I have been wanting to write this post for a while now. Really since someone close to us also suffered a miscarriage. Today seems like a fitting day as it is exactly one year since we received that awful news.
Miscarriages occur in approximately 1-in-4 pregnancies. That’s a lot but most people won’t know the numbers are that high. But when it happens to you, you’re left feeling very much alone. Miscarriage is not discussed as much as it should be, probably due to the sensitivity of the subject but that leaves it with a stigma. As a woman who has been through it you feel so many things and many of which (such as loss and anger) are understandable and perfectly natural. But I also felt a sense of guilt, responsibility and isolation that I think could be reduced if miscarriage was more of an open topic. So here I am, talking about our miscarriage.
As you may know from previous posts we conceived twins on our first attempt at IVF. We were scheduled to attend our fertility clinic for an 8 week scan on the 13th April last year. We were both very nervous but excited to find out if everything was ok – if they could see a little heartbeat on the screen.
In the early hours of that morning I woke up with pain in the right side of my lower abdomen. I had been suffering with mild ovarian hyper stimulation so was used to being uncomfortable and bloated but this was very different. The pain gradually got worse so we called 112 for advice and after a couple of phone calls back and forth were advised to go to A&E.
We arrived at around 3am and were seen very quickly initially although were then left in a room on our own whilst the triage nurse went off to get advice and work out where to send me. The pain was still increasing and I was starting to feel nauseous and feverish.
I was wheeled up to the gynocology ward and I don’t remember a huge amount of the next few hours other than writhing around in pain waiting to see a Doctor. Eventually I had an examination and was pleased to hear that my cervix was still closed. I was given liquid painkillers which I rapidly vomited up so a morphine injection was administered. Eventually this took hold and I became more comfortable.
Around 9am I was wheeled up to the Early Pregnancy Unit for a scan. To our delight this showed two babies, both with heart beats! We were advised that one of the twins looked a good size, whereas the other was a bit on the small size and they thought it was 50/50 as to whether he or she would continue to develop. We were made an appointment for 2 weeks time to return so they could check the progress of the smaller twin. We went home late morning, tired, anxious but happy.
All went well for the next 10 days. My nausea and tiredness were irritating but as most expectant mums will agree, worth it for the end result!
On Saturday 23rd April I woke up and instantly felt ‘different’. I couldn’t put my finger on exactly how I felt or what had changed but I pushed it to the back of my mind, convincing myself that it was nothing.
On Wednesday 27th April we returned to the Early Pregnancy Unit for another scan. Neither of us had slept well the night before for a mix of nerves and excitement. I was just a couple of days short of 10 weeks pregnant.
There I was on the bed, with Andy holding my hand beside me and dildocam firmly inserted when I heard the words that I will never forget:
“I’m afraid I have some terrible news for you”.
There were no heart beats. I just lay there silently, unsure what to feel. A second sonographer came in to confirm the news and I felt like my whole world imploded. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. After everything we had gone through to get pregnant in the first place, to hear those words was soul destroying.
I felt numb initially and then the despair kicked in. I cried my way out of the hospital and into the car and most of the way home. Once we got home the tears came harder and faster for a while before eventually becoming more sporadic and less long lasting.
We both cancelled any commitments for the rest of the week and stayed at home, just the two of us in our little bubble, trying to deal with what had happened. I didn’t get dressed properly for at least 3 days. I barely moved from the sofa and survived on Doritos and cereal initially until my appetite came back and takeaways became the food of choice. I had no will power to do anything. Not to cook, not to go out and not to see or speak to anyone. I just closed myself off from everything and everyone.
As happens with loss, the despair turned to anger. Why us? Hadn’t we suffered enough? I’m sad to say that in my anger I destroyed the physical 8 week scan photos we had of our babies. I so desperately wish I hadn’t now. I still have the photos (above) I had excitedly taken of them to send to my mum and sister, but the actual print outs are long gone.
The guilt also kicked in, just after the anger I think. What had I done wrong? Did I work too hard? Did I eat something wrong? Did I not take my progesterone medication correctly? Should I have started eating dairy again to help with calcium for the babies?
Amongst this pain and heartache I had to make the choice of how to proceed. I was given options at the hospital but was in too much of a state to make a decision. I could either wait for things to happen naturally (which I was told could be weeks because it seems the larger baby had kept growing up until just a few days earlier); take medication which would effectively start things off (I hear this can be pretty painful and traumatic), or go in for a day patient procedure under general anaesthetic to have all ‘pregnancy tissue’ removed.
I chose the third option. To me it seemed the most bearable. I wanted to go in, get it out, not see a thing or have any pain and get on with our lives. I feel that it was the right option for me. We did have to wait a week for an available time, but we were treated well and the procedure was successful with no subsequent pain and limited bleeding. I would definitely do this again if ever in the same situation. I hope not to have to make that choice again.
As the days and weeks have passed the pain fades but there will always be a little bit of me which will be sad every now and again when I think of those babies we lost. I have accepted that this has happened and that I did nothing wrong. I find some kind of comfort in the knowledge that these babies were not strong enough for this world. Most unexplained miscarriages are due to chromosomal abnormalities. Even had they been born they would possibly have had illnesses or disabilities. And I couldn’t selfishly wish for them to be here if they were suffering.
Whenever I hear of someone expecting – especially twins, or when I hear of another miscarriage, it makes my heart ache. But I can now talk about it openly and without becoming teary. That’s what I’m doing and would encourage all women who have lost a baby to do. It helps to know you’re not alone. To know that this happens all the time and it’s nothing you did wrong. To know that there are no answers as to why it happened. To know that it’s simply bad luck, as hard as that may be to accept at the time.