Today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. For many, it’s an occasion to mark the babies that we never got to know and watch grow up. It’s the hugs we never gave, the stories we never got to share, the first days we never got to celebrate. Those of us living with chronic health conditions have an extra level of complexity to deal with, as we wonder if our own bodies were partially (or completely) responsible for those losses. Sometimes, we never know.

But we hold close those losses and all that comes with them, carrying them quietly. Until the roar back into our consciousness.

Just a couple of weeks ago, I went to the GP because I had a UTI. (One day, the oversharing will stop. Today is not that day.) As the gift that keeps on giving, diabetes means that UTIs are more common in women with diabetes than those without. This is another reason that diabetes is so, so much fun.

My new GP asked if I’d noticed an increase in insulin needs because of higher glucose levels due to the infection. She then asked some general questions.

‘Is your period regular?’ she asked.

I nodded. ‘Like bloody clockwork. 28 days to the minute! Where was that when I was trying to have a baby?’ I remembered the desperation of wanting a reliable period to signal some sort of regular ovulation and the relief when I started on fertility treatment to make that happen.

‘Could you be pregnant?’ she then asked.

Could I be pregnant? Well, technically, I guess I could. ‘Jesus! I hope not!’ I exclaimed, wondering how my almost 46-year-old body would cope with such an assault! And then, because I catastrophise everything, I started to imagine first trimester blood sugars and hypos and climbing insulin requirements and all the other things that mammas with diabetes have to think about every second of a pregnancy.

I nearly threw up. Which I attributed to morning sickness. Obviously.

She handed me a jar and sent me to the bathroom for a sample.‘We’ll do a pregnancy test here now and also send the sample away to make sure the infection you have is going to respond to the antibiotics I’m prescribing,’ she explained to me.

I’m not pregnant. I breathed a sigh of relief when she told me that, flashing back to the complete opposite feeling I used to have each month when I realised that was the case. And to the literal and figurative emptiness I would feel when I realised another month had passed and I was not pregnant. And how that emptiness would increase exponentially after each miscarriage.

At the time, I didn’t have anyone to really talk to about how I felt. I had the support of my family, but there was no one who could understand the shame I felt, or the blame I was attributing to my diabetes – and therefore to myself. It’s only since speaking about it that I realised that so many other women feel the same way. And friends with diabetes have similar stories to share. We just needed an opportunity and a space to talk. And listen.

Today is a chance to do that. My love goes out to all of you who have lived through pregnancy loss, or who have lost a baby. I hope that you have a safe place to tell your story. And to my friends with diabetes who have experienced pregnancy loss: be kind to yourself. Sometimes the path we walk is lonely, and littered with too many times when we blame ourselves, when instead we should be kind and gentle. Today is a really, really good day to remember to do that.

Some more stories to read…

I wrote this for Mamamia just after my last miscarriage.

Kerri Sparling wrote this about her own experiences of infertility, and shared this guest post about pregnancy loss.

Anna Floreen’s story of pregnancy loss is heartbreaking, but I am so grateful to her for sharing it.