Adel’s story

Adel talks about her third miscarriage, with details of having a manual vacuum aspiration (MVA) procedure in hospital.

I get upset and angry but, overall, I feel loss for the baby we never cuddled, and I have a feeling of emptiness.

After 2 miscarriages we were over the moon to find out we were expecting. This time around we tried to not get too excited or start planning too far, just taking every day as it came. My pregnancy seemed to progress well. I was feeling exhausted with a constant feeling of sickness, but I thought “these are good signs”.

At 10 weeks, we decided to go for a private scan so my partner Gary could attend – at the time, the NHS could not allow partners as part of Covid-19 precautions. We went for the scan with both nerves and excitement at seeing our baby for the first time. The screen flashed up and there was our baby! Head, body, legs and arms, this was really happening.

Then the sonographer told us she having problems finding the baby’s heartbeat. Everything from this point went in slow motion. They confirmed our baby’s heart had stopped the week before and we went home in a daze. Arriving home, we contacted the early pregnancy unit who talked us through the options and booked me in for a scan the next day.

Due to covid-19, Gary had to wait in the car park for me. They confirmed that our baby’s heart had stopped and that I was having a missed miscarriage. We were given our options to proceed and decided on expected management, hoping that my body would realise what had happened and that the miscarriage would begin naturally.

Over the next 2 weeks, my morning sickness disappeared, and I started bleeding heavily. I was advised to take a test 3 weeks on and received a positive result. Going back to the hospital, I was scanned, and the midwife explained that half of my womb had collapsed but I was still carrying our baby.

At this point I opted for medical management. The hospital gave me pills and then I took more the next morning to begin the process. The hospital had given me painkillers, but I thought I would just take them if I couldn’t handle the pain. This was a mistake, as 20 minutes after taking the tablets, I was doubled-over in pain, the contractions had started sooner that I thought. Gary got me pain killers and a hot water bottle and just held me.

About an hour later, I had an urge to go to the toilet and I passed a lot of blood including clots about the size of my palm. This went on for about 4 hours. I didn’t feel like I could leave the bathroom as the bleeding was so heavy. When things did settle down, it was like a heavy period with some pain. This became less over the coming week but 10 days later I woke up with stomach pains and cramps and could hardly walk again. We rang the hospital and I was told to go in.

At the hospital, they did an internal examination, blood tests and a scan which showed that there was some tissue remaining. Again, I had had to go to the hospital alone. There were a lot of people around me giving me a lot of options. I was upset, scared and in a lot of pain. I was totally overwhelmed with all the information and struggled to work out what was the right treatment for me.

In the end I was given more tablets and went back to the hospital a few days later. The scan still showed the tissue remaining but this time things were a lot calmer and I wasn’t in as much pain. The midwife explained there was a procedure which would mean I didn’t have to have a D&C called a manual vacuum aspiration (MVA). She explained the pros and cons, gave me some information and some time to read through it and ring Gary.

We decided the MVA was our best option and I was booked in the next day. I’m not great with smear tests due to bad experiences when younger, I have a tilted pelvis and so the thought of an MVA terrified me – I even packed an overnight bag in case anything went wrong. Gary drove me to the hospital the next day but, again, could not come in.

On the ward, the consultant talked me through what was going to happen, and the midwife was with me throughout. I sat on the chair with stirrups and the midwife scanned me. They used an instrument similar to a smear test to examine me before the doctor gave me three injections at the entrance to my womb. This was painful but quick so not unbearable and I was given gas and air. They then effectively sucked the remaining tissue out. They had to do it three times to remove it all and, although it was uncomfortable, the gas and air helped. My womb collapsed as soon as the tissue was removed, causing an intense cramping pain, which lasted around a minute.

The midwife and doctor talked to me through out and reassured me that the procedure was going well. The MVA was painful and not pleasant but looking back, I am glad I opted for it. The pain was intense but over quickly and the recovery was short, which is one of the benefits to the procedure.

After the procedure, I waited on the ward for an hour to check everything was ok before being allowed home. That night I was tired with no energy but that was probably everything I had been through rather than the procedure itself. I bled lightly for 2 weeks afterwards, a negative pregnancy test showed after 3 weeks and my period came at around 5 weeks.

It took me 2 months from finding out we had lost our baby to feeling physically ok. The hardest bit for me was Gary not being able to be with me throughout everything, I am so glad we were given the news at a private scan with him there. We really feel that partners should be allowed back into NHS appointments.

After recovering from the physical side of the miscarriage, I feel only now that I am dealing with the emotional side. I go from questioning what I did wrong to wondering why us. I get upset and angry but, overall, I feel loss for the baby we never cuddled, and I have a feeling of emptiness. We are trying to think positively and look to the future, but I know we will never forget our baby.