I played my last match for RHUL while having a miscarriage
Disclaimer: I did not know I was having a miscarriage x
Content Warning: The content of this piece may be triggering for those who have experienced a miscarriage. There are support links at the bottom for anyone who has been through a similar experience.
I was hesitant to write this article as I’m usually someone who hides their emotional problems behind memes and Captain Morgan, but I wanted anyone else who has had an unexpected miscarriage to feel related to.
Also a few weeks ago, we made a whole roast chicken, and when I looked down at the bird lying flat on the oven tray, I got teary because it lowkey looked like a small baby with its arms out and I thought “hmm maybe not coping as well as I think.” So I guess more selfishly, writing this has also helped me make sense and heal from what happened.
On the 4th March, I had a miscarriage. I came off the pill about a month and a bit before because the brand I was using was making my anxiety symptoms worse; however, I was using protection, and I didn’t know I was pregnant. My periods are always irregular for a few months when I come off the pill and wasn’t having any symptoms.
I got up that morning and saw a bit of blood on my knickers so showered, put a pad on, and moaned that I had a match that day, and of course, this would be the day it comes. As I was eating my lunch, I spilled my stir fry all over my legs. I went to get changed and cleaned up and saw a lot of blood this time. About half an hour later, my cramps started to get quite bad, so I took two Ibuprofen and made my way to the pitch. I was late after having to get changed last minute, so I just tried to get stuck in. However, the painkillers hadn’t kicked in yet, so I was struggling to keep my mind off the pain.
So I carried on and warmed up and now was the start of the match. I don’t know if it was the running around or what, but my cramps just got worse to the point where I really wanted to come off, but we weren’t doing that well, and I didn’t want to let anyone down. So again I carry on till half time, telling myself I’ll just take more painkillers and it will go down.
At half time I downed two more painkillers and the rest of my water. I tried to move again once half time was over, my body wasn’t letting me, it felt like my stomach was in a literal knot. I asked my captain to come off for a bit and then forced myself to go on again about 15 minutes later because I really wanted to play my last home game and knew I wouldn’t get the chance again. I played on, continuously blocking shots and grabbing my tummy in the way we all do as if it will somehow take the pain away.
Finally, the match was over, and I was swift to get my stuff and bounce. I had to even ask my captain to miss the aftermatch photo because all I wanted to do was lie down. Got home, showered, got comfy, and still the ever-increasing pain was there as a biological punishment for being a woman.
Then I was informed by my housemate that she was bringing her new date around for us to meet. I did contemplate running away to my room to avoid this, but I didn’t even have to energy to move up a flight upstairs, so I sat there like a grumpy little bloated seal waiting for them to arrive.
She arrives, brings him into the living room, and I’m squirming around uncomfortably while trying to make him feel welcome and make a good first impression. Eventually, they left, though, and I went back to suffering in silence. About two hours later, I was ready to call 111 and have my womb removed because of the pain, but I passed out before I could add my over-dramatics to the NHS crisis.
I woke up. No pain. Very little blood. A lot of confusion. I had a GP appointment that day anyway and decided I would bring it up then. When I told my GP, he said the symptoms sounded similar to a miscarriage, and I told him I was a little concerned about that as I’d had one before. I was asked if I wanted to take a pregnancy test to confirm, and I did. Saw two lines and heart dropped a bit. He told me that if I didn’t already have it yesterday, it’s likely I’m currently having it, so I might have more symptoms. Honestly I was living for the suspense at this point.
I had a bit of internal crisis when walking to my car that I can’t have kids and that I’m suffering periods for no reason – which is such an L may I add. I went home and went straight to online shopping to fill the literal void.
I can’t tell you how I felt because I didn’t let myself feel it. My personal strategy was to keep so busy that I could keep the ever-looming numbness and empty-womb anxiety that was creeping up on me at bay. This mostly worked until I decided to tell some of my close friends and made it real again. So I would joke my way out of it with bangers such as “miscarriage me with that bullshit.”
But every now and again, all spontaneous (just like my miscarriage) my subconscious leaks thoughts that go against my repression strategy and make me feel it. And just like how I joke about everything in my life, sometimes I feel the punch in the punchline more than I’d like.
I am aware my strategy is as weak as my ovaries. Still, at the time, when I had my dissertation, a third-year existential crisis, constant rejection from internships, and my post-Christmas tummy still making an appearance, I did not want dwell on “you may never have children so one of the only things you were looking forward to in the future has been robbed of you”.
And I know for some of you this is not how would you handle such a terrible thing but for me, if I don’t laugh, I’ll cry. And if I cry, I’m scared I’ll never stop.
Looking back, I feel a bit robbed even though I never knew I had it to rob; it’s a numb feeling. I think its the lack of choice, the lack of autonomy over my own body. I also find myself minimising the experience and over analysing my emotional response. I didn’t even know I was pregnant, so why am I sad? Am I allowed to be sad? Should I be sadder? Should I be over this by now?
However, not to suck my own tits or anything, but I am proud of myself for managing to play a ninety-minute football game while losing an embryo. I mean, I’m not going to put in on my CV, but it’s definitely a silver-ish lining to a grey, grey cloud and gives me a little bit of bittersweet comfort.
Important to note, though, you need to feel to heal. So if you’ve had a miscarriage, any fertility-related issues, or just generally struggling, I’m going to leave some links below where you may find comfort (when you’re ready to feel it). And if you grew up in a household like mine where you weren’t taught how to cry for yourself, but you need to release your emotions, I suggest watching really sad movies or my go-to Thai adverts on YouTube.
And lastly, whatever reaction you may have to grief, or trauma is VALID. Whatever helps you get through the day is your business and your business only. You don’t ever need to explain yourself to people who could never understand.
Online help, in case you’re going through it too:
Miscarriage Association is an excellent service that offers live chats, email helplines, and Facebook groups.
A great book on pregnancy loss and the writer’s use of art therapy to heal.
Great documentary on the taboo of pregnancy loss, and you can watch it for free with Prime.
An interesting TedTalk, also recommend The M-Word TedTalk.
RHUL specific help:
Counselling Service, Email: [email protected], Talking Therapies offered by the NHS, Number: 0300 365 2000. If you’re with the university GP you can register for the talking therapies service.