30 March

I’ll never forget that day, that day I found out I was pregnant. I couldn’t wait to tell my husband our happy news. He came home rambling away about work. I couldn’t concentrate, I just needed to tell him what I knew. So I told him to be quiet and announced I was pregnant. To say we were both shocked was an understatement, we had only tried twice. We were both overjoyed but had to contain our excitement and decided we wouldn’t tell anyone until 12 weeks.

The booking appointment came at 8 weeks and it was following this we decided to tell my mum and my managers at work. I couldn’t wait to share our happy news.

The days flew by, the morning sickness came and went, my boobs began to get bigger and I began to put on a slight bit of weight.

Then one morning I had had slight spotting, nothing major but still I thought I’d better get it checked out. The out of hours GP was very kind and reassured me. They booked me a scan for the following Tuesday and it was then that I began to get slightly excited we were going to see our baby. Obviously I was also apprehensive, but the literature I had read suggested this was normal and usually there was nothing to worry about.

Then the day arrived for the scan. My husband accompanied me and we waited patiently in the EPAU. The sister called us through and explained what the scan involved. Not for one minute did we expect what we would be told next.

We went into the scan room where I lay down and the sonographer placed the cold jelly and scope on my stomach. It felt like a lifetime before anyone spoke to me. The clock ticking loudly. I looked up and began to pray everything was ok. It was at the point when the sonographer asked if my dates were right that I knew something was wrong. There was no audible heartbeat from the monitor. It was then we were told she couldn’t find a heartbeat and that the baby had stopped growing around 8 weeks when I should have been 11.

My husband placed his arms around me, my eyes began to fill with tears. How could this be? I had done everything that the midwife had told me. I’d cut out the caffeine, took my vitamins, exercised, ate properly. I then began thinking – no it’s wrong, they must have it wrong. I remember apologising to my husband, “sorry I couldn’t keep our baby”.

We were then taken into another room and all the options were explained to us. Medical management, conservative management or surgical management. It was all a blur, I could hardly see through the tears. The sister gave me some information about the various types of miscarriage and explained I had had something called a missed miscarriage. I just thought a miscarriage was when when you visibly lost your pregnancy by bleeding. I had never heard of a missed or silent miscarriage. I suppose I was naive. A nurse who had never heard of a missed miscarriage!! Then again, why would I? I only knew about RTCs, AKIs or SAHs!!

I was given the option to either wait for nature to take its course, medical management or surgical management. How was I supposed to decide? All sounded horrendous and not something I had ever even thought about.

I decided I needed time to absorb all the information I had just been told. We left the EPAU feeling very different compared to when we had walked in. I held my husband and sobbed. Why us? I asked him to hide the miscarriage papers away, I didn’t want everyone knowing what had happened. He said “there’s nothing to be ashamed of, there’s no need to hide them”. He was right, looking back, but at the time I did feel ashamed. And horrified at the thought of what I was going to have to go through.

The next few days I wandered around in a daze, my eyes filled with tears from the moment I woke up until the time I went to sleep. Awake all hours, again wondering – why me, why us? The knowing that I had to make a decision on what to do over the next few days. The worrying about not being at work. The worrying about what management option to make. Do I just wait? The pregnancy had been there now for 4 weeks not growing, just lifeless inside me. It could be weeks before anything happens. Or do I opt for medical management? Medical management involves the insertion of pessaries down below to encourage the pregnancy to come away from the uterus. Or do I opt for the surgical option under GA and have a surgeon extricate the pregnancy. Minimal pain but the thought of having a GA terrified me. TBH it all terrified me. The horrific stories I’d heard about medical management or conservative management. None of it sounded pleasant. In some ways I wished I’d not had a choice and someone could make the decision for me.

A few days later I read through all the information and decided medical management would be the option I was going to choose. It had been nearly a week and conservative management could take weeks. I felt I needed to move on soon so we could plan our future again sooner rather than later. Whether that be waiting a few months before trying again, I just knew I needed to get back to some normality. We eventually told all the family about our news who were just as upset as we were. Our child never met, a grandchild never held, a niece or nephew never cuddled.

I rang the hospital and booked in for bloods and to do the consent forms. The following day I attended the hospital and met one of the lovely nurse practitioners on the female surgical ward. The care and compassion I had had so far was amazing from everyone. She went through all my options again and explained what would happen with medical management. I explained how frightened I was, how scared I was, how vulnerable I felt. She reassured me and explained I would be given pain relief and be offered help and support by the ward staff. Through the tears I signed the form. I still couldn’t believe this was happening, why me? Why us?

Then she produced another form, this one consisted of two things – one, consent to a micro analysis of the tissue to test for molar pregnancy, and two, what we wanted to happen to the tissue after it had passed. We consented to the tissue test in case of molar pregnancy. I hadn’t ever thought about what happened on the next part of the form. Cremation, burial or sensitive incineration. Again the tears began to flow. This was actually real, this was actually happening to us, but why? Still I asked her why? She couldn’t answer, still no one can answer.

