I’m Nikki, the mom and blogger behind We Are The Humans. We live in a little semi-detached slice of heaven in Cape Town’s southern suburbs. This “we” I speak of, consists of me, my hairy, farting, bearded, dream man, Regan and our two girls, Sophie and Grace, who hate vegetables almost as much as they hate to sleep.
I have a blog that is pretty much a labour of love and often it feels more like a labour than a love. I am fiercely passionate about motherhood, I love writing about my experiences, my struggles, my triumphs. I love celebrating other mamas and I hope through sharing my experiences, you’ll embrace your own motherhood journey.
You can follow our story here:
I’ve had three miscarriages.
I’m currently sitting cross legged on my bed, listening to our nanny potter around in the kitchen while Grace sleeps. I am home from work because I have a really bad case of the flu. So I’m sitting here, staring at the blinking cursor, trying to find the words to put this all these painful and jumbled thoughts together.
I’ve had three miscarriages. I told you that already. It feels profound though, like I needed to say it twice. Because what it really means is that I have had my heart shattered three times. Shattered might seem like a dramatic word. But that is what it felt like to me.
The first time it happened I was 24. I wasn’t trying to fall pregnant, it was an “oops” or maybe an “oh holy shit what the hell?!”. I had a boyfriend that I adored. He hadn’t told me that he loved me yet. I loved him though. We were happy. Young, carefree happy… My sister had just had my niece. She was adorable – a squishy, angry little baby who I loved fiercely. I remember the first day I met her I thought, gosh, if I love her this much, imagine what loving my own child would feel like. Anyway, I realized my period was late… I was terrified and excited and happy (there’s that word again). I took a pregnancy test and freaked out. It was positive. I can’t really remember everything that went through my mind. What I do remember is feeling overwhelmed with happiness and a little afraid.
The night I took the pregnancy test was probably one of the most hopeful nights of my life. I sat up with a glass of wine and wondering about this child in my belly, my child.
Who would you be?
What would you look like?
What would I call you?
From the moment those little lines appeared on the pregnancy test, I was a mother. In my heart, I was a mother. I had planned out a life for a child that was nothing more than a whisper on a breeze.
I called my boyfriend and asked him to come over. I told him the news and yeah, he was not happy. This was not what he wanted. I was too young. He was not ready. I should consider the options. Outraged, I asked him to leave. There were no options. I was having my baby. I had already planned this life; I could not turn back now. I cried so much. I cried because I knew that my choice to have this baby would also be a choice to end my relationship. I was heartbroken.
A few weeks later, I came home from work, exhausted and not feeling quite like myself. I went to the bathroom to wee, wiped and noticed some blood. I knew spotting was normal so I thought nothing of it. I went into the kitchen, made some tea and started to prepare supper. A little while later, I felt it… A deluge of blood running from between my legs.
This was not spotting.
This was not a period.
This was the end of something wonderful.
As women, we are used to blood, but nothing quite prepares you for that amount of blood. There is no mistaking it for what it is: the most painful goodbye. There is no room for denial or uncertainty.
I felt angry and alone and so incredibly sad. The physical pain of miscarriages are so incredible it mostly eclipses your sadness. In a way, it’s nice. Because the grief is horrible, but it’s difficult to focus on when your body is wracked with agonizing cramps and severe bleeding. This was my first pregnancy, my first miscarriage, my first broken heart. If I had known then that in 8 years’ time I would be back in that sad, hopeless and painful place, I probably would never have decided to have children at all.
My second and third miscarriages happened after my daughter, Sophie, was born. We were trying so hard for a second child.
There is this game you play when you’re trying to conceive, I call it “Is it a baby or is it PMS?”. Mother Nature was being really funny the day she decided to make early pregnancy symptoms the same as PMS symptoms. Every month I would head to the bathroom to wee, I would wipe and I would be greeted by a numbing and consuming melancholy.
Hello period, there you are… no baby this month I guess.
