Mel was diagnosed with suspected PTSD after a missed miscarriage. She writes about what happened and how she got through the darkest times.
The Miscarriage Association Forum on Facebook has also been a big help. Initially I was nervous to post my story as there are so many women who are desperately trying to get pregnant or who have late miscarriages, I felt like I was less deserving of sympathy than them. But everyone is so kind, supportive and accepting.
I had previously suffered with depression and anxiety linked to a long-term health condition (Crohn’s disease) and had Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) to support me with accepting my condition and managing the impact of my fatigue. In December I ended up in A&E with abdominal pain and discovered I was pregnant, to my complete surprise as I had been on contraception and split from my partner.
Two days later I had a scan that confirmed a missed miscarriage, I had a sac measuring 8 weeks, 5 day but no baby. I remember holding my ex’s hand and bursting into tears – as although it was a huge shock it made me realise how much I wanted my baby to be OK. But it wasn’t there. I felt awful and very guilty as I had been completely unaware I was pregnant and going to Christmas parties – having alcohol, coffee, cheese, hot baths etc. But the nurses reassured me that there was nothing I could have done to change the outcome.
As it was so close to Christmas I chose to go with medical management as the only date for surgery was Christmas Eve, and I thought I would be more comfortable at home. Unfortunately, it did not go well – I had full-blown contractions, clots the size of my hand and lost a lot of blood. I went very pale and almost lost consciousness so my ex-partner called an ambulance which resulted in me being kept in overnight on fluids to try and rehydrate me and improve my blood pressure.
I barely had time to come to terms with the shock that I was pregnant, and then with the trauma of the actual miscarriage I dissolved into a pit of depression between Christmas and New Year, crying all the time, unable to sleep or when I did sleep having nightmares. In early January I went to see my GP who suspected PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), signed me off and prescribed me with sleeping tablets, and I also was diagnosed with an infection and put on strong antibiotics which gave me a full body rash – compounding my lack of sleep and anxiety. My ex was incredibly supportive and was by my side the whole time but had to return to work, and we do not live close by so I found the night times particularly hard – lying in bed crying wishing I was still pregnant.
I then took my pregnancy test three weeks after the miscarriage to discover I was still getting positive readings. A scan a few days later confirmed I had retained the gestational sac and it was trapped in my cervix. Rather than book me in for a D&C they performed a procedure then and there to pull the sac out – it was very painful and traumatic, and I bled again for days and had to rest – it felt like going through the miscarriage all over again.
My ex and I recognised that I was not coping well so we went online and looked for a private therapist – as I knew the NHS referral time can take a little while and I knew I needed help now. I found a local therapist who had previously been a midwife and I cannot begin to describe how much she has helped me. She has helped me recognise just how much I want to be a mother and help me come to terms with my loss, she has also helped me deal with the guilt I was feeling and the anger I felt. I was also struggling because my sister is pregnant and due in May and I was feeling like a terrible person for being jealous. But she helped me understand that it is a natural human emotion and I can be happy for her and sad for myself at the same time.
The Miscarriage Association Forum on Facebook has also been a big help. Initially I was nervous to post my story as there are so many women who are desperately trying to get pregnant or who have late miscarriages, I felt like I was less deserving of sympathy than them. But everyone is so kind, supportive and accepting. It’s great to be able to talk about what you are feeling to others who understand but also to support others by sharing my experiences and letting them know they are not alone.
My mental health is still a work in progress but I am doing a lot better and finally having days where I don’t cry. I went through some really dark periods of wanting to throw away my sofa/move house/ quit my job but I am so glad I didn’t.