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Amie’s story

Amie describes what it was like to miscarry at home, deciding what to do next and her care at hospital.

What am I meant to do next? Everything I had read yesterday has not prepared me for this. I expect I didn’t really take any of it in because, well, who wants to?

4am. The lyrics of a Paul Young song written before I was born reverberate in my head, “why won’t you come back?” They’ve been there for thirty minutes, “please hurry, why won’t you come back”. Although my brain has substituted “hurry” for “baby”.

I am 11 weeks minus one day. This is the way I’m counting now. Yesterday was awful. There is no other word for it. I feel stark, void, hollow. Yesterday, when I lay there at 6am I felt hope, even then, despite little contractions the night before. There was still a slither of hope. There was no more pain, I had managed some sleep, my maternity pad didn’t feel soaked.

The anxiety about going to the loo remained.

Don’t move, don’t move and it will be OK. Two hours before the EPAU appointment. Don’t move, it’s still OK, I’m still pregnant, not enough has been lost yet. They wanted first morning urine. I had my washed-out strawberry conserve jar ready to go. I forced myself to move, the first few steps were fine, nothing. Only a few more, that’s all. Maybe it was actually fine. A few more steps. Perhaps I might see a tiny baby on the screen today after all.

In the bathroom, it is a different world. “Oh no, no, no, no, oh God”. I don’t make it to the loo, as I pull my knickers down I know it’s come away. It sits there on the top of the pillow of a maternity pad. H rushes in, I realise I must have cried “oh no!” out-loud.  Do I want him to see this? I hesitate. It’s too late, I can’t move now and I didn’t shut the door. Will he be grossed out? Will he be scarred by this image, just as I will always be marked by it? What am I meant to do next? Everything I had read yesterday has not prepared me for this. I expect I didn’t really take any of it in because, well, who wants to? I wanted to cling on to the stories where it works out with a mother and a healthy baby in her arms. I must have sat down on the loo and been crying because he says, “I want to give you a cuddle, can you get off the loo?” “No!” I wail, “I have to pee in this jar”.

We have to decide what to do with “it”. Do the hospital need to see it? Do we put it in a ziplock bag and a little Tupperware and take it with us to the hospital? What then? I hear the words “clinical waste” and “leaving it at the hospital” and I can’t have that. We decide to take a photograph, which I make him promise to delete as soon as we know they don’t need to see it. He leaves me (or is it us?) to get his phone. I pick up the pregnancy sac, gingerly, gently. Am I meant to do this? I peer at it very closely, is that an umbilical and is that a head? I’m intrigued but also unsure, this feels a bit wrong. This baby is not ready to be seen, it isn’t right. I rest it back down. Am I meant to bury it? I’m not even completely sure if that is all of it or even if it’s the fetus. Did I just want to see what I think I saw? He comes back with the phone. I feel shame as he photographs my blood stained knickers, the pad and the blob. We talk again about what to do. Quickly, we decide. We flush, I tip it into the loo, I put my fingers on the handle and fix my eyes on my hand as I press down. It’s gone, I don’t see the point of the hospital now. The false hope has drained from me. There is definitely no need for my strawberry conserve jar.

“Why won’t you come back?”

I shower. I eat breakfast. We go. It is far. We park and I cry, shielding my face with my arms from the parking attendant. We walk. I need a wee. We search for the birth unit. I know, from having scans with my babies in London, that I will be in a part of the hospital with the pregnant women and babies. I have steeled myself for this but it is still hard. At first we go to the wrong window of the reception desk, “ultrasound”, we no longer have that privilege, we are told we need “gynaecology”. We walk the five steps to the other window as the same receptionist walks her five steps across behind the glass. Farce.

I tell her, “it’s gone, I know that”.  “They will still need to see you”, she says but she agrees I can go for a wee as long as drink my water afterwards. I drink. After 20 minutes I need a wee again. It is 30 minutes after my appointment time, I am physically shaking and my teeth won’t stop chattering. At appointment minus 35 minutes H speaks to the receptionist. Five minutes later and we are in with Laura and Julian (I have no idea what role Julian has, he says nothing). Laura speaks so softly. I hear her but I don’t listen, I nod. I tell her I know it’s gone. She gives me a sheet of A4 paper with boxes and writing on it, H says I need to give it to the Receptionist (gynaecology side, of course) for a scan. We wait again; we are moved to some seats near the sonographer’s room. A young couple is already there, she is giggling, happy, holding a Bounty pack in her hands excitedly. I have been there too, twice. I am not there now.

The sonographer comes briskly out of her room, I say what the Receptionist told me to say and we are in. She is curt. She barks at me. I don’t understand. “Sorry?” I ask. “Date of birth?” she barks again. “Get undressed” she says. This is so far from what scans had been before. How dare she sound so cross. Like an automaton I do what I’m told. I lie on the bed and move my body to suit her. I detach my emotions, I park them safely out of the way and I ask her simple questions. “Has it all gone? How much more bleeding will there be? Does everything look normal?” She answers them but it is cursory, accurate. There are no niceties here, after all, this is as far from “nice” as you can get. She does not even say, “I’m really sorry” or just “sorry”, the only person who said sorry was me.

It is empty. I am empty. I don’t see the screen, the one turned on for excited parents-to-be, we don’t get that. H looks; he says he knows he saw my uterus and ovaries but he only knows this because she labelled them. I see nothing. I don’t want to see.

We have to return to the waiting room again. I can wee now. Laura wants to see us next. She tries to convey sorrow and sympathy, she is good at it, well-rehearsed. I think of those women before me, not so fortunate, with no babies of their own yet and I feel anger against the sulky sonographer. “It’s alright for me”, I say, “I have two beautiful healthy children already but if that had been my first experience of pregnancy, well…” and I break down a little, “she didn’t even say “I’m sorry””. Laura is sympathetic, she says she is the most experienced sonographer they have, that she isn’t really meant to say anything but she doesn’t agree with her manner, she will feedback. Julian silently but vehemently emphasises his agreement. We talk some more, I decline a blood test to rule out an ectopic pregnancy because I’m confident of my dates and it would be too late for that. I am required to take a home pregnancy test in three weeks but Laura says I could try in two. If it is not negative then this horror will not be simply, over.

I am grateful though, I have not needed an internal examination, I do not need to make any decisions about how to manage the miscarriage. My body has done a good job; it has done what it was meant to do in a miscarriage.