I can’t quite get my head around the fact that I’m STILL going through this Miscarriage. I never would have imagined it would be such a long process, drawn out process. Ok, for some, it is quite a shockingly quick and robust experience – but for others, it is marred with several medical intervention attempts and a hell of a lot of limbo.
As I’m currently going through this heartbreak – many other women, couples, families are also going through it too. Around the world. As I’ve mentioned many times, 1 in 4 of us will go through it at some point. 1 in 4 of you have been there. You know the physical pain, the emotional pain. So, I wanted to write a blog post dedicated to you, as today marks the beginning of Baby Loss Awareness Week 2017; which is held annually, globally, to remember those very tiny lives lost in pregnancy and soon after birth. The week will culminate with a Wave of Light on Sunday (15th October) at 7pm. See further details below.
Firstly, thank you. I’m not sure how else to say it – but thank you for all the kindness. It’s overwhelmed me and I’ll never forget it.
Secondly, I’ve shared so much of my journey; I’m an over-sharer by nature. But mostly, apart from this whole process being cathartic for me, I also wanted to share because thats how we learn. We learn from others’ experiences. What I found, was that Pregnancy & Baby Loss was exceptionally untalked about. It’s seen as taboo and very private – is that a British thing, or is that the situation worldwide? In general, I’m ridiculously British about things – I’m pretty naive, I’m pretty prudish. I get bashful at the mention of S-E-X. But THIS, this, I NEED to talk about. I also need you to talk out too. Let’s get together to break the silence of miscarriage & baby loss during this, Baby Loss Awareness Month.
I’d like to propose that my blog serves as a platform for you to be able to share with me. If your experience has proven too difficult to talk about openly, I am more than happy to publish stories anonymously. Whatever works for you – just PLEASE talk. Though I’m not known for being concise, this doesn’t have to be lengthy – just a few words from the heart to help yourself and others heal. It serves as such comfort and support – whilst also being therapeutic for yourself. Personally? I have found true solace in these online realms. I can’t be the only one?!
Losing a baby at any stage of pregnancy is a devastating experience. It is hard to believe that in this day and age, up to one in four women will lose a baby during pregnancy or birth.
Tommy’s exists to change the unacceptable statistics connected to baby loss.
Thanks to the support of our incredible community, our research has lead to a reduced stillbirth rate of 22% in Greater Manchester between 2010 and 2014 and a 23% reduction in premature births in high risk women attending our London clinic during 2014-15.
Stories of good care
During Babyloss Awareness Week this year, the 40 participating charities and groups are calling for improved care following the loss of a baby during pregnancy, or during or shortly after birth.
As part of this campaign, we are asking people to share their experiences of good care they have received, perhaps from a midwife, sonographer, friend or colleague. If you would like to get involved, please email a story of less than 150 words to email@example.com, copying us in on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wave of light this Sunday
Last year we made a special video slideshow using hundreds of candles that lit up our Facebook page in memory of babies lost far too soon. If you’d like yours included this year, please add a note ‘For the video’ when you upload a picture.
While Baby Loss Awareness Week can be a special time of remembering and speaking about loss, we understand that it can also evoke painful memories. If you need to talk, please feel free to call our helpline on on 01924 200 799 (Monday – Friday, 9 a.m – 4 p.m) or see our website for other ways we offer support.
After lack of bleeding from my Medical Management, we went into the scan on Monday 2nd October kind-of hopeful. We had the Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, Dr Anita-Rao, along with our Sonography staff. Dr Anita-Rao had all my (many) previous scans in front of her, I knew by the movements of the scanner and her face that it wasn’t good news…
She put the probe down and moved the screen towards us. The sodding sac was STILL there. But it gets worse… not only was it STILL there, but it had GROWN. The empty sac had increased. I couldn’t believe it. I’d lost so much tissue and blood during my Medical Management, so how could this have happened? It was all kinds of insane. I went into that bubble of your own, where you can hear the sounds of conversation – but can’t make out the words. According to James, the Consultant explained that the hormones given during the Medical Management had encouraged an increase in amniotic fluid – thus enabling the sac to grow/fill with fluid. She showed us a heat map, indicating no blood flow, no heart beat, no life. By this point I would have been 16 weeks pregnant – the sac had increased in size from 7 weeks and 1 day (at the 12 week scan) to measuring 8 weeks. Dr Anita-Rao advised the only way to go forward with this now was Surgery. The dreaded (ERPC or ERPoC, which stands for Evacuation of Retained Products of Conception. You might hear it called it a D & C too) which is under anaesthetic.
Dr Anita-Rao then said “Ok Claire, let’s get you sat next door and make you a bit more comfortable”. To which I jumped off the bed and shouted “WHAAAAAAAT!”. As I was in my little bubble, I didn’t catch what the conversation actually was, and I thought they were going to take me off to theatre, there and then. Obviously, my first thoughts were – “My darling Eli! – he’s at school – I need to see him”.
What they actually meant was, they wanted to go back to the Quiet Room to discuss the procedure/dates/times.
Midwife Amelia came back to us, once again – so wonderfully compassionate and with genuine empathy. We discussed the Surgical Management of Miscarriage and she handed me the instructions for patients ahead of General Anaesthetic. I was booked in for the morning surgery on Wednesday 4th October – therefore, had to be at Broomfield Hospital for 7:30am (being Nil By Mouth from 2:30am).
