Sunday, 18 March 2018

The story of my miscarriage

What I am about to write shouldn't be read by everyone.

This is an account of my miscarriage.  I hope by writing it here, it will help me comes to terms with this loss in some way.  It might also be helpful for others to read, though if you have recently miscarried, are pregnant, or generally feeling sensitive in yourself, I would suggest you don't read this right now. This might not be a totally accurate account.  I will write it as I remember it, as best as I can. It's probably going to be a really long read.

We had a great beta-HCG result early on, doubling time was good, and we saw a heartbeat around 7 weeks.

I had privately arranged an early scan.  We would have been around ten weeks at the time.  I had a little bit of spotting the week leading up to it.  I did call the clinic, but was reassured that it could be the progesterone pessary and "we wouldn't scan for this now anyway."  It didn't continue so I felt I didn't really need to worry.  My pregnancy symptoms had died down a little too.  I wasn't feeling so sick anymore and my boobs weren't hurting as much.  But again, all this can be normal as you come towards the end of your first trimester so I put it to the back of my mind. 

When we arrived at the scan place I felt sick with nerves. I think there was a lot of anticipation about it from both of us.  It's a difficult place to be anyway as it is full of baby things, and scan photo memorabilia and very obviously pregnant people with smiling faces and not a care in the world.  We signed the paper work, that reminds you that you still have to pay even if the result isn't what you were expecting. 

The midwife was lovely, she got a brief history from us and asked us why we were having the scan.  For early reassurance really.  The room was dark with a big screen right in front so you can see the scan image in all it's glory.  She put the gel on my tummy and started scanning.  I knew immediately that there wasn't much to see. I looked at the screen, and the midwife was pressing really hard on my tummy.  It was really painful actually, she actually asked me if it was painful.  I looked at Ben, who was holding my hand. He gave me this little hopeful, slightly excited face, and I shook my head. She stopped scanning us and told us that she couldn't really see anything.  I can't exactly remember what she said, but she went away to get in touch with the early pregnancy unit (EPU) for us. 

When she left the room all I could do was apologise to Ben.  We didn't cry.  We just sat in shock.  I don't think I had any immediate thoughts, but looking back I feel like I sort of knew.  I mean, why would we get good news.  We never get good news.

The midwife came back in.  She had arrange an appointment for us at EPU the following Tuesday.  I remember her being kind, but I don't really remember what she said.  We left the room, and Ben paid. 

We were celebrating nine years of being together that weekend.  We already had a hotel booked in Sheffield for that night.  We were seeing Brian Cox that night and Protege the following night.  We walked pretty quietly to the car, got in, and Ben drove us to Sheffield.  We didn't really talk in the car.  I think we didn't want to start talking in case we started to get upset, and Ben was driving so I didn't want to upset him.  But we got to Sheffield and into our hotel room.  We had a cuddle and a cry and a chat about it. 

It feels funny thinking about it now because now I feel differently.  At the time I/we was/were very clear that that was the end of it.  We didn't have the money to do another round of IVF, and we had up to that point been quite certain that we wouldn't do anymore.  So we resolved to get on with things.

We went out for food, and to see Brian Cox, and had a dance (and a drink) at Protege.  It felt weird having a drink knowing there was still a baby (fetus) inside of me.  I carried on taking my progesterone pessaries.  I don't even know why, clearly they were just holding onto the 'products of pregnancy', I just wasn't ready to break from that habit just yet.  I did have a look at the Miscarriage Associations website.  I wanted to understand management of miscarriage, and my choices.  I decided quickly that I wanted surgical management.  I didn't want any surprises, I wanted to get back to work quickly, and so I wanted it over with as soon as possible.

We told a few people over the weekend, but kept it mostly to ourselves.  In our way we wanted to enjoy our weekend away, and have some time to ourselves to digest it before we told others.  I knew people would be sad for us too.  We couldn't face calling people, so mostly sent text messages.  I went to work on the Monday as scheduled.  I didn't know who would be on so I messaged as many of the girls from work as I could on the Sunday night.  I didn't really want to start my working day by telling them.  They were wonderful as always. 

It was the Tuesday before I went into melt down.  I woke up sad and angry.  The journey in was awful.  I have such a rocky relationship with that hospital. It's were the fertility clinic is.  It was like reliving every single anxiety ridden journey there, all at once.  I had significant road rage, and I wasn't even driving.  My impatience in the car park, with people faffing about trying to find a parking space...oh my gosh, how I didn't kill someone! Plus, we weren't quite sure of where the EPU was, so first we walked into the gynaecology department which happens to be were maternity is.  The lady behind the desk kindly directed us to another building. 

