I’m going to attempt a post about the ‘M’ word. Miscarriage. Happens to lots, talked about by few! Here’s my experience.
Five years ago today I had an ERPC operation – Evacuation of the Retained Products of Conception.
Just over a week prior to that I had my first ever twelve week scan. I remember the morning of the scan vividly. Getting down the gallons of water, arriving at the hospital early, sitting with Glenn having a coffee to kill time. In my gut I knew something wasn’t right. I didn’t feel excited or eager to see our ‘Squiggle’ (as we’d affectionally named our baby) on the screen. It wasn’t our first scan. We’d been at Kendal Calling a few weeks earlier and I’d had a massive blood loss which resulted in an early end to our festival and a silent car journey home, stopping at A&E, a long sleepless weekend of waiting and then return to hospital on the Monday for an early scan. Miraculously they found a heartbeat. There was hope.
As we had our twelve week scan that day, we weren’t excitedly feeding pound coins into the photo machine. We weren’t ringing friends and family to let them into our secret. We were left in the waiting room looking at all the excited couples doing these things as we sat numb, heartbroken, knowing our baby was gone, lost, a silent miscarriage at eight weeks.
Two days later we went off to Spain with friends as planned. As we had our holiday booked, our only option at that point to deal with our miscarriage was to ‘wait and see’. It was a quiet holiday in a villa and it helped to be away from home. When we got home a week later, nothing had happened naturally and I went in hospital to have the ERPC operation. I’d never had surgery before. I’ll always remember that feeling that I got when the anaesthetic started to take effect, that I couldn’t breathe, panic, suffocation.
You don’t prepare yourself for miscarriage. From the minute you pee on that stick, you bond with your baby. Ours left us silently and I continued to carry our baby for over five weeks, four of them not knowing. When we did know it hit me hard; sadness, not really telling people and the people we did tell not knowing what to say or saying ridiculous things. Then questions you get in the early days of marriage: ‘Isn’t it about time you started a family?’, ‘No baby on the way?’ Scans posted by others on Facebook. Pregnant people everywhere. Babies being born all around us.
We went on to have two more miscarriages, one in March, one in July. Recurrent miscarriage. My GP said to me, “Well, at least you know you can get caught” (heartfelt words from a medical professional!) I had tests at the hospital. The consultant advised me to take low dose aspirin as soon as I suspected I was pregnant the next time round.
The tests were inconclusive but the aspirin together with extra early scans and reassurance from the Early Pregnancy Unit in the early days, and consultant led care throughout, helped me to welcome my eldest son into the world in July 2012. Then my second son followed at Christmas last year. I didn’t enjoy being pregnant. Months of anxiety, fear of scans yet having to have more of them than the norm, knowing how easily hope can be snatched away. I have two beautiful sons but I’ll never forget what we went through and the three that we lost, especially that first time five years ago.
My rainbow babies:
Mr Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, talked about his own experiences of miscarriage a few weeks ago when he announced his wife’s pregnancy on Facebook. Good on him. Maybe if more high profile people talked about it openly, it wouldn’t be the taboo and awkward subject that it is today.