The other day, I shared via my blog that I’d had a miscarriage in November 2016, and how this led to a 2-week binge as I comfort ate my way to heart disease. Since sharing this fact with the world, it’s been really lovely to see how many people have taken the time to tell me they are sorry for my loss and offer their support. It’s for this reason that I feel the need to write this post – which is essentially the story of my miscarriage. It’s kinda sad, and I hope you can understand that my main reason for choosing to share something really damned personal is because so many women don’t. In truth, I have been surprised by the number of women I know who since finding out Id had one have told me they also had a miscarriage. I feel like there is this stigma that it’s something you don’t talk about. Does this mean that unless you get to 12 weeks no one is supposed to know you were ever pregnant? Well who decided that and why is this the norm? I would like for any woman going through this to know that you’re not alone, I have been there and it’s shit. The whole thing is fucking awful from start to finish – but you can survive it. I don’t want to come off all preachy here, and I know I am, but I feel like if I had told more people I was pregnant – emotionally, I may have handled things better because I would have had that support. So, without further ado, here is my tale of woe.
I found out I was pregnant on 6th November 2016. I’d taken a test the night before because I’m impatient like that, but decided to take one again in the morning because that is what the instructions tell you to do. Fun fact: I get up to pee every morning between 6-8am, so I knew that I would have to take the test with this early morning pee. Given I usually go back to bed afterwards, I knew that whilst taking this test I would be both half asleep and unable to see (I can’t see without my glasses and the bathroom light is broken)! As I was so sure it was going to be a negative, I didn’t bother waking Dan up so he could sit and watch with me because I didn’t see the point. Sure enough, sometime around 7 I woke up to pee, and in my half-asleep staggering state, I almost forgot to pee on the actual test. After some weird dancing while trying to both hold in the pee and open the stupidly difficult to open test, I finally managed to pee on the stick. During the 3 minutes I waited for the result, I contemplated our plans for the day. When I saw the result of “pregnant 1-2 weeks”, I realised that the things I had been planning were about to go out the window. Still somewhat stunned, I staggered back to the bedroom so I could tell Dan the happy news! Dan was also somewhat stunned, although that may have been in part that my method of telling him was to poke him until he woke up and then blurt out “So… I’m pregnant!”. If you know Dan well, you will know that he is useless in the mornings until he has had a coffee. It became quite clear there would be no more sleep, so we got up and started the process of dealing with this new development. Where should we start? Dan suggested Mothercare. So that’s where we went.
That morning, we strolled around Mothercare feeling like we belonged whilst talking about the kind of pushchair we wanted, the outfits we would force our child to wear because we thought they would look cute, what kind of cot we wanted and the pro’s and con’s of automated vs. manual breast pumps. I downloaded a couple of pregnancy apps so I could keep track of things, and we decided we would refer to the baby by the item it resembled in size. At this point it was known as ‘seed’. We both told our best friends the same day, and the Monday I went back to work I chose to tell my boss because I knew my PCOS and weight would make me high-risk for a load of complications.
We both told a select group of friends, but I was cautious about telling family in case the worst happened – I simply didn’t want to disappoint anyone. It probably sounds silly, but think about it for a moment. My mum has been banging on about having grandchildren for the past few years. I couldn’t bear the thought of getting her hopes up there was a baby on the way, only to disappoint her if it didn’t work out. That was my choice however, and I didn’t expect Dan to do things my way just because I said so. For that reason, Dan told his mum during a visit on the way back from a wedding we’d been to up North. I didn’t mind – it was nice to see her so happy for us. I even dropped my usual obsessing something was wrong and ordered a mug for my mum that I was going to give to her at Christmas after my 12 week scan saying “Hey mum! You’re going to be a nan!”. I even ordered a “Baby on board” badge to wear for my commute to work and a pregnancy journal.