LOOK AT THIS LIST.
My favourite thing on this list? The SILVER LINING in this whole experience…. take a look at number 5: 5) I will undertake to refrain from the following activities for at least 48 hours after the anaesthetic (please note that depending on the nature of the surgery this period may be longer);
Not to drive a car, motorbike or bicycle
Operate machinery or cook
Engage in any sporting activities
Return to work
Drink alcohol or take drugs, other than those prescribed
Sign any legally binding documents
YAAAAAAS to no driving, cooking (and cleaning) or signing of legal documents. Though, this did implicate James working – thankfully he works for a very understanding company. We don’t have any family down here, so we’re reliant upon eachother in times of need – and our friends help out around us as best as we can all manage.
So that was that. We had all our questions and concerns answered by Midwife Amelia and given well wishes for the future. I also had to not apply any perfumes and wash with this ^ Octenisan – in aid of protecting against MRSA.
Wednesday 4th October A301 – Theatre & Day Surgery – Broomfield Hospital
Upon arrival at 7:30am, we were in a large waiting area of A301. My name, along with around 30 other names, was called and we were escorted by the Pre-Anaesthetic team to ‘Recovery 2’ ward, waiting area. There were separate waiting area’s for Males & Females (adult surgery, only), the signs said this was in line with ‘protecting dignity’.
We were both acknowledged as being there – despite me being the patient. Which I thought was really kind of the staff. We both sat on a green chair each – all freshly cleaned (with green warning stickers to say so). I reclined the chair and waited for my first set of assessments.
We weren’t waiting long before I was ushered off to a side cubical and given details of who I would speak to and having my ob’s taken. After a bit of back and forth between waiting areas (and a lot of apologies and friendly chatter), I was sat down finally in another cubicle and awaited a chat with my Anaesthetist. Dr John finally came along – he had a familiar face – a bit like that of Actor James Redmond. I talked through how petrified I was of ‘being put to sleep’. He talked through the process, reassured me no-end and I felt so much better about the entire situation. I signed some forms and he said he’d see me again, just before theatre.
I then awaited a chat with my surgeon, Dr Mistry. Dr Mistry, again settled my nerves about the actual procedure. We talked about the fact I was left in quite a state after an Episiotomy gone very wrong, following the birth of Eli (which left me with early-caught-Sepsis and a very damaged undercarriage that was left to heal ‘on it’s own’ for neigh on 2 years). (Yep, not had a lot of luck on my side to be honest!)
I was then told that I was at the bottom of the list for the morning surgery. My last meal was at 9pm the night before (having only had a bit of water when I got up at 5:30am). By this time it was 10:30am and I was SO THIRSTY! I drink a lot of water, every day – more out of habit than anything else! But it was driving me crazy not being able to even wet my mouth.
I was given lots of updates and eventually told at 11:45am that I was ‘next’.
12:15 arrived and a lovely lady came with all my notes to take me to theatre. James and I said our “I love you’s” and off I went. I know it was a straight forward procedure, I know it wasn’t complicated, but the fact I was being put under anaesthetic, as a MOTHER, petrified me. You just don’t know how your body will react to things like anaesthesia. What if I didn’t wake up again? That was my big fear. Not the pain or discomfort. The FEAR of being put to sleep.
I thought I’d be taken down to the theatre on a bed, but instead, I had to walk there. It was a short walk. But I balled my eyes out the entire way. The nurse who took me along was brilliant – she wrapped her arms around me tightly and told me that she knew it was scary, but it would be fine. I needed her comfort. We walked into a room marked, Theatre 18. Once inside, she explained that this was the Pre-Anaesthetic room, where I would be put to sleep – once under, I’d then be taken through to the actual theatre. She took off my sliders and undid the back of my hospital gown and helped me up onto the surgical bed.
She stayed with me for a little while – then the Anaesthetic room began filling with medical staff. I looked around at the mass of machines and equipment. I could see the theatre ahead of me, through some double doors. A few members of the surgical team went through the doors – the light above now highlighted ‘IN USE’. I closed my eyes each time someone went through the doors. I didn’t want to ‘go to sleep’ to the view of the theatre. It was insanely bright and white. And frankly, it scared me. Maybe I’ve seen too many hospital programmes!
My lovely nurse then said her goodbye’s and passed me over to Julia. Who prepped me with chest electrodes, a blood pressure band & finger monitor and tucked me up under a blanket. She gave me tissues and stroked my hair. I was trying my hardest to be strong. But my god, it’s so hard when people are just so bloody lovely and all you’re talking about is your wonderful family.
Dr John prepped my arm for the cannula, as we talked about our trips to Cornwall. Everyone chirping in about their own experiences – so laid back! There were around 6-8 staff in this tiny, dim-lit surgical room by this point. My surgeon arrived with another doctor. All smiles.
