Kiss92 DJ and mum of two, Jill Lim, gives a candid account of her miscarriage, and how it's helped her reassess what's really important in life.
After trying for a year to have a second child, we suddenly found ourselves pregnant and just as quickly found out that we’d miscarried. My emotions? Not what I probably expected to feel, if I’m honest. If anything, my miscarriage was a huge wake-up call (and a long overdue one at that). Here’s why I’m grateful for the reminder it served…
Baby making – take 2 (in the post-pandemic world)
Let’s start at the beginning with baby number one. When we conceived Lily, the world was a very different place. We were going into a pandemic that brought uncertainty and fear. However, it was also a lovely three-month ‘break’ of sorts from reality, with lockdowns forcing everyone to slow down. This time around, things couldn’t be more different. Like many working mothers, I jumped back into work mode post-birth. And post-pandemic life has made working mum life even busier (IMO). From adjusting to the crowds on the trains, and the influx of events, to carving out romantic date nights with the husband, all while my now almost 2-year-old goes through (another) sleep regression. And then I have to wake up at 4am to be funny and charming on a morning show with three people who had to frantically find chemistry. It’s a lot. I had forgotten how tiring it is to just travel to and from work.
Pressures of the ‘media’ mum
And then there’s being a ‘media’ mum. Getting back to life as a media mum post-pandemic means one thing is back and bigger than ever: events. What would people say if I was the only media mum missing from the family press events? You can hear the rumours now: From “our brand shouldn’t work with her – she’s not wholesome enough because she doesn’t attend,” to “oh, she probably didn’t make the invite list anyway.” And then there are the events I really want to go to, like the Singapore Grand Prix, which then opens up a whole host of other comments: “She’s a mum now. Mums don’t party.” “She’s in the morning show; how would she cope?”.
My answer? I was going to do it all! Being a mum wasn’t about to dull my vibe. Someone once told me, “There’s no such thing as a working mum. You just work, and if you can’t handle it, be a housewife.” It was a man (no surprise).
The trials and tribulations of a woman wanting it all
At work, I approached things with that attitude. I’m not a ‘working mum’, I am here to work, and nothing has changed. I moved doctors’ appointments around to suit the new meetings I had to attend after the radio show and cancelled and rescheduled play dates for last-minute work meetings. I replaced pilates sessions with more meetings to get the new radio show off the ground. Basically, I did whatever I could to be a committed and reliable employee. I wasn’t going to have people
question my work ethic after becoming a mother.
At home, while I was fortunate my parents would take Lily for about 2-3 hours a day; the second she was home, I was mum. Crafts, endless streams of story books. I even tried keeping the night shift and being there when she woke up to show her I wasn’t abandoning her. Or maybe to show myself nothing had changed and I was still a responsible mother. I didn’t want my helper to question my ability as a mother either, now that I was back to work. No, I was sure as hell going to have it all.
The cracks began to show
What about my husband? I’ll admit this wasn’t such plain sailing. I remember being down with the lovely virus that is Hand, Food and Mouth Disease (caught from my over-generous toddler). Sick, exhausted and drained from meetings all week long, my husband took our daughter and spent the day with his parents, allowing me to stay home and rest. It was his birthday. I had failed as a wife. The cracks were showing, and it started with our marriage. But I wasn’t going to let that happen. I planned more dinners and date nights, and outings for just the two of us – I didn’t want him to question my dedication to him as a partner just because I was a working mum. I. Could. Do. This! I just had to try harder. Be more organised.
Fast forward to the miscarriage (and my wake-up call)
I was on the phone on my void deck talking about a situation at work. While on the phone, I felt my nether region become damp; I thought it was just discharged. I’d found out I was pregnant the week before. I was planning on seeing the doctor at the end of the month after Lily’s birthday. Yes, on top of it all, I was planning my daughter’s second birthday. Out of guilt, it had grown into a huge affair because she wasn’t permitted a first birthday due to the pandemic.
