I was told I’d had a missed miscarriage and had no idea what this meant

I did not understand how it was possible for your baby to have died inside you, and you and your body not even know.

by Claire

May 2016

I started writing this on New Year’s Day, a painful reminder that this year was not beginning as I thought it would be. I’m now revisiting it and updating it because today, 28th April 2016, I should have been going on maternity leave and it is so very painful to think about that when my last words at my part time job today were ‘see you next week’ but I do love my job and the people I work with so I know I’ll get through the next few weeks.

I should begin by saying I am blessed, I have a husband who I have been with since school who is my best friend, a loving dog, an incredible 2 year old son, lots of friends and a lovely house. Despite all these blessings I have faced hardship in my life, as everyone does. I know on the surface people just see a happy, positive person when they look at me, as that is predominately who I am, but I have faced ill health for many years, a challenging pregnancy with my son and should really be the mother of a 5 year old already if my body didn’t keep failing me.

That’s how miscarriage makes you feel, like your body has failed you, like you aren’t even capable of doing the one thing that we are put on this earth to achieve, reproduction

And not once but twice. With the one child I have managed to carry being such a challenging pregnancy that I began seeing specialist about whether it was a good idea to even have another child biologically over a year before my miscarriage.

I was always keen to have another child biologically if I could, once I’d had one child I did crave the feeling of a baby growing inside me, feeling its kicks, its hiccups, the ability to breastfeed again, despite the vomiting that I suspected would go on throughout, and the other scares that came with my last pregnancy.

After a few months of various appointments we decided I was going to come off the pill and we were going to try for a sibling for our son. Months later, after trying, we were moving house when I began vomiting, the first signs of the little life that had begun to grow in my womb.

We loved our baby from the moment those two lines appeared on the pregnancy test. After 9 months of build up between the hospital appointments and trying to conceive, it felt like this life had always been a part of me. The dreams for our child’s future began. I couldn’t see siblings together without envisaging my son with his younger sibling, especially as he’s so good with little babies and was continually showing me what a wonderful big brother he is destined to be. I feel like not only has my husband and I been robbed of our child, but my son has been robbed of his sibling.

My experience of miscarriage had been a heavy bleed with lots of clotting and pain at 6 weeks. Once I passed the 6 week stage, was when I began to feel safer, my little bump was growing. I was still sick (despite medication), my boobs were huge… all signs that things were as they should be right? I had a little bit of spotting from fairly early on, and a bit of tummy pain (that I put down to my uterus growing), and at repeated midwife appointments I was reassured that these things were normal and I shouldn’t worry, even as I found the amount of blood lost had increased beyond just ‘a little bit of spotting’.

The morning of 4th December 2015 I was so excited, I was 13 weeks pregnant and was going to see my baby for the first time!

Sadly this wasn’t to go as anticipated. I was told I’d had a missed miscarriage. I had no idea what this meant. I had not heard this term before. Unfortunately I discovered that it meant my baby had been dead for a while (we weren’t given any specific timescale, but we suspect up to a couple of weeks). I did not understand how it was possible for your baby to have died inside you, and you and your body not even know.

“But I’m still being sick”, “but I have a bump”, “but my boobs are huge”, all phrases I babbled out in my emotional state, “I haven’t had any proper bleeding”, “I haven’t had any bad stomach cramps or pains”, I went on and on. The very possibility that this had happened seemed inconceivable to me, a miscarriage was what happened early on with a heavy bleed, I’d got so far and had no major bleeding, how had this happened? Why had this happened? What had I done wrong?

I have been on a roller coaster of emotions since the news at my scan. We then had to make a decision: 1. let nature take its course and see if I miscarry naturally, 2. have vaginal tablets that would effectively induce the miscarriage to pass the remains, or 3. have a surgical procedure to remove the remains.

I initially wanted to go down the natural route, however I then panicked as I realised that I wouldn’t cope with continuing to have pregnancy symptoms knowing my baby had died, so opted for the vaginal tablets on 7th December. I still had the weekend to get through but my hubby and I decided to carry on as normal (despite me feeling as though I had been emotionally torn into a thousand pieces) for the sake of our son and for the sake of Christmas plans.

Over the course of those few days, I swung from wanting the pregnancy to be over, as it felt like torture, to desperately wanting to stay pregnant as I felt like once I went into the hospital, my baby truly was dead. My little baby I had 3 months of dreams and aspirations for

Monday 7th December 2015 was worse still than 4th December because of what I went through physically, whereas the scan had been more of an emotional trauma at the news. Within the first 10 minutes of receiving the tablet, I passed a clot as large as my hand and I truly thought that was it, I had passed whatever I was meant to. Little did I know that I was about to pass several clots like that an hour, getting through 4 pairs of knickers despite having pads on that were like adult nappies.

