It is the first of January 2007

Journey of self-understanding through the experience of miscarriage.

What I have learnt from this experience is to be strong, to cope, to seek help and to get it...

It is the first January 2007, I am clutching a piece of coal a kindly stranger has thrust into my hand on the stroke of midnight and for the first time in a long time, a seed of hope beats inside me.

The first miscarriage occurred in November 2005, confirmed a day before my husband’s birthday and not the kind of present envisaged for him.

A happy and carefree holiday in Sardinia had resulted in a positive pregnancy test which was a perfect three year gap between my daughter and the baby. From that first sign of pregnancy, my mind already imagined, planned and dreamed of another baby. For four days, I ignored the signs of bleeding not wanting to comprehend the end of those imaginings. A scan at the Early Pregnancy Unit (and thank God for these units), revealed an empty sac. My husband displayed the most visible sign of emotion by becoming so emotional, he had to leave the scanning room. We felt numb, lost and hopeless. That feeling of shock never really left me and prevented me from coming to terms with my miscarriage properly.

The following summer 2006, we tried again and I fell pregnant again but from the beginning, I was low in hope and confidence. At five weeks, a visit to the Doctor to get the pregnancy confirmed also coincided with light brown bleeding. The result looked good – very high hormone levels but the bleeding seemed to contradict it. The waiting was impossible, waiting to have an early scan, disbelief that they confirmed another miscarriage, incomprehension of my symptoms, I was getting sicker and more tired every day. Surely, these symptoms were the signs of a healthy pregnancy. More waiting to have the first scan result verified. Nobody wanted to make a mistake least of all me. When it was finally confirmed, I knew I couldn’t go on, it was a missed miscarriage and I wanted it out. I felt it was sucking the life out of me and taking me away from my daughter as I felt lethargic and ill. The scan was on the Friday and I was booked in first thing Monday morning to have it removed under general anaesthetic. The strongest emotion was pure anger and disbelief that I was going through it again a second time and it was so unlike the first experience. The saying ‘every pregnancy is different’ seemed to be true.

The other feeling experienced was the feeling I had to cope. I knew how I wanted to play it at work and with family. I did not want to discuss it openly, only with close family and colleagues. However, the main difference this time was I was dealing with it. I signed up for counselling which also coincided with the hospital contacting me saying I had had a molar pregnancy and would need to be followed up at Charing Cross Hospital. My lack of understanding meant I searched the internet and was shocked to discover the word ‘cancer’ peppered through the information. It was a worrying and confusing time for me and my family as not only was I having to deal with a second consecutive miscarriage but I was also struggling to come to terms with a partial molar pregnancy.

In simple terms, what this means in my case is that two sperm had simultaneously fertilised my egg which meant an overload of DNA and an impossible chance of a surviving fetus. From the moment of diagnosis, I was sent for fortnightly blood and urine tests to ensure my hormone levels were decreasing. I also participated in a very informative group patient session at Charing Cross Hospital which gave me a chance to meet fellow sufferers and find out more.

It is February 2007 and I am still being monitored but only my urine on a monthly basis and I am pleased to write that my levels are normal. They recommend that I continue until May which I have mixed feelings about. I am 36 in March and visualise dried up eggs and my chance of having another baby slipping away.

I am writing this on behalf of all women who have experienced a miscarriage and also for myself. One of my positive self help actions was to become a member of the Miscarriage Association and I enjoy reading other people’s experiences. I noticed a plea from the Editor for more personal accounts and thought I owed it to myself to write it all down as painful as it has been dredging up memories I would rather forget, I think it is important as part of my recovery.

What I have learnt from this experience is to be strong, to cope, to seek help and to get it, to know how precious my darling daughter is to me and a promise that ‘come what may’, I will always put her needs first and enjoy every moment I have with her. She is amazing and we love each other dearly. I have also discovered a faith in God which I never knew properly existed which has been a steady and growing comfort. In short, experiencing miscarriage has taken me on a painful journey of self understanding of my limitations as a woman, friend, Mother but also of my indomitable strength and my determination to not let this demean me as a person. That sounds dramatic but my experience has affected every aspect and relationship in my life.

Of course, I am not sure what will happen vis-a -vis growing our family but I do know I will deal with it and grow stronger.

JB