Three Miscarriages in Twelve Months
Rachael shares her experience of recurrent miscarriage.
A few years ago I thought we had been through hard times, but these last 12 months have shown me that this was nothing compared to the loss of a baby. We get by day by day, every now and then one of us gets upset by something we didn’t see coming, such as the invite to my friend’s baby shower, but we are there for each other.
I have had three miscarriages within 12 months. Although I have been doing ok I still have days where I feel like I can’t cope, and like I have done in the past I turn to the Miscarriage Association website for some support. The most recent was finding out my friend was pregnant and I cried myself to sleep. This time when I turned to your website I read the personal reflection section and it was so much help. There was women out there who had been through what I had been through. Afterwards I wanted to share my story and help some one like me. After some time I felt strong enough to write it down. This is my story.
My husband and I have been together since we were 17 years old. Every one we spoke to said we were the perfect couple and wanted a relationship just like ours. We were perfect for each other. We had good times, but we also had our share of hard times. When we first moved in together, my husband was made redundant and we were so scared about making ends meet. I had only just finished university and was on a minimum wage job, how could we afford to get by. A few years later my husband was rushed into hospital with acute pneumonia, by the time I got him to the hospital his lips had turned blue and he was shaking so violently from his high temperature. A few more years on from that and it was my turn to be made redundant from my job at a law firm. I had moved on from the minimum wage job into a proper career, but now that was over. I couldn’t handle the stress and I had a nervous breakdown which took me years to recovery from.
We were even stronger together after all this, and after being together for 12 years, we got married. A year after that we brought our first house together and got a dog. Things were looking good. We made the decision to start trying for a baby. I fell pregnant straight away. My mum had experienced problems conceiving so I was over the moon that we had found it so easy. I couldn’t contain my excitement, and although we were told to wait for the three month scan before thinking to far ahead we couldn’t help ourselves. We looked at baby things online and made a wish list, looked at our favourite names, and thought about what the babies room would look like. I got a bump really early, which I knew from my readings was just where I was bloated but I could help resting my hand on it and stroking my belly. I had to buy new clothes to hide by bloated belly, but loved it when I would catch me reflection and see that you could still see my bump anyway. We tried to keep it a secret but my mum was so excited she told everyone. My mother-in-law was over the moon and also couldn’t keep the news a secret. My husband and I downloaded a pregnancy app into our phones and every week would watch the video of how our baby would be growing. We were so happy, after everything we had been through, the last few years had been so good.
When I was 11 weeks, I went to the toilet at work, and saw a little brown stain in my knickers. I immediately panicked. I called my husband and he said he would come and get me and we would go to the hospital. I walked into the office and told the first person I found that I was going to the hospital and that I was pregnant. Up until that point only my manager knew. She tried to calm me down and said that worrying would only make it worse. My mental illness from a few years ago had left me with a tendency to overreact, so I closed my eyes and tried to slow my breathing.
At the hospital I thought that they would think I was overreacting, after all it was just a little blood, but they were brilliant. They got me through A&E as quickly as possible, took a urine sample and did a pregnancy test which was positive, and a blood test to check my hCG levels. They didn’t tell us the results of this test though, but at the time I didn’t notice. They did an internal exam and my cervix was closed, and reassured me that many women bleed during pregnancy and go on to have healthy babies, but to be on the safe side we would have a scan the next day. When we went back for our scan I felt excited, I could be seeing my baby today.
When we went into see the sonographer, I was a mixture of nerves and excitement. They did a scan through my tummy first and could see the pregnancy sack. The sonographer said this was good news, but to see more she would have to do an internal scan. The internal scan showed nothing more then the scan through my tummy. I measured at 6 weeks, a lot less then the 11 weeks I thought I was at. I felt my heart sink, was this normal? The sonographer said that my dates might be out, and as I had been on the mini pill for years, and had fallen before my first period, it was a strong possibility. I went away with mixed emotions.
We had to wait two weeks to return and see if there was any change. During that two weeks the bleeding got progressively heavier until I could not deny what was happening any longer. I was losing the baby. It was a slow drawn out process taking nearly 4 weeks. It was excoriating and I didn’t think I had any tears left. The worst part was telling my mother-in-Law who cried down the phone when she heard. My mum was a little more reserved in front of me, but later told me she cried herself to sleep.
My husband was very quiet, and kept his emotions to himself. A lot of the focus was on me, and whenever someone would ask how he was, he would shrug his shoulders, and say ‘I’m alright’. That same month we found out that our dog had cancer. That news tipped my husband over the edge and it was his turn to cry. I comforted him, and held his head on my lap while he cried. He had been there for me, it was now my turn to be there for him.
We wanted to try again straight away, and we were encouraged when we went back to see the sonographer to confirm I had passed all the pregnancy tissue, that you were at your most fertile after a pregnancy loss. We heard many stories of couples who had lost their first baby but had gone onto to have a second. We wanted to wait for my periods to come back though so we could get a more accurate date, so we wouldn’t have the same uncertainty as last time. I again fell pregnant straight away. My mum and mother-in-law had the same excitement as the first time I fell pregnant.
