"...everything happens for a reason"
Try saying those 5 words to two people trying with everything they have, to bring another life into their world, and having it taken from them before they even got a chance to take their next breath.
Everyone experiences loss in their life at some point, everyone has a story to tell.
Some decide to tell it, some don't.
Neither is wrong, nor right.
I was all about the 'don't', until a teenie tiny, microscopic bundle of joy, came along a second time, and changed my mind.
November 28th, 2016, hubby and I celebrated our 1 year of married bliss. We went away, we relaxed, promising each other to not stress and let nature take it's course.
We had been trying to conceive for 7 months with help from a professional, 9 months on our own prior to that.
A week passes after that perfect weekend where we would let loose, enjoying those mimosas for breakfast, cocktails over lunch, wine with dinner, where that next Monday, I experienced an uneasy yet butterfly type feeling in my gut. So, like most women looking for any type of symptom, I turned to a home pregnancy test for reassurance.
In my mind, the phrase "definitely not" keep repeating itself, but when I returned to the test after walking away from it, anxious of what I was about to read, the feeling I felt when my eyes locked with that result window was and still is, completely unexplainable. I never knew it was possible to feel so many emotions all at once.
Heck, I never even knew I had that many emotions in my body.
The weeks to come after that were nothing short of an anxious type of exciting.
Sure, like most women, I had experienced minor health issues which you factor in to your results and future, but nothing I, or the doctors were worried about.
Bloods tests were positive, and doctors reassurance was all we needed to go full steam ahead with letting those close to us know our exciting news.
Fast forward to December 24th 2016, that uneasy feeling I had the day I found out the good news, wasn't at all, the most uneasy, yet.
I spent the hours of 2am-7am in the bathroom wondering if what I was looking and experiencing was considered a normal part of pregnancy. Anxiously charging in and out of bed I made the call to our local GP. There, he would confirm all things were perfect, and it was in fact, just a little part (passing of blood) of pregnancy 25% of woman experience.
But I knew from that moment I woke up at 2am, that something wasn't right. It still amazes me how a woman can be so in tune with her body. How we go to professionals for the answers we want to hear, but really, the professional lies within ourself.
We would go on to spend the Christmas holidays with excitement as we received a phone call from our GP stating that my levels were rising perfectly, things were great, and we had another reason to be excited, that being, the possibility of a multiple birth as my hormone levels were rising so rapidly and doubling, double what they should have been.
Zero baby, to one, to the possibility of two?
What a time to be alive, right? You'd think so.
31st December 2016, after enjoying a dinner with the family before fireworks bought in the new year, I sensed something no woman should ever experience.
I felt loss.
I felt all symptoms of what a healthy pregnancy should be, just vanish. Unable to bring it to reality just yet, I put on a smile, hugged my husband and wished him a happy new year, knowing well and truly I was going to have to tell him the news sooner rather than later.
You see, when someone means more to you than you could ever imagine, the hurt you feel is nothing compared to the hurt you see them experience. I'd never met a man who was so dedicated, excited, so wanting and deserving of something so special, and knowing that if I was right within myself and what I was feeling, then that being taken away from him was too much for me to bare.
Over the next few days I would try my hardest to sit him down, I would tell him what I was and wasn't feeling and he would continue to throw his optimistic attitude in my lane. Without realising it was possible, it made me love him and want this with him, that much more.
January 6th 2017, we were scheduled in for our 12 week scan. Sitting in a waiting room with mothers to-be surrounding you with their perfect round tummies is not only beautiful, but eye opening and made me appreciate the gift we as woman, are given.
"Adam and Nicole Falcone", our names are called and off we go to see that heartbeat every parent to- be, awaits.
We enter the room, not knowing what to expect, not knowing what we were and weren't supposed to be feeling.
There's a man standing behind his desk on his tape recorder. Without eye contact, he points to the bed I'm expected to lay on. I have chosen not to name the obstetrician, as I know there are many other woman out there who have their own opinions, far much worse than mine.
