Rebecca had a miscarriage at 18 weeks.
We felt we left without there being any recognition of her birth.
My first pregnancy was really wonderful, textbook in each trimester, but I felt very different during my second. I didn’t bond in the same way, I didn’t talk about the pregnancy much. There was always a degree of doubt. During my first pregnancy those first flutterings were felt very early, at 14 weeks, but during my second I felt very little.
At 18 weeks in my second pregnancy, I had a routine appointment with my midwife where I told her something wasn’t right. She tried to reassure me that everything was fine and explained the lack of movement was simply down to being a busy mum and that it is quite common not to feel fluttering’s at 18 weeks. To reassure me she agreed to listen to the heartbeat – she couldn’t hear it. I was referred to the early pregnancy unit where it was confirmed there was no heartbeat. I had a late miscarriage at 18 weeks.
After just hearing that our baby had no heartbeat, before I could even comprehend the news, the monitor was turned round and I was faced with my baby on the screen. It felt so insensitive to me as I didn’t have time to comprehend the news.
Despite feeling throughout the pregnancy that something wasn’t quite right I was devastated. I was sent away for two days before returning to be induced. I had a little girl. After I had her I felt rushed to leave the hospital as the unit was closing. At the time the team offered to take prints of her hands and feet, but we didn’t feel this was appropriate as she was so tiny. We felt we left without there being any recognition of her birth. It was only by chance I found out I could download a certificate to show the baby was delivered pre 24 weeks (SANDS website). The hospital unit gave us no additional support and no referral leaflets. As a result I referred to online websites and forums for support and answers. While this helped initially, I felt it didn’t provide me with any definitive answers and wasn’t helping my own wellbeing. I saw the consultant three months later and he said it was just one of those things which unfortunately does happen. He asked if we wanted to try again. It was a hard decision, but we felt that if we were going to try again it needed to be soon rather than later. If we delayed I think it would have been a harder decision to make.
We got pregnant quite quickly. Due to my past experience, when I told my GP I was pregnant they referred me to the early pregnancy unit. I received great support from the early pregnancy unit who scanned me every two weeks until my five month scan.
The sense of worry and dread, knowing what could happen was overwhelming. I would have a scan and feel elated that everything was fine and then the familiar worry would creep in two days later. It was only when I delivered my son did I realise how stressed I had been. I completely broke down in tears when they handed him to me. The doctor asked why I was so upset. I couldn’t explain it was grief, exhaustion and overwhelming joy all rolled into one.
There was no leaflet then to say this rollercoaster of a journey is normal and that you will feel worry and anxiousness until the baby is born. You are basically just waiting for the next scan, but in the back of your mind you know that until the baby is here you will never feel at peace.
The joy of pregnancy was completely taken over by anxiety and panic. The constant questions going round your mind like will I give birth to a live baby? It was only in the last few weeks I started to enjoy being pregnant. It was a very different experience to when I was pregnant for the first time. Of course, I was aware that something could go wrong, but once I got to the 12 week stage I felt relief.
What helped me through the 40 weeks of pretty much constant anxiety was a combination of family support and building up a good rapport with the early pregnancy unit and the community midwife team. However, I found it hard to talk about how I was feeling and there was nothing I could read that would tell me what I was feeling was normal. I’m glad there is now.