutions immediately and also run a free mental health facility for students (my GP surgery is inside my university). Getting help was quick and easy, and for the first time, I didn't feel hesitant because I knew that if I didn't seek help now, I was going to spiral further. 

As for the physical pain, it was bad. I've researched this and some people don't feel a thing and others do. I was an unlucky bunny. I was told that the "cramps" I initially thought I was experiencing were actually mini contractions and it was my body's natural way of dealing and healing. The amount of blood was enough to make me doubt whether I actually had any blood left in my body. Tampons with pads and changing them every half an hour. If i moved in the slightest, I would feel it coming out - kind of like when you sneeze and you're on your period, but worse. Bare in mind, I've been on period preventing contraception for 4 years straight, so I haven't experienced the cramps or bleeding in full force - and then I get this. It was a living nightmare. The stomach pains were making me throw up and break out in cold sweats. For some reason, I wasn't eating proper meals because I couldn't take the pain of putting something into my stomach. I was snacking a lot because it was less painful to eat small things more often than eat three big meals. 

When I told a few close friends, they responded with "it wasn't even a baby", which, FYI, is one of those "incorrect opinions which is justified by personal preference and not science" and totally not true, and these people made everything a lot worse because I felt frustrated with them and their weird logic. If you know anyone going through a miscarriage, please don't say this to them. It personally made me feel angry and shit.

I want people to be open with subjects like babyloss. I want it to be spoken about, so women aren't scared or embarrassed like I was. I never want a woman to go through the emotional pain of thinking they're to blame for what's happened to them. Nor do I want people to feel helpless. My final thought on this post is this: No matter how big or insignificant you may think your mental or physical health issue is, talk about it. Don't compare your "little problem" to someone else's "really big problem". Every health issue needs to be dealt with and never should you feel embarrassed about seeking help. Forget taboo. Forget stigma. Forget what family, friends, work colleagues may think, do or say. Take care of yourself. Life may seem like a constant struggle, but the moment you take control of your mental health and take the first steps towards healing - you'll feel so much better. 

Also, people kept asking me when my travel pictures and blog posts would be posted from Jerome and I going on my holiday to Norway or the Balearic Islands. Now you know why we didn't go.

For anyone who feels as though they have nobody to talk to - you can always e-mail me to talk: shanalexlata@gmail.com

Useful links:
Babycentre coping with miscarriage

*The featured photograph was taken on my Olympus PEN at Tamper Coffee Sellers Wheel in Sheffield. Find them on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

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