29 January 2019

We decided to start tying for another baby in April 2018. It took around 7 months until the pregnancy test showed those two wonderful lines. We were over the moon and a quick calculation revealed our baby was due on 5th August 2019.

We are fortunate enough to have one incredible son who will be three in May. However our path to conception was not altogether smooth,  I had a miscarriage before we conceived him. It was around 6-7 weeks gestation when I started bleeding. Then came the pain and more bleeding including clots. I was fairly certain that I was having a miscarriage. I felt extremely alone and frightened. My other half was on a stag weekend and I didn’t want to speak to anyone else about what was happening. It was a bank holiday weekend so I phoned the 111 service for advice. An on call doctor phoned me back and confirmed it was likely I was having an early miscarriage. He booked me in for a scan the following week. It was at this point the miscarriage was confirmed. The miscarriage itself was all over in 24 hours and it was a complete miscarriage. Whilst it was a painful time physically, it was over quickly. It was the emotional pain that was the hardest to handle. I went through a range of emotions including guilt and shame at failing to carry a child.

When I had this first miscarriage, the doctor said to me that nature is cruel. Miscarriage is nature’s way of making sure we have the strongest and the healthiest baby we can possibly produce. Whilst this didn’t take away the pain I was feeling at the time, it is something that has stuck with me and given me some comfort.

It was because of this early miscarriage that I was nervous in my pregnancy with my son and my most recent pregnancy. We decided to go for a private early scan at 8 weeks. The sonographer performed the scan and then delivered the news that the baby was measuring at 6 weeks not 8 weeks. I had been tracking my cycles so I suggested that this couldn’t be the case and asked if something was likely wrong. The sonographer was quite dismissive of my concerns about the dates and again reiterated that I must have made a mistake. She explained that the baby was in the right place, there was a discernible heartbeat and I just needed to give the baby time grow.

I still felt worried the next day so I spoke with a midwife who explained that the baby can be conceived anytime within that two week window and that scans are more accurate at dating than tracking your last menstrual cycle. This gave me the comfort I needed and I began to relax. I hadn’t had any pain or bleeding so I had no symptoms to be concerned about.

That all changed in my 11th week when I started with a small amount of brown bleeding. I turned to Google, reading everything I could get my hands on that related to my situation! Overall it seemed I didn’t have anything to worry about as long as there was only a little bit and it wasn’t bright red (fresh) bleeding. Then four days later the fresh bleeding came. It wasn’t a huge volume but enough for me to be concerned about. I spoke with the midwife unit who booked me a scan at the early pregnancy unit (EPU) the next day.  I had a full 24 hours until the appointment and therefore time to look up everything I could find on the internet. I soon learned that it is very easy to find stories that are exactly like your own and have the ending you desire (hope) or stories exactly like yours that have the ending you dread (fear). I bounced between the hope and fear situations, wishing desperately that mine would have a happy ending.

Before heading to the hospital I took a pregnancy test which showed as positive within seconds, a huge relief! At the EPU we met with a nurse before going down for the scan, who went through my history and symptoms with me. She told me to try not to worry as bleeding can be very common and often nothing to worry about. This also gave me some hope that I would soon get to see my baby on the monitor and the past few days of worry would be a distant memory.

We went down for the scan and I lay there frozen on the table whilst the ultrasound took place. The room was filled with silence other than the intermittent clicking at keys as images were captured. At the time I kept thinking “this is good” she is taking pictures of our baby, it must all be ok. I was then asked to empty my bladder so another scan could be done to get a closer look at our baby. This was not a good sign.

I came back into the room and tried to prepare myself for what was to come. I can promise you though that nothing can ever prepare you for hearing somebody say “I’m so so sorry, but we cannot detect a heartbeat”. My world folded inwards, collapsing on top of me. The grief was indescribable. The baby who we had already imagined turning our family of three into a family of four had passed away inside me. We would never get the opportunity to hold him or her, kiss our baby’s tiny hands or watch our baby grow up. When you lose a baby, you lose everything that you imagined your life would be with your child; the memories you had already created.

Following the scan we had to meet with the EPU to discuss what happens next. We were told that the hospital trust follows a conservative management of miscarriage. This meant that a second scan would be needed to confirm the results. This scan needed to be at least 7 days from the current scan. We offered the results from the early private scan but as they were not from the hospital they couldn’t use them. The thought of carrying around our dead baby for a week was more than I could handle. I shut down. A scan was booked for the following week and if the results showed the same then I could meet with a doctor to discuss how to handle the miscarriage if nothing had happened naturally. I wanted to go home and sleep for a week so as to not endure the thought of what was to come.

My son gave me the motivation I needed to not just crawl into bed and cry. I attempted to continue with life as normal, going to work, doing the shopping etc. I worried everyday that the miscarriage would begin when I was taking my son to daycare or in the middle of the day at work. The grief washed over me in waves. One minute I would be fine, the next something small would set me off. In quiet moments I would get flashbacks to the scan room and the sonographer delivering the crushing news that our baby had died. Whilst the week was long it did give me time to come to terms with our loss to some degree. I went through so many emotions. I questioned whether I had done something to cause this, was there something else I could have done that would have kept my baby safe. The emotion of grief soon flowed into anger, I was cross that other people could conceive so easily and never had to go through this agony. My family and friends were a huge support, I will be forever grateful for their kindness.

On the Friday we went back to hospital for the second scan. I sat in the waiting room for my scan as excited new parents to be came out looking over their scans and phoning family and friends to deliver their wonderful news. I was 12 weeks and 4 days, my dating scan should have been taking place later that morning for me too but instead I was waiting for a scan to confirm my baby had died. Any resolve I had left in me quickly dissipated.

Sadly, as expected, the results showed the same. Our baby had not developed and had died. We were once again sent back up to the EPU to speak with a doctor. This time we were put into a bereavement room where we had the privacy to grieve and gather our thoughts. The doctor, as all the staff had been already, was truly compassionate and listened to what our wishes were. He suggested that the safest option at the stage I was at was surgical management as there was considerable pregnancy tissue. As it was a Friday the next available surgical slot was Tuesday. It was heartbreaking to know I had days more before it was all to be over.

When Tuesday came round I was apprehensive. The ward staff were incredible though. We were put into a private room and a nurse came in to discuss the process. During this time she also discussed what would happen to our baby’s remains. There were regular remembrance services held at the hospital for babies lost at any gestation and it was offered that we could attend one of these.

I was the last person on the surgery list that day so I didn’t go down until 4pm.  Tears poured down my face as I was given a general anaesthetic, knowing that when I woke up our baby would be gone. The nurse held my hand and offered words of support as I drifted off.

I woke up in recovery and was soon back in my room. I was allowed to go home late in the evening. The whole experience has been one of the hardest things I hope I will ever endure. The surgery happened yesterday. I know I am not going to heal overnight. The psychological recovery will take longer than the physical.

I am so very grateful to the staff at the hospital who, despite dealing with this type of situation day in day out, showed genuine compassion and kindness to me and my other half. They clearly know from experience that there is nothing they can say to make it better so they simply provided support and comfort.

I carried our baby for 13 weeks and 1 day when our baby passed on 29th January 2019. Our baby lives on with all the other  babies born sleeping who were too precious for this world.

 

We have planted a tree in our garden which we hope to watch grow over the years as family does too. We are looking forward to whatever the future may bring us.

 

 

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