Ellie shares her story of a missed miscarriage and how it helped to talk about her feelings.
It is something that will never leave you. But you are stronger than you know.
My partner and I had been trying to conceive for 4 months and then, there they were, the double lines. It took a while to sink in for both of us, so much so I took 5 pregnancy tests! We were excited and nervous, looking forward to being parents, as we researched nurseries, looked at baby clothes and thought of names.
I was pregnant, my body was changing, I could feel it. I was getting tired, struggling to keep my eyes open at work, having naps, trying hard to concentrate whilst revising for an exam. I was having to alter my workouts as not to put too much strain on my body. But it was okay, I was going to be a mum, that’s what mums did and I was loving it.
At week 6 I experienced some implantation bleeding. I panicked, researching what this was and reading about it being a potential sign of a miscarriage, but I thought ‘no, it won’t happen to me’.
After a few days of bleeding I phoned my GP who referred me to the Early Pregnancy Unit. There we had our first scan and everything was normal. There baby was so tiny, with a tiny heartbeat. Baby was 6 weeks and 6 days.
We walked out of the unit hand in hand, with a picture of the scan. That was it, I thought, the bleeding was fine. I had been assured that lots of women experience it, and that baby was safe.
To us, we felt that it was now safe to share the news with our close family and friends. We’d had a scan and baby was fine. I was starting to feel a bit better around week 8 so we started to tell people and it felt right.
I had my midwife appointment at week 10. I was again nervous and excited. It was all so new. She weighed me, worked out my BMI, went through all the questions and I was ‘spot on, low risk’. This filled me with more confidence.
A few days before our 12 week scan I experienced some more light spotting. This was very similar to before so I wasn’t too worried and I was going for my scan that week so I could ask any questions then.
We trotted in, more excited and less nervous this time. Friends and family had messaged me as they knew we were having our scan.
We were called into the sonographer’s room. It then all happened so quickly. As I looked at the screen I thought something didn’t look right, baby looked very small and 10 seconds after thinking that, that’s when she said “Oh sweetheart, I can’t find a heartbeat”.
The missed miscarriage…
We both sat there in shocked silence. It felt like someone had punched through my chest and ripped out my heart. This wasn’t how it was meant to be.
We got home and we were numb. On the sofa, my partner’s arms around me, we sat there in silence. Hours went by as we sat there. With every minute that passed I knew those who messaged were getting worried. And then it clicked, now we had to tell people. Just a few weeks after telling them we were pregnant we had to tell them we had miscarried.
Then I started to think, had I jinxed it? Is this why people don’t say anything before 12 weeks? Should we have kept quiet?
The days that followed felt dark. Being drained of emotion after telling our parents, siblings and friends. We received an overwhelming wave of support. A white bouquet from my brother and sister-in-law was the first to arrive, the day after I had messaged him. He is in the military and based overseas, the message read: “Thinking of you and here for you, even from the Falklands”.
Our house was like a florist’s. It was beautiful and comforting to know that we had such a strong, supportive network. I realised I was glad we told people. We felt like we could share our experience, share our pain.
3 days passed then it felt like it was ‘down to business’ as we returned to the Early Pregnancy Unit for a further scan and to discuss options for managing the loss of the baby. We were waiting a long time, but I didn’t even mind.
During the internal scan the sonographer confirmed we lost baby at 8 weeks and 4 days. She left the image on the screen, and it felt quite comforting to be able to see baby. She printed off a picture for us.
After this we saw a nurse who went through management options with us. Due to the size of the sac she said the most suitable course of action was a procedure. I was a bit scared as I had never had an operation under general anaesthetic before. She then went through the necessary paperwork and at the end asked if we wanted a memory bag. This consisted of an envelope of forget-me-not seeds, a white crochet heart and a tealight. My eyes welled up as I took the bag.
2 days later, it was time for the procedure. I felt strangely calm. Again, I received messages from family and friends sending love and strength. I took the crotchet heart with me.
We were checked in and seen to a side room, which we were very grateful for, and the nurse came in. It then all happened quite quickly: robes, surgical socks, doctors, porters and then I was in with the anaesthetist and was out like a light.
I was woken up, everything a bit blurry as I didn’t have my glasses on, waited about 45 minutes then I was taken back to the side room. A bit tender, but okay. That’s where we stayed for a few hours, had some tea and toast and we both even fell asleep for a short while.
That was it. I was discharged the same day, we drove home and had a ready meal my mum had got us and a slice of birthday cake as it was my partner’s birthday. He was and is my rock.
Now it’s a case of time doing its thing. I have sown my forget-me-not seeds, I sleep with the crotchet heart every night. I have good days and bad days.
I have been angry. Having delved into my work policies I couldn’t find any reference to pregnancy loss. I felt the absence of any acknowledgement that 1 in 4 pregnancies end in loss, amplified the ‘taboo’ of miscarriage.
I researched and researched public policies from different companies and sourced templates. Having put this forward to my manager, asking to introduce a policy, she gave it her full backing and then asked the question, “this policy is great, but are YOU okay?” and I didn’t know. I knew I didn’t feel like me, I felt broken. I felt small and weak. I was in pain, I was grieving, I still am. That’s when I realised, I needed to start talking more honestly. I wasn’t okay, but that’s okay.
Nothing can ever prepare you for being that ‘1 in 4’. From looking at that screen knowing something isn’t right to hearing the words “I can’t find a heartbeat”. It is something that will never leave you. But you are stronger than you know. Talk to your loved ones honestly, share your experience and never forget, you are a mum.