On the walk from that building to the other, I could see someone slowing down to ask for directions.  It was like the straw that broke the camels back.  I just couldn't handle someone wanting something from me right now, something so mundane.  I didn't even stop to listen to them, just dragged Ben away saying "we can't help you right now!" I could hear Ben apologising to the guy as I dragged him away.  We got into EPU and there was no one on reception, just a notice that said "if there is no one at the desk, please take a seat and someone will be with you shortly."  I was ranting to Ben about how awful that was, how there were peoples notes out on the desk and no one was there, and how could they do this to me right now.  When the clinic co-ordinator came back and checked us in, I got cross that someone got asked their country of origin but we didn't get asked, I was angry for them cos, racial profiling, or some bullshit like that.  Eventually, I got myself so worked up that I just burst into tears.

We were seen pretty quickly.  We were seen by a nurse and health care assistant.  We went for a scan to confirm what we already knew.  This time it was an internal scan.  I didn't really want to look.  There is a sign on the wall that tells you not to ask questions until the end, that they may not be able to answer questions and to tell anyone with you to not move the seat forward to try to look at the screen.  It's a very clinical environment.  She confirmed that we had had a missed miscarriage, probably around 7-8 weeks.  So probably not long after we saw the heart beat then. 

We then discussed management of the miscarriage with the nurse.  I immediately said I wanted surgical management, because I wanted it over and done with so I could get back to work, and so I wasn't surprised, possibly at work, with heavy bleeding.  She said she couldn't book me in for that.  They weren't allowed to book anyone in for surgery unless absolutely necessary.  It's one of those things, I know, but it's really disheartening when you think you have choices, but these choices are limited by what is truly available at the point of care.  I got upset that I couldn't have what I felt like I needed, and that I would have to go through it medically or naturally.  I hated that I wasn't in control of the situation.  All the power was else where, these things happening to me and being done to me, that I didn't want doing or happening. 

As it was clear I wasn't going to settle for letting things happen naturally, the nurse discussed medical management with me.  She tried to reassure me that she didn't think I would bleed that much as it was so early on.  Looking back on this comment, I don't think she should have said it.  It is actually quite a subjective thing, based on a persons previous experiences.  We were booked in for the following day, to spend the day on the ward, where I would be given medication to bring on the miscarriage and monitored. 

The following day we went in.  Three little tablets were placed inside me.  I had to lay there for 20-30 minutes then I could get up and move around as I pleased.  I had a lot of nervous energy.  We were there for a few hours (maybe about 4 hours) with nothing much happening.  I had some abdominal cramps but not much else.  Mum came to see us for a bit.  I was in a weird place, cos we were all talking about anything but what was going on.  I was quite up beat actually.  We went down to the cafe to get a drink, I was given food on the ward.  I started to get more cramps but nothing seemed to be happening.  If I went to the toilet throughout the day, I had to catch everything in a paper bed pan in case it was 'products of pregnancy'  If it was I was to tell the nurse looking after us. 

She was really friendly, and spoke to us briefly about our history. Otherwise, we were left alone.  At 4 hours (I think?) I was given another dose of the medication, this time orally.  This medication helps break down the lining of the uterus and causes contractions to help expel the miscarriage.  Once this second dose started to work, I started having stronger, more painful cramps.  I was given some pain relief.  I kept moving around, but it was like the worst period pain I'd ever had.  I had been spotting most of the day, but this second dose started me bleeding properly and heavily.  I started to feel really sick so the nurse brought me some oral anti-sickness tablets.  I kept them down for all of 5 minutes! As I was actually sick, she brought an anti-sickess injection instead.  I couldn't take anymore pain relief orally cos I felt so sick.  Eventually, about 4 pm ish, I finally passed the fetus.

It was a very strange thing.  After being quite up beat all day, then I got really emotional.  I told Ben that it had come out.  He had a look too.  Then we called the nurse in.  She took it away to check and came back to confirm with us that it was the fetus but that she needed us to stay a little longer to make sure any remaining placenta was out.  Over the next hour I bled quite heavily, but my pain and sickness eased.  It didn't go away totally, enough to be able to take more medication and move around more.

During the course of the day we had to sign something to say what we wanted done with the fetus. We could have taken it home if we wanted.  We decided we wanted the very basic tests carried out on it, and that it could be cremated with other fetus' lost in a similar manner, in a regular closed service that is held regularly.  We never did get any results back.  Perhaps we'll hear about this at the recurrent miscarriage clinic.

Eventually, the nurse said we could go home.  I had about a week off work.  It took a lot longer than that to heal physically.  I don't know if I will ever truly heal mentally.