What I wish I'd known before having medical management for my miscarriage

Ruby is 32 and works in law enforcement. Around the time of her birthday, she was surprised and delighted to find out that she was 5 weeks pregnant – but at her first scan, she learned she’d had a missed miscarriage. In this blog, she reflects on her loss and the practical things she wishes she’d known before this experience.

As soon as I found out that I was pregnant, I couldn’t help but fast forward - going from bump to baby. I felt that connection instantly and it was a feeling like no other.

What was bittersweet was that my estimated due date was the anniversary of my brother’s death; I took it as the universe trying to bring some positivity to that date, being the worst time of my life and something I thought I could never come back from. 

Bad news at my first scan 

I lay there for what felt like an eternity, waiting for the sonographer to tell me the measurements of my baby or babies. I kept trying to read her face. I wanted to hop off the bed, take my picture and look at it over and over, but I didn’t get that chance. 

She looked down at me and said: “This is not going to go well.” In that moment, I was numb.

They took me into the next room for privacy, where I cried with shock, aware that just outside the door was a row of ladies and their bumps. I looked pregnant, had symptoms, was taking vitamins, doing endless research...

I had dreams to fulfil and memories to make but the magic was ending. I felt stupid for being so excited.

I kept hope and tried to stay positive. I could not find anyone who could give me a second opinion and continued trying to find answers online.  

No answers and no support

There was back and forth with the hospital, because at the scan there was a millisecond of hope when the sonographer thought she may have seen a fetal pole - I saw it too, but she just could not recreate the image. That image will stay imprinted on my soul until the day I die.

I felt at the mercy of an early pregnancy unit and their staff. Some were kind and professional but overall, it was cold and clinical. I know it’s their job but, for me, it was the first time I was pregnant and it wasn’t going well. I was helpless and vulnerable and I never got the clear answers that I needed. If there’s not enough research to know something yet, at least just say that.

I had to choose a miscarriage treatment 

My body hadn’t accepted that my pregnancy wasn’t going to work out, it didn’t want to leave my body, so I was offered medical or surgical management. I only went for the medication because I was assured by multiple nurses that it felt ‘like period pain’ and putting the pessaries inside my cervix area ‘might be uncomfortable’; this was not the case. The pain that was coming my way was indescribable.

The pessaries being put in hurt, and then I was packed off home with them dissolving inside me. 3 hours later, I had an overwhelming feeling of unwellness, like every fibre of my being was slowly draining out of me. My heart was thumping loudly, I thought I might throw up, and I knew I had to get to the toilet. 

I sat on the toilet, heaving. I wiped and saw blood but assured myself that it would be okay, although I was already feeling quite ill. As time went on, the vomiting subsided but the diarrhoea did not stop for hours. The nurse had told me to take paracetamol, but that didn’t help – it was excruciating.

I can’t put the pain into words. I was having contractions with no baby to show for it at the end, wailing in agony, willing God to take me because I wanted to give up.

A shunting pain rippled through my back into my stomach, and this happened on and off every few minutes for an hour or 2 before I suddenly felt an urgent need to push. I ran to the toilet, looked down and saw what I believe to be a sac coming out of me. It hit the bowl with a thud and a sea of blood streamed out of me.

Over 10 days, this happened again. I passed another sac which looked like a placenta. I cannot explain the level of pain and mess every time I went to the bathroom. I remember the steam from the shower helping me - but at the same time it was horrible to be in there, like a scene out of a horror film, with so much blood in the water and masses blocking the drain.

What I wish I’d known before my miscarriage

I didn’t need to go through this, and I feel I made a mistake because I was misled about the level of pain I could have experienced. I didn’t know anything about miscarriage - how it’s portrayed in soaps was not my experience - and the hospital didn’t add much to that before sending me home. 

We don’t let women give birth without offering appropriate pain relief, so how is it okay to give paracetamol for a miscarriage? I was having contractions, in agony, with no appropriate painkillers or anti-diarrhoea medication prescribed. How was this ever an option? I was left traumatised and would never have chosen this if I knew.

My advice for others is just be mindful that, if offered a medical management for miscarriage, they will send you home. It isn’t ‘managed’. I think the term is misleading because in my experience I’m sorry to say there was no medical management, there was just me and my miscarriage.

Ask for painkillers, if you need them; it’s the last thing you want to be dealing with on top of everything else. The same goes for anti-sickness and diarrhoea medication. I found nappies easier than sanitary towels, and I recommend you buy air freshener (I struggled to get rid of the smell of blood). Most importantly, have someone you love and that loves you to stay with you for as long as you need, and let them take care of you. I wish I’d had someone to help clean me up and wipe the tears from my face.