Nervous, I lay down. My husband, standing next to me by the bed, holds my hand.
The obstetrician walks over, without acknowledging I'm in the room, or even laying on the bed, asks my husband what he does for work. Politely answering his question, my husband turns his head in almost a confused manner.
Obstetrician asks me what I'm here for, to which I reply "my 12 week scan".
"Lift your top above your stomach please miss..?"
"Oh, Nicole", "Miss Nicole", he follows.
I knew from that second, the bedside manner of this man wasn't what I wanted to be welcomed by over the next 6 months.
He applies the gel and starts the ultrasound. Unable to find anything, he tells me he's going to have to look a bit deeper. "Right, take off your pants and lay back down on the bed!" Sorry? Take off my pants and lay on the bed?
Were you raised by cavemen?
I followed instructions, and he continues the examination. Now, any woman and her partner will agree with me when I say, that 1 second of silence from a doctor whilst searching for a heartbeat is the longest second of your life. Now put that together with the words, "hmm, yeah not good".
Not good?! What does that even mean?!
"Can't find anything, there's your sac, there's your baby, but no heartbeat. What are you doing this weekend guys?" Adam and I look at one another with confusion, "um, not sure?" We are then presented with the words, "I'd be going to church to pray to the man upstairs". As those words exited his mouth, I felt every single limb of my body, go completely numb.
We finished our session with the midwife and were advised to go and see him in 10 days time for another scan.
The next 10 days were torture. The constant wonder of what the hell was happening within my body was enough to put someone in a psych ward.
10 days finally passed, and our appointment date was here.
By this stage, I had no symptom of pregnancy.
I knew what I was going in there for and the result I was about to see on that screen.
He calls us in. Sits us down, and ruffles around his paperwork of other patients for a short while.
He sits down, and without a question of concern for our wellbeing, asks my husband the same question he asked 10 days prior. "So, what do you do for work?"
Is he for real?! Is he serious?! The disturbing part? He was.
With a little bit more decorum than last visit, he asks me to lay on the bed for search of baby's heartbeat.
There's nothing. It's silent. So silent I could hear the heaviness of my husbands breath as he watched the screen.
We lost baby at 10.5 weeks.
From there we would be advised on what steps to take next to move forward. We would see him 8am Monday, the following week.
Monday arrives, as do we at his surgery.
He brings us through and sits us down.
"How are we today?" "Um, we could be better, how are you?" "Sensational! So guys, what are we here for today?"
My husband, well known for his lack of patience for stupidity responds, "you told us to be here at 8am so you could call the hospital to book my wife in for her curettage". "Ah yes, that's right! Okay so, go up to the hospital, I will phone them right now and let them know you are on your way. My personal team will look after you, you'll be in and out by 1pm".
Taking his word for it, we make our way over to the hospital. We walk in and over to administration.
They had no idea who we were. No one had called.
I wasn't booked in for any procedure.
They then advise us on where to go for further help.
8.45am on a Monday morning, we are sitting in a waiting room with 7 other people. One woman of which I could tell from body language and facial expressions, was there for the same procedure as I.
Hours pass, and I'm called into a room where I'm told the doctors have no knowledge of who I am, what I'm there for, or who has sent me. Without hesitation I tell them the name of whom sent me, the obstetrician, and they both look at each other, roll their eyes and mumble "of course".
My stomach curled into itself.
1pm I'm finally taken through to a room where they advise I'll be taking two tablets which will help kick- start the procedure. These tablets are ONLY to be taken an hour and a half prior to treatment.
So in my mind, "great, I'm going in soon. A bit later than expected but it'll all be over soon, Nic".
3 hours later in a waiting room where people have come and gone, I found myself laying on my husbands lap shaking, hungry, thirsty (I hadn't eaten or had anything to drink since 10pm the night before due to instructions), and above that, my eyes had turned yellow. Something wasn't right, and as I stood up to rearrange myself, all dignity left my body. From the waist down, disaster.