As I grew increasingly frustrated on the call, I got up from where I was sitting to pace around. The blood-stained seat caught my eye. I was soaked! My first thought was: “This is so inconvenient! I have another meeting in 10 minutes!”. So, I cleaned myself up, called my doctor, told him the situation, and said I could probably be down in about an hour. I sat through my usual Friday meeting as the bleeding continued. (As I said, I wasn’t going to have them question my ability to be a working mum). The amount of blood was verging on a B-grade arthouse horror movie. Yet, I felt no cramps. I googled, “is heavy bleeding in the first trimester normal?”. I scrolled every headline until I found one that said, “not all heavy bleeding means a miscarriage”. That was the one I decided to read. I entered my Grab to get to the doctor’s, and the song playing was George Michael’s ‘Faith’ I can’t make stuff like this up. Naturally, I thought the universe was sending me a message. I was the lucky one; this wasn’t a miscarriage – I just had to have faith!
Visiting the doctor – what happened next
I was so early into the pregnancy, my doctor did an internal ultrasound. “Thin lining indicating heavy bleeding has already occurred.” “No, visible sack.” “Oh! So maybe I wasn’t even pregnant! This was just my period! Technically I’m only two days late.” My doctor gave me a blood test to confirm the presence of the pregnancy hormones and prescribed painkillers and antibiotics. The doctor also talked to me about miscarriage, how normal it was, and how it wasn’t my fault – there’s nothing I could have done differently to change the outcome. I declined a medical certificate to get off work. It was the weekend. I’d be fine by Monday.
The doctor let me know that I had three options. First up, medical management, where I would be given a pill (Cytotec) which would help shorten the length of natural expulsion and avoid surgery. Then there was the surgical option which would have been a dilate and curettage. As the name suggests, they dilate your cervix and then use suction—something I personally wanted to avoid. Thankfully though, because of my heavy bleeding and the fact that I was passing tissue, my doctor suggested the third option, which was ‘watchful waiting’.
Saturday afternoon rolled around, and suddenly the cramps came on in full force. Without sounding too dramatic, it felt like I was having contractions. Each wave of pain was followed by heavy bleeding. As I sat on the toilet, watching what would have been my second baby’s house, food and protection leave my body; I felt calm and happy.
Why this miscarriage turned out to be a blessing and how it changed my life
It might sound strange to some, but I was thankful that I wasn’t having this baby, yet grateful for the life lesson it had taught me. My miscarriage forced me to pause and take a long hard look at life. Needing a rest was long overdue for me. Jumping back into work, not allowing myself any grace to adjust after having Lily, saying yes to job requests (even if they weren’t really what I wanted), saying yes to all invites and placing these events over the need for rest just to keep up a media appearance. For those reasons and so many more, I was grateful.
A priority reset – what really matters
The miscarriage had woken me up, shaken me to the core, and made me question what I wanted, what was important and what I was willing to do to achieve these things—a much-needed recalibration. Monday rolled around, and I set up a meeting with my boss to discuss my future with radio. I have done radio for 13 years; quite frankly, it’s all I know and love. Do I even fit into the media anymore? I’ve been told by so many, “if you have another baby, out of sight, out of mind for clients.” How badly do I want a second baby? How much does this baby deserve a mother who is happy in all aspects of her life? Can you really have it all? I’ve read that you can. At this point, though, do I really need it all?
It all starts with you
1 in 4 women will sadly experience a miscarriage, and everyone will experience and deal with it differently. Although most of us can agree that miscarriages are painful, sometimes scary, and always a disappointment – I have willed myself not to see it this way. After the news, I ordered a cycle of confinement food, something I didn’t even do after my first pregnancy. I was going to treat my body like a temple. Nourish it and heal it. Change my mindset about life and work. This miscarriage was the best reminder that you can’t pour from an empty cup. You matter. You need to take care of yourself before anything else. I hope my experience acts as a reminder for you, too – because everything starts with you.