27 July 1995

I was living in Hong Kong as a Military spouse when I had a ‘missed abortion’ as the term was back in 1995. I was around 12-14 weeks pregnant and due to fly back to England on a posting, therefore my doctor said that a scan would have to be done. Off I went to the hospital, for the scan. I was told that there was no heartbeat, that the baby was not viable, and they wanted to perform an ERPC straight away. I could not allow that. I was in shock and although the medical team said that this was a normal reaction, they warned me that I would miscarry in the next two weeks.

We had moved out of our married quarter, and into ‘mess’ accommodation, predominantly an all male environment. Not easy in the circumstances. It felt like I was like a time bomb waiting to blow, just an awful feeling but I had to give the baby a chance, what if I’d got my dates wrong, all these questions went around in my head. In those days, we didn’t have internet, and so I only had my instincts and what the medics told me to go on.

Inevitably, the miscarriage happened – 24 years ago today in the early hours of the morning. I had a plan in place for a friend to come and look after my 5 year old son, which somehow happened. I was getting quite delirious and by the time the on call doctor saw me, she said there was so much blood that she couldn’t see what was happening, and that I would likely need a transfusion. She called for a helicopter to come and take me to hospital. We were told that as there was a monsoon, the helicopter would not be able to land, so I had to be taken by Military ambulance to the designated hospital. On the way, the ambulance was struggling to drive in the monsoon, and the windscreen wipers stopped working.

Hong Kong was preparing to be handed over to Chinese rule, and the British Military Hospital had just closed, so I had been given a ‘gold card’ which would confirm to the authorities that my care would be paid for at the private hospital. Except that because I would need a transfusion, the designated hospital could not take me as they didn’t do transfusions!

So, I was taken instead to the public training hospital, which took just about anyone. But, not if you forgot to bring with you your ID card. So there I am, bleeding profusely, and they were arguing the toss over an ID card. A few phonecalls were made, I don’t know who to, but they eventually let me in.

I was taken to a ward of 60 women, mainly Chinese, and placed in bed number 13. They put me in a ‘Chairman Mao’ type gown and left me on the bed until they were ready for me. I vaguely recall signing a consent form and then the operation was performed. When I woke, the first thing I asked was, ‘has my baby gone?’. The nurse said ‘yes, here it is, do you want to see it?’ – and held out a bloody plastic bag. I declined.

I now wish that I had asked more about it, whether they could tell what sex it was, that sort of thing. That is the thing that stays with me – the not knowing. My experience there did not improve afterwards. When I needed fresh sanitary pads, I was told I could go upstairs to 7-11 to buy some from the convenience store.

In October 1996, I gave birth to my beautiful daughter, and gave her the middle name ‘Jade’ in memory of my lost baby.

I’m now alone, no husband, no partner, and my kids have long since flown the nest. I have spent today just thinking, and writing this has made me a little sad. I still have my folic acid jar, but that is all.

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