Miscarriage: The truth…it hurts!
For those of us who have gone through miscarriage this seems blindingly obvious but for those who have never suffered a miscarriage can they really know just how much it hurts, both mentally and physically? And for those that think it’s just a heavy period, read on! This is my experience including a number of visits to the EPAU.
So here it is, the thoughts and fears that I have undergone since that horrific day. My story is not unique, as many as 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage but this doesn’t make it any easier to bear. For my full story visit our website or YouTube channel.
I was 5 weeks pregnant when one morning I started bleeding, it was quite pale and very light but I was scared nonetheless. The thought of miscarrying hadn’t occurred to me until that moment. I had previously had a miscarriage but had gone on to have more children so I had just assumed it wouldn’t happen again. A week later we went to the Early Pregnancy Assessment Unit (EPAU) in Cardiff where a scan showed that everything was ok, a nice strong heartbeat. I cried tears of happiness and relief.
The next few weeks went along well, I had the usual pregnancy symptoms of nausea, tiredness, aching boobs etc. And although exhausted I was thrilled with my lot. I never suspected that I was still at risk from a miscarriage, after all we had seen the baby’s heart beating.
It gets real
Then suddenly on 21st December, I started bleeding again, but this time it was very red and quite heavy. I started shaking and crying. I apologised to my husband, I felt guilty, like somehow this was my fault. We went to A&E and they booked me in for a scan on the Friday after Christmas.
We went home numb, not knowing what to do. I was scared, my head was filled with questions. Would it be ok this time? Would the bleeding stop? I scoured the internet for positive stories. I read that 90% of women who bleed in early pregnancy go on to have a healthy baby – I clung to that fact (although in retrospect I don’t know how true that is and on a side note we double and triple check all facts before they go on our website).
It gets worse
The next day I started having pains and this continued for most of that day and the next. Initially they were like period pains and gradually intensified until they felt like contractions, coming and going. On the Monday evening I suddenly became really hot, the pain seemed to stop and I felt what can only describe as a volcanic gushing of blood. And it didn’t stop. It was as this point, I knew without a shadow of a doubt, I had lost the baby.
We decided to ring an ambulance. I only live 5 minutes from the hospital but the blood was literally gurgling out of me at that time. I started feeling light headed and very scared. My husband said that my hands were icy cold and I began drifting in and out of consciousness. I really thought I was going to die. When I tried to stand I felt like I was going to collapse. My husband decided we could no longer wait for the ambulance and carried me to the car, leaving huge pools of blood behind.
We arrived at A&E. At this point I was so weak I could hardly hold my head up and I couldn’t think, I was still drifting in and out of consciousness, I just wanted to sleep. We were immediately rushed to resus. My blood pressure was dangerously low. They started treatment, I remembered that I started to feel freezing but I was beginning to come around, the bleeding had slowed down and my blood pressure wasn’t as dangerously low as it had been. I was told that I’d probably had a miscarriage and there was nothing left in my cervix. I was allowed to go home in the early hours of the next day but was told I still needed to attend the EPAU on the Friday.
Over the next few days we tried to get on with things, it was Christmas after all. The cramps had started back up, but they weren’t as intense as they’d been on the Monday and I was bleeding on and off and I thought this was normal. I tried to put a brave face on. It was so hard, I kept thinking of everything that had happened that week, we had gone from excitement and looking forward to the future to absolute heartbreak. I felt angry as everything around us carried on, Christmas came, the children laughed, family chatted over Christmas dinner and all I wanted to do was curl up in a ball and ignore it all.
But it wasn’t over
Friday morning arrived and we went to the EPAU for our appointment. I was scanned and told that my baby had stopped growing but that the sac and baby were in the cervix. I was shocked, I thought I had passed everything. My world came crashing down around me again! As a result, I ended up having a manual extraction, medical management and surgical management as things just didn’t seem to be proceeding as expected.
Whilst in hospital there were moments where I struggled to make a decision, I tried to block out what was happening, internally reciting flavours of soup for something to focus on. I felt numb, overwhelmed, sick and just incredibly sad and confused. I remember feeling embarrassed as they had had to cut my underwear off and the number of different people who had given me internal examinations and had to check to see what the flow was like. Is this really the time to be embarrassed?
After the operation I wasn’t in any physical pain and the bleeding had slowed down a lot. I was told that everything had gone ok.
A few hours later I was discharged and left with a prescription for iron tablets. I felt incredibly weak for days following the surgery and had to use a wheelchair when I dared to venture out of the house. I felt short of breath and had palpitations which I now know could have been symptoms of anxiety or anaemia or perhaps both.
I did the pregnancy test 3 weeks after the operation and it was showing that I was 1-2 weeks pregnant. This hit me hard and I just cried with the enormity of what had happened and was still happening. I feel like the miscarriage took over a month to happen and the emotional impact is still ongoing 7 months later. As I write this I should be sitting here nursing my new born baby. I struggle when I see pregnancy announcements or birth announcements. I have to limit what I watch on TV, no more ‘Call the Midwife’. I am however, beginning to feel stronger. I still have days when I feel emotional and overwhelmed but these are getting fewer and farther apart.
I don’t just grieve the loss of my baby, but also for the hopes and dreams that we had. We will never know what colour hair or eyes our baby had. We will never hear our baby laugh, never see their gorgeous smile. We haven’t just lost a baby, we have lost the future that we saw ourselves having.
During my miscarriage I think I felt every negative emotion possible. You may have seen the Kubler- Ross Grief Cycle:
This looks very neat and tidy. I imagine that their point is that you have to go through all these emotions in order to gain acceptance. And whilst I’m not dismissing their work, many people may see this and think, “that’s not how it works for me”. My grief (and I imagine the grief of millions of people) looks more like this:
If you find yourself struggling with the emotions following a miscarriage, there is help available. Morgan’s Wings offer a talk support service, you can also seek support from other services such as your GP or visit Beam who offer therapy following grief and Cruse Bereavement Care.
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