An anonymous story
"We fell in love with our baby from the moment we saw that faint blue line."
When we first found out that we were pregnant, we were delighted. I've always wanted to be a mother and I felt as if my dreams were coming true. I have always had an irrational anxiety that conception and pregnancy would be difficult for me. In hindsight, this anxiety did creep into my pregnancy. As the initial waves of joy began to ease, I had the ominous sense that it would all go wrong.
However, when pregnancy exhaustion kicked in, I began to feel more hopeful. I suffered with hideous morning sickness and was vomiting several times a day. I had strong aversions to certain food and could no longer bear the smell of my perfume. These all felt like good signs. I did another pregnancy test at about 7 weeks and was thrilled to see a very strong line. My periods weren't coming, and my breasts were swelling and aching so, at around 10 weeks, I began to let myself relax into the pregnancy.
"Early pregnancy is odd as you have no evidence that what you're experiencing is 'real'."
I allowed myself to imagine our future. I started to rub my tummy inconspicuously and felt a rush of love for our little baby. I downloaded an app and took much joy in imagining our little lentil turning into an olive. As I entered week 11 of the pregnancy, my sickness began to ease - this felt strange as all the websites state that this happens a little later. My breasts stopped hurting. I just didn't 'feel' pregnant anymore. My partner tried to reassure me. I was almost convinced that this was just anxiety, but something didn't feel right.
I had my NHS scan booked in for the following week but couldn't wait that long. I booked a private scan for the following day. When we arrived, we couldn’t help but be filled with anticipation and excitement. The sonographer welcomed us in with a big smile and I lay down on the bed. She darkened the room, turned on the machine and a large screen in front of us lit up. I knew as soon as I saw it that something was wrong.
"I couldn't see that well-known silhouette of a kicking little baby. All I could see was stillness. My hopes and dreams for the future I'd been imagining were washed away and I felt an overwhelming sense of emptiness."
The sonographer didn’t seem to know what to say. She awkwardly mentioned that she could see a sac and small ‘fetal pole’ measuring at 8 weeks with no heartbeat. I numbly asked, ‘what is a fetal pole?’. With an almost embarrassed tone, she mumbled that it’s a term for a 'very little baby’. She printed off the photos and placed them in a branded folder apologising as she passed them over. The only folders they had were decorated with the image of a stalk and the words ‘Your new baby’ in a sickly shade of lemon. I took them and left in a daze. The staff were quiet and cold towards me. I felt like they were no longer interested in me as soon as they realised it was bad news. I wasn’t signposted anywhere and they didn't explain what was going on. I just knew it was bad news. I was quietly directed to the exit clutching a folder full of heartbreak. Devastated, I didn't know where to turn.
"I called the Tommy’s helpline. The midwife was so caring and supportive. In that moment of numbness and confusion, I needed both kindness and direction and I am so thankful I had access to that."
The Tommy’s midwife talked me through my next steps calmly and gently. She told me to call the EPU and answered all my questions. She showed true compassion, and, for that, I’ll always be thankful. I learnt that I'd had a missed miscarriage. My baby had stopped growing weeks before but my body hadn’t quite realised. The following week I was booked in for an ERPC and it was all over.
I’m now looking towards the future. We’re almost ready to start trying again. I’m terrified that I’ll lose another baby, but I can’t let that fear hold me back. I suppose this is the beginning of motherhood, putting our baby first. I long for a swelling stomach and a twelve week scan photo. I'm desperate to hold a little baby. After all the pain, I'm starting to feel hopeful for the future again.
"I feel reassured that if my heart gets broken again, Tommy’s midwives will be there for me every step of the way."