Many people assume that because she had no knowledge of her pregnancy, dealing with her subsequent miscarriage was easy.
She didn’t expect it, wasn’t planning for it, so she wasn’t invested in the idea of having a child.
But Reidun Berntsen begs to differ.
“It is funny how so many people shrug off miscarriages due to an unknown pregnancy,” she says in her Mama Mia story. “So many people thought I was okay because I had no knowledge of the pregnancy, therefore I had no attachment to it. I seem to recall feeling differently.”
It was an average day spend with her boyfriend in bed watching movies and talking. She remembered it being cozy and sweet, that is, until she sat up to go to the bathroom.
“Holy sh*t, are you okay?!” her boyfriend asked.
“I turned around and looked down to see a puddle of blood that had seemingly come out of nowhere,” Reidun recalls. “I remember my instincts saying ‘miscarriage.’ I rushed to the bathroom.”
A friend took her to the emergency room, and as she sat in the waiting room shaken, she tried to process what she was feeling.
“I suffer from PCOS and had not had a period since I had to go off the Pill, so the doctor just assumed that’s what it was.”
At first she convinced herself that maybe it was just a period, but later that afternoon while she was doing the dishes, she felt an overwhelming abdominal cramp.
“I went and sat on the toilet. I won’t get too graphic, but when I got back up I saw something in the bowl that I’d never passed before (or since, for that matter.)”
The following weeks were terrible.
She was exhausted and anxious, and her legs and feet were in constant pain. Although the physical trauma had been unpleasant, it was nothing compared to her mental state.
“For such a long time after, I looked down at my sheets to make sure it hadn’t happened again.
“I was nothing but a shell for a very long time. It didn’t help that I didn’t know how to talk to my friends and family about how I was feeling and they didn’t know how to approach me.”
The miscarriage also happened during the last weeks of her semester at university, the period when they had to go on internships.
Despite the physical and emotional turmoil she was in, she powered through it with the help of her lecturer.
“Hindsight makes me wish I had allowed myself to process my feelings, that I didn’t write it off like it didn’t matter,” she says now. “Even if I was not invested in the embryo, in the aftermath I felt a loss for what could have been.”
The ordeal has left her “incredibly anxious for the future in terms of having children.” In fact she has resorted now to pretending that she doesn’t want children in response to the real fear that she may never be able to have them.
“Nearly a year on, I finally feel the need to stop sweeping it under the rug. My miscarriage happened and I endured it. Even though I was unaware I was pregnant, it still affected me physically and mentally.”