I'm a very open person, but this is something that I'm just coming to terms with and its a lot easier to collect my thoughts over a period of time and put into a blog than it is to tell a story to someone face to face. My brain is in a heavy fog, I suffer from small tremors in my hands when I talk about it, but I'm currently constantly reminded of my misfortune (because of the physical effects) multiple times a day so I'm forced to face it.
I am supposed to be 13 weeks pregnant by now, but I had a miscarriage.
This is something that is seen as an awful, taboo subject, but I feel like in order to heal from what I've gone through I need to talk about it. First thing I will say is that I knew it was a common occurrence to miscarry a baby. In fact, most people wait until after the 12/13 week mark to tell people about the pregnancy because the likelihood of miscarrying is so high in the first trimester. I just didn't realise how common it is: 1 in 4 pregnancies end up in a miscarriage.
For something that happens with those kind of odds, It's a wonder there aren't more people talking about it. I know it's a horrible event to go through both physically and mentally, but I hate the idea of suffering in silence, because no one talks about it. I didn't realize that so many women close to me have suffered the pain of loss from a miscarriage, not until I talked to them about it. Just like Postpartum Depression is a medical condition where support is openly available and encouraged to talk about if it does happen to you, I feel Miscarriages need to be treated the same way & have the same support/resources available (just in ca...not talked about in hushed tones after the fact when life spirals out of control.
So this is my story, open and raw.
Last Tuesday I rang my doctor because there was some bleeding going on downstairs, when for a supposed pregnant woman there shouldn't be any. I was referred to A&E to get it checked out since when the doctor rang me it was nearly closing time.
To add insult to injury, at the same time Rob had tested positive for Coronavirus so the whole household was self isolating-Rob in his bedroom, and me and Henry away from him as much as possible in the house. So, going to the hospital I was asked all sorts of questions about having come in contact with anyone who tested positive for Coronavirus (yes) and if I was self isolating (yes). In the end, I was put into a sick bay that was something out of a Virus Disaster Film--zipped shut in my own little bio hazard cubicle--had to have 3 Coronavirus tests done on me, my blood and urine samples taken during triage before I even got to see the on call Gynaecologist.
Three hours in A&E, a visit from the Gyno, midwife, and administrative midwife and it was determined inconclusive, but there was a possibility of a 'Threatened Miscarriage'. Only an Ultrasound would be able to determine the health of the foetus and they couldn't do one in A&E at 11pm at night. I was sent home and told to wait for a call for the soonest Ultrasound appointment available. Next day(Wednesday) I got a call for an ultrasound but the earliest appointment was Friday morning.
I was distraught, worried, anxious. I was working from home that day and found myself unable to concentrate on work because my mind was racing with all manner of thoughts. Why isn't there an appointment sooner? How will they be able to tell from an ultrasound if the baby is okay? What if it's not okay? Was it something I did? Did I fall at some point? Did I eat something I shouldn't? What if it is okay, then why am I bleeding? What if I was never pregnant to begin with? What if the home test I took was a false positive?
An overwhelming sadness took over my body at the thought of having a miscarriage. I found myself staring off into space for who knows how long, before snapping to and realizing that all of this speculative thinking wasn't healthy. I needed a distraction, and starring at a computer screen and waiting for the software to catch up with my clicks was NOT the best way of doing that--it lent itself to too much starring off into space and not enough getting work done. Knowing that I wouldn't be able to be any type of productive with the mood(and life) draining out of me, I took the rest of the week off in hopes that come Friday there would be some better more conclusive news.
When I went in for my appointment, I was told the rundown of how they were going to check for things. I saw a Nurse/midwife practitioner who took my details & medical history. I was so nervous that I kept forgetting basic information of my own information (my doctor/surgery's name, the name of prescriptions I was/had been on, etc). Embarrassed and flustered, I got through that session with the right information in the end, it just took me a little longer to get there.
I waited a bit, then went in for the 1st of 2 scans. The first scan was a normal ultrasound, where your bladder has to be full in order for the ultrasound to bounce the image back to the screen for the technician to see. It wasn't looking good. Not much could be seen because there were dark pockets of blood obscuring the path. I was told to empty my bladder then they would conduct an internal scan where instead of the jelly & scanner on the outside of my pelvis, they stick a wand up me to get a closer look from the womb opening.
The second scan wasn't any better than the first and after having 2 technicians conferring, it was determined that I had a 'Missed Miscarriage'. Even though I was supposed to be 11 weeks along, the foetus measured 7.7mm, which would roughly be the size of a 6 or 7 week old foetus, and the sac was misshapen/not rightly formed. Also, the technician said anything over 7mm they would expect to see the flicker of a heartbeat, but there wasn't one.
I was ushered into a small side room (I suppose it was their 'Grief' room) with a small sofa and armchair facing one another, a box of tissues on a short cabinet, and light/bright walls with 'happy' scenescape art on the walls. I waited, crying & in shock, trying to process what I was told. I knew it was a high probability with everything that had been going on. All signs were pointing to a miscarriage and I was prepared for it (or so I thought), but somehow it just became real when the technicians both said to me "I'm really sorry" and all I could say was "it's okay, it's fine" when I really wanted to articulate, 'It's not your fault for telling me. I'm glad I have an answer, even though it wasn't the answer I wanted to hear. Thank you.'
