by Mikaila Hopley-Poole
I'd had two pregnancies before my miscarriage. My first baby was born very prematurely at 29 weeks, it was a difficult 29 weeks as throughout I had numerous hospital admissions following very heavy bleeds. I also had a cervical cancer scare and needed a colposcopy at 16 weeks (I'd had CIN3 at 23 and had three rounds of loop diathermy and laser treatment before I got pregnant) thankfully it was normal. My baby was in NICU and SCBU for two months after he was born, weighing 2lb 10oz, he is now a happy healthy 5-year-old.
The second pregnancy, carefully planned three years later was closely monitored because of my first. I was anxious throughout, however this close monitoring helped so much that I managed to get to 36 weeks. My baby still needed to be admitted to NICU when he was born, however he came home with me just a week later. I am so thankful for the care we all received.
When I fell pregnant for the third time earlier this year, just after my second baby turned one, I was shocked and surprised. It had taken a year to conceive my second baby, so it was unexpected for it to have happened so quickly. My husband and I laughed together and couldn't quite believe it.
We excitedly started making plans. I left a job I had just started at a children's home as I was worried about working nights, and any risk of harm from the young people. I decided that I would relax more and really try to enjoy this pregnancy as it would be my last. I met up for lunch with a friend I had made, whilst in hospital with our babies who had been born on the same day, and she told me that she was 6 weeks pregnant. "Me too," I excitedly replied and we laughed about the chances.
In both of my previous pregnancies I had had bleeding, so when I had some this time I tried not to worry. I went to the GP who was very kind, and as I had my 12-week-scan booked for the following week, she advised me to just wait until then, unless it got worse. It stopped and I didn't think too much of it, as this was similar to bleeding I'd had in previous pregnancies.
For some reason we hadn't told many people, including our families that I was pregnant, deciding to wait until after our scan. Looking back, I regret this decision, it made it more difficult to tell them I'd had a miscarriage when they didn't know that I'd been pregnant.
On the morning of my 12-week-scan, my husband stayed at home to look after our youngest. I sat in the waiting room, drinking my water, reading a magazine I had brought, in order to get change so I could buy my scan picture. I felt quite excited and relaxed, blissfully unaware that my life was about to change in a way I hadn't even imagined. I was called in, got on the bed and waited to see my little bean for the first time.
I stared up at the ceiling. Was it just me or was it taking a long time? She finally turned to me, and I just knew. "I'm sorry, but there isn't a heartbeat," she said and showed me the screen. I nodded, and managed to respond, 'oh right', my eyes stinging, my throat hurting. She then told me that the baby had died at around 8-9 weeks, and I would need to go upstairs to the early pregnancy unit to talk to the doctors upstairs.
I left the little dark room and went straight to the toilet, locked the door, and cried a cry I'd never heard from myself. I leant against the wall and let the tears flow
Once I had composed myself, I went upstairs with the sonographer. Once in the EPU, I was taken to a quiet side room and looked at the leaflets and posters on the wall about miscarriages. I couldn't believe that this was happening to me. They told me that I would have an appointment in two weeks time for another scan.
Arriving home to my husband was the worst bit, as I pulled up on the drive I could see him waving and smiling at the window, with our youngest in his arms. I smiled and waved back. I got through the door fell to pieces, in his arms, as I told him.
The next few days were surreal and made harder by the fact it was my husband's 30th Birthday. Before everything happened I had booked a surprise trip for us all to stay in a yurt in the country. It was a difficult few days as I carried on regardless, in front of my children and acted happy and excited for my family on this special occasion. But inside I carried this darkness, inside was my tiny lifeless little bean. I was also still anxiously waiting for my body to naturally dispel what was left of my pregnancy.
It didn't happen naturally as I had hoped, and when I went back two weeks later and had another scan I was told that everything remained as it was. So I had three options, to wait another two weeks, take tablets to bring it on or have an operation. I chose the latter as I just wanted it all to be over. I had already waited two weeks and nothing seemed to be happening; I didn't have it in me to wait any longer.
I was booked in the following day, and had to be there at 7.30am. I told my 5-year-old I was going on a spa day when he saw me leaving with my bag and asked what I was doing.
After the operation, whilst I was in recovery I was told that they had removed everything, but there had been some complications. My cervix (weak from treatment in the past), had been torn during the procedure and had required stitches. It was another blow because I knew then that if I ever got pregnant again, that this brought about more risk of another miscarriage or premature birth for me.
Once home, I went through many of the feelings associated with grief. I felt quite distant from people, even my husband. I felt very alone, I felt people didn't really understand
Friends and family told me it was for the best, it was nature's way, at least it was early, or at least it was still just an embryo or foetus. But the worst thing that was said was that I should just be happy with what I've got already. Not one person stopped to think that I was grieving for someone I loved the minute I saw the second line appear on the pregnancy test, for all the hopes for the future and how it looked with another baby with us.
I know they all meant well and were trying to make me feel better. But none of it made me feel better. I thought back and hoped I had never said any of those things to anybody in my situation, and then I realised no one had ever actually spoken to me about having a miscarriage before.
I've decided that I will speak openly and honestly about what has happened to us and I do. Sometimes people don't know what to say or how to react. When people ask me if we'll have any more, I tell them what happened and that I'm not sure if we'll ever have another baby because of it. I say it to give a truthful and honest answer, not to make anybody feel bad or awkward.
This is why I wanted to share my story with Tommy's. I was one of the thousands who recently returned a questionnaire following my miscarriage, in the hope that we can become a more understanding and open society when dealing with difficult topics like miscarriage and loss.
I see my friend who is due next month (as I would have been) regularly, and it's sometimes painful to see her beautiful growing bump, but it's ok because we talk and we're honest. I am happy and excited for her, this is her happy time.
However, I do look forward to getting past the stage of pregnancy I would have been at, because I can't help but think about what I'd be doing now or how big I would be. We've decided to go away for what would have been my due date. Maybe I'm naive to think that I'll feel better after that 9 months because I know that I'm never going to forget how old that little bean would have been.