But then it ends, and you do actually fall pregnant and you’re so happy. You and your partner laugh and hold hands; you kiss each other all the time, because fuck, you made a life. You were trying and trying and eventually you did it. And then, when you’re high on happiness and planning the new nursery, it happens. The spotting, the deluge, the pain, the grief. It breaks you. It breaks you because you wanted it so badly. And you did it again you silly girl, you planned a life, you built a world in your heart for this child to exist in and now it’s gone… the child, the world, the hope.
You lay in bed, exhausted, disorientated and sad. But now you have a child, and this child reminds you of what you have just lost, because she is a walking, talking, real life representation of what you so desperately want again. In many ways, the first time was the easiest.
No matter how many times I heard that it wasn’t my fault, I couldn’t stop feeling like it was. I cataloged my actions, I processed them all thinking, was it this? Was it that? What exactly did I do to cause this? I felt like I had failed. I felt like my body was broken. Not good enough to do the one thing it was literally designed to do. Why was I not capable of growing a life in my womb?
I did it once, why couldn’t I do it again? It was the strangest kind of desperation I have ever felt. If I took the event of my miscarriages away, I had a really great life: loving partner, gorgeous kid, fulfilling career, friends, family… all of it. But it wasn’t enough. I felt less than, I compared myself to my friends, all of whom seemed to be falling pregnant with their second child. I was bitter. I pretended to be happy and attended all the baby showers with a smile but in my heart I kept asking, “why not me?” My miscarriages began to define me as a woman. I struggled to love my body. I struggled to love myself.
These events felt catastrophic, they because the catalyst for a new kind of fear, one I was not prepared for. When I found out I was pregnant with Grace, I felt that fear so strongly, it took over everything I did. I only announced my pregnancy at 6 months because I had to know for sure. I was feeling kicks before I told anyone. Even though I knew my baby was thriving, my entire pregnancy was peppered with anxiety and worry and yes, fear. And it never really went away. Even when I hit the last trimester, I felt a cautious sense of optimism, but never out right carefree happiness.
When you miscarry, you will get told that everything happens for a reason.
I have had this phrase whispered to me constantly and it makes my skin crawl. The truth is there is no logic behind a miscarriage. There is no real explanation. There is no closure. No way to prevent it from happening again. It is pain and sadness and a loss of hope.
I never ever felt like it was something I overcame, I didn’t push my feelings away, I didn’t face them head on either. I just let them wash over me and then one day I just put them down. I tried my best not to let my sadness settle in and make a home in my heart, it was allowed to visit now and then, but it always had to leave. Every time I hear about a friend who has had a miscarriage I cry a little and I let that sadness back in. It’s difficult. And then it’s not.
“In one of the stars, I shall be living. In one of them, I shall be laughing. And so it will be as if all the stars were laughing when you look at the sky at night . . . You—only you—will have stars that can laugh!”
If you are reading this and you are going through a miscarriage or just getting over one, I want you to know that you are allowed to grieve.
You have just lost something beautiful, it hurts and it’s sad and you need to cry and feel these things. We are so conditioned to thinking of miscarriage as this thing clinical thing. A loss of cells. We get told it’s really a life. Not really a baby. Not yet. Allow yourself to grieve for your baby.
It’s ok to feel sad. Grief is this big, heavy thing and the only way we can move past it is to move through it. Reach out and speak to your friends, your mom, your aunts. Chances are, one of them has been where you are.
You are not alone. And there is beauty to be found in the simple act of sharing your pain.
As soon as I knew, partially, Nikki’s story, I saw a night sky that had been tumultuous and foreboding, taking light whenever and wherever it could…and subsequently, stealing 3 beautiful stars out of pure jealousy.
Though time does not heal all wounds it can offer perspective and space and into that space, where it was black and lifeless, small touches of life seep in – shown by the dark backdrop of foliage that Lavishly Done created and the continued adding of flowers to symbolize Sophie and Grace and the moments of happiness that do come.
This was further shown through the beautiful floral creation from which Nikki looks like she is emerging.
This shoot wouldn’t have been possible without:
Makeup: NJD Makeup Artistry