I’m sure many of you will already be aware that October is officially Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. My life has been affected by both the loss of a pregnancy and an infant (you can read more about that here). This post will focus on my miscarriage. If you are not comfortable or feel you may be triggered then please don’t read any further I will be discussing the topic very candidly.
I’ve always wanted a big family. My dad was one of eleven. My nan was pregnant 99 out of 132 months and we always joked my grandad’s cure for the baby blues was to give my nan other one to stop her worrying about it. Whilst I wasn’t sure I was that brave, the thought of 3 or 4 or 5 children didn’t daunt me in the slightest. My husband wasn’t so sure but hey uncertainty isn’t a no so I knew I had room to work with. I also knew I had PCOS (Poly Cystic Ovary Syndrome) and my eggs weren’t great quality. My ovaries were producing them but they weren’t great. I had been told I had a less than 5% chance of conceiving naturally and had just begun exploratory investigations at the hospital when I realised I was pregnant with my first in November 2005. Our little family started in August 2006 when our son was born. I had quite the labour and ended up having an emergency section but that story is for another time.
Conscious of the fact we would have difficulty conceiving we started trying again pretty much as soon as I could get back in the proverbial saddle so to speak. This time took a bit longer but boy did we have some fun. July 2008 we got the magic cross we were after. In April 2009 our princess was born. Shortly before her 1st birthday she was diagnosed with a terminal, life limiting condition called Spinal Muscular Atrophy. We were told that 95% of babies with this condition do not see their 2nd birthday. True to predictions, in March 2011 our daughter Lily-Mae grew her wings. I find using the term “lost” somewhat alien as it eludes to the fact you may find her again and whilst I hope with everything that is possible in the next life I know it won’t be the case in this one. So I usually say she grew her wings. She was just over a month away from her 2nd birthday.
We had already been having discussions about trying again before Lily-Mae grew her wings. The reality is this yearning does not subside. It might hide for a little bit but it is always there gnawing away. So we thought we’d give it another go. This time aware that we are both are carriers for the SMA gene which means any further pregnancies stood a 25% chance of being affected with the same condition our daughter had. But for me 25% wasn’t enough not to try again. There was still a 75% chance everything would be ok right?
We had month after month of disappointment. Conversations about whether to just stop trying altogether. Perhaps it was nature’s way of telling us it wasn’t meant to be. All the things that go through your head. Am I being punished? Was I Genghis Khan in a previous life? What had I done in this life to deserve it?
It’s like every time you get a not positive test you go through the five stages of grief all over again. Denial – the test must be wrong so you definitely need to go and buy at least another 5 just to be 100% sure. Anger (this one is a personal favourite and much visited stage of mine) – What is wrong you? Am I faulty? Why is it that so many people who don’t deserve children seem to manage to fall pregnant by having a pair of dirty pants thrown at them from across a room? The big man upstairs has already taken one of my children. I think he owes me. He could at least bless me by helping me to fall easier. It shouldn’t be this hard. It is the most basic of human endeavours. Bargaining – I’ll help the homeless at least once a month, I promise to always put in the charity tin, I’ll make sure I don’t always send Tesco’s value range in for the Harvest Festival. Depression – The realisation that this month is not your month. The upset that this month is not your month. The despair wondering if it will ever be your month. Acceptance – Ok so it’s not happening this time. Time to stop wallowing, dust myself off, and ride the next horse (or my hubby) in to town. This cycle used to take a week to get through but it’s amazing how quick you can master this cycle and before long you are going through all five stages in just a couple of hours.
October 2013 was the month that finally was going to be our month. That magic little cross appeared. I cried buckets. I honestly thought it was never going to happen. Three months. We just had to get to three months before we could be happy and let everyone know. We’d already been tested and knew we were both carriers for SMA so we would have to have a CVS at 12 weeks to determine whether or not the baby had SMA. We had already discussed the fact that we would not be able to continue with a pregnancy where the result was positive. It has been discussed very early on after our daughter’s diagnosis and confirmation of our status as carriers. We were positive we could not continue with a pregnancy knowing we would be bringing a terminally ill baby into the world. I don’t think the decision is right for everyone but I know I could not live through that again. I barely survived the first time. We couldn’t put our families through that again. So we just had to get to 12 weeks and the CVS.
We’d already decided we would not tell our families we were pregnant until we had confirmation everything was ok. It wasn’t fair on them. To put them through the elation of finding out we were expecting again only to have to pull the rug out from under them if the CVS came back positive. So we’d stay quiet. And wait. And panic. The middle of November I had an early scan at 7 weeks and everything was ok. Eeeekkkkk our little fluffle was ok. I was sure I could detach enough not to be too caught up in everything because in the back of my mind was the 25% chance that the baby could have SMA. Not matter how much I tried though I was happy. I was excited. Finally. Just finally. And there was a whole big 75% chance right.
Monday 30th December we were scheduled to go to John Radcliffe hospital for the CVS test. This was the milestone we were working towards. We knew the results could take up to 5 days. Also the fact that it was Christmas / New Year so it could be longer but we were prepared to wait. Well as prepared as you could be. Monday 23rd December I noticed some slight discolouration after I’d been to the toilet. Nothing fresh and no pain or cramps. One time there’d be something, next few times nothing. I spoke to the doctors. They said sounded like nothing to be overly concerned about but keep an eye on it. The following day (Christmas Eve) I was still getting the same thing. I put a pad on and there was nothing on there so this was good right. But still from time to time when I wiped. Still nothing fresh. Still no pain or cramps. I was still panicked though. And it was Christmas. So I went to the A&E department. They asked a few questions and said they couldn’t do an ultrasound there and then. I had one booked Friday 27th at 9am and chances are if they tried to get me one it wouldn’t be any sooner so just go home and rest up and try not to worry. Famous last words that. Try not to worry. Truthfully I didn’t need to worry because I already had a pretty good idea. I painted my best face on and got through Christmas Day and Boxing Day the best I could. Hubby and I decided I’d go to the hospital myself on the Friday, he could stay home with our son. He tried to reassure me. I tried to prepare him for what I already knew.
