Penny’s story - We need to share these stories

Penny and Ben have been together for two years. In that time, they have become best friends and refer to each other as their ‘Forever Person.’ Wanting to add to their family of 3 dogs, two cats and two birds, Penny fell pregnant with Gabriel in 2020.

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I feel it’s important to share these stories as they are the realities many people can face, yet there can be a shame to share. Whether that be personal, cultural or belief systems, we feel from society. Ben and I have given a name to each pregnancy, as we felt we became parents the moment we found out we were pregnant.

Gabriel 9.7.20

Gabriel was my first pregnancy; we were so excited and never thought for a second something was wrong. I found out within a week that it seemed to be an ectopic pregnancy. This was during one of the pandemic peaks in Victoria. Due to restrictions. Ben was only ever allowed to drop me off at emergency. I had to let Ben know it was an ectopic pregnancy over the phone.

We decided to try methotrexate to try and save my left fallopian tube. I was in and out of the hospital, providing blood samples to ensure my HCG levels were dropping, and I was receiving calls to state the levels were lowering. By this stage, I had returned to work, having one week to find my feet at home.

I was in a meeting when incredible pain started to sweep across my abdomen. I drove

straight into Emergency as Ben was at work an hour away. The hospital quickly discovered that even though my bloods were showing one thing, my tube was rupturing. I had emergency surgery to remove my left tube. I was allowed one visitor every 24 hours to see me as I recovered in hospital. Ben came to be by my side to make the most of our one hour together.

We named this baby Gabriel, as he is the Archangel of Water. Gabriel was meant to be a Pisces baby - a water sign.

Winter 12.1.21

We were so excited to fall pregnant quite quickly again after the three months wait. It was confirmed to be in the correct spot, and for the first time, I saw a heartbeat. Unfortunately, due to restrictions, Ben could not come to the appointment, so again I was witnessing something new and profound on my own.

At 11 weeks, we were so excited to be one week away from our 12-week scan. I finished work, went to the toilet when I noticed blood when I wiped. We went to emergency. The nurse rolled in a monitor to look for a heartbeat. Ben enthusiastically said, “oh, I have never seen a heartbeat before!”.

My heart sank. My mother’s intuition knew this baby was no longer earth side. The nurse stated she would need to get a doctor.

I was then taken to a specialist scanning room, Ben was told due to COVID restrictions he was not allowed inside the room for the second scan, he had to wait outside in a communal waiting area. Inside the scanning room a doctor confirmed I had a missed miscarriage, which meant even though I thought I was 11 weeks, the baby had stopped growing around 8-9 weeks. I walked out into the communal waiting room in tears, where in front of strangers I had to tell him we lost our second baby. I was admitted, and Ben was sent home, as I needed to have the pregnancy removed. We named this baby Winter, as she was due in Winter.

Mateo Rain 19.7.21

Third time lucky or at least that’s what we felt.

By this stage, I felt optimistic. Unfortunately, no matter how positive I was, I wiped one day, and there was blood. Ben was at work an hour away again, so I drove myself into emergency, telling Ben he did not need to rush, as restrictions had come back. My phone was dying, with that being my only connection to support. I asked if they would allow Ben to drop a bag off with a charger, book, and pyjamas. I had to stay overnight, but the doctors did not feel concerned, saying women can have bleeding with no loss at this stage of pregnancy.

Just after midnight, I was told I had had a miscarriage and if I chose, I could go home. I had told Ben to turn off his phone to get some sleep, so I had to ring my parents. Mum met me out the front of the hospital. It was pouring rain, and she stood there hugging me as I cried.

I cried as I was lost and didn’t know what to do at that moment. Mum dropped me home, and I went into our bedroom and stood by the bed crying. What a way for Ben to be woken.

By this stage, with a third pregnancy loss in a year, I had no leave. To heal, I had to use annual leave. This made me so frustrated, as it wasn’t a holiday, it wasn’t a break.

We named him Mateo as Ben felt he wanted to name him a name on our list. I added Rain as standing in the rain with mum was such a distinct memory.

Hence his name was Mateo Rain.

I was silent when I had my first pregnancy loss. People assumed I had time off because I had been sick, and I allowed them to think this. However, by my third pregnancy, I started to share my story via my yoga teacher blog, and women felt safe sharing their stories with me. This included friends I had for years, telling me they too had experienced multiple pregnancy losses.

When I started to see the positive ripple effect of sharing my story, it made me want to share and speak out more than ever.

Benicio 17.9.21

This was our first pregnancy since working with a specialist. We are so grateful for the technology and comprehensive support we receive from ours. We were receiving help to explore why I can’t carry a pregnancy to full term. Our specialist has found I have genes relating to a potential thyroid issue. I carry the antibodies; however it has never come to light until now. It is believed that my body may be attacking the pregnancies due to this.

This pregnancy was very short. The day I found out I was pregnant was also the day our pregnancy passed.

We chose the name Benicio.

Moving forward

To me, it doesn’t matter how many weeks, days or hours you were pregnant. For that time, you were a mother, going through all the emotions a mother will experience with a child in the womb or earth side.

Due to losing four pregnancies within a year (three of them before two days of miscarriage leave was added to the Fair Work Australia Act), I have had to use all my sick leave, then my annual leave to have surgeries trips to the hospital and time to grieve and heal. When I became ill with an illness unrelated to pregnancy and loss, I had no leave.

I welcome the two-day miscarriage leave for both partners, but it didn’t feel like enough. I was fortunate to access the two days leave for my last pregnancy loss, but the reality is I was still in and out of the hospital, with no time to process the grief before returning to work.

I feel driven to share my story to normalise pregnancy and infant loss so that people can openly share their stories.

October 15 is International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.

Reach out to our 24/7 support line on 1300 308 307 or visit our support library

This year to acknowledge International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day we are sharing the moments of silence affecting bereaved parents to encourage conversation about pregnancy and infant loss for the month of October.