Néna writes about her experience of four miscarriages, the birth of her son, and why she became a media volunteer for the Miscarriage Association.
You never hear about just how common miscarriage is, until you’re going through it yourself.
We first began trying for a baby in September 2012. In January 2013, we were overjoyed to discover we were expecting. All was fine and normal, no bleeding or pains. We told family and friends around 11 weeks. We went for our dating scan at 12 weeks and sadly were told there was no baby and there I had miscarried. I was booked in for an ERPC to remove the retained products the following week. The worst part was having to tell people, I felt I’d let them down and having to retell it over and over again was awful. My parents and in laws were so upset. They had lost too.
We carried on trying and eight months later in November 2013 (just as I was starting to go slightly insane from the obsessive tracking) we got another positive test. We were so optimistic, we had no reason to believe it wouldn’t be ok this time. At around 5/6 weeks I had some brown spotting. I contacted the GP who referred me to EPU. They took blood to see what the hormone levels were looking like. I had to go back every two days for repeat tests. The first lot increased but didn’t double as they wanted, the next lot had dropped and then final lot confirmed what I’d come to realise, it was another miscarriage. I lost it naturally at around 6/7 weeks in early December 2013. It was more traumatic than the first time and I felt awful. December and Christmas was tough, knowing that if all had gone well the first time, then we should have had our baby and be celebrating their first Christmas together.
I was drinking a lot and lost my way a bit. I became really focused on getting pregnant again but at the same time was terrified of it. I went to the GP and broke down in her office when she said she couldn’t refer me for tests, the NHS want you to have three to be referred to the recurrent miscarriage clinic. They did some other standard tests which came back fine, but the issue wasn’t getting pregnant, it was staying pregnant.
Within two months I was pregnant again. I did pregnancy tests obsessively and within days the tests went from positive to negative. I knew it was happening again. I attended EPU and it was confirmed as another miscarriage. I lost it naturally at around six weeks. The day I got the negative test was 13th March 2014, exactly a year to the day that we’d found out the first pregnancy wasn’t successful. I was gutted, but also knew that this meant I would be referred and hopefully get some answers.
The EPU were amazing and I was referred to the Consultant running the recurrent miscarriage clinic. We saw him within two months, our appointment was on 2nd May. He sent me for blood tests and recommended taking one low dose aspirin per day and prescribed Cyclogest, which is a progesterone supplement. I needed to start these, which were pessaries (yuk) just after ovulation until either my period or 14 weeks into my pregnancy. I used them that month as I knew I was ovulating that day! Unfortunately it didn’t happen that month, but on 10th June 2014 I saw the GP in the morning as a follow up and when I got home I just had a feeling. I took a test and lo and behold there was a faint second line. I panicked at first but tried to stay calm. I was hopeful about this time. I still tested obsessively, at one point I had all my tests lined up together on a paper plate so I could watch them get stronger! At seven weeks, we went to EPU for a scan, within 30 seconds of starting the scan the midwife said ‘And we have a heartbeat’ I’ll never forget that moment. I felt like my life was beginning again after being in limbo so long.
The pregnancy progressed well, I was very well cared for and felt more and more positive as the time went on. I loved being pregnant and when I could feel my baby moving I felt more and more bonded. We had a private gender scan which also helped the connection. I was fearful throughout until the third trimester, when I finally started to chill out.
Cooper was born on 23rd February 2015, 2.5 years after we first decided to start trying for a baby. He is our rainbow boy and he’s perfect in every way.
When Cooper was about six months old we decided to ‘see what happens’. We always wanted more than one child together and it just felt right. I stopped taking my pill (I had only been on it a short time) and went with it. On 1st September 2015, I took a pregnancy test, I had that feeling again. It was positive. I was so excited. I told my husband, it was the day before his birthday, we were so happy.