We opted for the cremation option. Unfortunately because the baby would be so small at the time I miscarried they all go together and then are buried in a special place in the local burial ground. The nurse reassured us and informed us that the hospital would ring us the next day when the bed was ready. I was in for a long night, worrying about what would happen the following day.

The following day I woke early and got ready for what I knew would be a horrible day. I waited and waited for the phone to ring. It didn’t. I rang and checked I was still on the list to come in or had they forgotten about me? No, I was there, they were just waiting to clean the room. They hadn’t forgotten.

I went to the hospital with my husband where we were shown to the room where I was to have the management of my unborn baby. By this point I was emotionally scared for myself, what would happen? How would I feel? Would the nursing team be kind and caring towards me?

Initially we sat and waited a few hours before anyone came to me. There was no checking in process, the nurse introduced herself and asked if I was ready for my medication. How could I ever be ready? But I just felt like I needed to get it over with so I could then go home.

They came and gave me the pessary medication. Admittedly it was undignified – as much as they maintained my dignity I just felt embarrassed. They then told me I needed to lie flat and still on the bed for the medication to work, for at least an hour. So I did with my husband beside me comforting me.

For the next few hours we talked, listened to the football commentary and sometimes laughed. Blocking from our minds why we were actually there. Then it started, the contractual pain that the medication initiated in an attempt to expel our unborn baby. This took a while to come – about 4 hours after the medication had been given. I had already been informed everyone was different and that it could be over in an hour or six.

Despite the pain, still no bleeding. The next few hours were undoubtedly excruciating and looking back I should have had more than the paracetamol and ibuprofen which did not help at all. Of course I was prescribed something stronger but I felt like I needed to experience the pain for some reason.

Then it started, about 6 hours after the medication I started to bleed. This was it. Every time I went to the bathroom I was told to use the toilet liners so they could inspect and see if the baby had been born. I didn’t really know what to be looking for. I started to pass small clots over the next few hours. It was now well into the night and crossing over into the early hours of the following day. They wanted me to stay in over night so that they could continue to monitor and observe me and the clots that I was passing.

This was my first time ever staying over in a hospital bed. The mattress was an air type which continually made noises throughout the night. The clock was ticking and I could hear the nursing staff attending to people who needed them.

I continued to use the liners. Every time I couldn’t help myself but to look inside. Had I passed my baby? Then in one I noticed something that I hadn’t seen in the others. It looked possible I had now passed out what looked like my baby. I took it to the nurse who also agreed it may be it but would take it for a closer look. I went back into my room and told my husband that it looked like I had now completed the miscarriage. Then the nurse came back and said no, it wasn’t our baby, but the end of the pessary I had been given earlier in the day. I was confused but agreed with what she had told me. The next few hours continued in the same way, small clots but nothing unbearable now.

The following day I was seen by the lovely gynaecology doctor. I explained that they didn’t think I had yet passed the baby. She gave me two more options. First was to have the medication again and normally after this it works. Or have some surgical intervention and have it passed that way. I explained that I didn’t want a GA if possible and my anxious reason for this. I felt like I was not in control of the situation under GA. I felt sad that the first lot of medication had not worked. I felt tired and heartbroken that the whole experience had not ended. Again I cried. The doctor was lovely, she explained it was ok to feel how I did and went through everything with me and answered all my questions. I decided to have the treatment again. I prepared myself for the pain that I was about to endure for the second time.

It took another couple of hours before the nurse came to me and asked me again was I ready for my medication. Again I wasn’t exactly ready but knew the process needed to be completed. I was further embarrassed due to the fact that I was still bleeding and that they then had to insert more pessaries.

Again I had to lie there on the bed for another hour, still and on my back, waiting for the medication to work. Only this time over the hours I only had slight contractual pain which did not last long and was settled by paracetamol and ibuprofen. I had already decided in my mind that if the pain was like before I was having the stronger pain relief this time. Thank goodness that pain never came. Although I did now start to feel apprehensive that the second lot of medication had not worked. I didn’t pass any further clots. It was looking like I needed surgical intervention. Something I was dreading. I spoke to the nurses over the course of the day who told me to stay in hospital and they would call the doctor to see what they wanted to do. The doctor soon came and said that I should have a scan in the morning and see what that showed, and then possibly surgery.

My husband had gone home by this point as we clearly both needed some rest. I spoke to the nursing team about other things over the course of the night, general chit chat which settled my anxiety.

I went to bed thinking about what would happen the following day. Would I need the surgery I had for some reason been dreading?