Dr John administered the cannula (OUCH) to my left arm; and washed my vein out with saline. I remembered that cold feeling running down my arm, from when I had the drip during labour with Eli. The chatter was constant – this time turning to accents and how we’d managed to ‘end up’ in Essex. I could feel another fluid going down my arm and began fighting to keep my eyes open – focussing my attention on that ‘IN USE’ sign above the theatre doors – for I knew when that was out of focus, I’d be gone. I asked “have you given any anaesthetic yet, because I feel a bit weird?”. I then remember thinking, ‘they’re all chatting away to me so they can tell when I’m asleep – so I’m going to keep on chatting, so they can’t trick me’. It must have been Pre-Surgery logic… or something.
The last words I heard were “It’s now going to feel like I’ve just given you a few large Gin & Tonic’s, ok?”. I remember nodding and feeling really cosy… and that was it. Out like a light.
Fast forward to 1:30pm and I was on the first Recovery ward. My waking words were repeatedly “I love the NHS” and “Save the NHS” and “compliments to the staff”. YAAAAAAAS to #SAVETHENHS. The nurse who was looking after me told me to stop being apologetic (!!!) and that I was fine and everything went as it should have. She then asked for my consent to check the pad that I’d woken up with. I was bleeding a normal amount – phew. She then told me it had taken a little while for me to come round. I was surprised, shocked… and then felt so incredibly sick. She grabbed one of those egg-cup dishes and kept checking my blood pressure. It was slightly high. My temp was 37.8. I felt so, so sick and dizzy. But just so relieved to be awake! She said they’d already given me painkillers and anti-sickness medication – then she administered a little more anti-sickness medication for me. I then began feeling a lot better. Soon after, my stat’s began to normalise. In the time that I was settling down, I saw 3 patients transferred to the recovery ward post-surgery. It was so interesting to see. The quality of care was just incredible. The teamwork, the processes and attention to detail was above and beyond.
By 2:30 my nurse was happy to have me transferred back to the Pre-Anaesthetic ward, where James would be called to come and find me – I can’t remember her name, sadly. I wish I could. I was wheeled back to the ward in my post-surgery bed, feeling ridiculously happy? Not sure if this was a side-effect of the anaesthetic or if it was pure relief and the joy of feeling proud of oneself.
I played an ill-timed joke on James before he arrived on the ward – of which, he’s still pretty annoyed with me about – so I won’t go into it. Hah. But here I am, about 90 mins post-surgery. I had to be linked up to oxygen for a little while after as my level’s hadn’t settled.
But man-oh-man, that first water since 5am was SO GOOD. I drank a litre in a matter of minutes. It must have been about 3/3:30 by this time and I was told I could eat! SO EXCITED. I had a cup of tea and toast on their way. I don’t think ANYTHING will ever beat that tea & toast you have after childbirth – but this one, was pretty damn close!
James spread the butter and marmite while I supped on that lovely, perfect, cuppa! Oh it was so good. I had little pain/cramping. Nothing major – and like I say, I felt pretty bright in myself. I just couldn’t wait to get home to my boy.
I had a few after-care instructions to go over with the Senior Staff Nurse on the ward and would then be discharged. I signed a form to allow the Pregnancy Products to be disposed of, after investigation. I was given all the warning signs and symptom’s to look out for post-surgery – and told to expect bleeding for around 7-10 days.
Now then – I got home expecting to be filling pad’s and pad’s with blood. But again – I’ve had nothing. No idea if this is good or bad – but Dr Google tells me that this can be pretty normal. Infact, bleeding can sometimes begin a few days post-surgery, resulting in heavy bleeding with clots and a lot of pain. So with this in mind, I’ve sadly had to cancel my @LuckyThingsBlog night out tomorrow evening in aid of stayed rested. I just can’t run any additional risk of infection at this point.
So here we are today, Friday 6th – 2 days post operation. I feel ok in myself, still. I woke several times in the night with bad cramps – but after a few painkillers and a bit of To Kill A Mockingbird, I could cope and go back off to sleep. I feel generally achy (hips & back, must be from the procedure positioning) and my pretty bruised – I also have a massive ulcer in my mouth, from where the breathing tube went down my throat.
I have moments of sadness and waves of positivity. I’m mostly sleeping. Not really got a major appetite – though, as usual, I can drink my weight in water. So that’s fine. I’m not allowed to have a bath / stay in the shower for too long (again, risking infection due to open cervix) and I’ve got to keep those dashing surgical stockings pulled up to my knee’s (which is also fine, considering the cold snap – I have pleasantly toasty legs!).
I’ve been sent the most amazing Get Well flowers, plants, cards & chocolate. But mostly? I’m overwhelmed by the kindness I’ve seen in messages and comments – from friends and strangers alike. I appreciate every single one.
This has, so far, been my Miscarriage journey. Whilst I wouldn’t wish this experience on even my worst enemy, I do hope that in sharing my experiences, I have helped someone else. Just one person. This has been a truly cathartic process – and necessary for me. For me to heal and come to terms with things. It’s not for everyone – but if you feel the need to share, then please, please do. Miscarriage is such a common heartbreak that can happen to anyone. 1 in 4 of us – maybe even 1 in 3 of us. But we’re not just statistics – remember that. Sharing your story can make such a difference – not just to others who are going through the same horrendous journey, but also to those charities such as Tommy’s and The Miscarriage Association – that, as I’ve said before, support crucial research into Pregnancy Loss – something that would not be possible without YOUR stories too.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all your kindness, guidance, advice, laughs and positivity. I’m not entirely sure what kind of awful position I would be in if I didn’t have the support of my friends and family both offline AND online. It’s meant the world to me – to us, as a family.
