The 18th of July was one of the best days of my life.
I found out I was pregnant. Steven, my husband and I, were ecstatic to make our family grow by one.
But on the 13th of August the worst thing that could have happened did. I started to bleed. Now don’t get me wrong, bleeding in early pregnancy is common and usually nothing to worry about but it wasn’t that way for us. (If you are experiencing bleeding in early pregnancy I would encourage you to ring your midwife advice line to put your mind at ease)
The midwives I spoke to were very blunt and made me feel very scared and put out. They were at first just telling me to stay at home and that the bleeding was probably due to having sex that morning. There was no way we were staying at home. However I was just swabbed and told if I was miscarrying then there was nothing they could do.
I just wanted to scream and shout at her, I know miscarriage can’t be stopped but I also don’t think that any midwife would actually want to watch a woman go through that if they could stop it. All I could do was wait for a phone call Monday morning about a scan.
On the 15th I spent the morning being angry that the local hospital wasn’t going to give me a scan. They honestly wanted me to wait 48 hours then if I was still bleeding contact them at the end of the week.
Yeah, not going to happen! So I rang the hospital I would have had the baby at and the midwife straight away said they couldn’t give me one that day but they could give me one at 9am the next day. I snapped that up so that we could have some peace of mind one way or another.
Our friends were looking after me whilst Steven was at work. Before he had head off to work, he hugged me, and I felt a rush of something that didn’t feel right. Later that day, I found out why.
I headed up to the bathroom and it was like a horror scene. Blood had poured out of me and soaked my underwear and leggings. There was a huge clot that fell on the floor, I was mortified. After I put a new pad in I went about cleaning myself up and the bathroom.
I rang the midwives back because the situation was becoming very scary very quickly. They just said if I soaked one pad in an hour for three hours straight I probably would need medical attention. Within 40 minutes I had passed more large clots and soaked three pads.
Steven was just pulling up when I rang them back and they said ‘Please go to James Cook’, which is the bigger hospital and has an Early Pregnancy Unit (EPU). They also said they would ring them to let them know I was going.
When we got there I was put in a room and they checked my cervix. They removed some small clots and said that my cervix was barely open. I was told to ring the buzzer any time I passed something. The midwife asked if I wanted to stay overnight but I started to feel very detached from the situation like it was no longer happening to me, I just felt empty.
Because I wasn’t losing the same volume of blood, I went home. The midwife also said she thought the large clots I had earlier were probably the end of it but to still go to the scan in the morning to check everything had passed.
Steven and I were barely talking to each other at this point. I have to talk things out, whereas he shuts down. The next morning we headed to the unit again to have the scan. They told me that I hadn’t fully miscarried, that the baby was still there. I had known for a couple of weeks that something was wrong, some days I would get pregnancy symptoms others I would get nothing.
The midwife I had for the scan was amazing. She had suffered a miscarriage herself and was so nice to me which helped. She offered me medical intervention or just to let nature take it’s course. Each comes with its own risk but I chose to let it happen naturally, because well I loved this baby from the second I knew I was pregnant and I will always love them.
I wanted to finish this pregnancy myself even though it wouldn’t have the ending I wanted. However it can take up to 2 weeks and if it doesn’t happen naturally medical intervention is needed regardless.
My mum once told a friend that babies that miscarry were never meant for this life and that they chose the parents they did because they knew they would be loved so much and unconditionally. I feel that is true for me.
The midwife asked if we had any questions but I knew that Steven wouldn’t ask anything. The only thing she hadn’t covered that I wanted to know was when we would be able to let fate decide if we were having another one.
She told me I would bleed for up to 2 weeks after passing the baby. Then up to 6 weeks later I could have my period. Once I had my period it would be safe to let nature decide. She also said the 4/5months after miscarriage are the most fertile.
I knew I’d be gutted if I didn’t fall pregnant again knowing that, but I also just want to relax about everything and let nature take it’s course.
The annoying thing is there is no set way to miscarry. I had very stop/start bleeding and cramps that would stretch into my back and hips. I just wanted it to be over quickly. That isn’t always the case and wasn’t for me.
I began to start crying hysterically whenever I was alone. Part of me thought that my body was clinging onto this pregnancy and I was clearly not ready to let it go. I kept thinking if I went in for medical management I would be aborting my child.
Now I have no problem with those who have abortions because it must be a hard enough choice to deal with. That’s a very controversial topic and I apologise if it offends anyone, but I fully believe it should be a woman’s choice what happens to her body and there are many reasons for women to have that to be a choice.
My baby had stopped developing and it wasn’t going to miraculously start again. But part of me deep down hoped so fiercely that I would be an exception, it would be a miracle. Obviously only in my dreams.
It got to the point where I told Steven this and he decided to give it a few more days then ring them up. Especially as the day before his deadline I started to get really quite ill but the ward wouldn’t be able to do anything on a Sunday unless I was an emergency.
I rang the ward on the 22nd and had a cry to one of the midwives about how I was feeling regarding the tablets and all the random thoughts I had been having. She put my mind at rest by saying that right now it was a foreign body that was going to cause me harm.
The next day I came to the EPU and went through all the consent forms. Steven and I agreed it might be better to take the tablets in hospital and miscarry there. I signed and took the first tablet which was to stop my body from producing the pregnancy hormones.
