Warning – this isn’t a post for everyone.
This is a post I have battled long and hard over. I have struggled so much as to whether I can not only write it, but whether I can publish it too. To basically communicate the deepest and darkest period of my life and put it out there for all to see. This is the thing with blogging, we’re divided into those who blog about their existing lives, their daily wonderings and feeling and then there’s me who writes about what she knows, draws on her experiences and shares the knowledge and insight in the hope that someone will find comfort and gain familiarity and support from my journey in pregnancy and into motherhood.
Regarding this post however, the question remains,
Is it something I want to draw attention to?
After-all the last thing anyone wants to think about when they’re pregnant is miscarriage and the idea of losing a child that is so cherished, loved and wanted from the very beginning.
However, recently I have also been thinking a lot about the one in five women who suffer and go through the unbelievable heartache of a miscarriage and the impact that it then has on their future pregnancies.
I have always maintained that as a writer I will write about subjects I can draw on from my own personal experiences, to be able to emphasise with and above all display honesty and integrity and for subjects where that is not the case I will meticulously research the subject in order to fully do them justice.
The subject of miscarriage is unfortunately one that I not only have had the misfortune of experiencing, but one that like many women who have gone through it, have researched and studied every possible cause and reason for it.
For any women that have not gone through the pain of losing a baby my biggest advice would be to turn back now to my home page, this isn’t a post for you all. This will be a piece that speaks to the one in five of us that have gone on to conceive after the loss of a baby.
After three years I am ready to share my story and I finally feel this may be the closest I come to some form of conclusive healing.
I previously suffered five miscarriages in the journey to eventually conceiving our son in 2016 and by opening and sharing my experience I hope that I can convey my story to the women out there that are going through a similar ordeal.
I’ve lost count of the movies I have watched or the Instagram and YouTube vloggers I have seen who share and announce their pregnancies to the world in spectacular fashion and it always touches a nerve. For when we suffer a previous miscarriage and go on to conceive it is never like it is in the movies. I don’t want to take away the utter joy of those women and I do believe each to their own as to how they choose to announce their news, but for me personally I was never one to shout it from the roof tops, although I did experience the joyous moment, the delight and excitement for the future, without a care in the world or a concept that it can be taken away so suddenly, albeit just once.
The first time we fell pregnant back in 2012, I remember it all so clearly. It was a Sunday morning and I felt nauseous and was lying in bed, thoughts bouncing around in my head. Could I be pregnant? I didn’t have any tests and I had to wait until the shops opened which was the longest two hours of my life.
It came back positive and my husband and I both jumped up and down on the bed whooping and hollering in excitement, much like my two kids do on Christmas Day. Three days later I tested again because I’m totally addicted to peeing on a stick and it was negative. I didn’t understand. I was so confused, was it right, had I peed enough, maybe my wee was too diluted, surely, it’s a dud test. Ten more tests later and every single one of them negative. I rang the doctor for some insight and much needed advice and was told it was probably just a chemical pregnancy and I’ll start my period in a few days.
WTF WHAM!!!!!!! Just like that we’d gone from total jubilation to devastation in less than a week and the doctor had the total discourtesy to call it a chemical pregnancy. I bloody hate that term. From the minute the test shows up as positive, you’re imagining your baby, what will they will look like, will they have your hair, his ears, you’re thinking about names, excited at the thought of showing off your baby bump, imagining family get together’s and just like that it is taken away from you with no explanation as to why.
We fell pregnant with my daughter a month later and this time there was no jumping around with joy, there was a panicked anxiety with every twinge and cramp. Every second the nausea went and every second I felt too nauseous, I analysed everything and imagined the worst at every waking moment. I went go the loo every ten minutes just to see if there was any blood and I peed on a stick every day until I had an eight week scan, although I knew full well that the HCG levels in my urine would continue to remain high for a few days even if we had lost the baby but, for me at that time in my life, those positive tests were all that got me through the first eight weeks. My daughter was born at 34 weeks, small but healthy, nonetheless.