As before – it’s good to talk about things. So please do keep getting in touch and sharing your experiences. It’s the only way we’ll learn.
I thought another ‘update’ was due from me & my miscarriage journey as quite a few things have happened since my last post >> Miscarriage & Me // An Update, (posted on 14th September). I’m sharing my experience because:-
1) It’s been cathartic for me to write everything down and actually go over what’s happened, as some days are a bit of a blur – especially with all that hospital jargon.
2) The only way to learn is from others’ sharing their own experiences – I had absolutely no idea how common Miscarriage was/is. It’s only through sharing that I now know so much more and understand so much more. It’s also been of great support for me (and I’m told by others – which has overwhelmed me like you’d never know). By allowing people in and allowing them to also share in their journey has kept me going.
3) Charities such as Tommy’s rely on people sharing their own story, to aid their crucial research into Pregnancy Loss.
This could be lengthy as I get up to date – but as I say, typing it out helps me to move along and have a bit of a ‘brain dump’, as it were.
19th September Re-scan // Broomfield Early Pregnancy Unit
The re-scan was done in EPU this time. Despite bleeding lightly, pretty constantly, since 27th August, I was quite shocked to hear that my scan was looking no different to the scan I’d had two weeks previous (the 12 week scan).
As the empty sac still measured at just 7 weeks, and by dates, I was now 14 weeks, the midwives advised that we need to now take some further action as it looks like my body (ridiculously cruelly) still thinks it’s pregnant and that sac ain’t shiftin’.
We were then lead to that dreaded ‘Quiet Room’ once again; where Midwife, Amelia, came to discuss my options once again. There was absolutely no pressure, but she did remind me that as things weren’t ticking over naturally and had been stationary for longer than expected – therefore leaving me open to potential infection. Ugh.
We talked things through – I was then booked in for ‘Medical Management’ Part One for Friday 22nd September; followed by Part Two on Sunday 24th September.
(Here is some explanation on Medical Management of Miscarriage – including some of that lovely hospital jargon, simplified. Scroll on to continue with my ‘story’).
What is Medical Management of Miscarriage?
“You may choose to have medication to remove the tissue if you don’t want to wait. This involves taking tablets that cause the cervix to open, allowing the tissue to pass out.
In most cases, you’ll be offered tablets called pessaries that are inserted directly into your vagina, where they dissolve. However, tablets that you swallow may be available if you prefer. A medication called Mifepristone is sometimes used first, followed 48 hours later by a medication called Misoprostol.
The effects of Misoprostol tablets usually begin within a few hours. You’ll experience symptoms similar to a heavy period, such as cramping and heavy vaginal bleeding. You may also experience vaginal bleeding for up to three weeks.
In most units, you’ll be sent home for the miscarriage to complete. This is safe, but ring your hospital if the bleeding becomes very heavy.
You should be advised to take a home pregnancy test three weeks after taking this medication. If the pregnancy test shows you’re still pregnant, you may need to have further tests to make sure you don’t have a molar pregnancy or an ectopic pregnancy.
You may be advised to contact your healthcare professional to discuss your options if bleeding hasn’t started within 24 hours of taking the medication.”
Medical management involves a single visit to the hospital. During this time, you will have pessaries (tablets) inserted inside your vagina, or you may be given the tablets orally if you are having vaginal bleeding. These work by making your womb contract and push out the pregnancy tissue. You may need more than one treatment with pessaries or oral tablets before the miscarriage happens. You may choose to stay in the hospital or go home following the administration of medication. If you prefer you may take the tablets home and take them yourself at home. Bleeding may continue for up to 3 weeks after treatment.
Does it hurt?
Once the miscarriage starts, most women have quite strong period-like pain and cramps and some find the process very painful, especially as the pregnancy tissue is expelled. This is because the womb is contracting and pushing (imagine tightly clenching and then relaxing your fist a few times) rather like the contractions of labour. You are also likely to have heavy bleeding and pass blood clots. You may see the pregnancy sac and it may be larger than you expect. You might see an intact fetus, which may look like a tiny baby, especially if you are miscarrying after 10 weeks. You may take Paracetamol or Co-codamol for pain relief, but you should not take Aspirin or Ibuprofen as they may make the treatment less effective.
Some women react to the medication with nausea and/or diarrhoea.
Are there any risks?
The risk of infection after medical management is low, at around 1 in 100. Signs of infection are a raised temperature and flu-like symptoms, a vaginal discharge that looks or smells offensive and/or abdominal pain that gets worse rather than better. Treatment is with antibiotics. In some cases you may be advised to have an ERPC. You will probably also be advised to use pads rather than tampons for the bleeding and not to have sexual intercourse until the bleeding has stopped.
There is a small risk of haemorrhage; a recent study reported that 1 in 100 women had bleeding severe enough to need a blood transfusion. If you have very heavy bleeding or severe pain and/or feel unwell, or if you just find it hard to manage, you may ring your Early Pregnancy Unit for advice, 111 or 999 if necessary.
