First of all, you’re a strong and brave woman (she says, as tears roll down her cheeks). Your body hasn’t failed you, you haven’t failed you and you haven’t failed anybody else. Your body has successfully made life, (technically it made a whirlwind! But we are certainly more than happy with our little whirlwind!). It grew and was home to that tiny human – 10 fingers and 10 toes – Eli was 8 pounds of sheer perfection.
Your body CAN do it. Please don’t blame your body.
It was just that this time round, Science cruelly said that something wasn’t right. Your body, in this instance, did the right thing.
We all know that if the ingredients aren’t measured out right, a cake won’t come out right. The science of conception is just the same – obviously a lot more complicated – but this works for my metaphor, at least. Bear with me! In fact, only 20% of couples actually manage to conceive in a monthly cycle. It’s just that complicated. Science said something was wrong – science said we had to let the baby go. I know it’s not something that I DID wrong. I know all of this, so why does it still hurt so much?
Your body went through hell and back when you miscarried. The physical ailments may be healed, but your head and your heart will take so much longer. And you need to know, that’s ok.
Some day’s you’re completely fine, enjoying life as a Mama-to-one. Then sometimes it smacks you in the face like a brick. It especially hurts when your beloved whirlwind settles down beside you, patting your tummy and so sweetly says “but Mummy, when can I have a baby brother or sister?”.
Mama, you’re ok to cry. Even though its almost a year on. You’re allowed to still grieve, to take time out, to not want to speak. But don’t bottle it all up, because that won’t help anyone, will it? You’re a ticking time-bomb if you don’t communicate at all. So take your time. Go at your pace, not under any pressure to go at any nobody else’s. Speak when you want to speak. Cry when you want to cry. Shout when you want to shout. Just make sure you do it all, and then-some.
Also Mama, you’re going to be sensitive. You’ll notice the pregnancy and birth announcements more….and also notice when pregnant women moan about how difficult being pregnant in the heat is. You’ll feel bitterly resentful that they’re complaining – “shouldn’t they be feeling lucky that they’re pregnant at all?!”. But remember how you were at full-term with Eli in the soaring temperatures of August 2012? You know firsthand just how much torture that is. Try not to hold grudges. Try not to sweat the small stuff. Try to keep calm – stressing yourself about other people and their complaints isn’t going to help. You’ll feel jealous when you see your friends, or even complete strangers, pushing their baby in the pram around the park, shopping in Waitrose or coo-ing over them on the train. That’s ok and that’s normal too. You STILL want that. So try to keep the jealously at bay – turn it into something positive. Take the opportunity to rest. Maybe even have more ‘me-time’?
Yes, it’s really scary, yes you’re full of worry and anxiety… but one day, you WILL be ready and able to try again. Another pregnancy will not replace the one that you lost. The baby that never was will always remain in your heart as your favourite ‘…what if?’. Never, ever forgotten.
Most importantly keep talking Mama.
You’ll get there eventually.
Peace & love C
Being a mama can be all kinds of wonderful and all kinds of intense. Whatever journey you are on, you hardly ever get time to reflect on how far you’ve come. hi mama asks you to do that, to return to a time when you were at your best, or at your worst, and write to the mama at that stage with all the wisdom, experience and knowledge of your present self.
Writing a letter about your experience has double benefits; it can be really cathartic and allow you to reflect, and will also offer support to other mamas. We spent hours online searching for reassurance from the words of other mamas – still do – and we hope to create a library of letters that will offer words of wisdom for any situation. Inspired by the social community, by how mamas reach out to each other with positivity, grace and inclusivity, we want hi mama to become a source of strength and solidarity for all.
the mamas behind hi mama…
Shared experiences got us through the first years of being a mama. We are secondary school friends, Sophie Taylor and Shelley Lawrence and are hoping to extend the network we have relied on so much to fellow mamas far and wide. We have been sending letters to each other throughout our friendship, from notes about boys in school, to bridging the oceans when Shelley lived in Australia. Letters have a poignancy and an intimacy, they can be funny and light-hearted and offer up your barest and most honest self. We appreciate our youthful (and often cringeworthy) notes now more than ever.
