We all woke up this morning and played Adele’s new song, right? Here’s what we know about the upcoming album
We all woke up this morning and played Adele’s new song, right? Here’s what we...

Megan Burns

Are you a new startup or an SME looking to scale up? These 3 industry leaders could make all the difference to your bottom line
Are you a new startup or an SME looking to scale up? These 3 industry...

Shayna Sappington

The Writing Shed: Author Catherine Talbot on her creative space, writing routine and everything in between.
The Writing Shed: Author Catherine Talbot on her creative space, writing routine and everything in...

Sophie Grenham

5 key layering pieces to stay chic and cosy for outdoor dining
5 key layering pieces to stay chic and cosy for outdoor dining

Louise Slyth

Prince William says what we’re all thinking about space tourism: Stop it
Prince William says what we’re all thinking about space tourism: Stop it

Megan Burns

‘Is it a missed miscarriage then?’ I ask the ultrasound technician, all business as I push the reality, the grief away”
‘Is it a missed miscarriage then?’ I ask the ultrasound technician, all business as I...

Niamh O'Leary

Expert Advice: How to pick the perfect neutral paint colour for your home
Expert Advice: How to pick the perfect neutral paint colour for your home

Amanda Kavanagh

Teaching your kids about sustainability: A handy how-to
Teaching your kids about sustainability: A handy how-to

Shayna Sappington

Coach deliberately slashed their bags for tax benefits, but they’re not the only guilty ones
Coach deliberately slashed their bags for tax benefits, but they’re not the only guilty ones

Sarah Finnan

Outdoor lights to set your alfresco dining situation up for year-round entertaining
Outdoor lights to set your alfresco dining situation up for year-round entertaining

Megan Burns

Image / Self / Real-life Stories

Dominique McMullan: ‘Our pregnancy loss broke my heart. This weekend we said goodbye’


by Dominique McMullan
04th Oct 2020
blank

In this tender and heart-wrenching piece, Dominique McMullan writes about her miscarriage and the importance of talking


This weekend we buried our baby. That baby was ten weeks old when it died inside my uterus. I found this out alone, with a midwife, mid-scan.

One in four women miscarry. This is a sad statistic of which so many women are unaware. I knew it was a possibility, but I didn’t know that my heart would also break. I did not know that the grief would surround me in waves. My loss didn’t feel like some version of a period. It felt like some version of a death.

I became pregnant very quickly, just like the first time. I have an 18-month-old boy. His birth was traumatic. It took me a long time to come to terms with that, but my pregnancy with him was without fault.

When I found out I was pregnant for the second time, my mind immediately went to birth. As women we know not to think forward like that. But my first pregnancy had lulled me into a false sense of security. It was the birth that I was worried about, not the pregnancy.

He was our tiny, beautiful secret.

By week ten, I was cautiously having conversations with my baby when we were alone together. I had a name for him. He was our tiny, beautiful secret. I cradled my tummy in our bed, and silently told him ‘night night’.

Suffer in silence

What follows is graphic. Because what happened to me was graphic. I am telling this story because I wish I had read it. The shock would be have been less for me, had I known what was coming. Women suffer so much in silence.

The bleeding started on Wednesday. It was light. I rang Holles St and they reassured me, bleeding during the first trimester is very normal. The bleeding continued over the course of a few days. By the following Monday, despite being consistently calmed and told that everything was fine, I felt deep down, that something was off. I went to Holles St alone on my lunch break.

I was brought to a room as the midwife gently and kindly scolded me. I was reminded again that light bleeding was normal in the first trimester. In conspiratorial tones, she said, “Won’t it be nice to get a sneak peek at your baby now?” I felt safe. I felt relieved. I had been silly.

There he was. The second time seeing a human inside you is no less astonishing

She preformed an ultrasound and turned the screen to show me my perfect little child. There he was. The second time seeing a human inside you is no less astonishing. We both smiled. The image wasn’t clear so she was going to perform a transvaginal scan. With the bleeding, this was not a comfortable experience, but I didn’t mind.

Prognosis

Time passed. A few minutes or maybe seconds into the scan, I looked to her face. Reassurance didn’t come. She turned the screen away. She frowned and dug deeper into me, moving her device from left to right and tilting her head from side to side. The feeling in the room changed. Those words that you never want to hear. “I am just having a little difficulty finding the heartbeat…”

The next bit feels blurry. I did not cry. I expected her to find it. I told her to look for as long as she needed. There must have been a mistake. I had been silly. She stopped. She went to get a doctor. The doctor checked my cervix. The tears came. I took off my mask and used it to wipe the mascara from my face.