I had people staring at me whilst I tried to regain myself, a husband who was lost for words and nurses who fled to my aid and put me in a room where I would sit with my head in my hands, not able to tell my husband what the nurses and I witnessed whilst back there.
I was in a state no woman should have to endure.
4pm comes, and after 8 hours of sitting in the waiting room, I'm taken into a room where nurses put me on emergency drips as I've lost too much blood for me to be anywhere else other than their care.
5.30pm, Adam tells me he's going to quickly go check on our car which we had parked outside of the obstetrician surgery. 6pm he returns. "I have bad news", "what could possibly be worse than this?"
Definitely not worse, but enough to make us both shake our heads, someone had completely smashed into our brand new car.
I let out a laugh, because really, crying isn't going to make the situation better at this point.
6.45pm comes around, and we are approached by a nurse who tells me I need to be moved into recovery as the ward I was in closed at 7pm. I was the only patient left.
We move up to recovery, where I'm told I won't be seen until 9pm. I was the last surgery for the day. 9.30pm, they take me through. My husband is advised to head home to eat something as I wouldn't be any less than 2 hours.
11.30pm, I wake up in recovery. Waiting, is Adam with my clothes. The nurse advises me they want to keep me in as I had lost too much blood and needed to be under watch. I wasn't having a bar of it. I removed the cannula from my own arm and demanded they let me go home. We left, and I swore never to step foot in that hospital ever again.
The days to come after that weren't too bad. It was hard, but we had a support network that we will forever be grateful for.
But please, don't be fooled. Not everyone you tell your story to will show you remorse or any kind of sympathy. Not that sympathy is what we wanted, but more the people you expect to turn to in time of need, turned away.
Now I ask any woman who has experienced the loss of a baby, imagine being told your miscarriage was a hoax. That it was believed you made it up.
Sure, as humans we all tell lies, lies we aren't proud of, some worse than others. But to have something so personal and painful, assumed upon you, to kick someone when they're already face down, is something of that indescribable.
Now imagine having someone tell you that yes what has happened is horrible and that you're not the only woman to go through it, but that baby I was referring to as my baby, wasn't really a baby, as it was only still, 'just an embryo'.
What would you do? How would you respond?
I chose not to.
I chose to drive my energy into more important things like my health, fixing the toll it took upon my husband and my marriage, and our wellbeing, rather than the narrow mind, opinions and assumptions of others.
I never pulled out the 'poor me' card.
I'm well aware that many, many woman, have and continue to experience much worse than I. But, why should I have the right to mourn my baby and my experience, something my husband and I worked so hard to make, taken away from me. Why should I be told that there was a time frame? More importantly, why was it okay for people to pass comments and judgment about how me talking about MY miscarriage makes THEM feel uncomfortable?
It made me feel ashamed, embarrassed.
Let's fast forward 6 months.
Hubby and I decide we are going to give it another shot. Put the past to rest, never forgotten, instead, let's try again and fill that empty space.
28th June 2017, I get a positive result.
It's a week before Adams birthday and I'm beyond ecstatic to give him the best present of all.
Now, being in the category for 'high risk', my fertility nurses have me in the clinic 7.30am every day for blood tests.
All things are great, our first scan is booked in for coming weeks, we are over the moon.
I started feeling unwell, but I promised Adam I would never complain, if feeling sick meant that this baby was alive and safe, then I'd be sick 10 times over, and a million times after that.
2pm Monday afternoon, I feel something a little too familiar.
I call the nurses to let them know that I've experienced the same thing as last time. They advise me to rest and go in 7.30am the next morning for tests.
Trying to keep calm, and more so, keep my phone far away from me as google search can play your worst enemy, I knew what was around the corner.
That night, I bury myself into my pillow and cry myself to sleep. My husband, at a loss for words, tells me he saw it in my eyes, and he knew.
The next morning we arrive for my blood test.
We are told we would receive a phonecall with results by 4pm.
