6 February

Today is the end of pregnancy and infant loss awareness week and I’ve decided to share my story because it has helped me to speak to others who have gone through similar experiences and to know that I’m not alone. If one person reading this is helped to feel the same way, then it has been worth telling. This is my story…

We were overjoyed at finding out I was pregnant for the first time. It wasn’t too hard to keep the tell-tale symptoms hidden as we were in lockdown. We couldn’t wait to tell our families the news but decided to keep it our little secret until we’d had a scan. I really tried not to get my hopes up but couldn’t help taking a sneak peek at nursery decorating ideas and baby names when my Husband wasn’t looking. After a few weeks we decided to book a private scan because under the NHS COVID-19 rules partners were not allowed to go to pregnancy scans and I didn’t want my Husband to miss out on the first time we’d see our baby. I never contemplated the other reasons I might need him with me and in hindsight it was the best decision we could have made.

I’ll never forget the moment I saw our baby for the first time, amazed at how much it already looked like a baby with tiny hands and feet. Then the realisation dawned on me that I couldn’t see the flicker I’d been told to expect. The crushing words “I’m sorry, there’s no heartbeat” echoed in my ears and from that moment on I felt like I was living in a nightmare. I’d never heard of ‘missed’ or ‘silent miscarriage’. The baby’s heartbeat had stopped two weeks before but my body hadn’t recognised it, or wanted to accept it, so it carried on displaying all the usual symptoms. We had no warning, no indication anything was wrong, no chance to prepare ourselves.

The staff at the clinic arranged an appointment for me at the EPAU at our local hospital to confirm the diagnosis. The next two days were excruciating, which I spent either crying or relentlessly researching medical journals online trying to find evidence the sonographer was wrong. A constant cycle of devastation and denial. We made the decision to tell our families what was happening. They didn’t even know we were trying so the shock and heartbreak on their faces over video calls was almost too much to handle. After a telephone consultation with a Gynaecologist for a second opinion, we had almost resigned ourselves to the outcome. I attended my second scan, alone this time as my Husband was made to wait in a side room, and I went in with a glimmer of hope left but the diagnosis was inevitably confirmed by a further two sonographers. It was over. After discussion with the nurses and doctors I opted for ‘medical management’ as my body still hadn’t recognised the loss which meant at least I could go home and be with my Husband whilst it happened. That night was the hardest night of my life but also strangely peaceful. No more waiting or uncertainty and my chance to say goodbye to the baby I’d never hold or see grow up.

I‘d read lots of accounts of what to expect from medical management and it really is a personal decision as to what you decide is right for you. Once I knew the diagnosis I wanted it to be over quickly so we could start to heal and I think being in control of a situation I never wanted to be in was also important to me. We had my favourite takeaway, put on my favourite film, lit candles and waited for the medication to take its course. The contraction-style cramps started about 2 hours later and intensified for around 4 hours until I passed the foetus. I felt a little pressure and the need to push before it easily slid out and I knew it was all over. The pain and bleeding subsided and I managed to get to sleep a few hours afterwards, shaky and exhausted. Whilst it was traumatic, I was relieved it happened quickly.

Afterwards I felt empty and numb for days. I started to seek support from those who had gone through similar experiences and I was shocked at how many people had. Most people we have told know someone who has experienced this and whilst this can be comforting it also dumbfounded me…. why does no-one talk about it? Why didn’t I know more about this? Why isn’t there more information out there?

The Miscarriage Association was an amazing source of information and comfort for me and yet miscarriage during a pandemic has many new considerations, some of which my story highlights. My heart breaks for women who find out their babies didn’t have a heartbeat while their partners wait anxiously outside in the car, trying to find the words to tell them the news afterwards whilst still in shock themselves. Having to weigh up whether you hug your Mum when you’ve never needed a hug more in your life, with the risk of potentially and unknowingly passing COVID-19 to them. My Husband and I have been working from home throughout this whole pandemic and having little contact with family and friends so we’ve felt particularly isolated. We’ve coped in different ways and I’ve reached out to a counselling service which my employer offers as a benefit and have found it to be hugely beneficial to talk to someone I don’t know and doesn’t judge me. The topic of miscarriage is more important now than ever; life must go on despite what is going on in the world.

I wish no one reading this will ever have to suffer an experience like mine, but unfortunately the facts are real and overwhelming. I want you to know that if you are also ‘1 in 4’ then you’re not alone ❤️

 

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