I don’t really do personal blog posts but this has been a big week in my life and I felt there were things I wanted to say and information I wanted to share with anyone else who might find themselves in a similar situation.
The subject of miscarriage is one often skimmed across in pregnancy books and mentioned in hushed tones amongst women. The reality is that approximately one in five pregnancies end in miscarriage and if you’re a woman in your childbearing years you can probably name more than one friend or relative who has experienced a miscarriage.
I wanted to write about my experiences because I feel there is a place for these stories in mainstream media. There are plenty of stories if you want to google miscarriage, but I really feel that it is a subject that many people are reluctant to talk about. From my experience I would have found it helpful to read about it in more depth in a pregnancy book. Sure they mention the symptoms and what might happen afterwards – but there’s no indication of what the actual experience might be like.
When I realised that my pregnancy was ending I just had no idea what to expect. Would it be painful? How long would it take? Would I be able to recognise a tiny baby? So here is my story:
*Note – if you’re not up for reading about the physical details about miscarriage it’s probably best not to read any further!
To begin with some background information: I have a 2yr old daughter who was conceived on the first try. When she turned one we decided to start trying for number two and I fell pregnant on her first birthday but miscarried a few weeks later – I was about 5 weeks pregnant. I basically just had a normal period but also passed some large clots. It took 8 weeks for me to get my period back and I continued to have some pregnancy symptoms during that time (namely nausea). We continued trying for another baby for the next 5 months but no luck. Having conceived my daughter so easily this really came as a surprise to me. At this point my husband and I decided to stop trying for a while as I was getting very emotional and distraught about it all. It seemed like every week there would be a new pregnancy or birth announcement and it was getting harder and harder for me to cope with.
Looking back now I really feel that my body just wasn’t ready for another pregnancy at that time and I don’t feel there was any other reason why it wasn’t happening. After a 3 month break we got back to business and hey presto! Pregnant first try again. Happy days!
The pregnancy progressed as it should. I get nausea about 1 week after ovulation so by the time I can take a pregnancy test I already know I am. It was similar to my first pregnancy, but the nausea wasn’t quite as intense, I didn’t vomit as I had the first time. At about 10-11 weeks the nausea really eased off and I thought this is great! Way easier than last time. Last Friday night, at 11 weeks and 1 day I began to have mild period pain. I wasn’t too concerned as in my first pregnancy I’d had period type pain almost constantly for weeks along with spotting everyday between week 6 and week 8. The following day I had some light brown spotting, but no different to what I’d had before. That night I think I had a little more pain and the next day the spotting became heavy and darker – a dark brown/reddish colour. This caused me to make an appointment with my GP as I am a negative blood type and it’s recommended that I have Anti-D injections to prevent my body to forming antibodies (which can cause complications for the baby) in the case that some of the baby’s blood mixes with mine (I think that’s a reasonably accurate description?). The GP advised rest and really all I could do was wait and see. That afternoon the cramping returned and then I began to really worry.
At 9.30pm on the Sunday night I went to bed and straightaway the pain began to get really intense, like quite strong period pain and also very strong lower back pain. I guess deep down I knew this could only go one way, but I still wouldn’t take nurofen just incase things were going to be okay. And I guess I also didn’t want to be numb to what was happening. The pain kept increasing and I found it difficult to get comfortable. I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep, but I was a bit scared really. I had no idea what to expect or how long it would take. As the pain got really strong (not as bad as a contraction but more than the worst period pain I’d ever had) I placed my hands on my abdomen with my fingertips touching in the middle. Suddenly I felt a tiny little ‘pop’ right under my fingers, seconds later I felt a rush of fluid coming and had to race to the toilet. The pop had reminded me of my waters breaking and essentially I think that’s what had happened.
Now I had this determined idea in my head that I didn’t want my little baby going down the toilet – so the turtle potty came in very handy that night! My daughter has refused to use it, but I’m glad I left it in there. I passed fresh blood and a large jelly-like clot. I also saw a very tiny mucus plug which the scientific part of my brain found very interesting. Basically the whole experience was like a mini birth – which is exactly what natural miscarriage is. I went back to bed, my husband scooped me up in his arms and I just sobbed my little heart out. Even though I know it wasn’t my fault, this little feeling of guilt crept into me. I started to tell my husband I was sorry. I just felt like I’d let him down, that it was my job to carry this baby and I’d failed. The physical pain then subsided and after about 20min I would feel the ‘contraction’ returning, it would peak and then I would feel the rush again.
The first bleed happened at 10.30pm and the last at 1.30am and I think I was up 4 times altogether. I found myself shaking a bit too, which may have been my body in shock I think. After the birth of my daughter I remember shaking uncontrollably. During the last bleed I passed what I believe was the baby sac. It was about 5cm in length, skin coloured and a bit shrivelled – meaning it had been deteriorating for a little while. There was no baby inside, just some pinkish ’tissue’ (I’m not sure what to call it?). It is amazing too how much of the jelly-like dark red clots I was passing, it must have been a very healthy uterus!
The next few days I felt very wobbly – physically and emotionally. It just so happened that the day before I miscarried we’d borrowed a cradle and life-like baby doll from the toy library. I thought it was a good chance for my daughter to get used to the idea of a baby in the house. In those first few days I felt such a strong urge to just cuddle that little doll. If I saw he was uncovered, I would wrap him up. Secretly I just wanted to cuddle up in bed with that little doll. It made me feel a bit crazy, but I guess it was pretty ‘normal’ considering I had just lost a little baby.
Sometimes I get frustrated about the expectation that you should not announce your pregnancy until after 12 weeks. It reminds me of the saying “Children should be seen and not heard” except it’s more like “Pregnant women should not be seen or heard until the risk of miscarriage is deemed acceptably low enough as to not offend anyone”.
I can certainly understand why women choose not to make their pregnancy public as it’s certainly not pleasant having to make numerous phone calls if you do have a miscarriage. But really, is it any better having to hide your nausea, tiredness and desire to eat 2 meat pies for lunch? And then if you do miscarry you then have to hide your pain, grief & loss as well. I’m not suggesting every woman should shout their pregnancy from the roof tops and it’s a personal decision that every woman needs to make. But I do feel it would be helpful if there was less secrecy around the subject.
I feel very blessed to have a wonderful husband, daughter, family and friends who have given me a soft place to fall, many shoulders to cry on and lasagne to eat – thankyou!!
Well that’s about it from me for now – here’s hoping 3rd time lucky 🙂
Afterword: A follow-up story can be found here.