Medical management is effective in approximately 80 to 90% of cases. Where it is not, women may be advised to have surgical management – an ERPC.
What are the benefits of medical management?
The main benefit is in avoiding an operation and general anaesthetic. Some women prefer to be fully aware of the process of miscarriage and may want to see the pregnancy tissue and perhaps the foetus. Some women feel this helps them say goodbye.
Some women see medical management as a more natural process rather than having an operation, but more manageable than waiting for nature to take its course. It may be helpful to know that if the treatment doesn’t work, you may be able to opt for ERPC.
Some women find the process painful and frightening, though good information about what to expect can help. Some women are anxious as to how they might cope with the pain and bleeding, especially if they are not in hospital at the time. Some fear seeing the fetus. Bleeding can continue for up to three weeks after the treatment and women may have to have several follow-up scans to monitor progress. This can be upsetting. Some women will end up having an ERPC as well as medical treatment.
I was given the usual consent forms ahead of being handed the Mifepristone along with anti-sickness tablets. I then had an hour to rest and had the typical stat’s taken before/after. All was fine and I was sent home. I had no pain, no nausea and more importantly, no bleeding in the 48 hours ahead of Part Two.
Although I was willing for SOMETHING to happen, nothing did. We went for lunch with my parents (who had visited for the weekend); and we even had a child-free trip to the CINEMA! (FINALLY saw Dunkirk, which is just the most incredible slice of cinema I’ve seen, ever, I think). The distractions didn’t offer up anything.
So we went back to the hospital bright and early on Sunday morning. I was mega nervous. I had a nervous tummy, sweaty palms and little-to-no conversation in me.
Sunday 24th September Gosfield Ward – Early Pregnancy Unit – Broomfield Hospital
The ward was pretty silent when we arrived at just before 10am. Eerily so. No sooner had we arrived before I was changing into a hospital gown and laid on the bed in my private room. I was given more information about the procedure and had my stats taken. After the birth of Eli, I was admitted to hospital for a week to treat near-death early-caught-Sepsis. The experience left me with ‘White Coat Syndrome‘ – of which I have to explain to EVERY caregiver who has the joy of taking my blood pressure – “White coathypertension, more commonly known as white coat syndrome, is a phenomenon in which patients exhibit a blood pressure level above the normal range, in a clinical setting, though they don’t exhibit it in other settings. It is believed that the phenomenon is due to anxiety that those afflicted experience during a clinic visit”. I have to say, I do feel for these poor individuals – I’m not the easiest patient to deal with!
By 11am I had ordered my lunch (from a pretty extensive and surprisingly appetising hospital menu!) and was awaiting the doctor to come with my medication to kick-start the ‘induction’, so to speak. I weirdly felt quite relaxed… I think it felt like there was finally light at the end of the tunnel. Maybe I was riding on nerves and adrenaline/anticipation.
The pessaries were inserted (all 4). Yes it was uncomfortable – and slightly painful – but it takes just a few minutes. So its completely bearable. I would then have to lay flat for an hour – hour & half. Within 10 minutes the bleeding started. It suddenly became very, very heavy. We called for a Nurse (Lucy), who got me up out of bed and took me into my private en-suite.
I was then given the ‘pan’ of which I would need to collect all tissue – which would then be taken for assessment. I’m sure all will agree that dignity is something very foreign when enduring anything child-baring related. This wonderful Midwife sorted me out at my most vulnerable – in the most caring and gentle way. She made no fuss and made me feel at ease; whilst giving me a ‘wet wipe’ bath to remove the blood stains from my legs and back. Sorry if this is a totally grim read – but I want to be honest. There’s no shame in any of this – and sadly, it’s just the way it is. This is the process. I won’t go into the whole NHS funding/Nurses wages thing – but my god, these wonderful, wonderful humans – they deserve the world. The things they must see, on a daily basis. I can’t even comprehend. What incredibly skilled and insanely caring people. Unbelievable. #SAVETHENHS
I spent my time back and forth from the bed to the en-suite for the next hour, when we managed to get the bleeding under some control and I could rest on the bed with maternity pads/bed pads. My lunch arrived – and I was ravenous. James went to the Hospital M&S to grab himself some lunch and for a bit of a breather too, I imagine. It’s all pretty gruesome and definitely something he’s coped with exceptionally well considering he was once very squeamish (he may well be squeamish still, not sure how you can’t be looking at what we went through this weekend – but he did a bloody marvellous job of comforting and supporting me throughout). The Chilli I ate for my lunch was beautiful – really hit the spot and cheered my mood right up – as did the Harry Styles album I had streaming.
The afternoon was again spent back and forth from the bed to the en-suite (I couldn’t just stay in the en-suite, I wanted to be on the bed and cosy) with Nurses coming and going – checking my progress – checking the tissues I’d expelled and the bleeding – but not overstaying, which gave us some well needed privacy that I really valued.
By 3pm I was in need of painkillers. The cramps were getting really painful – not unbearable, but I didn’t want them to get to a point where I was in need of severe pain management. So the Midwife (Pankaja) nipped the pain in the bud with 2 paracetamol and liquid morphine.
