On miscarriage

Ok, so I'm just going to get this over and done with now, because I knew that I would write a very lengthy, probably boring post on this at some point. But I can't possibly write a blog about my life with my kids and not think or mention the utter devastation I went through when I had two miscarriages. (I say 'I' because I am writing this from my perspective mainly – I don't speak for my husband (not on this anyway), but I know he has his own thoughts and feelings on what we have been through – I'm not using 'I' as if it didn't effect 'us'). I have always been very vocal and open about my miscarriages. I'm sorry if it makes you feel awkward, but it happened to me, and it changed me as a person, so without it, I wouldn't be me - which is either a good thing or a bad thing, I'm not sure!

This is a note I put on my phone to myself over 2 months after my second miscarriage. "The miscarriage you had whilst you moved house you mean?" <<< Yep, that's the one (I had to have a friends house on standby for me, should I be between bathrooms if I started to bleed heavily - FFS).

I was trying to pull myself out of some completely dark place 12 months of trying and one missed miscarriage had left me in.

In 2010, my first ever pregnancy ended in miscarriage only 6 weeks in. We had been trying, so I literally knew 2 weeks into the pregnancy that I was pregnant. We were scared, overjoyed, nervous - all the things, but we never really thought in 4 weeks I wouldn't be pregnant again. I started bleeding, only a bit at first, so I googled myself into a place I could cope with - it's probably a miscarriage, but there's an outside chance its just normal. I knew deep down it wasn't but I wasn't prepared to give up hope just then. A trip to the early pregnancy unit at St Marys and I was reassured with a definite heartbeat.

Ok, two points here.
1. Theres an early pregnancy UNIT. A whole department dedicated to early pregnancy. Doesn't that just tell you something about how common miscarriage is? I'll tell you. 1/4 of all pregnancies end in miscarriage - and by the time you get to over 40 its 1/3. That's a lot. But no one talks about it, at least 5 years ago no one really did, so still people don't realise how common it is. Luckily, there's a new wave of mummy blogs and people in the spotlight, who are talking about it, and making it easier to talk about which is amazing.

2. Once you have a foetus with a heartbeat the chances of a miscarriage go down a bit.

Anyway, I didn't stop bleeding and another scan (internal, so more stress) in the EPU confirmed that the heartbeat had pretty much slowed to unsustainable and I would probably go on to miscarry fully in the next few days. Which I did. I won't tell you where exactly I think the majority of our baby ended up (ok he/she were mainly a collection of cells at this point, but still OUR baby), but this is a brutally honest post and it was in a pub somewhere we went to take our minds off it. I know. It's messy, it's painful physically and mentally, it's horrible. And that was at 6 weeks. I count myself lucky that it wasn't later, and even luckier that within 2 months I was pregnant again.

Pregnancy wise, Joe was a breeze, but until I saw that little nose on the 12 week scan, I was checking the toilet paper every time I wiped and running to the loo to check everytime I got the tiniest twinge. Believe me it's exhausting being on that kind of high-alert for so long. After 12 weeks I started to relax a little bit, and luckily for us we ended up with our first rainbow baby - Joe (now 5 and with the attitude of a teenager) :-)

Fast forward two hectic years and we wanted to start trying for a little brother or sister for Joe. For many reasons 2013 really lived up to its 'bad luck' vibe.

After months of months of trying I finally did a lucky pee test and I was pregnant again. I wasn't as worried this time as I was with Joe, as I had had a normal pregnancy with him, and surely I wouldn't be unlucky enough to have another miscarriage, would I? WRONG.

9 weeks into the pregnancy I started spotting. I remember it as clear as day. It was the week before we moved into our new house. A new chapter, 4 bedrooms, a garden - room for our growing family. This house buy nearly killed us (or indeed our vendors) as they were so rude and unhelpful the whole time I feel like any effort not being put into making a baby this past few months had been put into restraining our fists from flying into their faces. Sorry, bringing back memories this post! Anyway, the bloke who was buying our house was just popping round to measure for curtains and I had nipped to the loo before he came. There it was, just what you don't want to see. (TMI alert - it was brown, not red blood, which is old blood and can be perfectly normal in early pregnancy).

