Miscarriage affects women from all walks of life: Sarah Mitchell MLC NSW

Sunday, 15th October was Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. This day has previously been a time that I think of my Mum who had a miscarriage and went through the unthinkable when my youngest brother Jacob was stillborn at 36 weeks.

Tough time: Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Early Childhood Education and Assistant Minister for Education Sarah Mitchell MLC with her daughter, Annabelle.

Tough time: Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Early Childhood Education and Assistant Minister for Education Sarah Mitchell MLC with her daughter, Annabelle.

As a NSW Member of Parliament, I have acknowledged the day before, moving and speaking to motions recognising the thousands of women who have lost their babies.

It is estimated each year 103,000 pregnancies across Australia end in miscarriage.

This year, the day holds even more significance for me because recently, two of those 103,000 miscarriages were mine.

My husband and I are very blessed to have our beautiful four-year- old daughter Annabelle. She was conceived easily, so when the time came for another baby we didn’t consider encountering problems.

When I fell pregnant in August last year we were so excited, however, a few weeks into the pregnancy it became clear this baby was not meant to be.

I was at work when the realisation hit me like a tonne of bricks that I was about to miscarry. That particular day involved a 600 kilometre round trip on my own from my home in Gunnedah to Dubbo, crying all the way. That night, I miscarried naturally and lost our baby.

There was no medical reason why I had miscarried. Like many couples, we were just unlucky. So we kept trying and by November 2016 I had fallen pregnant again. This time I was convinced the baby would be ok.

At nine weeks, I went to the doctor for a check-up and the ultrasound revealed our baby had no heartbeat. We had lost another much wanted and already much loved child. It was straight to hospital for what is commonly known as a D and C and home again that night. It was one of the worst days of my life. 

Losing a baby is heart wrenching. I knew I needed some time to grieve our second loss but as a female in a largely male dominated workplace such as the NSW Parliament, I was afraid to tell my colleagues. I thought about saying I was sick, but I wasn’t sick - I had lost two pregnancies in quick succession, and as a female MP in 2017 I felt I should be able to be honest about what I was going through. 

I called the leader of my party, The Nationals, Deputy Premier John Barilaro, to talk to him about what had happened. John could not have been more understanding or supportive of me and my family. I will be forever grateful to him for that.

It was so refreshing to know I could be honest - not only about my pregnancy losses but about our desire to grow our family – and it would not negatively affect my professional career. Not what people would probably expect from the Parliament or indeed from The Nationals.

Less than three weeks after my second miscarriage, I was promoted and sworn in as a Minister and given the incredible opportunity to work in portfolio areas that I love.

Nine months on, and I am now 33 weeks pregnant with our second child, or fourth child depending on how you look at it. We are fortunate and we eagerly and somewhat anxiously await the arrival of our baby in November.

My story will be similar to many women, and I share it for one reason only, to let those who have suffered loss, know you are not alone.

The reality is, miscarriage affects women from all walks of life, whether you live in the country or city, whether you’re a nurse or a farmer or even a Member of Parliament.