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Missed miscarriage

Keri shares her experience of conservative (natural) management.

I feel I can’t really talk about it as miscarriage is such a taboo subject, yet 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage…that’s a lot of people not talking.

In November 2014 I suffered a Missed Miscarriage, where the baby dies but you carry on carrying it and your body continues to think it’s pregnant.  It’s something I read about and thought God I really hope that never happens to me, it would be horrendous…and then I actually did go through it.

I found out I was pregnant just a few weeks after accepting my job offer.  I was scared, and it put some pressure on our marriage but eventually we grew used to the idea.  I started to actually look forward to my son having a playmate.  I started to make plans like you do.

Symptoms

I started getting all the symptoms and awful stretching pains.  These were worse than I had experienced before but just went with it. With my son I had several episodes of bleeding and so far this pregnancy was fine.  I was even thinking to myself this may be really not too bad.

Then I started having some spotting. It carried on to the next day so I called the maternity ward who told me to go to A&E.   I went on my own, waited to be called in to the waiting room and was jabbed several times till they could get my blood, and was then given an appointment for 5 days’ time for an ultrasound scan.  I went home angry and upset, and paid for a private scan later that evening.

Diagnosis

When I had the scan, I knew when she asked if I was sure of my dates that something was wrong.  She carried on and I knew the baby had died, there was no flickering heartbeat.  She was lovely and was sorry my hospital was leaving me so long.

I held back the tears till I got outside.  Whilst people were out celebrating Bonfire Night, I was trying to come to terms with the knowledge that I was carrying my dead baby.  My womb far from carrying life had turned into a tomb.  The next day I called and cancelled my booking appointment and scans.  I was nearly 12 weeks, my baby had died about a week before but as the doctor had explained, my uterus and the placenta had continued to grow. Nice cruel trick my body was playing.

The next week, when I went to the hospital for the appointment they had made, I told them I had already had a scan, but they wanted to do another.  So this time with my husband in the room we saw our dead baby again, and it was shrinking back down to size.  It was now the size of nearly 8 weeks, still looking like a little teddy bear.

Making decisions

My options were explained to me about having surgery (ERPC) where there is a risk of rupture, tablets where you pass the baby on the ward in hospital, or conservative management where you wait and see and let nature take its course.  This is what I decided on.

I asked questions, such as why did the blood smell like something from an abattoir and was told this is normal – I couldn’t understand why I was the only one who could smell it but of course my body still thought it was pregnant so I had a hyper sense of smell.

I went home so upset, so numb, and feeling so useless.  I felt like I deserved it, I had considered an abortion so this was the universe paying me back.  I also thought about whether it just died without pain or if it was suffering and if there was any fear.  Do foetuses have a sense of fear or consciousness when so underdeveloped?

The physical process

I returned to work on the Monday, still bleeding and it getting steadily heavier.  By Wednesday morning the pain was so intense, I woke up early feeling real contraction pains, feeling like I needed to urinate and I made my way to the bathroom.  There was so much blood, and I soon realised the need to urinate was pressure of needing to pass something, so I pushed and out came the placenta and part of the sac and umbilical cord.  I couldn’t see the baby but was bleeding so much I wondered if I had somehow ‘lost’ it.

About half an hour later I had that same pressure feeling.  I went to the bathroom and I passed the baby.  This tiny little foetus, only an inch if that with tiny arms and legs, just lay there.  My heart felt like it had been ripped apart.  It was so small, just as you would think and so lifeless…

A place for the baby

I didn’t really know what to do with the baby.  None of the literature told me what to do, I knew I didn’t want to just ‘flush it away’ but what?  Why wasn’t there any practical advice, why wasn’t I told I would have contractions?

I wrapped the foetus up and stored it in a container.  I was so upset and confused and angry, that not thinking straight I went to work like it.  It was too soon, but I just needed to clear my head and think.  I had read about someone being offered a burial service by their hospital… but my hospital I’m sure wasn’t about to offer that.  So we bought a cherry tree the next day and I wrapped it up in cloth and buried it under the tree.

On 19th of November I had another scan.  The scan showed that I still had miniscule amounts of ‘products of conception’, such a lovely term, and they felt I would pass it soon.  I passed some more ‘tissue’ on the 28th.  I had to wait another couple of weeks to do another pregnancy test to see if my hormones had returned to normal so on the 13th December I did that and the test was negative.  A few days later I started my first period since the miscarriage and was taken aback when I passed yet more tissue… it felt like it was never ending.

Feelings

And so here I am now, a few months on and trying my hardest to come to terms with this.  I had a miscarriage before I fell with my daughter but I was less than six weeks and it was nothing like this, and the pain was healed with her arrival.  This was something else.  An online friend who has experienced the same said it changes you, and I think it does too; I feel like a part of me died and I know to those who have never gone through it, and even partners it probably sounds stupid.

It hurts. I feel I can’t really talk about it as miscarriage is such a taboo subject, yet 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage…that’s a lot of people not talking.

I feel like people will think I am being self-indulgent being upset, as you know it wasn’t a ‘real baby’ that you felt kick, or that you nursed and watched grow.  But yes even with all that, I still hurt; I am banking on it getting easier as all things do.  But what really digs in is the fact that the last time I will probably ever carry a baby, it died inside of me.  THAT is so painful.  No matter how much my logical biologist brain tells me it was probably a genetic defect, there is still that nagging doubt that it was my fault,  that maybe I did something wrong, ate the wrong thing, didn’t do enough of the right things, allowed myself to be too stressed.  And still, like on a loop, it comes back to I was a walking tomb and that’s all…and nothing will change that and I am just done and washed up.

I will more than likely be sterilised, and that scares me too, I don’t want to go under general anaesthetic, but after being on hormones most of my adult life I don’t want to do that anymore either.  Again none of this is discussed when you have a miscarriage, at least in my experience.  Nobody asked me what I was doing about contraception, if I was going to try again, nothing.  Maybe they figure I am too old for that conversation.  But I do feel somewhat let down.  I am glad I didn’t have lots of medical intervention, but some practical advice, just something to say, ‘yes, this is normal’.

So why bother writing this?  I feel we should be supportive to women who go through this; and to the rest of the family who feel the anguish of it.  I just hope that if you are ever unlucky enough to go through this horrendous experience that you are able to see that whatever you decide to do, it is the right thing for you.  There is no wrong or right.  In the end I guess I just want anyone that ever loses their unborn child before they are viable doesn’t feel like the failure I’ve felt like, and that they feel supported during what is a very common yet emotionally awful experience.

Keri