I contacted the hospital and arranged for a prescription of Cyclogest which I began that week. I started up the aspirin again and booked in for a scan at EPU. The first scan showed a small sac, dating me around five weeks. We went back a few weeks later and had another. On the screen was a little bean with a flickering heartbeat. We were so relieved, it was going to be ok! We began making plans, I told work as it was going to affect my return from maternity leave, I started researching double prams and seven seater cars (I have two step children).
We went back for our final reassurance scan when I was around nine and a half weeks. I had just celebrated my 30th birthday. The nurse started the scan and was looking at the screen. She didn’t say anything for a long time. My heart sank. ‘I’m sorry’ she said, ‘It’s not good news’.
We were in shock. The baby had died the week before. Probably on my birthday. My husband found this one the hardest. We had seen the baby two weeks before and it was fine, what could have gone wrong? Was it the glass of champagne I had on my birthday? Was it just too soon after Cooper? Is there something wrong with me?
I was numb. I stopped taking the aspirin and using the Cyclogest. I booked in for an ERPC after the weekend, on Tuesday. Unfortunately, or fortunately, however you want to look at it, I didn’t need it. On the evening of Monday 19th October 2015, I passed the baby in its sac and the beginnings of the placenta. I could barely look at it. Of all four miscarriages this was the worst one physically, there was so much stuff. Emotionally I detached. I had to concentrate on Cooper, I couldn’t dwell on it.
Over 18 months we’re in no place to even think about having another child. I feel I will know if and when I’m ready, and it’s not now! There is always a chance that it wouldn’t work out and I would miscarry again so we need to be 100% willing to take that risk if we do decide to try again.
My plan now is to turn this experience into something positive. I am hopeful that being a media volunteer for the MA can help someone else somehow, if they hear my story, maybe give them hope of having a child after miscarriage, or give them some idea of the practicalities. I would love to organise a run to raise awareness and money for the charity. I won’t let miscarriage define me, but it will help shape my life.
I hate it when people say ‘everything happens for a reason’ because besides the fact that something like that doesn’t help one bit when you’re experiencing a loss, the one thing I’ve learned about miscarriage is that sometimes there really isn’t a reason, its ‘one of those things’ – which again, doesn’t help, but is true.
What does help, however, is talking about it to someone who gets it. You never hear about just how common miscarriage is, until you’re going through it yourself. I had family and friends who had been through it and I never knew until I told them about us. Having someone to share experiences with makes you feel less alone and like you’re the only person in the world who understands.
My husband says that having a miscarriage for him, was like winning the lottery, only to be told 1, 2, 3 weeks later that actually there had been a mistake. All your hopes and dreams for that tiny life gone, before they had even begun.
‘Oh well, at least you can get pregnant’ and ‘everything happens for a reason’ were two things I would hear a lot. When you miscarry early I found people would speak quite medically and matter of fact about it. It was like just because you haven’t done the nursery yet it wasn’t real. People would say ‘it was just a bunch of cells’ but not for me it wasn’t.
What was also hard was when people would ask too many questions. I had one friend who asked me details I didn’t even know myself. She asked if I was going to have a surgical procedure before I had even thought about the options. Another friend had gone through a miscarriage herself recently and she called me and started crying down the phone. That was hard. I wanted to be there for her but I also needed to grieve myself.
People just don’t think before they speak. Miscarriage is so common but there needs to be more sensitivity when speaking to people who have experienced it. People need to realise that a simple question to them can cut you so deep.
I received a real mix bag of responses. It showed me who understood and who completely didn’t. So many people contacted me to say that it had happened to them. That is when I realised how common it was.
The nurses at EPU were brilliant. They were lovely so sympathetic and compassionate. The doctors would be more matter of fact, telling me how it was really common. After I had Cooper I would be asked ‘when are you having another one.’ Right now we are not in a place where we can even consider trying again. I have been pregnant five times, but I only have one baby.
My husband has been my rock. I couldn’t have coped without him. For a while I had lost myself and stopped thinking of how it might affect him During one argument, I said: ‘I am having a miscarriage’ and he replied ‘so am I’. That stopped me in my tracks, I had lost sight of that.