Friday 25th November, I started to bleed. Not a lot, and it wasn’t bright red – more a rusty orange kind of colour. I obviously freaked out completely and burst into tears. Dan, being the much more level headed one of the marriage, assured me this could be normal and not to panic. We immediately called our doctor and she scheduled an appointment for that afternoon. Our doctor is a very nice woman, and she assured me that she wasn’t worried as a urine test showed I had a UTI and I was still early enough for a little bit of bleeding to be normal. She told me if the bleeding became bright red and extremely heavy then I would probably need to go to A&E in order for them to check me out. She also said that the only way to tell if the pregnancy was okay was to have a scan, but as it was a Friday, the Early Pregnancy Unit (EPU) would not get the referral till the Monday, so they would probably call me on the Tuesday and book me in for the Wednesday/Thursday. Given we already had a scan booked privately for the Thursday, she said we may as well just use that as there was no guarantee the EPU would see me any earlier. I left feeling a little bit better. If my doctor wasn’t worrying, I shouldn’t be worrying. Later that night after a trip to the bathroom, I realised the bleeding had now turned bright red, and whilst not heavy, I’d started to pass blood clots. I freaked out. I knew this was it. I promptly burst into tears while Dan, still level headed, suggest I call NHS Direct. This was a mistake. If anything, calling them made the whole experience worse. I called them at 20:15 on the Friday night. The man I spoke to said I would be called back in an hour. I called back at 21:30. The woman I spoke to said it would be another hour. I called back again at 22:45. The woman I spoke to said she couldn’t tell me how long they would be because there was a priority based system and other people came before me. I told her that I thought the fact I was probably having a miscarriage was pretty important, she said it was to me, but if someone was having chest pains that was more serious. Whilst I’m not saying she’s necessarily wrong, perhaps there was a better way she could have made her point. Dan and I then stayed up till 2am waiting for a phonecall that never came. In the end, we chose to go to bed. When I woke up at 8, I noticed they had tried to call me at 7, 11 hours after my original call.
Given the new developments of bright red blood and clots, I felt like I had to see if I could get a scan earlier than the Thursday. I don’t feel any shame in admitting that at this point, I was a mess. I was convinced I was having a miscarriage, but felt like I had no way of getting any piece of mind. I’d already been told A&E couldn’t help, so we looked for somewhere private. Oh, I also called back NHS Direct, but they told me as I missed the call I’d need to be re-assessed and wait another 2 hours… Anyway, we found somewhere private and they agreed to see me in the next hour. So, off we set.
The sonographer I saw was lovely. She was so warm and understanding. We had a bit of a chat beforehand and then she started the scan. The second she brought up the image, I knew there was an issue. Where there should be a baby measuring 8 weeks, there was just an empty black void, and then she said “I can’t see the pregnancy”. After more poking and prodding, she eventually found a pregnancy sac, but, sadly it was empty. It turned out that for whatever reason, the baby had never developed. It may sound heartless, but almost immediately I felt a huge sense of relief. Not because I wasn’t pregnant anymore, but because I had an answer and I could now start to deal with the reality. That night where I didn’t know what was happening was possibly one of the worst nights in my 29 years on the planet. There’s a tremendous comfort in knowing what’s happening with your body, even if the knowledge is heart-breaking. Lovely sonographer lady assured me that I was in no immediate risk of complications, but told me I would need to see a GP on Monday to go over the next steps. With that, we paid our £99 and went home. It was all a bit surreal. In some ways, I felt like a fool. For the past 4 weeks or so, I’d been naming the baby I imagined to be growing; Seed, lentil, blueberry etc. when in reality there had never been anything growing at all. I felt like my feelings of grief were invalid because I hadn’t lost a baby, because there had never been a baby there. I was angry that I’d allowed myself to get so carried away buying a mug for my mum and I was even embarrassed that I’d been wearing my badge. I simply didn’t know how I was supposed to feel about things, even though I was feeling a lot of things. We told some people right away, but not all. We didn’t have the strength. Instead, we went to the chemist where we stocked up on painkillers and pads, then our local Co-Op where we bought a weekends worth of junk, then we went home. That weekend we didn’t leave the house. We made ourselves a little bubble and we stayed in it, crying, comforting each other and playing The Witcher 3. By this point, my bleeding was a bit heavier and the clots were larger, although it was easy enough to manage the pain with a combo of co-codomol and ibuprofen. I spent my days in bit of a haze, I didn’t really have much sense of time, I just led on the sofa and grieved in my own little way. I joined a couple of facebook groups, and I’m not sure if that made it better or worse! Whilst it was comforting to be surrounded by other women, I felt like a fraud. Here were these women mourning babies which had actually existed, while I was mourning one that never had. It took me a while to accept that whilst it hadn’t been there physically, I hadn’t known that and so my emotional attachment to what I thought was there was just as strong as if it had been. My loss was in no way any less.