The day after that, the 24th, I came in around half 9 in the morning to take the next 4 tablets. I was waiting for about an hour before I was seen.
That wasn’t too bad but hearing all the heartbeat monitors next to the waiting room was horrendous. The midwife was the same one I saw when I first began to miscarry which was incredibly reassuring. She listened to me cry and gave me a hug. She told me as long as I wasn’t too far from a toilet Steven could come see me on the ward or anywhere on the hospital grounds. That gave me some comfort.
Being by myself was the one thing I didn’t want but the people I would have had with me (other than Steven who was doing something equally important) either had to work or had no way of getting to the hospital. I brought my notepad for a book I’ve been writing, my mp3 player because I’m an Apple hater, and some things to eat to keep myself entertained instead.
I took the first 4 tablets of the day and was told to expect cramps, I was told when I started to experience pain just to let them know so I could get painkillers. Now usually I bust through pain but because of the situation I decided I would just take them, even though I waited for ages to actually do it because part of me needed to do this myself.
I had to do my business in a bed pan and I was told that if I had passed anything to buzz the nurses. I was also told that some women experience diarrhoea, she said I could have Imodium for this. I laughed and explained that I had a stoma. She was intrigued about the whole thing and digestion of food etc. I said I could have Imodium and I should be able to tell if I need it. (Yes I very much needed it in the end and had to wait 2.5 hours for some!)
I started feeling cramps within half an hour of taking the tablets.but other than a few bits of stringy blood there was nothing. Steven and Ra-Ra, my daughter, came to sit with me when I was having the second set of tablets at 3pm. Nothing happened. At 6:30 they checked my cervix with a speculum, not pleasant.
Ra-Ra laid with me and hugged me to ‘make sure I didn’t cry’. The midwives couldn’t decide whether I had a clot or if it was just blood.
A doctor had to be paged. We then waited till 21:10 to be told I had to stay overnight and do the whole thing again.
Okay, I thought. That’s fine. I went to empty my bag and as I sat on the toilet blood and clots just happened. Typical just as Steven was leaving. The midwife checked and said as it wasn’t heavy she was happy for me to leave the ward to see them out.
When I came back upstairs I got ready for bed, had a lovely offer of company from one of my sister-in-laws but I couldn’t make her stay with me overnight. I rang my friend to keep her in the loop. Then around 11pm I moved in the bed. I managed to soak my knickers and pyjamas even though I had a pad on. The midwife said that clot wasn’t the baby either. So sporting a gown and some trés chic ‘netty’ knickers I went back to bed with my tummy feeling sore. I’ve never felt so empty and detached from something in my whole life.
The next morning all I did was sleep. I was woken up to start the tablets again in the hope it would make things happen quicker. At around lunch time I passed what I thought was the baby (it wasn’t) but I was told when I do pass it; they put it in a little white box, then it goes to a chapel and is blessed before being cremated which is nice knowing it is all done respectfully.
Eventually around 2pm I was told I passed something of the baby. I couldn’t believe that I still had more to go through. I had an ‘episode’ I guess where I collapsed onto the toilet. My arms fell back and I was slumped unable to move for what felt like forever. I felt so heavy and helpless. The student midwife I told didn’t pass this information on so I don’t know what it was but I do still worry about that. Roll on till 8pm more clots and nothing else, it’s insane just how many clots you can produce. They eventually did another speculum exam and were able to remove more ‘product’ as they call it.
I was monitored for an hour and allowed a shower before I was then discharged. I was told I can bleed for up to a fortnight and to do another pregnancy test in three weeks and let them know the result.
I was umming and ahhing about writing this but if women or the men that are suffering this horrible event in life don’t talk about it and don’t let others know they aren’t alone it can be a harrowing experience.
I’ve been told I’m coping well. I’m sure it will hit me further down the line but right now I want to raise awareness and let you know if you are going through this talk to someone, let it all out please don’t suffer in silence.
They say one in four women experience miscarriage. I don’t feel like a statistic and if you or someone you know has suffered one they shouldn’t either. Just know you are not alone, it’s an incredibly sad and unfortunate situation.
No matter how early or late you find out it has happened please know you didn’t do ANYTHING wrong. Miscarriage is such a sensitive and taboo subject and it shouldn’t be.
Women should be able to grieve their loss like any other parent. Because even though you weren’t able to hold your child or watch them grow does NOT make things any easier. You are filled with all the what ifs and what would bes. Also already having a child, again doesn’t make things easier.
Your body was able to conceive a baby and that’s still something to celebrate. If you want to it may be a good idea to do something in memorial whether it’s just you or your partner too. One of my best friends is a tattoo artist and gave me a little memorial under two tattoos I have for Steven and Ra-Ra to help me with my grief.
I take away from this that my body is healthy enough to conceive a child so right now that gives me plenty of hope for the future. I have tried to remain positive throughout even if it was only around other people.
I’ve written this not for sympathy but to try and raise awareness that it can happen to anyone. That it is OK to talk about it and that your feelings are important.
There are plenty of people and groups out there you can talk to. Reach out if you need to please, there is always light at the end of the tunnel.
Words by Stephie Simpson