**Serious post alert to mark baby loss awareness week**
I'll be back to posting my usual happy positive things tomorrow, but this is an important day and I would like to share why.
It’s pretty well known by now that I suffered a miscarriage at 11 weeks, two and a half years after the birth of my son. I am not going to pretend that this loss is anything comparable to the loss of a full-term baby, stillborn, or a later loss of a child, but to me it is still very much the loss of a child, whose heart I once saw beating on a pregnancy scan.
Hands up if you think that a miscarriage under 12 weeks is no big deal, really – it’s common and is just something that often happens during the first trimester? It simply nature’s way of getting rid of something that wasn’t right for this world, a nice easy solution. I used to put my hand up to that…until it happened to me.
Despite the trauma, and long-lasting affects both mental and physical, from the birth of my first child, I desperately wanted another child. I have a sibling, as has my husband, and I simply couldn’t imagine my child growing up without another sibling. It just wasn’t the norm for me.
I got pregnant pretty quickly, and the familiar surge of joy, combined with a much greater surge of anxiety and trepidation, was experienced when I saw the line on the pregnancy test confirming the pregnancy. My first pregnancy, until 34 weeks, had been pretty straightforward, but I had had a number of bleeds early on, which were very stressful to deal with. Following my first birth experience, it was agreed that I would be able to have early pregnancy scans if I wanted them, and a c-section was agreed as the best plan forward. I was in contact with the medical team from the very early weeks due to my immense anxiety about anything birth related. My husband and I paid for a private scan, at about 6 weeks, and there we saw the little heartbeat for the first time. It’s the moment when the pregnancy test turns into something more real, into a being with an actual heartbeat, which is the foundation of life.
As soon as you are pregnant it is natural to get excited, which increases the further you get through the pregnancy. I thought of a name for a girl – Stephanie, or Steph or short. We chatted about how to arrange the house, what to do about work, finances and how to introduce the baby to Sam. So many hopes and dreams.
Around Christmas time I had a bleed and took a pregnancy test which came back negative. I quickly did another one, which came back positive. This was the first sign that something was wrong, and I knew something wasn’t right. I called the hospital and was told by the early pregnancy team to go to A & E if I was bleeding, and I was too soon for a scan. I tried to explain my special circumstances, and that I had been given permission for early scans if I needed reassurance, but all to no avail. The familiar panic of being “just a number”, with no-one listening to me, surged all the way through me. Eventually I contacted our local midwifery unit, who worked their magic and got me in for a scan a couple of days later.
On arrival at the scan we were told by the midwife that the scan would be through an internal probe. I had spent the best part of 18 months of my life with my legs akimbo undergoing excruciating examinations and operations, and I was immediately, terrifyingly, taken back to those moments, as I lay there on the bed with the probe inside me. I cried huge silent tears, willing the midwife to ask me why I was distressed, as I couldn’t bring myself to start the story. She didn’t take any notice, and continued briskly with her job. I managed to quietly ask if she could see anything, as we’d seen a heartbeat in an early scan, and she replied that there was something there but she would talk to me afterward.
When the scan was finished, I got dressed, still in tears, and went to sit next to my husband. The midwife sat at her desk, tapping away at her computer, and without even turning to look at us she said the fateful words “Well, you have either miscarried, or are in the process of miscarrying. Come back in a week and have another scan,. And if there is still something there we will have to operate to remove it”.
Just like that. No words of comfort. Not even a glance in our direction. Another scan done, another job ticked off, off you pop love. I was filled with utter terror at the prospect of another scan, and tried to tell her that I couldn’t do it, but the response was a terse “that’s the way it is here, you must come back next week”. My husband was just in shock I think.
Numbly, we left the room, and walked slowly out of the hospital. No baby. No nursery. ~No Stephanie. Just like that, boom. Gone. I think my husband was in more shock than I was, as I had an inkling that there was something wrong. I felt so terribly let down, so betrayed. Why did no-one seem to care? Why was no-one interested in my tears? Why didn’t she wonder why I was so immensely distressed? At that moment all my faith and trust in the maternity services, which had taken a severe battering already, disappeared. A little piece of my heart hardened, and I knew right then, that that was it for me. I was never, ever, ever going to put myself in this vulnerable position again. Of letting someone else be in charge of my body, and in charge of what was going to happen to me. I knew then that I would never, ever have that second, much wanted baby. I just couldn’t take it any more. I was done.
A week later, I was in having the operation to remove what was left of the baby. The Doctor who was performing the procedure was kind and gentle, and expressed her sorrow for my loss. It meant so much to me, a touch of human warmth during the darkest of days. I remember coming too after the operation and sobbing, telling the nurse that I couldn’t do it again, and she too was kind. She told me that the trauma of that terrible day would leave me, and that I would try again. It happens to lots of women she said. But I knew that was it for me and I was devastated.
In the ensuing years, I have had to comfort my crying child as he has wept that he is lonely, that he would love a sibling. Only recently I had to hold him as he sobbed that he wished I hadn’t lost the baby and that it wasn’t fair. Those moments never get any easier. It is deeply painful and remains raw. He is just being honest and I cannot judge him for that. It breaks my heart.
How have I managed to get over this? Well I suppose it helps that I have a super awesome son, who is kind, funny, clever and loving. I have an incredible husband, who supports me continuously in his strong, dependable way. I have a busy, full, active and happy life. I know my son is not lonely, I know he has a fantastic childhood, and I know that there was nothing more I could have done. It’s just how the cookie crumbles sometimes. I don't want sympathy, I just ask for understanding.
So please, don’t dismiss an early miscarriage as nothing. Please don’t say it doesn’t count “as the hospital don’t count it under 12 weeks”. Please don’t say it doesn’t matter. Please just understand, that a miscarriage can have huge, life long affects for so many people.
Just be kind. Always.