My husband and I however were nervous from the beginning. I took to weird routines that I was convinced would ensure I had a healthy pregnancy this time. I wore a panty liner every day, and actually panicked if I forgot as I thought that somehow this would mean that my baby would not be ok. I would not eat anything unhealthy, and the one time I had a takeaway I felt so guilty afterwards. To ease my worries by midwife arranged an early scan at 8 weeks. It was the same sonographer we had seen last time, and she remembered us. There was a heart beat. I remember smiling at my husband as we watched the little flutter on the screen, and I felt my heart swell twice its size. It was the best feeling I have ever felt. We walked out of the hospital on cloud 9 and thought that everything would be ok. We appeared to have overlooked the sonographer’s concern that the baby was a little small, and had therefore asked us to go back in two weeks.
We returned two weeks later, eager to see our baby again. We were chatting to the sonographer as we felt like we had gotten to know her quite well over the last few months. She went quite, and really focused on the screen in front of her. My heart stopped and I thought not again. That’s when she said, ‘I’m sorry but there’s no heart beat’. It had been there a few weeks ago, how could it be gone. The fact that we had seen our baby alive, and now it was gone, made the loss all the more. It particularly made it harder for my husband as he had been able to distance himself from the first loss and convince himself that there had never been a baby and it was just the pregnancy sack, but the memory of that little fluttering heart beat was evidence that this was not the case this time. I broke down in the hospital, and swore at the sonographer, she had to be wrong, could she look again? She just looked at me with sympathetic eyes. That poor lady. It was a horrendous job, to tell a couple their baby has died.
As I had suffered a missed miscarriage I had to decided between medical management and surgical management. I was too distressed to make the decision while I was in the hospital so I was told to go home and think about it. I felt hollow when I left the hospital. I couldn’t make a decision that would remove my baby from me. After a few hours at home however it sunk in. I suddenly felt like there was a foreign substance inside me that I had to remove straight away. As it was the Easter Weekend I would have to wait over a week for the surgical management, so after speaking to the doctor on the phone, I opted for the medical management to get it over and done with. I was told to come back the next day.
When we returned to the hospital the EPU is right next to the labour ward, and we passed a new mother showing her new baby to some visitors. I held myself together as we walked past them, but as soon as they were out of sight I broke down. My husband crushed me into his chest and rested his head on the top of mine, and I sobbed into his jumper. A nurse rushed over to us, and ushered us into a side room. Our grief was to be hidden from the happy couples around us. Once in the side room, the nurse sat down with me and took time to talk to me, even though it was Good Friday and they were all rushed off their feet. I will forever be grateful to her.
It turned out to be quite nice to be waiting in a side room as we were there 4 hours waiting to see the doctor. I was finally given the medication that would induce my miscarriage and I was told to lay flat for 20 minutes then I could go home. As I laid there I thought about coming back to the hospital when we finally have a successful pregnancy. I felt sad and hopeful at the same time.
Upon discharge I was told to wait 48 hours and if there was no bleeding to return for another dose. After 48 hours I was back at the hospital as nothing had happened, and was administered another dose. 6 hours after that I was bleeding really heavily. It is a possible side effect of the tablets but is not that common. I was informed it could happen before I was given the medication. I was bleeding though a sanitary towels every 15 minutes and whenever I moved I felt a gushing and would need to change my pad again. I was bleeding so much I didn’t know if I would make it in the drive to the hospital and we considered calling an ambulance, but we layered the passenger seat in the car with towels and we drove to A&E. As soon as we arrived we were rushed through as I had bleed through my clothes and was feeling faint. I was put in a incontinence pad as sanitary towels could not handle the fluid loss I was having. I was put into a gown and my bloody clothes were taken away and disposed of.
Once on the ward things calmed down and I was told to wait for the doctor. After about 20 minutes I needed the toilet, my husband helped me stand, and suddenly I felt this gushing, and blood started to run down my legs. My incontinence pad was overflowing. My husband rushed off to get help and that was when I fainted. Luckily I was standing right next to the bed so I just collapsed into that. The shock from the sudden blood loss had caused a massive drop in my blood pressure and that was what made me faint. I was put on a fluid drip and felt much better after about half an hour.
When the doctor came to see me they removed some of the tissue from my cervix to ease the bleeding and I was told I was to stay in for the night. When my husband left I felt like he had taken my right arm with him. I wanted him with me so much.
After all that we had been through I had to have surgical management as well as there was so much tissue left. I couldn’t believe it, I had lost so much blood, how was it not over. The surgery was actually the easiest part, signing the consent form was not. I read all the possible outcomes, and was terrified of the part that said scar tissue can form affecting fertility. The fact that I fell pregnant fast was all we had going for us, if we lost that we would have no hope. I didn’t have much choice though as the risk of infection was to high from my dramatic miscarriage, I had to go through with it. After the surgery I healed fast, had little blood loss, and was back to normal within 2 weeks. On my check up I was told that despite everything my chances of falling pregnant again remained high, and I was more likely to have a successful pregnancy rather then another miscarriage.
