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Diana’s story: chemical pregnancy and a missed miscarriage

Diana reflects on the impact of having a chemical pregnancy followed closely by a missed miscarriage. She also talks about being pregnant again after her losses.

I felt utter despair at the future that had just come crashing down around us, and angry at my body. I felt terrible for my husband, it was his loss too, and I also knew he would inevitably be picking up the pieces of my sadness, as well as managing his own.

I had never heard of the terms ‘chemical pregnancy’ or ‘missed miscarriage’ before going through them myself.

We decided to try for a baby and somehow fell pregnant the very first time – I was amazed! Sadly our happiness was short lived as only 24 hours after seeing a positive test I started bleeding, I was devastated and confused. We were told quite bluntly that it was a chemical pregnancy, a cold and clinical term for a very early pregnancy loss and not much cause for concern.

I was determined to keep trying, and by some miracle we fell pregnant again the next month – again I was shocked, it had happened twice in a row, and confident that we had had all our bad luck – this was our time.

The pregnancy progressed normally as far as I could tell, I had sickness and the usual symptoms everyone talks about right up until the day of the 12 week scan, so we really had no reason to think anything was amiss. We were nervous but excited that morning as it meant we would soon be able to share our good news.

Going into the 12 week scan is a painful memory that will never leave me, there was an awful silence from the sonographer and then we heard those dreaded words “I’m sorry, but there’s no heartbeat.” The room started spinning and I felt cold panic rising up in me, I wished that it was a nightmare I would soon wake up from. We sat quietly, completely stunned, whilst we waited for the second opinion which was soon confirmed, and we were informed it was a ‘missed miscarriage’ – a term completely alien to me. Our baby had died at around 9 weeks but my body had battled on, not realising what had happened.

I don’t think I have ever experienced feelings of true hopelessness before this, I felt utter despair at the future that had just come crashing down around us, and angry at my body. I felt terrible for my husband, it was his loss too, and I also knew he would inevitably be picking up the pieces of my sadness, as well as managing his own.

What was supposed to be such a happy day ended in us having miscarriage ‘management’ information fired at us – somehow it hadn’t yet occurred to me that of course I would need to physically miscarry, it felt very daunting with no option sounding easy. I chose the medical method, which meant taking tablets to start the process and then hopefully my body would do the rest.

The days that followed were incredibly difficult. The process for me was very painful and frightening, I felt out of control and overwhelmed at what my body was going through physically and emotionally. In between the cramps I lay scrolling social media, looking at people living their ordinary happy lives and couldn’t help feeling some resentment at that. Why us?

Eventually the pain subsided and the bleeding lessened, I somehow made it into work just a week later but I still felt quite unwell and generally out of sorts. I couldn’t shake off the sweats and I kept getting episodes of chills every so often. It became so bad one night that my husband dragged me to A&E where they found my miscarriage was incomplete and I had an infection from what remained, left untreated this would have become very serious.

I spent a few days in hospital on a drip and then finally had a D&C, the ‘surgical management’ option. Waking up from the anaesthesia I felt relief that the cramps had gone and that my ordeal was physically over. It was time to try and move on.

Life was very up and down for a few months after that – sometimes I felt strangely positive about the future, and other times I was very depressed about it all and never far from bursting into tears. The overriding feeling for me was intense loneliness – even though I had my family and friends, I still felt very isolated in my feelings and also physically. The little being I had been sharing my body with for 3 months wasn’t there anymore and I missed them. My heart and body ached for our baby, motherly instincts were lingering and I had nothing to put them towards. I remember crying watching clumps of my hair fall out in the shower and thinking how unfair it was to be going through a form of post-partum but no baby to show for it.

I felt a bit lost and struggled with my place in the world. Being pregnant I had started to step into this new identity of being a mum, but sadly now I was no longer pregnant and I couldn’t quite go back to the old me, stuck in a strange limbo.

We started trying again with no success for a while, which felt like a cruel trick after it had happened so easily at first. Every time my period rolled around I would feel a strange mixture of disappointment and also relief, another month without having to worry about miscarriage.

Eventually we got another positive test just after Christmas. I had only tested so that I could have a guilt free wine at the weekend, but lo and behold there were 2 lines. We didn’t jump around for joy like you would expect, we simply just braced ourselves like we were going into battle again. It felt like shop shutters coming down or putting on a suit of armour – I went into self-preservation mode, determined not to get ahead of ourselves this time.

At the time of writing, I’m now about 26 weeks pregnant with a little girl and emotionally it has been a very difficult pregnancy with lots of ups and downs. Miscarriage robbed us of the usual pregnancy excitement and filled me instead with anxiety. I have been waiting for something to go wrong at every turn and it is exhausting. Our house remains completely void of any baby items, the thought of having them and not this baby is just too upsetting. And instead of the big happy announcement we once dreamed of making we ended up telling people later than usual and quietly, asking them not to make a fuss.

I have been told repeatedly that there is no reason so far to worry about this pregnancy and I hope very much that we will meet our rainbow in September. I am trying to relax a bit as we reach the 3rd trimester but it is very hard. My heart goes out to everyone affected by any kind of miscarriage or pregnancy loss.