I left the hospital and went to my car, and shook.

The baby was measuring small and they still couldn’t find the heartbeat. The midwife sat on the bed, went to put her hand on my leg, and then remembered the world we know live in, and took it back. She told me, “I have to be honest. The prognosis is not great here. But we can’t be sure; you need to come back in a week.” I had to come back in a week for another scan. They needed to measure the baby again to see if it had grown. That was how they would tell if it was alive.

I left the hospital and went to my car, and shook. I watched a man get out of the car next to me with an empty baby car seat, grinning ear to ear. I felt like a sad woman in a story. I rang my husband. I couldn’t explain what had just happened. I sat in that car for a long time.

The following week I bled more and more heavily. I felt weak and like I was having a painful period. I had no energy. Clots started to pass. I continued to work and minded my son from bed. I told very few people what was happening. I rang my mum and sobbed.

I dried my eyes, put my second child into a jewellery box, and went downstairs to hold my first.

And then one morning, as my son and husband ate breakfast downstairs, I passed my second child. I caught him, fully formed and still in the amniotic sack, before he fell into the toilet. I don’t know what noises came out of me in the following moments. I crawled out of that room. I wailed and wretched.

Downstairs my son ran to the stair gate, scared at the noises coming from upstairs. I dried my eyes, put my second child into a jewellery box, and went downstairs to hold my first.

“I am sorry”

I know how difficult it is to read these words. It is difficult to write them. I do not want sympathy or to indulge in my sadness. Miscarrying is devastating. More devastating than I ever could have imagined. I want people to know that this is happening to women, women you know, all the time.

In the last two weeks, I have been fine and I have been not fine.  So I have talked. Talking has helped. For me, sharing the bad is as important as sharing the good. I did not want to shoulder this loss alone. I wanted my friends and family to grieve with us. I rang my granny. I rang my closest friends. I rang the Miscarriage Association of Ireland helpline. Women rallied around me and they lessened our pain.

No mother should feel isolated in these moments.

I wanted people to understand, and to know what to say. But so many people don’t. It makes them uncomfortable, because it’s awful, and they are so rarely confronted with it. So let me tell you, all you need to say is “I am sorry”. We don’t need to hear that we are lucky because we already have a child, or that it happens to so many women, or that it is nature’s way. I know those words come from a loving place, but they don’t help the pain.

Last week Chrissy Teigan shared devastating news of pregnancy loss. This was one week after I lost my baby. No loss is the same. No loss is comparable. But in reading Chrissy’s story I felt less alone. I saw, mirrored in her deep grief, my own. It helped. No mother should feel isolated in these moments.

Night Night

This weekend we buried our baby in a jewellery box with a letter that I wrote to him. His brother sprinkled Mayo sand below him and we planted snowdrops above him. My mum and dad stood nearby. On a rainy October day we said goodbye and we will always remember.

A friend described him as a star in the sky, who will always look down and watch over our little family. Night, night, little one.

Also Read

pregnancy diary
premium PARENTHOOD
Rosemary Mac Cabe: ‘Months eight and nine have been completely taken up with two distinct emotions: panic and rage’

In the final months of her pregnancy diary, Rosemary Mac Cabe expected to be taking slow but leisurely walks with...

By Rosemary MacCabe

blank
REAL-LIFE STORIES
Perspectives: ‘You’re suddenly painfully aware of the fragility of all that is being asked of you as a mother’

The sometimes complicated relationship between mothers and daughters. When I was five, in the schoolyard of my primary school in...

By Amanda Cassidy

blank
ADVICE, REAL-LIFE STORIES
The life-changing act of breaking up with crap friends

Breaking up with friends is a dirty business but sometimes a necessary evil, says Sophie White. Growing up, we all...

By Sophie White

Work from home routine
premium ADVICE
The WTF of WFH

Esther O’Moore Donohoe on finding the sweet spot between being a feral sloth pig and micro-managing every second of the...

By Esther O'Moore Donohoe

blank
RELATIONSHIPS
My older brothers are my best friends. Here’s why…

My brothers taunted and cared for me in equal measure. There’s a seven-year gap between the youngest and me. And...

By Edaein OConnell

blank
PARENTHOOD
‘Forget a child minder. I needed a mummy minder’

A love letter to the woman that keeps my household ticking overChoose your battles, my mother-in-law used to telll me...

By Amanda Cassidy

blank
ADVICE
How to face the end of days when everything is overwhelmingly terrible

“If this is it, then shouldn’t we drink in all the joys this wondrous planet we live on has afforded...

By Jessie Collins