This was by far a lot more dramatic then my first miscarriage, but how ill I become took away some of the feelings of loss. We were both just glad I was ok. It was not until a few weeks later that I felt that loss. I was in a pub with a big group of friends, when I saw my best friend discreetly turn down a bite of her husband’s tuna sandwich, and say she couldn’t has she had already eaten tuna that week. I knew immediately that she was pregnant and felt like I needed to leave the pub immediately, and half way through our meal. That night I cried myself to sleep.
When she officially announced her pregnancy and posted a picture of her sonogram on Facebook I went through every emotion in about 10 seconds. I was angry at her for getting pregnant, I was sad for my own loss, I was frustrated that we had been unsuccessful, and I was guilty about all these feelings. That night I again cried myself to sleep. The next day I text her my congratulations and it was like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders. I was a much stronger person then I thought and it felt good to have done the right thing. None of what we were going through was her fault.
We waiting a bit longer after our second loss before trying again. It had taken so much out of us, and we wanted a bit of normalcy before we tried again. This time it took 3 months before I feel pregnant, and I cried when I got my period. I kept having to make excuses as work for my red swollen eyes. It was a very hard time. When I fell pregnant I felt detached and was very mater of fact when I told my husband. His response was also very detached, he just said ‘that’s good’. In hindsight I don’t think we were ready and our detachment was our way of coping. Removing ourselves from it all would make it easier if things went wrong again.
I felt like something was off from the start. I was feeling nauseous in the morning though, which I didn’t have with my other two pregnancies. We tried to use that as a sign that things would be ok, but I couldn’t shake that feeling. I was offered an early scan again, which I was unsure about. I wanted to avoid that elation at seeing a heart beat, and then the heart break if things didn’t work out. My husband however wanted the scan, and after some talking we agreed we would go ahead. We again saw the same sonographer, and this time when she scanned me I knew straight away it was bad. There was a pregnancy sack but it was mooned shaped which meant it was breaking down. We had to wait 10 days for a second scan for the diagnosis to be confirmed but we both knew where this was going. In those 10 days I only cried once.
The 10 days scan was on my 30th birthday, and it was confirmed that we were losing this baby as well. I didn’t cry, I was just numb. I already knew this anyway. I opted for the surgical management just wanting to get things over and done with. I was not even concerned about the risk of scaring, I didn’t care anymore. I lost all my worry about having a baby as I didn’t want to try anymore. I had the surgery a few days later and went home feeling fine. I returned to work and throw myself into planning for Christmas and working towards a promotion. I was going to focus on work rather then a baby for a change. It had been all we had thought about for 12 months and we needed a break.
As I had lost three babies I could be referred to the miscarriage unit, which we arranged with my GP. I still felt nothing. Then 5 weeks after my surgery I got my first period. It was heavy and I ended up stuck in the shower in the house on my own, unable to leave as the blood would not stop. After about 20 minutes I was able to grab a towel and make a dash for the medicine cabinet for some sanitary towels. I was fed up, this sucked. My body has been through so much already. Luckily it only last a few hours and I had a normal period for the rest of the day.
That night my husband told me that his best friend was expecting a baby with his wife. After 5 to 6 weeks of feeling nothing, I cried at the news. Why could they do it and not us, where we being punished for something, what was wrong with us? I asked my husband all these questions in a rapid quick fire manner, and he just looked at me with sad eyes and replied ‘I don’t know’.
We now have our date with the miscarriage unit and we are waiting for this. I am still tired from all the emotional stress and I’m glad its a few months away. It has given us some time to step back from everything. I still have to keep myself busy during all my waking hours, and turn away from anything related to babies. I change the channel when a pregnant women is on the TV, or look away when I see a mother and her baby in town. My husband and I are still strong and we love each other more then ever. A few years ago I thought we had been through hard times, but these last 12 months have shown me that this was nothing compared to the loss of a baby. We get by day by day, every now and then one of us gets upset by something we didn’t see coming, such as the invite to my friend’s baby shower, but we are there for each other.
In many ways I think it has strengthened our connection and for that I am grateful. This is the path that for some reason our lives must take. I try to be open minded about the future and not make having a baby the be all and end all of our happiness. I have a fantastic husband, a lovely home and a job I enjoy. I am still heathy and have a full life ahead of me. We are going to keep trying as we don’t want to give up, we are happy.
I have decided that I want to help others who have experienced a miscarriage, and that is why I have written my story. I am also looking into working with my local EPU who treated me for all my miscarriages to try and provide emotional support for couples who have experienced a miscarriage, it has given a purpose to all of this. I hope this story helps someone who has been through a similar experience, and shows you that you are not alone in what you are going through.
Writing this has been very healing. It has been a bit of a release.
Update, June 2019: Following diagnosis of and treatment for a thyroid problem, Rachael went on to have a healthy baby girl.