It also made it worse being alone with my thoughts and replaying what the technicians said in my head. Mainly, that the foetus was no more than 6/7 weeks, if we were going off of size, which means that for approximately a month, I've had a dead baby residing within me. No wonder I had such horrible morning sickness.
Eventually the Nurse/midwife practitioner who took my details earlier came in and explained in full the diagnosis and next steps:
Natural Management-Where we wait to see if the body expels the tissue etc naturally without intervention.
Medical Management- Where pills/tablets are taken to help encourage the body to expel the material.
Surgical Management- Where the contents of the womb are removed surgically, and there is an option of doing this with a general aesthetic or without.
She told me that I didn't need to make a decision straight away; some ladies know exactly which option they want to take and some want to get over the initial shock and take their time to determine which course of action is best for them. My shock apparently put me in 'fight' mode of the 'fight or flight' theory because my pragmatic side won out and I was able to make a decision right then and there about which option I wanted to take--Medical management. I wanted Them gone. I wanted this dead baby out of me so that I could grieve and move on and it was the only option that I could start that day.
She went through the one-off procedure with me, how it works, what will happen, the side effects, etc. then went to get a doctor to sign off on the medication and came back with 4 small pills, 2 pain pills, and 1 anti sickness pill. I gulped them all at once, swallowing my grief down with it.
I went home, cried to hubby while I told him everything I could remember about what the verdict was, which expelled any energy I had left, so I went upstairs to sleep for most of the afternoon. I could do nothing else that day but lay down and stare off in one direction, thinking, crying, and thinking before letting sleep take over. I had several little catnaps, but then the worst set in in that evening, about 8 hours after the pills were administered to me at the hospital. ((I WARN YOU NOW, the next paragraph is GROSS. Skip to the paragraph after if you cant handle bodily functions)).
First started the cramping. Imagine period cramps mixed with the early onset of labour pains when you start having contractions. This was the way the pills worked, they made the Uterus contract so that the material is encouraged to dislodge and come out. On top of that, the pills also gave you extreme nausea and diarrhoea so at one stage I shat myself before I could walk 3 metres to the bathroom, then proceeded to expel all manner of bodily fluids from both ends as I sat on the toilet and leaned over the sink simultaneously. For the rest of the evening, until about 2am I believe, I was getting up to go to the bathroom constantly to either throw up, poo, or have blood and tissue dripping out of me. When I returned to the bedroom each time, I would still be in so much pain from cramping, retching and straining that i would groan until sleep took over briefly, only to be woken up by the next round of expulsion.
I was in such extreme pain not only physically, but emotionally I was in turmoil as well. It was all the pains of labour, but without the squishy prize of a baby at the end... which somehow made the physical pain so much worse. Luckily that was the worst of it, so by 2ish in the morning I was able to get some sleep with minor aches and pains.
This past week has been a mix of emotions to day the least. The doctor at the clinic signed me off for a week, not only for my emotional wellbeing, but also because it's recommended that women going through Medical or surgical management of a miscarriage be on bedrest or at least take it easy for a week post procedure. The day after I was sad and delusional and just not myself at all. I thought I was going to have days of this where i just stare blankly all day, but it turns out that with the right amount of distraction, I wasn't like that ALL the time.
For the most part I played with Henry, got lost in the story of reading a book, or slept off the emotional and physical exhaustion. There wasn't much I could do to function normally because I just felt sad and drained, but not because of anything that triggered thinking about the circumstances. However, there were triggers that did make me zone out and hubby caught me staring into space quite a few times...
Seeing a new-born baby at the supermarket...
Going to the park with Henry and seeing siblings playing together....
Any mention of pregnant women (i follow some mum groups on Facebook so that is fairly common. I had to snooze those groups for a bit)...
Then there is (still) the reminder every day that my body is getting rid of evidence i was ever pregnant. Every time I have to go to the bathroom, I'm constantly wiping blood and tissue away. This is normal according to the midwife, for a couple of weeks, but its a constant reminder. Its as if when I'm having a good part of the day, I go to the loo and it renews that disheartened feeling I thought I was getting over.
What's worse is that throughout this time, from A&E to the ultrasound, and a day or so after, Rob was isolating, so I pretty much went through this alone, and had to take care of Henry on top of it. Towards the end, I just couldn't cope and I was getting frustrated with Henry because I was so frustrated and depressed about the situation I couldn't take any more. When Rob started feeling the effects of Covid going away, it coincided with when I found out I definitely had a miscarriage(officially). He took over looking after Henry in isolation so I could just be depressed without having to force myself to function. It helped tremendously and that was a tipping point for me moving on from crippling depression(not being able to do anything), to manic depression (doing things out of the norm).
I liken my grief so far to a midlife crisis...the time where drastic changes come into play to renew that youthful feeling of life. For me, I've determined that I'm trying to do everything I can to take advantage of not being pregnant so I'm not as sad. So basically doing all the things that were a pregnancy no no:
- Drinking Alcohol
- Consuming copious amounts of Caffeine
- Gorge myself on soft cheese, deli meats, undercooked meat, sushi, etc
- Dyed my hair
- Enquired about getting a tattoo
- Looked into giving blood again