Fast forward 18 months, when we made the decision to try again and extend our perfect little family of three. I was 34 and we knew we needed to start soon but I was fit, healthy, ate well and had no reason to ever think we’d be in for the hardest and most emotionally challenging two years of our lives We had fallen so quickly the first time around and with only a month between the first miscarriage and the pregnancy of my daughter, I never once foresaw the problems we would encounter over the next two years.
Again, we fell pregnant pretty quickly, much to my husband’s delight at his super strong swimmers, but an early private scan at eight weeks indicated I was only six week gone, a tiny flicker of a heartbeat filled the screen, the doctor smiled reassuringly at me and my husband’s face beamed with joy but my gut instinct was telling me something different and in my heart I knew something wasn’t right. Two weeks later I started to bleed, and a scan confirmed my worst nightmare – there was no heartbeat. My cervix was closed and after two weeks my body was still unwilling to let go of the baby naturally. I opted for a D&C, also known as dilation and curettage, which is basically a surgical procedure often performed after a first-trimester miscarriage and involves opening the cervix to remove the contents of the uterus. I was asleep for the procedure which took place on the 23rd December, I continued to bleed heavily for about a week after and that Christmas day I went to bed at 8pm after drinking way too much Prosecco. It was a shitty Christmas all round.
Three months later we fell pregnant again and the second time we went for another private scan at eight weeks, I was a mess. I had convinced myself and prepared myself to receive the terrible news, although I had quite bad morning sickness which I clung onto as a positive sign. When I was told the sac was empty my world just fell apart. A blighted ovum, which is often referred to as an anembryonic pregnancy or anembryonic gestation occurs when the early embryo stops developing and it is reabsorbed back into the body leaving an empty sac in its place. The placenta can often continue to grow and support itself without a baby for a short period of time and the pregnancy hormone HCG continues to circulate the body causing the woman to feel pregnant. A blighted ovum is often the result of a chromosomal abnormality and often happens without the women even knowing she is pregnant. I again chose to have a D&C.
Third time was summer, and we were at a friend’s wedding for the weekend when I started bleeding heavily. I was only about 6 weeks pregnant at the time, but the sight of blood didn’t come as a big surprise to me, there were no tears, no disappointment. I know this may sound heartless, but I had suspected for a while that we were not going to be in for an easy journey and this third miscarriage changed me as a person. I knew that the NHS would investigate now as in the UK under the NHS care a woman must have three consecutive miscarriages before they will investigate if there is an underlying cause. I now had an air of determination in me.
After countless blood tests to look at my blood, progesterone levels and overall health I was found to have very low progesterone levels. A much-needed hormone for conceiving and maintaining a pregnancy. The second problem was a Protein S Deficiency which is a type of blood disorder where you have an increased risk of developing blood clots.
So, with those two factors well and truly screwing with us, we needed a solution. Cue specialist gynaecologist and a million appointments.
In February 2016 we were scheduled to see a gynaecologist who specialises in early miscarriage to discuss our options. We had waited six months to be seen and I was in my 36th year, not old by any standards but I felt that time was ticking away for me. I said earlier we hadn’t been trying at all, but we’d had one night where after a few too many drinks and a devil may care attitude we tossed that little box of condoms on the floor and enjoyed a night with no baby making thoughts entering our heads. The morning of our appointment I felt sick, sick with nerves but sick in a way I was all too familiar with.
I knew I had a stash of tests somewhere and as I sat on the loo, test in hand shaking as I peed on that bloody stick again, I waited in nervous anticipation, thoughts hurtling around my head. When the all too familiar pink lines showed up, I cried more than I have ever cried before. I can’t go through this again.
I felt like I’d been caught doing something I shouldn’t have been when I sat crying to the gynaecologist that we were pregnant.