On the Monday, I had to leave the house to visit our Doctor again. We explained the situation and she told me I would likely need another scan on the NHS to confirm that everything was over. My only request was that it not be on the Friday as that was my birthday (because this tale isn’t tragic enough), and she assured me this would not be an issue. For the rest of the week, I continued to lay on the sofa with Dan and cry, eat and play The Witcher 3. There were some occasions where I managed to do all 3 at the same time. By the time it got to my birthday on the Friday, my bleeding had almost stopped and I no longer needed any painkillers. After opening my presents, Dan took me to a local zoo and it was nice to just go and do something together and feel normal, that night we went out for dinner and I wore a party dress – I also drank. A lot.
The following Monday, Dan went back to work. When I woke up, it hit me that it was my first day alone and there was no one around. So I cried. I cried just for me. I found it to be an incredibly helpful thing to do. All the other times I’d cried, Dan was there to comfort me and so I stopped. This time, I stopped myself when I was ready to stop – I suppose you could call it a purge. I moped for the rest of day. On the Tuesday, I finally got a call from the EPU about having a scan to confirm the miscarriage was over. The nurse I spoke to wouldn’t have been out of place in the Spanish Inquisition. She didn’t ask me questions as much as she interrogated me. I’ve never known anything like it. By the time she was done, I was once again a bit of a mess. Another day was spent moping. On the Wednesday I went to the scan at the EPU, and it was finally confirmed that everything had passed and it was over. Again, I was so relieved. The miscarriage was officially over. I felt like now, we could actually start to heal and move on.
The following week I went back to work. It was a bit odd. The people who knew what I went through were lovely and supportive, making me tea and bringing me treats. The ones who didn’t treated me like normal and for that I was thankful. Normality was incredibly helpful. I still had the odd moment where I would sit and my desk and try not to cry, but work kept me occupied and overtime these moments became much less. I even went to the office Christmas party in Warrington.
Last Wednesday, we reached the final recovery milestone as I got my first period since the miscarriage. Ain’t going to lie, it was considerably painful. I’d go so far as to say it was actually more painful than the miscarriage and I reckon I probably bled more. How’s that for logic?! Apparently, a very painful first and sometimes second period is common. Personally, I was barely able to move and tapping out the first draft of this post on my phone was a welcome distraction. Truth be told, as much as it hurt I am happy it came because now Dan and I can try again and get back on track with our plan of babies before I’m 30! The thing that people forget when you miscarry is that it’s not just the child you lost, it’s the plan. Dan and I spent hours talking about what our plans were now our family was going to expand, and they were happy conversations. They ranged from who would be best at helping with which homework subject to how being pregnant at upcoming events would change things. We built the arrival of this specific baby into our immediate future – and now that future is gone. It’s just as hard to get over and accept, but gradually we’re getting there. There are times when I look at my belly and I just feel so very sad, but I’m also an optimist. Dan tells me all the time that it will happen, and I believe him – that also helps. We have hope.
So there we are. This is my story from start to finish. It’s not been the easiest thing to write, but I like to think that in sharing this, someone might find it comforting to know that it’s something you can live through.