Francesca’s story

In the past 10 days I’ve gone from pregnant to being diagnosed with a missed miscarriage to having a postpartum haemorrhage, ending with emergency surgery.

In the past 10 days I’ve gone from pregnant to being diagnosed with a missed miscarriage to having a postpartum haemorrhage, ending with emergency surgery. Today I would have been 12 weeks pregnant.

We’d been desperately trying for a baby for 18 months, following all the advice. We ate well, didn’t smoke, didn’t drink alcohol frequently and I lost 60 lbs to get to a healthy weight in a bid to get that positive pregnancy test.

When we found out we were pregnant, we were ecstatic and told our immediate family; swearing them to secrecy, like many others, ahead of the 12-week scan.

Shortly after, I rang my doctors to discuss a prescription. I mentioned I had had slight pain in my hip and was referred to our hospital’s Early Pregnancy Unit for a HCG blood test to rule out an ectopic pregnancy. The results were lower than expected, but I was told not to worry as long as the level doubled over the next few days, which it did. I booked in for an early scan the following week.

We thought we were out of the woods. I sat in the waiting room, my hands proudly placed on my stomach as I waited to be called in. As I have a tilted uterus, the scan needed to be done via transvaginal scan to get a clearer image. I should have been 6 weeks, however the scan showed an empty gestational sac around 4 or 5 weeks old. Again I was told this was nothing to worry about – I must have ovulated later in the month and to come back for another scan in two weeks. I knew my dates were correct. I wasn’t a stranger to monthly ovulation tests and tracking my cycles. The panic started creeping in.

I arrived at the scan two weeks later, trying to remain optimistic. The sonographer started to explain that the gestational sac had grown to about 6 ½ weeks and there was a yolk sac, but no visible fetal pole/heartbeat. Again I was told not to worry, but her face told a different story. I was told to come back in a week for a third scan.

Cue another week of desperate googling. We found articles where women with a tilted uterus’ could look 1 – 2 weeks behind on a scan yet everything turned out fine. Hoping for the best but expecting the worst, I sat in the waiting room surrounded by heavily pregnant women. I laid down for the scan and stared at the ceiling, not attempting to peek at the screen this time. After a few minutes, the sonographer placed her hand on my knee and said, “I’m so sorry, the pregnancy hasn’t progressed since last week. The pregnancy has failed”.

Tears silently ran down my face as the sonographer called for a second opinion to confirm the diagnosis. A doctor explained that the foetus had stopped developing, but the gestational and yolk sac had kept growing despite the loss, resulting in a missed miscarriage. I was sent home to break the news to my partner and to decide how we wanted to miscarry. We decided to let nature take its course, and coincidentally I started spotting later that night which continued for 7 days. I started thinking that maybe because we weren’t that far along I wouldn’t have much pain/bleeding.

Exactly a week after our miscarriage diagnosis; I went to the toilet and passed what I thought was the gestational sac. I felt a sense of relief and peace thinking that the worse was over. I sat down to tell my partner but as I stood up from the bed I felt another wave of blood and after a hour of heavy bleeding I rang the Early Pregnancy Unit and was told to come to hospital.

By the time we got to the hospital, I’d passed five very large clots. I had a full blood count done and was told to wait for the results before leaving. Whilst walking to the waiting room, I felt faint and was immediately put onto a drip. At this point, the nurses were still optimistic that I could return home and miscarry naturally and that surgery would only be necessary if the bleeding became life threatening.

Over the next couple of hours, I lost over 1.2 litres of blood. I’d passed out with the pain and emergency surgery was scheduled straightaway.

I came round from the surgery with no complications. The bleeding had subsided and I was moved to the maternity ward to recover.

48 hours on from the operation writing this, I’ve lost faith in my body. It failed us on every turn, regardless of our best efforts. Yet despite this, I wholly hope that one day we are lucky enough to become parents.

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