Not long after, I was given the menu for tea – even though I’d anticipated I’d be home by now. So I reluctantly I ordered Chicken Tikka & Rice and a Rice Pudding. Yep three meals with RICE, in one day – YOLO. I’ve got to praise this hospital food – seriously! It was super tasty, a great portion size, hot and not in the slightest bit sloppy, soggy or plasticky – which is what I’d encountered previously. My body definitely appreciated the good food too.
By 5pm, I was given a pretty painful internal. Which even the painkillers couldn’t fend off. A huge light was brought in on wheels along with the paraphernalia you’d normally see when having a Smear Test…and/or having your waters broken. The doctors agreed that the bleeding would continue and were satisfied with my progress thus far – my Cervix was open – so that was a good position to be in. Though, they were not convinced that the sac had passed and began discussing the repeat procedure of the pessaries – which would mean an overnight stay. While the staff debated my situation, Eli arrived with my parents. They were going home that evening. Thankfully the bleeding was nigh on stopping and the pain had eased. So he just saw his Mama in her “really pretty” hospital gown – and my god, I was so happy to see him and we had the BEST cuddles. His affection made me forget about it all – made me zone out – for just a few moments. (He also said I looked pretty in my hospital ‘dress’. There’s a first!)
By 7pm, the Registrar had decided against an overnight stay and repeat procedure – I’d had too much medication for one day. Therefore, I’d be discharged with a letter, antibiotics and a repeat scan for 2nd October. So I have until the 2nd to finish expelling whatever is left.
I was discharged at around 8:30. I was shattered and it was a surreal journey home – it felt like 4am or something. I then slept. Slept and slept and slept. Never have I ever slept so much. I even SLEPT THROUGH on Sunday night, something I’ve not managed since well before Eli arrived. So that was weird too.
Since then – and up until today, Wednesday 27th – I’ve had little/no bleeding once again. Though I’ve had the odd cramp, back pain and baaaaaaad head. So once again, I’m in limbo. Has it all expelled? Is it over? Is it stuck?! Has the sac come away? Has my cervix closed up again?! Am I anaemic with all this blood loss? Is that why I’m so damn tired? Guess I’ll just have to wait it out until 2nd October when I get scanned again. (I’m also eating allll the kale, cavolo nero and spinach I can muster to get my iron on the up, incase!). If there are still some bits of tissue remaining/the sac still clinging on, then it will be off to surgery for me – for the dreaded Surgical Management (ERPC or ERPoC, which stands for Evacuation of Retained Products of Conception. You might hear it called it a D & C too) which is under anaesthetic.
One thing I would say is though – Men/Partners do tend to get ‘ignored’ slightly during processes like this. I know I’m going through it harder – physically – but mentally, we’ve both lost out. We both desperately wanted that baby and we’ve both had the pregnancy loss. Both had the miscarriage.
Throughout the 30+ hours of labour with Eli, James was offered a cup of tea just ONCE. I was offered dozens of cups, despite being nil by mouth. The same happened again during this process – I was offered loads of tea/coffee. James wasn’t ever offered either – it was Sunday and the coffee shops closed early. So I really felt for him – he was going through it too – and yes, tea generally does solve a lot of things! If nothing else, it warms you up from the inside and gives you something to zone off with, even for just a few minutes. So perhaps it could be worth taking a flask of tea in – or whatever beverages/snacks you both need – should you be reading this ahead of venturing through this procedure too.
So there we are, thats where I’m up to now.
As before – it’s good to talk about things. So please do keep getting in touch and sharing your experiences. It’s the only way we’ll learn.
First off, I have to just say a big huge THANK YOU. Thank you to every single one of you who has commented or messaged or emailed or called me. I can’t tell you how grateful we are for the support and kind words. Once again, never ever underestimate the kindness of strangers. I’ve had so many messages of support for me sharing the post. For encouraging discussion. For highlighting what will/can/might/might not happen.
Miscarriage happens because of science. It’s not something you can stop from happening – I hope those who have experienced this horrendous plight know that. Also, Miscarriage is more common than people realise. It happens to at least 1 in 4 pregnancies. Many miscarriages are unreported and some go unnoticed as it happens so soon. Experts think that the real figure might be 1 in 3*.
Miscarriage is not taboo. It is so important that we discuss this. To help others understand… to help yourself to understand. Without sharing stories, how can we learn? How can the medical professionals learn and continue their research into Pregnancy Loss? So sharing experiences, that is my biggest take away from this whole thing.
Just over a week on, how am I doing?
I’m going down the “Expectant Miscarriage” route with hope I have/am miscarrying naturally.
Well, I count myself as very lucky. So far, I haven’t bled anywhere near as much as I anticipated. As I touched on in my original post I have Endometriosis. So have been awaiting just the worst pain and the worst bleeding/tissue loss imaginable. I’ve had the back aches and extreme tiredness but again, nothing as bad as I’ve been expecting. I’m not sure if that’s because I’m going through a slow miscarriage – or whether its building up to some kind of cruel crescendo. I guess I’ll know more when I head back to the hospital next Tuesday for my re-scan and review.
So for now, I’m stuck in limbo. Not knowing whether its started, ended/ending or if it’s not even begun (properly). And this is the worst feeling – the not knowing. Just as bad as not knowing if you’re ok in the first place – before the bad news.