That very same day I left the hospital with two months’ worth of progesterone suppositories, Clexane injections to thin my blood which I injected into the side of my stomach every day and an abundance of aspirin and strong folic acid. I was like walking pharmacy. I was scanned every two weeks and looked after by the Early Pregnancy Assessment Unit and at every scan I expected the worst, I didn’t let myself ever get my hopes up, preparing to be told that I had lost the baby yet again. I didn’t dare even allow myself one happy thought which when I look back is crazy. As if the idea that denying myself a happy thought would somehow make the news of further disappointment any easier to cope with.
I was a horrible bitch to my husband, pushing him away and shunning his kind words of encouragement. He took every knock back and snide cruel remark that I always threw at him whilst continuing to offer his quiet support and never being far from my side. Yet the selfish side of me never ever considered the pain and agony that he must have been going through. To me, he was just a bystander watching from the side-lines, not ever fully grasping the heart wrenching loss I was going through, although I know that is so wrong. His grief was just as real, just as raw as mine. However, what the miscarriages did do for us as a couple is to reconfirm our unwavering allegiance to each other and our total commitment to becoming parents and despite the temporary void it created between us during the worst of the grief it ultimately brought us together having both experienced such heartache together.
I carried my son until he was 35 weeks when the doctors made the decision to deliver him early.
When I look at both my children now, my rainbow babies, I realise that neither one of them would be here today if we had not suffered those miscarriages. Rainbows have long been a symbol of light and beauty after a storm and after all the fear, worry, anxiety and guilt our rainbow babies were the source of our delight and celebration and an acknowledgement that we will never forget the babies that we lost.
Loosing a baby at any stage in pregnancy is a shattering blow and the fear of it happening again never leaves. Fear, dread and anxiety fuel you daily but those emotions and feelings are totally normal and that goes for any form of grief and loss.
When pregnancy occurs again there are many things you can do to ease these feelings and to help you stay hopeful. Be patient and manage your expectations. The pain of your loss will never vanish so please be gentle on yourself, pregnancy brings a lot of emotions with it, many of which you didn’t know you had and its natural to want to protect yourself from the pain and to not allow yourself the normal level of excitement many women have during pregnancy.
With each milestone you experience, the first midwife appointment, hearing your baby’s heartbeat on the doppler machine to that first scan brings you closer and closer to meeting your little one. No two pregnancies are ever the same so please try to feel reassured that things are moving forward in the right direction, stay calm and take each day at a time. For many of us passing the point that we miscarried the first time is a huge step and remember to share your worries and fears with your partner and ensure you support each other along the way.
Try not to deny yourself the ability to love and bond with your new baby in the same way you did the first time around. It is not unexpected that you’ll want to protect yourself, but pregnancy is an incredible journey, albeit it is terrifying too but embarking on this journey into motherhood should be enjoyed, so try and learn to embrace it.
I have learnt over the past few years that no amount of worrying will change an outcome, but for your own sanity, peace of mind and capacity to experience your pregnancy with some level of joy, please be kind to yourself and do not deny yourself the ability to enjoy the moment.
Remember to practice relaxation exercises, yoga and meditation to quiet your mind when you’re feeling overwhelmed and to always speak with your midwife or OB/GYN if you’re struggling.
There are some really great websites and charities out that can help and provide you with information and support if you’re going through a pregnancy and the worry is too much.
- Tommy’s funds research into stillbirths, premature births and miscarriages. They also offer advice to parents-to-be. The pregnancy information pages on their website are written by midwives and are packed full of practical advice.
- The Miscarriage Association is a dedicated to supporting those who have experienced miscarriage. They also have a helpline on 01924 200 799, which is open Monday to Friday, 9am to 4pm.
- MAMA Academy is a charity which supports mums and midwives to help babies arrive safely.
They also produce Well-being Wallets which are full of easy to understand information that will guide and help you in your pregnancy.
Stay strong, stay positive you’ve got this!!
Lots of Love to you all
Vanessa AKA The Pregnancy Pantry