Fiona shares her story of having a missed miscarriage, with details of the physical process of her loss, and includes her reflections on her experience to help others who might be going through something similar.
Miscarriage isn’t a single event... I had no idea about how long the process can be and the choices and decisions you are forced to make - when all that you want is to turn back the time to when you had a growing baby inside you.
It took a year of trying for us to conceive our second baby. When I finally saw that second line on the test I was so relieved and overjoyed!
The anxiety of the first trimester kicked in almost immediately, I was the same the previous time mainly because I know how common miscarriages are and so many friends have had them.
My pregnancy symptoms were much worse than with my first; nausea, fatigue and headaches. In all honesty it was a rough few months, trying to work and look after my daughter in the middle of a heatwave whilst feeling pretty rubbish, but I kept telling myself the strong symptoms were a good sign. I had 2 occasions of very light spotting around 9 weeks but wasn’t worried as I’d had on and off spotting with my daughter and the midwives were never concerned.
Finally, after the long 2 month wait the 12 week scan day arrived. I couldn’t wait to hear the heartbeat, see my baby and let go of some of that anxiety. Instead I heard the words I’ve always feared but never expected, “I’m so sorry but there is no heartbeat, baby stopped growing at around 10 weeks”. I cried but no tears came out, then I couldn’t stop crying for 2 days.
We were given our ‘choices’ for the next steps. I just remember sitting in that room unable to believe what I was listening to and the choices I needed to make, it did not feel real. Through pure desire to leave the hospital and to be in the comfort of our home we chose to wait to see if I miscarried naturally.
My pregnancy symptoms continued and every time I felt nauseous I felt so angry and upset that my body hadn’t realised. 2 weeks later, nothing had happened and I felt in a state of limbo. I couldn’t grieve fully until my body physically let go of our baby. I felt lost. I’d miscarried but I’d not miscarried. I was pregnant but I wasn’t pregnant. I tried to get hold of the Early Pregnancy Unit all day, but with no answer. I felt so abandoned. I still can’t quite believe that you can be told that your baby has died, go home with the baby still inside you and that no one even calls to check how you are.
Thankfully after the weekend they finally called back and I made the decision to start medical management. All the information they had given us indicated that this had to take place in hospital, but through speaking to friends and reading others stories I knew that others had returned home afterwards. I felt empowered to have some control over where it happened and we were able to agree a plan where I had the vaginal pessary, waited an hour in hospital then returned home. I was also able to plan around the days my daughter was in nursery.
The miscarriage began as I was leaving the hospital. Frustratingly this was over 2 hours after having the meds due to delays within the hospital. Once home I was barely able to get off the toilet and started to feel really faint. Once I lay down and had something to eat or drink it improved, but each time I had to get up it got worse again.
Weirdly I didn’t feel the intense pain that lots of women describe. My experience was a feeling of downwards pressure/needing to push, then a huge gush of blood and clots. This came in waves like contractions probably with about 5 minute intervals.
At just under 3 hours I could feel something different passing, much more solid and I needed to focus on pushing it out and caught it in my hand. It looked very different from the rest. I couldn’t see an obvious baby but am assuming this was it. We wrapped it in a muslin and plan to bury him/her under a rose.
After this it all stopped. My main emotion that day was relief and I felt some weight had lifted. My amazing body had tried so hard to keep hold of this baby but it was time to let go.
2 hours after going through this I was doing bedtime with my 3 year old, barely able to stand up. I have found this aspect challenging throughout. I am so grateful to have my gorgeous girl and her chatter and cuddles always cheer me up. On the flip side, needing to show up and ‘mum’ every day while going through this has been really tough, with lots of feelings of guilt that she’s having to deal with my sadness and reduced tolerance. In addition to this I feel so sad that she may never have the brother or sister that I so want her to have. There’s also no escape from kids’ stuff and every time I see other children her age with younger siblings I just want to burst into tears!
My takeaway points:
- Miscarriage isn’t a single event. Before this happened to me I thought of a miscarriage as something that just happens: you bleed, lose the baby, then you grieve. I had no idea about how long the process can be and the choices and decisions you are forced to make – when all that you want is to turn back the time to when you had a growing baby inside you.
- Everyone’s experience is different. You can read/listen to lots of peoples stories but yours will be your own.
- Take time to grieve/process. One positive of doing natural management initially was that it gave me some breathing space to grieve before going through the physical process. This helped me approach it feeling more calm and in control. I also felt like I couldn’t return to work until I had physically miscarried and I’m really glad I gave myself that time.
- If you feel able, talk to close friends/family about it. I had a couple of friends that had been through miscarriages and it really helped to talk with them. Both regretted returning to work too early and this helped me feel more confident about taking the sick leave. It also helped me to process everything by telling some close friends the details of the physical miscarriage.
I am so grateful for the support of the Miscarriage Association. I used the live chat on two occasions, once during expectant management and once during the physical process. As I discussed above there were times I felt so lost with no professional support, so just knowing there was someone there ready to talk was reassuring.