After a disrupted sleep throughout the second night of my stay in hospital I woke early. I asked if I could go for a walk. I wasn’t used to sitting still all day. I had a quick wander outside for the first time in 2 days. The fresh air was wonderful and because it was so early there was hardly anyone around. In a few hours the quiet corridors would soon be filled with the hustle and bustle of a busy Monday. I ventured back to the ward following some back pain and had breakfast. Cold hard toast, but I wasn’t about to complain. The treatment I had so far received had been beyond excellent.

I had my painkillers then got back on the bed for an hour I was exhausted. Mentally and physically. I checked with the student nurse when my scan would be and she informed me “Mel” would try and fit me in before 11:30. She did and came to about an hr after and took me into the scan room. Now, by this point I was feeling apprehensive about what they were going to find.

Once again I had the cold jelly and the scan probe placed over my stomach, only this time they were checking my baby had gone and not that it was there. I was actually shaking for some reason, worry probably, at the thought I was going to have to go through an operation. They then explained that it appeared as though it had gone and that all they could see was haemorrhaging which was normal. I went back to my room and the emotions and feelings I felt at this point were immense.

There I was alone just thinking and I couldn’t help but think this – that my baby had been disposed of in the macerator. I was distraught and couldn’t get this thought out of my head. At first, just for a moment, I was angry with the staff – how had they not noticed I had passed it? I gave them everything, which in itself was embarrassing every time I went to the toilet having to pass them the liner afterwards.

How could it be they had missed it? How could this be happening to me? After everything I had already been through. Some strange part of me wished I’d needed the op so that they could retrieve our baby’s remains and cremate them as we had wished. Instead they had ended up in the sewage system.

My husband arrived, I greeted him sobbing, uncontrollably sobbing. I said I had been told I could go home so gathered my things and asked him to check with the sister that I could go. Both the sister and “Mel” the nurse practitioner came to see us before we went. I explained my feelings about the whole situation and again broke down sobbing. They were so kind. They reassured me that it was ok to feel the way I did and said they would speak with the nurses about what had happened. I wasn’t mad with them though. They obviously thought I just hadn’t passed our baby. The nurses reassured me and said if I needed anything then I was to give them a call. They would follow up with me in a few days to see how I was.

Currently I felt empty inside, I couldn’t stop crying. Thinking about what could have been our baby’s future. Again thinking why us, what have we done to make this happen? Although I knew it was nothing I had done, you continually ask yourself why.

When I got home I have never felt how I did before. I just didn’t want to be there. Somehow the hospital had created such a safe environment for me, I felt I needed to be back there, although I knew this was not the right thing. The feeling I had about being apprehensive, terrified and vulnerable before going in there had dissolved and I had actually felt the opposite. Safe and comforted by what was a wonderful group of nursing staff. They were all so kind, caring and empathetic. I couldn’t have asked for anything more. How they made such an horrific experience into a bearable one. Nothing was too much trouble. I was treated with dignity and respect along with kindness, care and compassion. The communication skills that each and everyone one of them had was impeccable. I have since listened and watched some supportive videos on the Miscarriage Association website, and unfortunately some women have not had the care and compassion that I received. My baby was never referred to as a “product” or a “material”, just a “baby”. Which is what it was to me.

I continue to sob over the course of the day, then all I want to do is sleep and wake up when all of this is forgotten. The only thing is it will never be forgotten. Over time I’m sure it will get easier, but it will never be forgotten.

It feels strange that I can be so sad over someone I have never met or got to know but somehow it is the one thing I have felt the closest to. I’m sure one day we will meet again and I will get to know our baby that we never had or got to see or hold. I don’t even have a scan photo of him or her. For now I just sit and wonder what they would have been like and how they would have looked.
I come into the room where I had it all planned out in my mind of how it would look. Where they would sleep and grow up and feel safe. For now it will remain the same until we get the chance to try again, hoping and praying that we never have to experience what we have over the last few days.

I have surprised myself by how much I need to grieve for our baby that we never knew. That empty feeling inside. I just find myself sitting there then bursting into tears. I hope this won’t go on forever. I’m finding it hard to complete tasks. My desk I started to clear this morning still has everything all over another table where I emptied it. The plants I brought ready to pot still sit in their trays. The house is a mess. The garden a mess. The dog needs walking. I also need to eat but don’t feel hungry. I thought about doing my favourite thing and going for a run, but even that feels like too much effort. I’ve thought about calling my friends but I just can’t bear to engage in normal conversation.

I know I won’t feel like this forever. I’m hoping I won’t feel like this forever.

My husband has been my rock throughout all of this. I can’t imagine how people go through it alone. Just listening to my cries or thoughts has really helped me through an unbearable situation. I know one day I’ll feel better and we will have the family we always wanted. But I will also always remember the child we never got to see or know. Now high in the sky. It will always be loved and thought about in our hearts and minds. Now they can run free and hope previous family we have lost will look after them until one day we can meet again.

 

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