4 January 2021

I’d had a smooth pregnancy, since finding out I was pregnant at 3 weeks and 5 days. I was on antidepressants for anxiety and depression, but as soon as I found out I reduced my dose until I came off them, as I didn’t want anything to harm our baby. I had an early reassurance scan at 6 weeks and 6 days. I was really nervous before as I had read there could be bad news, however at the scan they found a heartbeat and said everything was as it should be. I took that as everything was fine and would be – I was pregnant and I would have my baby in my arms in January 2021.

I planned everything, from how I would handover projects at work, the nursery wallpaper, the pram, I knitted a blanket and of course made a shortlist of names – I was convinced we were having a little girl and booked a scan for 16 weeks to find out.

At about 8 weeks I had some mild spotting and called the GP. He, I felt quite cruelly, said it was “probably nothing to worry about and there isn’t anything anyone can do about it until 20 weeks anyway”.

So, at 11 weeks 5 days pregnant, when I had more mild spotting, I put it at the back of my mind and thought it was probably just because, as last time, it was about when my period was due. I also stopped having pregnancy symptoms, mainly I didn’t feel so tired and my boobs didn’t hurt. I thought this was because I was about 12 weeks and that’s when things got easier. However, at 12 weeks 1 day, I started to pass blood clots. I wasn’t in pain, and tried to reassure myself some people had periods throughout being pregnant – surely nothing bad would happen, I’d been doing everything perfectly and they had found a heartbeat?

At that point I rang the GP and luckily spoke to a different doctor. She was very empathetic but sounded quite urgent when she arranged a scan for me, the following day. However, the bleeding became worse and I began to get cramps, so I called 111. They told me to go into A&E, which I did immediately. I had to leave my husband in the car, and waited in my mask for about an hour – hour and a half to be seen. The nurse who reviewed me took some readings and after a while arranged for me to be seen by a consultant at another hospital in the city. My husband drove us there. In the car, I had excruciating stomach pain and at that point I didn’t feel like there was any possible way that the baby could be OK.

My husband walked me to the ward in the hospital, given I was feeling extremely faint by this point, which wasn’t helped by the mask which we had grabbed at the last minute, which I think actually was a dust mask. On arrival, my husband asked if he could stay, which he was told he couldn’t and he went back to the car. On the ward I was told to take a seat and someone would come and see me. I was waiting a while and during that time I felt a gush, which I imagine was my waters breaking. No one came and I didn’t know where the toilet was – I felt desperate for the toilet by now. I got the attention of a passing nurse and she told me I couldn’t go to the toilet as they may need to collect what I passed, so I waited. When she came back with a tray I was able to go to the toilet, and there was a lot of blood.

I felt extremely faint again when the nurse walked me back to a private consulting room, but was offered no support for stability. On entry into the consultation room, I felt something large pass, I immediately began sobbing and told the nurse I thought I felt the baby. She said she needed to leave and would be back. I asked her what to do – she got me a new pad, and left. On my own in the room, I plucked the courage to check the pad. What I saw was my baby, about 5cm long with eyes and fingers, attached to a sack. Just like the pictures on the pregnancy app I’d been using. I put it in the tray, put a new pad on and sat, numb with disbelief. I sat alone in the room for what seemed like an eternity but was probably about 5 minutes. My husband kept texting me to see if I was OK and I couldn’t reply, I didn’t know how to. I couldn’t tell him our baby was gone by text, but I didn’t know how to ring him and say the words that would make it real. I took my mask off because I thought I was going to be sick and that was making it far worse.

When the nurse eventually returned she took the tray, said she was sorry and that she’d be back. I sat there a bit longer then called my husband and told him the baby was gone. I really would have appreciated some sort of support in doing this.

After a while a foundation doctor came in and was empathetic, agreed it seemed so unfair, and told me that it happens in 25% of pregnancies. She asked me to sign a consent form to say what I wanted to happen to the baby. I just said I wanted the baby to be disposed of by the hospital because I couldn’t imagine how I would get the baby home. A decision I now greatly regret and wish I had been prompted to speak to my husband, or the doctor had said she would call him to involve him in the decision. I was given an information leaflet which described miscarriage before 12 weeks and that tests that would be done for a molar pregnancy. This didn’t make sense to me when I got home. I was more than 12 weeks pregnant. I’d had an early reassurance scan at 6 weeks which detected a heartbeat, so why were they testing for a molar pregnancy? Why couldn’t they use the resource to do something more useful and find out why this awful thing had happened to my baby? Even so I wasn’t told how I wouldn’t find out the results – haven’t heard anything since and if I hadn’t had the early scan detecting a heartbeat, I would be in limbo now about whether or not we could try again.

