STELLAR | Sarah Davidson
'There was no heartbeat, we got told not to get our hopes up'
SARRAH LE MARQUAN, STELLAR | JULY 7, 2023
She has built a successful career as an author, TV presenter, speaker, Seize The Yay podcast host and self-titled “funtrepreneur”. And as her social-media persona Spoonful of Sarah, she shares beautifully curated posts of her adventures, work and married life with her thousands of followers. But that snapshot is, of course, much shinier than the truth. In a raw conversation on Stellar’s podcast Something To Talk About, Davidson speaks publicly for the first time about experiencing a miscarriage this year, and why it’s important to talk about the heartbreaking loss
On starting her career as a high-flying corporate lawyer – and how contracting a parasite led to a “sliding doors” moment:
“I was one of those people who thought I would get out of law eventually, but definitely not one of those people who hated where I was. I was in my first year of law and my now husband [Nic Davidson] was a complete serial entrepreneur. He had a creative agency that had supported a big charity in Rwanda and got the opportunity to visit the school in rural Rwanda as part of that. [I went along and] there were two big takeaways – the first was I saw people who didn’t have the markers of success that I understood to be the value of life, and yet they were happier than most of the people I knew back home. And then the second thing was the dreaded gut parasite that I brought home. I was banned from all stimulants to give my body a rest – so no coffee, no alcohol, no grains [and] limiting dairy.
Out of that dark time was born a very random discovery of matcha powder. I was just looking for a healthier form of caffeination. My husband and I went online and ordered whatever the minimum order was, which turned out to be two million serves too many for the two of us to consume before its use-by date. Our matcha business really came out of our need to get rid of some of it and recoup some of the costs. I thought it would be a side hustle but we stumbled upon quite a big gap in the market and I actually left [the law firm] six months later and never went back. I think you’re supposed to have these sliding doors moments every few years.”
On being adopted from South Korea by Australian parents and what it was like growing up in a biracial family in Victoria in the 1990s:
“In the case of cross-country adoption, it’s alarmingly difficult to hide [that you are adopted]. So you don’t get that situation where people don’t know until they’re 18, and then they find out and it’s quite traumatic. [My adopted brother and I] obviously had to be told as soon as we could understand what adoption was. At some point I was going to say, ‘Why don’t I look like you?’ and ‘Why am I Asian and you’re two completely Caucasian parents?’ [Laughs]. And because we were so young – we were both about five months old so we have no conscious memories of a life or a family in Korea – that makes it a lot easier. We were always made to feel incredibly safe and very, very supported to explore as much as we wanted about our Korean culture.
I went back when I was four to pick up my younger brother – who is, interestingly, not biologically related to me, but from the same orphanage and we were born on the same day, four years apart. If anything, it’s definitely informed who I am. I truly believe in destiny and that you find the family you’re supposed to have, whether that’s through being born into that family or otherwise, and that the universe is working in wild ways.”
On experiencing pregnancy loss earlier this year and why she has decided to speak about it publicly for the first time:
“I definitely grappled pretty much since the day it happened – and that’s a couple of months now – about whether to talk about it and how to talk about it. And I think often the overwhelming response is, ‘Oh, it’s just easier not to say anything’ because you don’t want to trigger other people. But I think that is what has led to a lack of information about how unbelievably common pregnancy loss, miscarriage, chemical miscarriages, chemical pregnancies, like all this terminology... It meant that when [Nic and I] experienced this earlier this year, I had never heard those words before. To go back to the beginning, we have started trying for a family.
We were not not trying late last year and then my father-in-law was really unwell and we weren’t in the same state for a lot of the time, but then really started properly at the end of last year. We were so lucky and grateful to become pregnant really quickly. We found out very early. We got to about the six-week scan, I think, and there was no heartbeat. And so we got given an 80/20 chance that something was wrong and not to get our hopes up too much, but to come back in a week. We went back again, no heartbeat. It became a 90/10 chance that it wasn’t going to go ahead but wait another week. And these all were the longest seven-day periods I’d ever had in my life. Another seven days, it’s a 100 per cent chance of a non-viable pregnancy. I was very logical. I was like, ‘It was early. We didn’t know the gender. We hadn’t gotten into bonding. Think of all the women who find out much later on.’ But regardless, it’s a loss… I didn’t tell a soul. Didn’t tell my very close friends until the surgery [after miscarriage], when I had to tell them I wasn’t available.
I went back to work two days after the surgery. The whole process made me reflect so much on how many other women must experience this and then not say anything. It is a very personal, private experience. I also realised that the stories I do hear about it are often from people who had since had a successful pregnancy, which again is so understandable and almost the path I was going to take. But I thought I would really like to hear from someone before they have their happy ending.”
On how the experience affected her and Nic, as well as their attitude towards trying to start a family:
“I found one of the hardest parts was that I had let go of any other direction for myself. This year became the ‘pregnancy year’ and September was the due date and so all my goals were around that. And then you get your time back, but then you haven’t planned what to do with that. So you sort of exist in this strange limbo of, oh, I didn’t think I’d have this time. I have no plans for that time, but I’m also still trying, so maybe I won’t have that time. So on top of normal uncertainty in life, there is this whole other layer of who am I? What’s happening? What chapter am I in? Do I set goals at all? Because, you know, we’re still trying.
Having the opportunity to talk about it, I already feel better about it. I started to feel a lot better once I got a cycle back, once I knew we could start trying again. There is a lot of mental work in not losing your innocence – I think now with any subsequent pregnancy, we will definitely be a little bit more hesitant about celebrating each stage. Overall, I think we’re feeling a lot more positive now that there’s more time between that chapter, closing it, letting myself feel sadness, loss, confusion. We’re now trying again.”
Date: 09 July, 2023