Insufficient care after losing 3 babies

Anna, 37, suffered 2 missed miscarriages before 10 weeks then another at 20 weeks and says the level of care she received was ‘insufficient’. Anna lives in Nottingham with husband Ed, 39 and daughters Orla, 6, and Ivy, 18 months.

We always wanted a family and assumed it would be a part of our future so, not long after we married in 2013, we thought we’d give it ago. 

I had our first positive test on our first anniversary and it felt magical and meant to be. A couple of weeks later I started minor spotting so went to see my GP who booked me in for a scan at 7 weeks. The spotting had gone by then so I skipped into the scan, feeling confident, to be told there was a sac but no baby.

I thought a miscarriage meant you bled, I didn’t realise that it could be missed. The staff were lovely and Ed came straight away but I was just in shock. 

Because I’d not reached 12 weeks, I had only told one friend so I just went to work as normal, kept myself busy. That’s a recurring theme for me, in difficult times I decorate, I garden, I keep busy.

A second scan a week later confirmed the miscarriage so I opted for medical management the next day. I was still in shock, going through the motions.

They gave me medication and a pessary and I was left with a pan to collect anything that left my body but nothing happened, just a few cramps, and that’s when I broke down. I’d pinned so much on it being over that I just sobbed on the nurse who arranged for surgery the next day.

It was a straightforward procedure then you’re sent home and that’s it.

I was super keen to be pregnant again and it happened quickly

There was some spotting so I went to the GP who said she couldn’t date the pregnancy. I knew my dates but she argued and told me to come back in a week and, if the bleeding got heavier, to seek help, leaving me with the words, ‘at least you know you can get pregnant’ which is just the worst thing in the world to say. 

A week later I saw the GP I’d seen with my first pregnancy who was incredibly sympathetic, booked me in for a scan where we heard a heartbeat. Ed broke down with the relief but I didn’t feel it, there was still a long way to go. I couldn’t really enjoy either of my successful pregnancies.

Orla was born in November 2014 and it was such a relief but I did suffer badly with post natal depression, struggling to feed and suffering insomnia and hallucinations, constantly on edge and having panic attacks.

I think I’d never properly addressed my miscarriage, I’d intentionally avoided the grief. 

Life went on but when my Dad died suddenly in 2016 it changed my perspective, I no longer wanted to wait. I thought I’d fall pregnant quickly but it took 18 months and my mental health was shocking coping with grief and my mum’s Alzheimer’s. I kept busy, doing anything but facing my problems. 

Eventually I had counselling which had a huge impact. I realised that, after my loss, nobody had checked if I was okay. Once PND was on my record everyone asked how I was, I received excellent care, but with miscarriage there is nothing.

I finally fell pregnant in November 2017

I was elated, but nervous, every positive test after a miscarriage is tainted. A scan in January showed another missed miscarriage. This time I went straight for the surgery.

I fell pregnant again within 3 months and remember tearily begging my GP for an early scan. I was so vulnerable but she said no, that the EPU reserved early scans for people with problems. My terror didn’t count.

Again, despite my distress, nobody checked on me until I booked in to see the midwife and it was a different one at every appointment. It felt like ticking boxes, it was not a reassuring experience.

I booked a private scan and everything was okay at 8 weeks, then again at 12 weeks. At my 16 week appointment the midwife didn’t check the heartbeat and I held back from asking. 

They told us our baby had died

The night before my 20 week scan was so nervous and the next day they told me our baby had died at 15 weeks. I didn’t know that could happen. I felt utter disbelief.

After so many checks I was told surgery wasn’t an option after 13 weeks, that I would have to take a pessary and stay in hospital until I ‘passed the products’.

It was an awful time, I bled too much without passing anything, then started cramping. I lost so much blood and, at one point, passed out on the floor. There was a mad panic, the sac had got stuck and they had to burst it, then the placenta got stuck and wouldn’t come away, I had to have surgery. Ed was so scared. Again, we didn’t know that could happen.

There was no real aftercare, especially after such a physical trauma. It seems so wrong to me that you go through something so powerful and there’s nothing. There must be so many women suffering alone.

Ed and I talked and we agreed to give it one more shot

On Christmas Eve I got a positive test, I was almost blasé. I worried before every scan and felt panic at each one. Just being in the ante-natal clinic was so triggering but the 20 week scan was the worst.

It was the same midwife I’d had with Orla, she understood and listened to the heartbeat whenever I needed it. It was such a contrast to how my care had been after miscarriage, extra appointments, growth scans but I never settled, it all felt too good to be true.

If I didn’t feel our baby move in the night my heart would race, I didn’t enjoy a single second.

After another rocky birth Ivy arrived on September 1 2019 and I still can’t really believe she’s here. I suffered anxiety again but I had wonderful care around mental health and within 3 weeks I was where I needed to be and enjoying her.

Miscarriage has such a physical and mental impact and yet the level of care is insufficient. I know the rule about 3 consecutive miscarriages before you get help and I just don’t understand it.

I feel angry and sad for the person I was because I am different at the other side of it all. I didn’t know how to process what happened and there wasn’t even a phone call to check in, no information or support.

I’m lucky my family, my husband, were so understanding but so many women may not have that. That makes me angry.