I was distracted for the measuring, and when Matt came home I tried to be casual whilst mentioning it. I could see the panic in his face as I tried to reassure him. He eventually just said 'Should I be worried'. I answered 'No'. But I was. I was very worried.

The next day I was still spotting, so we booked a private scan. Our brilliant friends minded Joe whilst we rushed round to the nearest Babybond at our allotted time. We specifically didn't go to the hospital simply because we had Joe, we had to pack and we didn't want to be waiting for ages. Luckily we had the means to pay for a scan there and then. Having checked in, we waited nervously. A lovely sonographer took us upstairs, asked for history and then jellied my belly up. At the 9 weeks I was supposed to be, she should be able to check externally. So when she asked me to go out to the loo, empty my bladder so she could check internally I knew it wasn't good news. And it wasn't. It was a missed miscarriage. No baby to scan, just the sac it should be growing in carrying on getting bigger and bigger, and my body still producing the hormones to make me think it was all ok. The spotting was the start of my body realising that there was no baby. When I say there was no baby, there was nothing to measure, no foetus to see on screen. I don't mean that the egg and the sperm hadn't started their process. So I don't see it as not being a baby - if you were 9 weeks pregnant in a normal pregnancy you would call it a baby and we knew no different till then, so it definitely felt like we had lost a baby. We went back to the house and shook our heads gently at our friends who then took Joe out for an hour whilst we got our shit together.

We waited till the Monday when Joe was in nursery to go to the hospital and be registered with them as a potential missed miscarriage. I then had to be scanned a week after to make sure there was definitely no growth, before they could help me further by offering medical intervention. Before the second scan I knew most of the baby had gone. Over a long drawn out two weeks (in which we moved house) I was scanned repeatedly and booked in for D&C - currently being called an SMM (surgical management of miscarriage) which is basically a procedure where you are put under a general anaesthetic and the remains of the pregnancy are removed surgically. In my head, sooner we could 'clear the area' the sooner we could crack on with making another one. I knew that this would be the single thing that would make me feel better. It sounds weird that I didn't immediately gather myself over the current loss, but we had tried so hard to get to this stage, and I knew statistic-wise miscarriages seem to just be false starts on the road to becoming a parent, that I honestly thought that I would be able to chalk this down to 'shit happens' and focus on the job in hand. In the end, my body has done its job (for once) and I was spared the surgery - when they scanned me baby number 3 had gone. I've got to say, the treatment I received at St Mary's both times was second to none.

Christmas came and went, and friends carried on the pregnancies they had started at the same time as me. I couldn't speak to them, I didn't want to know. It had been hard enough hearing all the pregnancy announcements when we were trying so hard the previous year, that knowing we had to go back to that stress and exhaustion was enough to send me over the edge. It did send my husband over the edge, but that's another story. (Don't underestimate how much it can effect your partner is all I am saying). I hated myself for not wanting to know, for ignoring good friends who were pregnant, for not being able to spend NY with them because I just couldn't feel happy about anything or anyone. I probably had depression, looking back, but then Matt was really struggling with pressure from work, the house move and the miscarriage, so I cracked on and ignored situations I found difficult. I pretty much solely hung out with people who I knew were trying (ok as they were in the same position as me), had just had a miscarriage (ok as we could talk about how we felt without dragging everyone down) or people who weren't going to have kids (ok as they wouldn't suddenly drop a pregnancy announcement on me). It was shit. I felt sad, ALL THE TIME, for weeks I cried when I dropped Joe at nursery, I cried when I picked him up, I cried when he cried, and when he laughed, and I cried when I went to bed. There wasn't a waking moment when I wasn't thinking about getting pregnant, being pregnant, flashbacks to finding out we had lost another one and generally feeling like I would never truly be happy again. And thats when I wrote that note to myself. To try and snap myself out of it. I just couldn't see how I would ever get over this miscarriage until I had a baby safe in my belly again.