The entire pregnancy journey is basically just a whole load of anxiety and stress and endless knots in the stomach, isn’t it?
I feel like I need to do something good out of all of this. I know charities such as Tommy’s & The Miscarriage Association have a few ways to get involved. But if anyone does have any ideas that I can support, please let me know.
In the meantime, please do continue to share your stories. You can comment, message, email or bloody carrier pigeon your experiences or words to me. Always remember, sharing is caring.
All my love,
*Statistics taken from Tommy’s // The Baby Charity. Information on Miscarriage & Pregnancy Loss >> More details, here.
So here is a blog post that I never thought I’d be writing.
In fact, for the past 12 weeks I’ve been keeping a diary, a log, if you will, of pregnancy symptoms & the experience so far, the second time round. I was anticipating the publish of that blog post this week (I’d tied in lots of information about Pregnancy & Endometriosis). (After of course, we’d gone up North and surprised our families!).
Yes, you heard read right. I was pregnant. Kind of. No, I was definitely pregnant. Or at least my body thought I was… and had began the fruition of our second pregnancy. I had alllllllll the symptoms: extreme fatigue, nausea, sickness & diarrhea, runny nose, cough, lightheadedness, headaches, body aches, hot flushes, scattiness (god, the scattiness was insane), I’d gone up at least two cup sizes and had that lovely bright blue vein swooping across my left breast; just like I did with Eli. I had it all, in abundance. I was around 5/6 weeks when I finally got a positive pregnancy test result.
I’d had a big, scary, bright red bleed during our holiday last week in St. Ives. The first rule of Instagram? Don’t give the honest, real life view! Why would you ever do that?! Except, I really wanted to be honest. Believe me. To me, honesty is the best policy, I try to be as honest and real as possible across all social media – so here is what’s happened since.
I wanted to scream about how bloody marvellous it was to be pregnant. To be sat on the this beautiful beach, with my little bump! But the reality? I was indeed sat on the beach cradling my little baby bump, but it was upon a maternity pad, and I was silently crying while my boy’s went rock-pooling. I knew deep down that a bleed of this amount was bad news. I was 11 weeks. But I had a proper full-on baby-bump. I still had some symptoms going on. I was feeling pretty good! So, I spent the majority of our little ‘break’ Googling. Oh wonderful Google…
“Can you still have a baby after a bright red bleed?”
“Does a bright red bleed really mean miscarriage?”
“Symptoms of endometriosis during early pregnancy”
“Can endometriosis cause bleeding? 11 weeks pregnant”
“11 weeks pregnant symptoms”
“Symptoms of miscarriage”
“Baby moving or miscarriage?”
“What to expect miscarriage 11 weeks pregnant”
I read SO MANY positive outcomes across forums, blogs, in the press and via medical case studies. I’d almost convinced myself that it was fine. I was fine. The baby was fine. I’d had terrible cramps with Eli and spotting at around 6 weeks. In a lot of cases, women who experience bleeds in early pregnancy do go on to have a healthy baby. Heck, sometimes women bleed throughout the WHOLE pregnancy. Which I imagine is both frustrating and worrying in equal measure.
On Tuesday 5th September, Eli went back to school – as a big Year One boy. Super proud parents, we went from the school drop off to Broomfield Hospital for what would have been our 12 week scan. I’d felt a pang of excitement – the secrets we’d been harbouring for 12 weeks could finally come out. We could finally announce our bloody brilliant and exciting news, our darling boy was going to be a BIG BROTHER! (I’d even bought him a tee… did I jinx it?!). Doubtfully.
As we drove along that over-familiar route to Broomfield Hospital, I was getting closer to the feeling of doubt. My stomach was in knots and I felt lightheaded and sick.I definitely knew in my heart of hearts, this wasn’t meant to be. But that certainly does not deflect from the shock of having a Sonographer say “Are you sure your dates are correct as the sac measures 7 weeks, 1 day…. unfortunately this isn’t going to be a viable pregnancy I’m afraid”.
We’d had so much trouble with Eli during pregnancy, that anything I could do to help make this pregnancy ‘smoother’, I was doing. Including zero intimacy (hoping my Ma ain’t reading this!). I had my last alcoholic drink (I so need to do a review of non-alcoholic drinks, because we’ve had the best time trying so many out!) and caffeinated drink on my birthday, 1st June. I’ve not eaten anything you shouldn’t. I’d been taking Pregnacare for a few weeks even before that too. My dates were beyond correct. I would have been 12 weeks and 3 days pregnant.
With tears streaming down my face, I somehow managed “the baby has gone, hasn’t it?”. She then went on to confirm that I’d suffered an Anembryonic Pregnancy and showed us my full uterus with a very obviously empty sac. An Anembryonic Gestation (anembryonic pregnancy, blighted ovum, or empty sac) is a pregnancy in which the very early pregnancy appears normal on an ultrasound scan, but as the pregnancy progresses a visible embryo never develops or develops and is reabsorbed. How utterly batshit is that? REALLY? The cells of the embryo are “reabsorbed”. I still can’t fathom it. But I know it’s nothing that I could have possibly done or could have avoided. Medically speaking? It’s “one of those things”.