I have a little boy, Felix, who is two years old, a funny old pug called Tam and a husband called Stuart. Family is hugely important to me and I am really lucky to live close to my parents and to Stu’s Mum. I started working life as a runner for a television production company in Brighton, and now work in communications, first for a charity, then for the ambulance service and soon to be for a police force.
I am mama to two fiercely ‘spirited’ girls; my mum calls it payback! I have worked in events and marketing for 14 years whilst studying to become CIM certified. My husband James and I lived and worked in Australia before returning to Cambridgeshire to have our eldest daughter. I quickly realised that going back to the 9am-5pm (ha ha… 7pm-8pm) full-time, corporate world just wasn’t going to work for me as a mama. So, I decided to set-up as a freelancer, launching my own website offering marketing support on a flexible basis back in 2010. I’ve taken on many exciting projects over the years, leading to my current role as Marketing Manager for Splash Event Solutions.
We are secondary school friends, Shelley Lawrence and Sophie Taylor and we want hi mama to be a site of sisterhood for mamas far and wide, based on sharing strength and solidarity, through letters written by mamas to themselves.
“The thing you’re most afraid to write…. write that”.
Following the horrendous confirmation, that I was in fact, miscarrying what should have been our second child; I wrote my first blog post: Miscarriage & Me. I didn’t know what to do with myself, I couldn’t get the words out of my mouth. I was exhausted, but could not sleep. “I’m fine” was the biggest lie (and probably still is!) and most-used words that I spoke. Bashing my feelings out on the keyboard of my laptop; my experiences of our Miscarriage – and being 100% honest, no matter how gruesome – was what I was afraid to write. Because writing it made it all the more real. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t in denial of what was happening – it was just so bloody surreal. But I am so glad I did get it all typed up. Not only was the process of writing the blog posts cathartic AF, but they actually helped people. Who knew the internet could be such a lovely place, in such dark times?
Today marks one year since we finally saw the words we so wanted to see. Pregnant 1-2 weeks popped up on that Clear Blue Digital Pregnancy Test (other tests are available… ).
ONE WHOLE ENTIRE YEAR.
365 days of trying to remember the much-wanted baby… and trying to let go, simultaneously.
So, hows it all going? During the horror of miscarriage, I thought we’d never try again. It really hurt me in a way I didn’t think I could ever be hurt. It hurt both of us. Well, I’m finally feeling well enough, physically, to try again. I KNOW (!!!) Cycle-wise, it’s a bit all over the place still. I have ALWAYS been a 28-day cycle girl. Always. Even once my periods returned after having Eli, it was straight back to 28 days. Since my ERPC however, they’ve been a bit all over… 28-34 days seems to be the norm. My latest cycle being 31 days. They’re still beyond painful though, so nothing ever changes there! So do I need ovulation kits?! Or do we just wing it?! I feel really quite naive all of a sudden… any help would be greatly received with regards to this. I do remember we did the “Temping Method” when we were trying for Eli, but tbh, I cba with that!
Mentally, how’s it going? That’s another story. The mental battle of ‘trying again after loss’, is a cruel mistress. The battle of so desperately wanting to hold our own second child in our arms, rather than just in our hearts is, thinking about all that could go wrong… well, it’s pretty heart-wrenching. I’m scared. I’m really bloody scared. I have so many ‘what if?’ scenario’s going on, that I’m making myself dizzy. And quite tearful when I think about how things could well go. We haven’t even ‘tried’ yet and I’m already beside myself with worry. I’m guessing that’s normal though – for trying for that all elusive Rainbow Baby – even if you weren’t a born worrier to begin with! The fact Eli so desperately wants a baby brother or sister is very encouraging though, it’s certainly helped the process along. And I know he’s going to make THE BEST big brother, ever <3
So, what’s the whole point of this blog post?