And then one day I got flu. I mean I REALLY got flu. So bad I was weeing when I coughed type flu. I was checking my temp everyday, and counting my cycle like a mad woman. (Anyone who thinks that trying for a baby is romantic, think again. If you are actually REALLY trying for a baby, your life is full of peeing on sticks, temp taking and ringing your husband to get home IMMEDIATELY!!) Anyway, before the flu properly kicked in, and when I started to feel really ill I thought I had better get myself stocked up on medicine. I was due to take my cheapo ebay pee on a stick pregnancy test any day soon, which I would do each month, to give me a (cheap) indication of whether I might be pregnant (to be backed up in the event of a positive with an expensive test, or two, or three....). So I thought, I better take this test, see if there is any chance I am pregnant, before I fill my body full of anti-flu medicine, cough mixture and pain killers. And it looked like it was positive. Without getting my hopes up, I casually went raced to the shops and got tissues, flu tablets and a pregnancy test. I never took the tablets. I battled the worst illness I have ever had (and I have had pneumonia twice) on paracetamol and olbas oil, because in me was the start of a tiny life.

I tried so hard to not get excited about this one, but you just can't help knowing due dates and thinking to the future. We went to Vegas to see our friends get married when I was 6 weeks pregnant. Vegas and sober - I know! It was amazing, but inside I was in my bubble of worry, wiping every time I went to the loo, checking and checking again with every twinge. I took a miscarriage kit on the plane, just in case. Massive sanitary towels, spare trousers, knickers and very strong painkillers. As soon as we got back we had an early private scan (for viability - what a word), and there he was. It was Cass.

We never planned to have any more than 2 kids, and at 42 and being the world's worst person at giving birth (both kids back to back, labours of over 60 hours each and emergency c section for Cass with a massive loss of blood!) I'm pretty glad the stress and worry of pregnancy and birth are behind us. But to anyone going through this at the moment, either the miscarriage, the aftermath, or the extended feeling of sadness (my heart can't take the sadness of thinking about people who have mulitple miscarriages resulting in no kids and the strength it must take to accept this and move on), let me assure you, you are not mad.

Grief can do funny things to people. It can turn them into horrible mean bitches who don't want their friends to be pregnant and happy, it can make you want to punch the next person who says 'everything happens for a reason', it can take the light out of your day no matter how many kids you already have. It doesn't make you ungrateful for what you have just because you are sad for what you have lost.

So, I guess what I am trying to say, is I get it. I'll just be going about my day when suddenly a thought will pop into my head about how old the 'other babies' would have been, or whether they were boys or girls, or if we might have had more if we hadn't had the miscarriages (who am I kidding? Two kids is plenty for us thank you very much!).

I'll always be forever grateful for my beautiful rainbow babies.

'Let's just tip-toe gently upon this lovely world'


Nick Siddall said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nick Siddall said...

Sat here crying at the commonality of your darkest days and I'm a mid 30s, 18 stone, bearded man... although he may not realise it, your husband was the only person I was able to share my own feelings with at the time of our miscarriage... Friends and family are great, they say the right things and they are right there for hugs, but sometimes you just need a relative stranger who has experienced it too to guide you... I hope your blog resonates with people both in the frank and honest way in which you visualise your emotions... but also for the inspiration for others to see not just the dark of a night sky - but the stars which illuminate it, no matter how briefly. Peace.

CarolxHodge said...

Thank you for sharing this, your honesty and bravery is really inspiring. I had no idea what you were going through, or had been through, on that trip to Vegas. All I remember is how much you made me laugh, and how ace it was to spend time with you two! Big love and please keep writing, your frankness and self deprecation is wonderful.

Lynda said...

Thank you so much for this comment Nick. It seems this blog has hit a chord with so many people. It was hard to write and sometimes I think I am too personal but I am glad I have done it. X

Lynda said...

It was being with ace people that made me able to enjoy Vegas. So thank you xxx

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