"There is a unique pain that comes from preparing a place in your heart for a child that never comes" - David Platt
I'm Casey and, whilst I came up with the idea of #beautifulwarriors, I never actually had the intention of posting a story myself. I have huge aspirations for the project and I think that we can make a difference with it, but I guess I never wanted this to be about me personally.
But since launching the project, I've been inspired by the ladies that have shared their stories. It takes a certain amount of courage to put it all out there. And in asking people to do this, I now feel like I should, and that I want to, stand with these amazing ladies.
So, as part of the #beautifulwarriors movement, I'm sharing a truth that I wouldn't normally put on social media. I'm sharing this to show that I'm a real person, that I'm more than the perfect pictures on my Instagram and Facebook feeds. I hope that by sharing this, I'll empower others, to help them feel as though they aren't alone, and to unite us in our battles. Individually we are warriors, together we are an army.
Here is my truth...
A couple of years ago I went to my 17 week obstetrician appointment, full of excitement and with hope the I might get a clue about the gender of my baby. I already had a 1 year old girl, so we were hoping to mix things up with a boy.
The jelly was applied to my swollen tummy and as the image appeared on the screen, my first thought was, "Wow, bub still looks very small." My second thought was "He/she must be asleep because they aren't moving much."
I remember that the obstetrician turned quickly from looking at the screen above me, to her own screen to get a closer look.
I covered my face.
She said "I'm so sorry".
It's quite surreal that those words can carry the weight that they did.
She didn't turn off the screen above my head but I couldn't get the words out to ask her to get rid of that horrifying image. It stayed up there for ages. I remember that I kept my face covered and I just kept repeating "I don't understand".
Over and over again. "I don't understand."
I knew what was happening, but what I didn't understand was how things could go so wrong after a perfect 12 week scan.
I didn't understand how my "plans" to have two kids with a two year age gap, and to have them both whilst I was under 30 weren't playing out like the script.
I didn't understand how the promise of a life could be broken.
It was going to be 48 hours before the operation could be performed. I had another appointment after just 24 hours, and after seeing how distressed I was, the Obstetrician checked me straight in to the hospital and told me that he'd be there after work to perform the operation. Bless that man, because he really should have been going home to his family on that Friday night, and he was simply doing a good deed. But I don't think even he understood how much he helped me that day.
I was not coping.
I had a baby belly, but no baby. I remember that I wore my husbands XL sized jumper in an attempt to hide it from myself because I couldn't bear to look at it.
Whilst we were waiting for the anethitist, we got a text message from our friends. It was a "welcome to the world, little man" message with a picture of the baby boy they had given birth to that morning. I was just numb by this point.
The operation went fine. I don't really remember anything about it. Which is probably a very good thing.
I've always had an incredibly "lucky" life. Things tend to go my way. I can't explain it, but things almost always work out in my favour. Except when I drop toast with vegemite... why does it always land face down?!?
But this little tragedy broke me. It completely broke me.
I didn't understand.
It was two weeks before I could speak a word about it. Not a word. Family and close friends knew and looked after me but I could not utter a single word without choking up.
Other than my husband, who was grieving with me, it was those friends that had been open about their own miscarriages that I turned to for help. I felt like they got it. They could understand the complete and utter devastation, and the confusion. They mostly just listened, but those ears were the starting point for my healing.
The words that healed me most came from my brother and my mum. He said "Well, if mum hadn't had her miscarriage before I was born, maybe I wouldn't be here". Mum said "It wasn't that baby's time, maybe they were needed more elsewhere, by someone else, or maybe the world just wasn't ready for them yet."
I guess I took from that, that things happen for a reason. And now, in addition to my 4.5 year old, dynamic, spirited princess, I also have a 1.5 year old calm, sweet natured prince, who may not be here if I had not had the miscarriage.
I got my boy, my "pigeon pair" but I can assure you that all I was looking for at every single scan was a heartbeat. The cliche of "I don't care about the gender as long as they are healthy" was no longer a cliche, it is my mantra.
I do know how lucky I am. I have two healthy children. And now, almost three years on, what was a life altering tragedy, is more of an experience that has made me a stronger, kinder more empathetic person. I've learnt not to ask newly married couples "how the baby-making is going", just in case there is a story there that hasn't been shared with the world on social media. I've learnt not to push friends that only have one child, to have two, in case maybe they desperately want to but can't. And I hope that by being open about this, that if a friend goes through the same thing down the track, they'll seek me out as an understanding ear.
I won't say that I understand why it happens, but I can say that I understand the gut wrenching despair in not understanding.
And I also understand that we're all in this together.
Until now, there was no mention of this on my social media posts. If a Facebook acquaintance had caught me in the street a week after it happened, they would have thought I was just rude or self absorbed, not going through the biggest tragedy of my life. I guess it made me realise that we don't always know what others are going through, and that we are better off showing kindness and empathy to each other, just in case that person is having a pretty terrible day.
So now it's your turn. Share a truth that you wouldn't usually share on social media, to give others strength through your bravery. Show us that you are a real person too and let's stand together. Individually we are warriors, together we are an army.
Follow along or share your story on Facebook or Instagram. #beautifulwarriors
Six months ago we came up with a concept of "warriors" as a theme for a photoshoot for Sunbella because, let's be honest; you need to have courage to carry a parasol (regardless of how stylish it is) and it is essentially a shield that can prevent some skin cancer battles.