After nearly 8 hours of bleeding at this rate, I suddenly became quite ill and the nurses became concerned. A doctor had to remove the remains with forceps. I had to cope with 8 hours of physical hell, just like with my labour with my son, however that time I got to keep a baby at the end of it. This time I was in so much pain I took more pain relief than I did in my previous labour. It felt somewhat ironic that I hadn’t opted for the surgical removal because I felt it would be more invasive when I had gone through all that pain and blood loss and had ended up with forceps intervention anyway.

We got the choice of what we wanted to happen with the remains and we opted for burial, we held a graveside service on 7th January 2016, exactly a month after the hospital procedure, and I believe it has helped to give us closure on this life that should have been but wasn’t.

We have now given our baby a name, we opted for a gender neutral name as we never knew if it was a girl or a boy so the service was held for Mackenzie Ashley Laurie

Another thing that I hadn’t anticipated was my breasts beginning to leak. I leaked milk for a while so it was a continued reminder of how much my body had wanted this child. I was torn with what to do with this milk but in the end decided that if I could express enough then I would donate it so that another parent and baby could benefit from my loss.

Sadly that wasn’t to be, as I only expressed a few ounces, but I currently have it frozen and will send it off to be made into breast milk jewellery as a reminder of my angel baby.

Christmas and New Year made it nigh on impossible to even contemplate moving on, being the kind of times of year where you think about how you wish things were, I have been doing a lot of ‘what ifs’. Around then was also what should have been our next midwife appointment, our 16 week one, which would have been the first my husband had attended and our first time hearing our baby’s heartbeat, a pretty painful date, as was the date that should have been our next scan and our next specialist appointment. I can’t help wondering if it’s going to still feel like this until May and beyond when we would have expected to be holding our tiny newborn in our arms.

It was also really hard to move on emotionally because I had complications, I bled, passing some clots and still cramping for 9 weeks. The doctors suspected I had a womb infection so put me on antibiotics but it transpired it wasn’t, it was ‘retained product’. This meant that I hadn’t passed all the tissue from the pregnancy when my miscarriage was induced or when they intervened with the forceps. I then passed a large, hard lump after work one day, freaked out and went to the hospital.  

I was eventually given the ‘all clear’, but there is no worse feeling in the world than seeing your empty womb when there should be a baby growing inside it

I had become anemic from all the blood loss and am on the iron. Part of me wishes I had been warned that these complications could happen, and feels angry about not knowing, but the other part of me completely understands that it would be scare-mongering already fragile women to put those possibilities out there if most women don’t go through the same physical ordeal I did.

This physical trauma has only served to compound the emotional trauma I was also going through.

Guilt is definitely the prevalent emotion for me. Guilt at whether I did anything wrong which lead to me losing our baby, even though I can’t think of it. Guilt at feeling the level of grief I am feeling when I know there are those worse off than me. Guilt that I’m so much more upset this time than I was in 2010, but then I continually justify being more upset as this baby was planned and I was so much further along in my pregnancy. But this guilt has also lead to us very belatedly giving that first lost baby a name too, Marley Jamie Terry. Guilt that I’ve failed my husband and my son by losing their child and sibling respectively. Guilt that I am so up and down emotionally that it could end up affecting the son I do have.

I feel a lot of anger at the world. Anger at those that caused me any stress in those months I was pregnant, in case it played a part. Anger at this happening to my little family. Anger at the fact that I’m so fearful at the idea of ever being pregnant again

I guess these emotions are all part of grief and I am grieving that little person that knew what my heart sounded like from the inside, that little person that meant I was never alone.

For now, I will continue to do my best to smile through all the emotions I am feeling inside, for the good of myself, my son and my husband in the hope that at some point I will have something to smile about again because as they say "Someday, everything will make perfect sense. But for now, laugh at the confusion, smile through the tears, and keep reminding yourself that everything happens for a reason." I have to hold onto the fact that something must have been wrong with my baby and that is the reason for this loss otherwise my ‘what ifs’ will go on forever.

Mackenzie (and Marley) will always be precious to us and we will always keep our babies in our hearts. At some point our son will be told about his angel siblings, and that they're with nanny being looked after and given so many cuddles, cuddles that should have been ours.

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