Reema shares the story of her missed miscarriage and her continuing journey.
Bereavement counselling helped me navigate through the months that followed and mindfulness afforded me the skills to strengthen my resolve and move forward.
April 7th 2017; I have this date etched on my mind like an in-congruent piece of rough red fabric haphazardly stitched on to a silk white dress. Distinct: inescapable; I can’t erase it or re-write it. It’s just there. April 7th was supposed to be a fairly pleasant day; it was my first formal appointment with my midwife. My husband and I would attend the appointment together to assimilate the formal intricacies of bringing a baby into our world. Following the appointment we would grab a bite to eat and consolidate our learning. Laughing and nibbling morsels of food between gasps of excitement, we would sculpt our future together as a family of three.
Up until this point my journey had not been smooth sailing; I had to go to A&E due to a spike in my pre-existing hypertension, during this time the registrar could not establish a positive pregnancy test. I found this frustrating as my two clear blue digital tests had said otherwise. As the doctor rolled his chair towards me, preparing to articulate that he suspected I had suffered a chemical pregnancy, the second line manifested.
During this time I was spotting intermittently; each time I wiped myself I prayed that I wouldn’t bleed. “Stay inside” I would beg my baby, please “keep it all in” I would reason with my body. Paradoxically when I learned of my missed miscarriage I pleaded with my body to open up, to let me bleed, to let me feel the pain for my child and to let me say goodbye.
Because of my pre-existing hypertension and spotting I was referred to the early pregnancy unit for early scans; one at five weeks to check everything was in the right place and then one at seven to establish a heartbeat. The apparent simplicity of two sequential scans a fortnight apart ended up being much more complicated than I had anticipated: I was called back after my first scan because I had “mis-timed” cycle day one and thus my little baby was coming up a lot smaller than expected. During my second scan there appeared to be a fluttering but the baby was coming up as 6 weeks 4 days as opposed to 7 weeks 5 days. At the time I revelled in the sheer fact there was a heartbeat that did not exist two weeks prior. Everything was going to be ok simply because there was a heartbeat! But it wasn’t. I wish I had had the foresight to see that things were not right at the start, perhaps I should have listened to the nurse inform me that whilst there was a heartbeat it was a faint one. Having an air of cautious optimism may have prepared me for the devastation that was imminent.
My third scan was an impromptu scan that was booked on April the 7th after my appointment with my midwife. It was during this appointment that she noted a discrepancy with the dates of the scans/the size of the baby and the fact that I had not been called in for my dating scan as it was now approaching week 11. My midwife suggested I get scanned as soon as possible. I couldn’t take anything in and grew defensive; I felt as though my midwife was being difficult and it was yet another wall that I needed to climb over. I was exhausted by the hurdles one after the other – this was supposed to be a time of excitement. I felt miserable. Nonetheless I followed her advice and booked my third scan the same day.
After emptying my bladder to give the sonographer “a better look” my husband and I were told quite plainly that my baby had not grown and there was no longer a heartbeat. I wiped the excess gel from my lower abdomen and both my husband and I were escorted to a waiting room. We cried in the stillness separately and together. Mourning the loss of a little person we had created who had occupied the whole of our hearts. We sat there alone, crying almost silently. The TV that was perched pointedly above our gaze was broadcasting the afternoon news as though nothing had happened, politely and relentlessly. To the outside world nothing had changed. The sun was still shining as vibrantly as ever. We arrived home and both sat poised on the end of our bed. We continued to cry.
On April 11th I had my dilation and curettage. During the days leading up to it the mere thought of carrying my poor lifeless baby in my abdomen gave me a sense of despair that is hard to describe. On the other hand knowing that my baby who had made a home in my womb was going to be surgically removed quite swiftly and brutally was a devastating reality. I felt stuck in a purgatory.
Our first child was due on October 29th 2017; each time this date presents itself we cut a cake, say a speech and I cry. I have a memory box that comprises of a scan of our baby, a book of self-made affirmations and the scan results – a paper trail that depicts our child’s journey from viable to non-viable.
My miscarriage catapulted my husband and I into a fully-fledged fertility journey in which I was examined, re-examined and investigated. My inconclusive diagnosis of PCOS was made conclusive and I was subsequently given Metformin and Clomid, the latter however proved unsuccessful after 5 cycles. I turned to natural killer cell testing in which the lining of my womb was scratched and analysed a week after ovulation – fortunately this came back clear. During this time I was diagnosed with anti-phospholipid (Hughes) syndrome and would need heparin once a further pregnancy is established. Progesterone was also added to my care plan. On November 2nd this year I had a laparoscopy with ovarian drilling to check the patency of my tubes and to help regulate my cycles. After the surgery I felt I had walked away empty handed. Having been cut open, scraped and drilled I felt I was owed a baby. It was my turn.
Every time I hear of someone else’s good news I am genuinely happy for them but it’s a painful reminder of what I have lost and am still fighting to have once more. I see babies everywhere. As hard as it is I wait in line, patiently for my bundle.
It’s sufficient to say that I had not experienced the sheer weight of grief until April 7th. A despair that is so intangible that you feel so alone. Grief a hole that is so slippery and dark at times it’s hard to climb out of. The heart wrenching pain and emptiness that follows the initial shock is indescribable. Furthermore, the realisation that not everyone you know is built to understand the sensitivities of your adversity is a harsh truth to swallow. You learn who you can truly count on.
Bereavement counselling helped me navigate through the months that followed and mindfulness (taught formally within the framework of a programme) afforded me the skills to strengthen my resolve and move forward. In addition to counselling and mindfulness, starting a gratitude diary and reciting/listening to positive affirmations reset my mind-set and started the healing process from within.
Despite the little time we had together as a three, my husband and I are so grateful for how you touched us, little one; made us laugh and love harder. Rest in peace little angel. Not a day goes by…
Missed Miscarriage April 2017
You can read Reema’s poem “Always with you”, here.