During my first pregnancy I had very little understanding or knowledge of miscarriage. No one I knew had shared their experience of anything similar. I fell pregnant after a few months of trying but, at around 15 weeks, I woke up feeling acute pain in the early hours every morning.
A difficult time
Despite talking to other mothers and looking it up online, I put this down to growing pains. This went on for almost 2 weeks and the pain became very intense. I had a small amount of spotting, so I visited hospital for a scan where the doctor established that everything with baby looked fine.
I was particularly naive to any pregnancy complications, which now I realise was a lovely magical place to be, but perhaps not the best for the health of myself and my baby.
A week later I was having contractions during the day at work but, as the doctor had confirmed everything was ok, I carried on as normal. Later that evening I started to experience more pain and bleeding, so I went to my local outpatients’ hospital who referred me straight to the hospital. That’s where I had my miscarriage.
I was in labour and nothing was going to stop me delivering my baby who I knew was too small to survive. We were asked if we would like to see our baby. I was reluctant at first, but my husband wanted to. They brought our baby to us in a white basket and it was confirmed that he was a boy.
The love I felt towards this little life that was lost has stayed with me to this day.
Today, as I write these words, I am breaking my silence. The hours that followed were of total shock and disbelief. I didn't really cry and felt almost in denial. The morning came and I called close family and friends to tell them the sad news.
The midwives came with several documents to sign on post-mortem and burial. Reality had started to hit, and I was beginning to feel what I can only describe as heartbreak. I signed all the documents and we left with no offer of support or information on what to expect in the coming hours and days.
When we left the hospital, I didn't feel I could return home. We parked up in a garden centre car park, delaying the inevitable of returning to an empty home with no prospect of a baby. I was in no way prepared for this pregnancy outcome and I thought the emptiness I felt initially would be short-lived once I became pregnant again. Like many people suffering grief, I experienced anger and blame and feelings of depression.
We never officially named my first born, but Archie was our first choice. We spent 3 months fighting to get post-mortem results which along with scans and blood tests couldn't fulfil my need for answers.
No one could give us a reason for our loss. I believe all women should be given time and support to make the decisions that follow after a late miscarriage.
Two rainbows after heartbreak
I went on to have multiple miscarriages, but what followed was the most wonderful rainbow. I received the most fantastic care from Oxford John Radcliffe Neonatal Unit and went on with their help to have 2 beautiful children.
Helen is the founder of Brown Paper Packages, a company offering a range of unique gift boxes. To mark Baby Loss Awareness Week, Brown Paper Packages are launching a Baby Loss and Miscarriage Care Box.
10% of the proceeds from this box will be donated to Tommy’s in order to fund research into miscarriage, stillbirth and premature birth.
1 in 4 pregnancies end in loss – and most parents never find out why due to a shocking lack of research. It doesn't have to be this way – and Tommy’s research is finding the answers. But research into pregnancy loss is currently seriously underfunded compared to other medical conditions.
We believe that every parent deserves answers. Let us know if you agree.