Doctor who suffered a miscarriage reveals the trauma of losing baby
A Northern Irish doctor who has spoken publicly about her personal experience with miscarriage has said that many people do not realise how difficult and traumatic the loss can be for couples.
Dr Blathnaid Carlin (28), a former Rose of Tralee contestant from Lurgan, made a decision to speak honestly about her struggle to cope with the loss of her unborn baby at eight weeks.
She said she did not fully appreciate how difficult it can be for couples who have experienced a miscarriage.
"Before I miscarried I don't think I appreciated the loss that women feel and that I feel after this experience.
"I don't think I realised how traumatic it can be or how difficult it can be for some of us to talk about it.
"I'm a doctor so I know all the statistics. Miscarriage is very common. One in four pregnancies end in miscarriage.
"But when people reminded me of this, I know they meant to reassure and comfort me, but I felt like screaming, 'It's not common for me,'" she said.
Blathnaid, who wed her husband Gerard Scullion last year, admitted that every person dealt with the loss in a different way but for her, the experience was very difficult to cope with.
"We had already told our families and we were both so excited about it.
"It's nonsense for people to feel as though they can't tell anyone until 12 weeks. Why shouldn't you when you're so excited?
"When the phone call came telling me the blood levels had dropped, I had lost our baby, I couldn't speak. I couldn't even thank the very kind nurse on the other end of the phone.
"I feel a mixture of sadness and guilt.
"When I feel sad I feel guilty because I know things could have been so much worse for us.
"It wasn't an ectopic pregnancy and I didn't need any medical intervention.
"I know in many ways we are lucky how things turned out.
"But then at times when I don't feel sad I feel guilty for not feeling constant sadness and loss," Blathnaid said.
"My husband, Gerard, was able to explain everything in such a way that he just hit the nail on the head.
"He said 'Blathnaid the thing is, although you were early on, you still had the baby in your arms, picked out names, celebrated birthday parties'.
"He was right. I do feel very hard done by, robbed of all the birthdays and memories I won't get to celebrate with our baby," she said.
The former Armagh Rose shared her honest experience with miscarriage on Facebook and said the response to the post was extraordinary.
"My mum always taught us to write the things that we were worrying about down. So that is what I did.
"After I posted it, many of my friends and colleagues got in touch with me and shared their experiences which was very comforting.
"It was really humbling, and to speak to other people who had been through a miscarriage as well was a comfort to me.
"One girl messaged me and I was the only other person she had told about her miscarriage. She hadn't confided in her family about that loss.
"Now I'm glad I posted it because it was a way to acknowledge that I was pregnant and to acknowledge that there was a little baby there."
The young doctor said she believed her grief would help her to be a better doctor to patients struggling to cope with the loss of a child. "When a patient comes into my GP surgery in the future having suffered a miscarriage I will be able to say to them, 'I do know how you're feeling, I've been there.'
"From my experience, I think you should take your time and grieve your loss. Be sad, cry, be angry. Be reassured that it is common although I know it's not common for you.
"Read blogs about other people's experiences with miscarriage, it will make you feel reassured knowing someone has felt what you are feeling before.
"Having suffered a miscarriage I know it will make me a better doctor and I can be there for my patients in a way that Gerard has been there for me," Blaithnaid said.
A miscarriage is the loss of a baby before 24 weeks of pregnancy. If the loss is experienced in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, it is called an early miscarriage. Of confirmed pregnancies, up to about 20% will end in miscarriage. The chances of having a miscarriage are lower when you're younger, and rise as you get older. Pregnancy loss nearly always happens because the embryo is not developing as it should.
For many parents, the term "miscarriage" doesn't do justice to the depth of sorrow they feel at losing their baby.