Well, I wanted to just give myself a little reminder that, 365 days ago, we were so ecstatically happy. And we can be again, I know we can.
And if you’re going through the same pain of Miscarriage, but can’t find the words to speak out loud…try bashing them out on the computer keyboard instead. There is ALWAYS someone there to listen, to offer help and support. Especially if you use such amazing resources like Tommy’s or The Miscarriage Association,
Sometimes the words, they come… sometimes they don’t. And for everything in-between, I have to acknowledge my favourite poet, Rupi Kaur, who is just a genius when it comes to getting the perfect collection of words together for you.
It’s been a little while since I mentioned our Miscarriage. 160 days, in fact, since my last post on here about it all. Because you don’t need me to tell you, life just has to move along. Especially when you have an Eli AND a James to look after too (!)
Since the end of the miscarriage, so much has happened. I’ve had the most spontaneous evening with Harry Styles, The Retreat, Bonfire Night, Christmas, New Year (fresh slate), proposed move to Manchester (happening sometime, SOON!), followed by a stay in Manchester Royal Hospital (James, after a visit to A&E), a birthday surprise for my Papa and Mother’s Day. But here we are, almost half way into March. A month I’ve been desperately trying to not think about. But it’s here now and I have to face up to it. So by bashing this all out on the keyboard, I’m hoping I can get some kind of cathartic release.
So March. What’s the significance?
Well, my due date would have been, TODAY, 15th March.
So I knew that, at some point in March, whether that baby came early, or today, or indeed like their Big Brother, Eli, and arrived super late – we knew had prepared that to have a brand new baba, in March. Today our arms are empty.
But obviously, this is not the case. This isn’t what’s happening this March, at least.
Today, I’ve had messages of love and support and care and its been so nice. I’ve had the head tilt, which has cheered me up without anyone even realising (a la Richard in Friends, see my reference, here) (SIDE NOTE // does anyone else live their days through quotes from FRIENDS? I can’t think of a day when I didn’t reference it at least!)
How have I been?
Well, physically, I felt battered and bruised for a few weeks post-operation – really exhausted. I slept through the day a lot. Mentally, I was totally drained. But I had to keep going – especially for Eli. I also overate, no rhyme or reason, but I couldn’t stop eating. Boy am I paying for it now as I try and shift off the pounds! Though, I’ve lost 10lbs in 5 weeks, so I’m getting there slowly.
Cycle-wise, my periods returned, a few days out from when I expected and they are still a bit strange. As I mentioned lots before, my periods are exceptionally painful (Endometriosis) and usually with an excessive amount of blood loss. While the pain has been the same (!!) as before, the blood loss is somewhat scant. So I’m wondering whether some endometrial tissue was removed during the ERPC operation? Who knows – but my body is still keeping me on my toes.
FYI – just after the New Year I received my ‘invitation’ for my Cervical Screening Test. I went to book it and was told to wait until 3-4 months AFTER the ERPC, to allow for the cells around the cervix to regrow following a miscarriage. I had my Smear test last week – awaiting the letter back. But as usual, it was smashing, no problems with the procedure at all. It took around 2 mins, tops.
Following my operation I had a spate of infections (chest/ear/lung/so many colds). It culminated with a Spirometry Test and our darling Coco heading to a rescue centre to be re-homed. The diagnosis was COPD and I have a lung age of 61. Shockingly, I’ve never smoked and I’m only 31. Since Coco was re-homed however, my symptoms have dwindled and I feel much more healthy again! I’m sorry to say its all probably quite likely that I had a pet allergy 🙁 But I’m pretty impressed with my recovery and taking just one inhaler a day now. (Also, it goes without saying too – Mum’s ARE always right, damn!)
