PART 1 – THE MOTHER’S PERSPECTIVE
A friend of mine recently shared a blog post on her Facebook timeline (a lady who I actually met through helping her with slings back in Eastbourne, where South East Slings started it’s journey). It was regarding early miscarriage entitled “A pregnancy loss is a loss, no matter how small”
I’d like to thank her for sharing it (and to the author for writing it). It’s worth a read.
This piece really resonated with me and I wanted to share my story, in the hope it may help others who may have experienced similar.
I had an early miscarriage before we got pregnant with my eldest. At the time I didn’t know that miscarriages were a common thing. I didn’t have friends with children and, although I knew miscarriage was a ‘thing’ I didn’t realise it was something that was common or even to have much awareness of.
The positive pregnancy test was one of the most exciting days of our life! We took a photo of the ‘+’ sign on the stick (and did a few more tests over the next few days, just to be totally sure and, well, no point in wasting the pack!). We told friends and family we were expecting a baby. We started planning and discussing names – all the usual things I would imagine most people do when expecting their very first child.
When I was around 6-7 weeks pregnant my husband and I spent a really lovely Saturday at a National Trust property – Polesden Lacey, just outside Dorking. It was a gorgeous, sunny, August day. We wandered around and we chatted and laughed and had a wonderful time. The next day he was flying to New York with work. Just for a week or so. I was going to be flying out a couple of days later to join him for the last part of it; we’d been to New York as part of our honeymoon and it felt very exciting to be celebrating the next chapter of our journey together there!
The following day I dropped him off at Heathrow. It was the first time he’d been abroad without me in the 6.5 years we’d been together and I felt a bit sad, but knew I’d be flying out in a few days time to join him.
I was a part-time teacher at 6th Form College, teaching their BTEC in Modern Music, and the Monday was the first day back after the holidays (one of the prep days, getting ready before the students arrived later that week).
I went in and spoke to the Head of Performing Arts (it was her first day in her new post) and let her know my news:
‘Hi there…. I know it’s your first day as my boss but… umm… well I’m pregnant!‘
She was lovely and really pleased for me.
The day was busy with preparations for the new term. My husband had arrived safely in New York and was all settled in to his Hotel. The week was all going well.
The next morning I woke up early. I was bleeding heavily and I was terrified. I started frantically googling – trying to find a ‘normal’ explanation for it all – something that said it was just ‘something that could happen’ when you were pregnant. I tried to persuade myself that maybe this was just ‘spotting’ and it was all ok and I just needed to rest and it would all be fine. But I knew deep down that it really wasn’t and that something was wrong.
It was the middle of the night in New York. I’d text and called my husband but his phone was on silent (as you’d expect at 1am) and he wasn’t answering. I tried the reception of the hotel but the phone in his room wasn’t working. Eventually I managed to persuade them to send someone up to his room to get him to call me.
He recalls that he was awoken to the sound of what seemed like someone trying to break his door down (they were knocking) and then breaking in (the poor night porter or receptionist must have had a heart attack when he unlocked the door and was nearly leapt upon by a jet lagged, half asleep Englishman who thought he was being besieged!) Anyway, everyone was fine and the message got through that he needed to call his wife urgently.
I told him what was happening and he said to go to the Doctors and see what they said. Our Doctors’ Surgery was just round the corner from the house and I was waiting on the doorstep as it opened at 8.30am, in floods of tears.
Our Doctor couldn’t have been lovelier to this red-faced, sobbing 29 year old girl sat in his office. He booked me in later that day to the Early Pregnancy Unit for a scan.
I text my Mum. She was just arriving at work. She dropped everything and headed over from Somerset take me to the Hospital. I text my Mother in Law and she called and kept me chatting on the phone the entire time it took my Mum to drive the 3.5 hours to be with me.
My Mum arrived to take me to the Hospital. We waited there, with ladies sat around holding scan photos. Some with bumps. Some without. Leaflets about ‘what to expect when you’re expecting’; all the usual pregnancy info.
Having never had an internal ultrasound just the thought of that was pretty terrifying but my Mum came in with me and held my hand. The ultrasound lady was brusque and cold (but not as cold as the hard plastic of the ultrasound ‘wand’). She did the scan.
“Well there’s no baby there” she snapped.
Not exactly breaking it to you gently. She basically implied I’d invented the fact I was pregnant and was wasting her time as there was no baby there. There was no kindness, no empathy. I was told to keep an eye on the bleeding but told that basically that was that and was ushered out.
I honestly didn’t know how to feel. I felt numb. I felt sick. I felt indescribably sad. I felt guilty; had I done something wrong – had I caused this? Had, say, lifting that chair the day before led to this happening?
I called my husband. It was still the middle of the night over there. He spoke to his boss and his work booked him on the first flight back to Heathrow. He’d be arriving back with me the next day.
My Mum and I got back home. I was still bleeding. It was a constant reminder of what was happening to my body. My lovely Doctor called me that afternoon. He knew my husband was in New York and was worried about me being on my own. I’ll never forget how kind that was of him to think to do that. My Mum stayed with me for the rest of the day I think. I don’t really remember. It’s all a bit of a hazy blur. I must have text my Head of Department at work to let her know shortly after the Hospital appointment. Again, I don’t really remember.
Collecting my husband from Terminal 5 at Heathrow the next day was one of the hardest, things to do. He was crying and so was I. But at least we were back together so were able to deal with grieving our baby and all the plans we had made. I think it was the shock of it all, more than anything. We just hadn’t expected this to happen. I know that may sound silly, but we were so naively unaware that early miscarriage really happened, let alone that it was very common. Dr Google obviously played a large part over the next few days and we realised that it’s actually incredibly common. 1 in 4 positively identified pregnancies end in miscarriage. That’s hugely high but we literally had no idea.
One of the most painful parts was having to tell the people who we’d told we were pregnant. Again, not having realised the incidence of miscarriage, it hadn’t occurred to us to wait to tell people. Having to go through the upset and sympathy with each of them was really tough.
We were very fortunate though, in that I got pregnant again straight away. I didn’t even have a period in between. We did things so differently this time though and literally only told the bare minimum of people – those people we’d need for support if it happened again – but kept it a total secret from everyone else.
I hate to admit it but it did very much overshadow my pregnancy. I was soooo excited but also had this worry at the back of my mind that it was going to happen again – even right up to our baby being born. I don’t think I ever mentioned it to anyone but it was there. I couldn’t fully relax about it all. I don’t think I properly imagined even having a baby – a sort of self-preservation perhaps – and I do think this may have been one of the contributing factors to my post-natal depression. Although we did loads of preparation with hypnobirth and ante-natal classes, I hadn’t properly allowed myself to prepare for having an actual baby. It was all about the build up to the birth.
I’m going to leave writing this post here, but I’m also going to ask my husband to write his side of the events. I think it’s important to hear both perspectives, and I think it will interesting to read both sides of the same experience.
UPDATE OCTOBER 2021: You can read my husband’s account here
This blog post really articulates the emotions of an early miscarriage.
If you’ve been affected by any of the topics I’ve mentioned above, the Sands and Tommy’s websites have lots of help and advice on miscarriage, plus a phone line if you want to talk to someone about it: