Jennifer experienced the shock of a missed, or silent, miscarriage. She hopes that telling her story will help other women feel like they can talk about miscarriage without feeling shame or stigma.
It’s the worst possible thing that could happen, actually happening. As much as I was mentally preparing myself for it, the confirmation was heart-breaking. Just like that, all the dreams were put on hold.
When we saw the second pink line on the test, we were so happy.
We were trying to get pregnant for six months, which felt like a lifetime of patiently waiting, testing, tracking periods, and counting down the days to ovulation to try again. I know so many other people that have been trying for years, so it was a continuous waiting game to see if I would end up having the same difficulties or if I’d be lucky.
In a way, I was naïve enough to think that one of the hardest parts was actually getting pregnant. But when it happened for us, we couldn’t have been happier. It’s hard to try and stop yourself from thinking about the future, what your home will be like with a little one, how great a dad your other half will become, and what type of products we’ll need to think about buying.
I focused on all the positives of pregnancy and while there was always a niggle in the back of my mind that the worst could happen, I tried not to think about it. My motto was ‘well, if it happens, I’ll deal with it then — and until then, I’m looking forward’.
We were to give our parents and grandparents the very first baby in both of our families, so it was hard not to spill the beans on our exciting news — we told those closest to us just weeks after finding out.
We’d booked for an early reassurance scan to check all was OK with the baby, and to give ourselves peace of mind. It wasn’t expensive, so why not?
We saw a heartbeat which was such a relief, and the baby dated at about 7 weeks. I’d read all sorts online about the percentage of survival if a heartbeat is detected at 6, 7 and 8 weeks — each rate improving slightly as the weeks passed. So, I had a pretty great chance of carrying a healthy baby (above 95%).
Three weeks later, it felt that this baby was dominating our lives — though we tried for it not to because of ‘tempting fate’. We’d talked about the spare room, the fact it was due on my birthday, names for boys and girls, and prams which would fit into the back of a mini cooper. So many things crossed my mind.
Then, out of the blue one day, I’d gone to the loo and noticed a slight twinge of pink on the toilet paper. I wasn’t really worried at that point — I’d had a bit of spotting (and I mean very light) around the 6th week, which I read is completely normal and happens to many mums-to-be at this stage. Whatever, no big deal.
Then, as the day progressed into the next, the blood started getting heavier — more like how it is halfway through your normal period. I rang the midwife straight away and they told me to monitor it for another 24 hours, before inviting me for a check-up scan.
I was already concerned and even more so when I started to feel some mild cramping too. When I went in for the scan, the most devastating news was confirmed. The baby was faded on the scan, and its heartbeat had stopped around the 7th week based on its size. Not long after our early scan.
I spent three weeks completely oblivious to my body’s goings on. It’s the worst possible thing that could happen, actually happening. As much as I was mentally preparing myself for it, the confirmation was heart-breaking. Just like that, all the dreams were put on hold.
They put me in a room to discuss my three options and informed me that that mother nature was already likely to be taking its course.
So, we drove home, completely numb and in shock. I’d never miscarried before, so I had no idea what to expect. A few short hours later, I started experiencing the shooting stomach pains — much worse than period pains, and what I can only imagine are like contractions. They came every few minutes and I could almost feel when the next round was coming.
Once the pains had eased, I stood up to go to the toilet. And that was it — I felt it happen. It was a strange feeling, and nothing like what I’d felt before.
After, I felt empty. I cried a lot, I went through stages of feeling angry at life and at my luck, guilty for my partner, and sympathy for the many other women who go through similar experiences. The following few days were hard and all I thought about was the emotional and physical trauma I’d just been through, as well as what could’ve been.
We’re trying again now we’re both ready and feeling more like our ‘normal’ selves, but I know that we have another long and agonising wait all over again. It’s an experience I never wanted to have, like so many others. And I never fully understood the effects on your whole wellbeing, so just hope that other women feel like they can talk about it without feeling shame or stigma. Thanks to the Miscarriage Association for their ongoing research and support.