I became jealous, I guess, and sad – wouldn’t ‘luck’ just have it that so many friends (and IG strangers!) were announcing their pregnancies and births? Of course it would. Though, as it is fairly obvious, I do absolutely love a baba (I wouldn’t be craving my maternal duties again if I didn’t!) and it’s so wonderful to see these new babes coming safely into the world. I am honestly over the moon for everyone I’ve come into contact with who has told me of their happy news! But then I feel the intense guilt for feeling this sadness… part of me can’t help but think, this should also be us. We could be sharing our happy news right now too. Aren’t emotions bloody brilliant, eh?
Mentally – I’ve all over the place.
I’ve had a weeks and weeks where things have been great! Actually never better! But the closer we’ve come into March, the more vulnerable I’ve felt.
This week, I feel low and sad and diminished.
Without this being a completely sombre update, right now, I feel like I have this big black cloud hanging out with me – following my every move. I can’t shake it off.
I’ve had lots of tension headaches, back & neck (tension) pain and intense dreams – when I’m able to actually sleep, that is.
I confronted my inner thoughts last week, which involved a whole lot of sobbing my heart out – and vocalising exactly I’m how feeling. I’d bottled it up, probably since November. It feels better to share – even if the other person doesn’t say anything at all – just sharing, feels so good. Though, the only person getting the brunt of it all at the minute, is poor James. And of course, he feels all the feels too. A baby, our new baby, could have been in his arms, too, making him a parent all over again.
I didn’t have a follow up after my ERPC, I didn’t actually even speak to my GP about the trauma we’d been through. (Should I have? Should I have been sent an invitation for a follow up appointment of some kind? What happens in your local authority? ). I feel like maybe the grief is only just hitting me now – perhaps because when the due date has been and gone, then it all becomes real and in turn, gives us some kind of closure. Because that’s the end of the life-cycle, as it were. If that makes any sense at all. This all got me thinking, I have nothing physical to ‘show’ for my loss. So I contacted PALS at Broomfield Hospital, to see if I could access my medical records, notes, multiple scan imagery. See if there is any ounce of explanation following my ERPC (and the subsequent investigation that was to allegedly follow). I kept my eyes firmly closed for a lot of the scans and procedures – willing it to be over. Anything any specialist pointed out or illustrated on the screen was a blur and didn’t register with me. Apparently I should have been offered copies of my scans – I’m now wondering if this also would have helped mark our loss and support our grieving process. Also, you can also ask (or may be offered) a Certification – according to The Miscarriage Association, this is a kind of ‘ death certificate’. For some parents, the sadness of pregnancy loss before 24 weeks is increased by the fact that there is no documentation that acknowledges the loss of their baby. We recommend that NHS trusts create and offer some form of certification for parents who would like this. Tim Loughton MP has recently tabled a Private Member’s Bill which includes a request for a report on whether the law ought to be changed either to allow the registration of pre-24 week pregnancy losses (so it’s a personal choice) or to require it (so it is a legal requirement). The Miscarriage Association ran a survey on this to collate personal views – more details on this can be found, here. The PALS team at Broomfield got in touch with a really lovely email – which was followed up by a call today from the Matron of Gynaecology. She’s invited us into the hospital to go through my notes and any questions / concerns, with my consultant (who was also the consultant we had for when I was pregnant with Eli), Miss Joshi. I was taken aback by the phone call and became quite emotional with the Matron. The kindness of strangers will never cease to amaze me.
To our Baby Briston-Hill (PRAWNER #2), you never did arrive in our arms – but you will be forever in my heart. I will live in wonder of who you would have been – you’ll always be my favourite what if? my little darling.
Thank you for reading thus far; and thank you for the bags of support and love we’ve received. It means the world 🖤 Eli is going to be the BEST big brother (EVER) when it happens. And not a single one of us can wait. As the wonderful mind that was Professor Stephen Hawking, so perfectly put it,
“Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious. And however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at. It matters that you don’t just give up.”
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.