After being spoken to in the dreaded, ‘Quiet Room’, James & I were then transferred from the Antenatal Ultrasound department to an Early Pregnancy ward a few floors down. By the way, these ‘Quiet Rooms’, although decorated in a nice colour scheme and VERY clean, really do just look like 4 walls of bad news. Like, it felt like a funeral home, with a gushing waterfall print on one wall and a totally psychedelic bright mash up of randomness on the other wall. Obviously, boxes of tissues all around for good measure.
I felt numb. Surreal. Like I was in a bubble and was crying and felt an ache in my chest…. but couldn’t quite digest words. James was speaking but it was like a blurry mumble of nothing. Likewise, when we met with Liz, the Staff Nurse on the EPU ward, she was AMAZING – and went through every step of the process. Answered questions with ease. Was very knowledgable. Incredibly sympathetic and open and supportive. But what she actually spoke about, I have no idea. It’s like I wasn’t even there. An out of body experience? Maybe.
I was given 3 options and it was emphasised that I didn’t have to make a decision straight away:
Expectant management – wait for the tissue to pass naturally out of your womb.
Medical management – take medication that causes the tissue to pass out of your womb.
Surgical management – have the tissue surgically removed.
As I’m particularly phobic of hospitals following my labour with Eli, if I can avoid being near one, I will do my damned best! Without even a hint of consideration, I wanted to be at home, in my own bed and I’m keeping my fingers crossed this will all pass naturally. I’m so far, going through the Expectant Management route. I do have a lot of tissue build up and the empty sac to pass. I have been advised to expect a lot of blood loss, tissue loss, the sac and all accompanied by proper contractions. I was given the details of all emergency contacts should I lose too much blood or be in too much pain – if that’s the case, I’ll end up on the EPU ward.
I am currently losing a small amount of blood. WAY less than a normal period, so I don’t even know if this is the start. I hope it’s the start anyway. I just want this whole thing to be over with. I think I’ll feel relief then.
I have waves of feeling completely fine. Like none of this is even happening. Happy, even. But then I notice my tummy… and its soft and squidgy again. I have the “WHY ME?” and “WHAT DID I DO WRONG” scenario’s. Then I have the feelings of what it could have been. Us Mama’s have a very easy way of getting carried away – we have excellent imaginations. Too good even. We imagine the nursery. The feeding schedules. The cuddles. The bathtime routine. The newborn smell. The ooh’s and ahhh’s. ALLLLLLL the stuff we need to buy. (I’m all over that Sleepyhead Grand btw). Is it weird that I’m then grieving the loss of a baby… that didn’t actually exist? It’s like, the house was there, fully furnished, but there was nobody renting. I then feel all strange – how could I even have this intense amount of grief? The baby hadn’t formed. It was cells. Cells that were absorbed. How am I this upset and feeling so devastated? I guess it’s because it took us 5 years to get to this point. A point where I felt ready. I’d dreamed so many dreams about that baba-to-be and me. And us. And in between all this, I’m just in absolute awe of the human body – the female form. The things us women go through – its quite extraordinary. I mean, most of us can grow a baby in our tummy from nothingness (well, scientifically, no not nothingness, but you get me). And then when it doesn’t work, your body knows to expel it. It knows the drill. Just utterly bewildering and odd and funny and crazy and bloody brilliant – but also, so cruel. So although, in some ways, I feel like I’ve failed, I also know that my body is pretty epic too.
So to finish up, what has been quite a cathartic blog post, I have 2 weeks for my body to try and pass all that remains. I will have a scan on 19th September to see if the process is complete and we’ll take it from there. If it isn’t, then I guess I’ll have to have some kind of hospital management.
I want to give a shoutout to my darling James. It’s been a tough few days for him too. I know it is just as difficult a situation for a partner – I know he has felt just complete helplessness. I imagine he’s also quite scared about what can/could happen to me (he was told to monitor excess blood loss and symptoms of infection – we live 30 mins away from the hospital and in either case, he might need to call for an ambulance). I also know he is filled with sadness and grief too. This baby was tried for and very much wanted. We were both super excited. But him just being here, to hold my hand, means the world. (Thanks also, FEED family).
Have you been affected by Miscarriage? Please get in touch. I’d love to be able to speak to people now I’m able to. I just feel like I need to talk to others about their experiences and what happens and what doesn’t happen – because all I have in my mind is sheer horror. And even if it is as horrific as I’m imagining, I’m sure words of experience would be very comforting right now.
I’ve found a lot of useful practical information on The Miscarriage Association website – and also Tommy’s Baby Charity, who work tirelessly to obtain funding for the crucial research into pregnancy loss. I haven’t contacted either of them directly, yet, but just wanted to highlight their websites as theres a huge amount of information about the different types of miscarriage (I definitely didn’t know how many different types there are), also details about how to approach your work, how pregnancy loss affects your partner and a shed-load of additional research. Though, I am feeling overwhelmed with all this information, just glancing at paragraphs here and there is easy enough as and when I need to access it. I’ve also read so many stories that families affected by pregnancy loss have shared using the hashtags #SimplySay (The Miscarriage Association) and #misCOURAGE (Tommy’s).