I arrived at the hospital just before 9am. Went up to the desk and explained to the reception I was there for my 12 week scan but I was pretty sure I was miscarrying. She asked me to take a seat and told me she would get someone. So I took a seat. Among 3 others beautifully glowing big round bellied pregnant women and their partners. Lots of smiling and belly rubbing and waiting. And I sat. Attempting to muster a smile while the bile was rising in the back of my throat. Half an hour I managed. Thirty long arsed minutes before I went to the desk again and burst out crying telling them they’d better get someone there now.
They took me into an office and got a midwife to come and talk to me. She was very pleasant. Explained how, from what I was describing, it sounded possible it was a cervical erosion and that could explain a lot of the symptoms. Shortly afterwards a sonographer came in and took me through to an examination room. I’m not sure how much time elapsed after that but she confirmed I’d suffered a missed miscarriage. I had no idea what this meant and she explained the usually when you miscarry you body releases what it needs to. In the instance of a missed miscarriage your body doesn’t release anything. So not only had I miscarried a baby that was so clearly and desperately wanted but my body wanted it so bad it held onto it. Wow this was just getting better and better. She told me the baby hadn’t gone past 8 weeks. So I’d been holding on for a whole other month.
I got sorted out and taken through to a ward to meet with a doctor and discuss what my options are. I love this. “What my options are”. Like seriously if any of my options are anything other than my baby being good I really don’t want to hear it. But I had to put my grown up head on for another hour or so and pay attention. She explained how I could go home and miscarry naturally (her predictions were it could happen probably within a fortnight) or I could opt for a D&C procedure. I asked her if she was joking. I’ve just been listening to the fact the my body hasn’t given up a baby I lost over a month ago and she thinks two weeks is going to make a difference. I told her no. Absolutely not. She could earn her money and book me a D&C. I didn’t want to go home at all and wait for my body to do what it should’ve done all along. I’d come in, go to sleep and wake up and things be sorted. I know it sounds terribly cold and potentially callous but that was the way my brain had to deal with in order to get me through. Everybody deals with things differently and for the moment this was my coping mechanism.
She booked me in for 7am on Monday 30th. I had to go home and tell our families I’d miscarried. I’d failed yet again. I woke up on the Saturday morning and wasn’t feeling 100% but it was to be expected right? I couldn’t put my finger on it but just something was amiss. We went to visit my dad and sister and explain what had happened. I’d already said to hubs I didn’t want to be out long as I wasn’t feeling up to it. We then went to my hubs mum and dads. I just couldn’t settle. I was pacing up and down. Couldn’t sit down, couldn’t stand up. My stomach was aching. I was clammy. Couldn’t put my finger on what was wrong but I would of put money on the fact I was having contractions but of course I couldn’t be. I told hubs we had to go home. I wanted to get in the bath and have a soak. So we did just that.
I got in the bath and sent him to the shops for me. Once I got out the bath I decided to lie on the bed as I was in agony. And I heard the most peculiar thing. I heard a pop which sounded very much like when my waters broke with my daughter but it couldn’t be that right. The doctor hadn’t explained any of this would happen. I felt wet and managed to get up to the toilet and realised exactly what was happening. I had been betrayed by my body yet again. The one thing I didn’t want to do (miscarry naturally) was exactly what was happening.
I called my hubby to come back but he was at least half an hour away and nothing I was using was stopping the bleeding. I had to call an ambulance. It was also important I stayed as calm as possible as my only helper was my son who was 8 at the time. He let them in for me as I was stuck on the toilet. The paramedics were so good with him. They managed to get me downstairs and out to the ambulance and off to the hospital we went.
I was taken from A&E through to a ward and waited for what seemed like hours to see a doctor. I’m not entirely sure if it was out of boredom or stupidity but I lifted the blanket to discover what looked like a scene for Nightmare on Elm Street and I remember thinking about how much my favourite nightie was ruined. When the doctor finally came round she asked could I get up and walk to the examination room so she could check. I said not on her life. For starters I wasn’t sure I could walk I was in so much pain and secondly I was still bleeding and my nightie looked like an abattoirs floor so no thank you very much I wasn’t walking through a full ward. She could pull the curtain round and do whatever she needed to right where she was. True to form she proved me wrong when I thought there weren’t any more indignities I could face. Apparently I still hadn’t passed everything so she had to go in and manually help me out as that was why I was still bleeding. Yay my evening was just getting better and better wasn’t.
I got to go home the very next day. Fluffle would of been 3.5 years old now had she made this earth. I can’t help but wonder if the CVS would of come back positive and it was nature’s way of taking the decision out of my hands. That’s what I choose to believe to help me get by. As for more babies? I’m pretty sure it’s not on the agenda now and I guess that was what was meant to be for us.
I think lots of things about my experience. I think people should talk about it if they want to and don’t if they don’t. Everyone deals with things differently and that’s ok. I think hospitals should have a different suite for dealing with patients they are / maybe miscarrying. I don’t begrudge anyone who is pregnant and excited to see their baby but if I’m miscarrying I don’t want to sit with you and join in your happyfest.
Whilst I have been very open and candid about my experience I know it’s not that easy for some. But you aren’t alone. I have rambled on enough so I will finish by saying if you need to talk my inbox is always open.