4.20pm my phone rings.
"Nicole, your hormones are rising perfectly, Dr is very happy with your progress, please come in next Monday for another test". I get off the phone, and sitting anxiously next to me is Adam, "well what did she say?!" I tell him, and with a hug, he reassures me everything is going to be fine.
Now, I know it's easy for someone to say "it's going to be fine" as a go-to, but I truly believe he thought it was going to be.
Minutes later, I go upstairs and sit on our bed and cry.
The pains I was experiencing were unbearable.
The nervous shake throughout my entire body wasn't normal.
I wasn't convinced. I know my body too well.
6.30pm 11th July 2017, waiting for family to arrive for my brother in law's birthday at Adam's parents house, I'm forced to run to the bathroom, where the truth is there, clear as day.
I call Adam in to let him know.
Heaven has gained another little angel.
We leave for home, and not too soon after, find ourselves in ICU.
This time, I'm not ashamed, I'm not embarrassed.
I'm not even angry. I'm just numb.
I'm a little confused, and this time, I'm not going to try and hide it or sweep it under the rug for the comfort of others.
Days, weeks, months, none of it matters how far you are, as to what level of excitement and love you should or shouldn't feel.
Because when a woman's eyes lock with that second line, 2 weeks or 32 weeks, being pregnant, is being pregnant.
Her and her significant other, immediately fall in love with that microscopic ball of life growing inside of her. It's incredible how far in the future we find ourselves talking about baby, what they're going to look like, who's personality they'll have more of, names, everything.
Life becomes about nothing else.
I started putting words together whilst I was in hospital, all lights had turned off, my husband drained, dead weight, whilst fast asleep across my legs.
Why did I decide to go ahead and write it? Because speaking about my experience, makes me feel better. Because for so long I tried to be someone I wasn't, for the approval of others, and it got me nowhere. Because nodding, smiling and bottling 6 months of heartache up was eating me alive, and I knew for my sanity and my husbands, I needed to take a different approach this time.
I didn't lose a set of keys that I could replace, I lost my babies. Not embryos, babies. I lost memories I had already made for the future, I lost an attatchment, an unconditional love. Above all, I lost myself. And when it's time to move forward, I'll do so, but in my time.
When I'm ready.
When we, are ready.
No one tells a story and leaves out the most important part, no matter how good, bad or completely raw it may be. And sure, I understand not everyone would agree with something so personal being open across the internet, but hey, there's an easy solution for that; simply exit the page, and continue to go about your day.
But reality is, just this.
Woman are suffering in silence everyday. Couples are suffering in silence everyday, for what? The likes of others?
For me, it helps to move forward when I'm open with the people in my life. With people who want to be there every step. And why should I keep it in? Why, when on a daily basis my job entitles me to not only make woman feel good about themselves, but listen to their problems.
And I mean listen, actually take interest, and care .
50% of woman that enter my workplace have experienced the loss of a baby at some point. 2% of women talk about it. I know this, because the relationship and respect I share with these handful of woman when they are in that room with me, is unexplainable.
Those four walls become a vault, where I'm not just fixing eyebrows anymore, but I find myself becoming invested in laughter or heartache of a woman going through some sort of experience of her own.
I don't believe miscarriage at any stage, should be swept under the rug.
It's a part of life, a horrible, horrible part. Some cards dealt worse than others, and no, I by no means whatsoever, am trying to change the world, I have no desire for preaching. All I wanted when I needed it most, was someone to listen, tell me what I felt was normal, that it was okay, and to take my time to grieve and heal, however I wanted to.
I've learnt that life is 10% what happens to us,
90% how we react to it.
Don't let anyone try and take your experience away from you, good or bad.
If people don't want a bar of you when you fall, then they sure as hell don't deserve to be a part of your life when you rise.
And even, even if only one woman takes a deep breath after reading this and feels some sort of comfort, then please, just know I'm on the other side of the screen, taking that deep breath, with you.
You are never alone.