Later, a different nurse came in was very empathetic. She gave me an aching arms bear which I appreciated. She told me it wasn’t my fault, which I find extremely difficult to believe given there are no answers, and if nothing I did could have caused the miscarriage, why are there so many rules about what you can or can’t do? She told me all about when I could try again etc. I can’t recall any of this information. Luckily my husband texted me and asked me to get a nurse to call him, which she did, so that she could share the information with him. I’m very grateful that my husband did this, and it was provided, but feel it should have been offered.

The nurse said she would cancel the scan I had booked for a few days time, and let my midwife know. Once I had been checked over I was allowed to go home about an hour later, after being sat alone for the majority of this time. I was not told what to expect over the coming weeks.

I have heard nothing since, from the hospital or midwife, other then a cold letter from the hospital explaining that they know I’m no longer pregnant but thought I’d like to know I don’t have HIV. I found this very insensitive and the way it was worded it sounded as thought it could have been my choice to no longer be pregnant.

I understand that my experience was massively impacted by COVID-19, however have since written to the trust of hospitals, not with a complaint, but with suggestions about what small changes I think could be implemented to improve the service. I found it helpful to write down how I feel, but my wish is that something is done to help those who go through the heartbreak of miscarriage in future, and I really hope that while it will always be awful, their experience will be even slightly better than mine.

I feel absolutely heartbroken that not only our baby, but also our future, has been ripped away. I’m mourning not only our baby, but any chance of feeling the joy I felt in my first pregnancy. I know that if I am lucky enough to get pregnant again, I will be paralysed with fear that this will happen again. Having any more information about what could have caused the miscarriage would really help me – was it possibly that I was having baths slightly too hot? Or that I was eating more sugar than usual to help me get through long days at work when I was so tired? Was it taking antidepressants at the beginning? Who knows, but any insight into what I could have done better would help me so much. At the moment I feel the guilt of not knowing but also the fear of doing it again.

It’s now been almost 4 weeks since we lost our baby. I can’t say things get easier, I feel probably worse now than I did when it first happened, I was so numb to begin with. It sounds extreme but have no desire to carry on – what does anything else matter now? I feel angry that the world could be so cruel, just after I’d got past 12 weeks which seems like an evil trick. I feel angry with my body, that I wasn’t able to protect my child which is the main role of a mother. I feel angry that no one talks about miscarriage – I read somewhere someone said ‘it’s like there is a large secret baby loss club that you don’t hear about until you are unfortunate enough to join it’. I couldn’t agree more, so many people have since told me they have experienced the same. Why is it a taboo subject? It’s not in the natural order of things for a mother to lose a child – surely people should be supported through this. I feel so naive that I was walking around those last few days, holding my belly all the while my baby had probably already died inside me. If I’d have at least had more idea about how common it is, I’d have perhaps been slightly more prepared but it absolutely floored me.

A key question I had at first was am I a mum now? I’ve decided yes I am, I have a baby although unfortunately she is no longer here, and I would like to celebrate Mother’s Day in recognition of this, regardless of whether I am lucky enough to have children in the future.

I’ve been reading books about others’ experiences, and a baby loss guide, which sounds strange because everyone deals with things differently, but it has really helped me to process my feelings. I also deleted my social media as I never realised before how full it is of baby announcements and babies which really trigger me. I had 2 weeks off work to try to rest and process my feelings, and I asked that colleagues were told before I went back so that I didn’t have anyone ask ‘are you feeling better’ when I returned, which I’m not sure how I would answer. That made it easier for me to go back, though my brain feels like it’s covered in a thick fog. Focusing on what I can control has helped, e.g. trying to be healthier ready for if it happens again. While it probably would help to go back on my antidepressants, which I’ve been on for more than 2 years, I’m too scared about the possible impact if I do get pregnant again.

What I’m terrified about most at the moment are the milestones – next week we should find out the gender. In December I should be finishing work. In January we should be meeting our baby. When should our baby be weaning? Taking its first steps? Starting school? Other babies the same age will be a constant reminder of what we should be experiencing. I’m not sure how I will cope with that for the rest of my life. I’m scared that others will forget – but I promise I never will.

 

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