Finding out you are pregnant for the first time is possibly the most exciting experience.
We found this out while on a family holiday to Disney World with my parents, brother, sister-in-law and two nieces. I put being ‘late’ down to the long haul flight, not wanting to allow myself to believe that after only a short time of trying we may actually be pregnant.
A week into the holiday my husband and I went to the supermarket near our Orlando hotel, got breakfast for the masses and bought a test (they are so cheap in America, a little bonus). To cut a long story short, we were pregnant and told the family we were with. I wouldn’t have been able to hide it for the remainder of the holiday, I was enjoying the rides and cocktails being in Disney child free, for that to suddenly stop would have resulted in lots of questions, so it was just easier to tell all.
I had applied for new jobs prior to the holiday and spent time negotiating new interview dates for two of the jobs for when we returned. I currently worked as an Occupational Therapist (OT) in a forensic mental health hospital, a job I knew I was ready to leave.
Holiday was over and the morning after we landed I headed straight to what on paper was my dream job, you know that job that comes up, you think you know you won’t get as you have no experience, apply for a bit of laugh, dreaming that maybe they will just take a chance on you. Well that job for me was working in a Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS).
The job was perfect for me, but I felt it came just a little bit too soon. I had been an OT for a year and had no experience of working with children, but now I was pregnant.
How do I get through an interview knowing that I want the job but while sitting there knowing I am also with child?
I did get through it and by the time I drove home I had been offered it. I asked if I could get back to them later that day so I could discuss with the husband.
The job was perfect but my maternity pay would be rubbish as I would only be there for a few months before going off, we decided that for my future career (you are in the workplace a long time after the kids have flown the nest) I would take the job. We would tighten the purse strings from now until baby arrived so we had some money while I was off, all very grown up thinking on our part.
Generally I felt well, a little tired but all in all ok. I told my current workplace that I was pregnant, not waiting for the ‘Safe’ 12 week scan. I worked in an environment whereby we could restrain adults on a daily basis and as such I wanted my colleagues to be aware why I was no longer able/willing to do this.
I am so glad people did know because when the worst did happen, I didn’t have to hide it and pretend everything was ok.
I was able to have time and support to make an attempt to get through this devastating event. The way people spoke to me obviously changed, you notice people have no idea what to say to you, or offer advice such as “at least you know you can get pregnant”, “it just wasn’t meant to be”.
You know that are only trying to be supportive but it doesn’t stop you internally screaming.
What I was shocked by, was by me being open and honest with my experience, how many other women and men opened up and told me they too had suffered a miscarriage. I prefer to use this turn of phrase than lost a child, as my experience was to lose my baby in early pregnancy and to think of it as losing a child made me feel 100 times worse. At this point you think and do what you can to get you through.
The actual miscarriage was to my surprise the most painful thing I have ever experienced. Those who know me, know I have a high pain threshold; I walked around for 2 days with a broken wrist when I was a child, for this to be repeated again a number of years later in my early 20s.
I started bleeding while at work (this bit was not painful at all), and immediately panicked. A miscarriage had never crossed my mind. I made my excuses and told my manager what was going on. I rung my doctors, having no clue what to do in this situation. I got an appointment that afternoon, I rung my husband and he made his excuses and left work.
The doctor sent us to the Early Pregnancy Assessment Unit at our local hospital. I cannot fault the staff there and cannot imagine the emotions they must go through on a daily basis. I was scanned and our worse fears were confirmed.
Neither of us could look at the screen, I didn’t want to see my baby with no heartbeat.
My practical brain kicked in (in a crisis, I often do not show emotion and revert to getting the task done mentality). If this baby was no longer alive I wanted it to end naturally. I hoped my body would allow for this to happen.
We came out to sit in front of a poster telling us that 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage. I worked out in my head the friends who had recently had babies and I was the fourth (my mind is odd in emotional situations, I became very literal as a coping mechanism).
I had never realised how precious being pregnant is and how much I really wanted a baby. I knew right there this was slipping through my fingers. We were booked in for a scan the following week, but were warned that nature may take its own course and the pregnancy may come to an end before that appointment. We left via the side door, the assessment unit meant walking through maternity outpatients; I was a big fan of using the side exit!
My parents lived in Essex, I was in the West Midlands and I wanted my Mum (doesn’t matter what age we are does it?). Mum offered to come up to stay for the week until the next scan was due. I was signed off of work by the assessment unit.
I didn’t make it to the next scan.
I had the most excruciating stomach cramps, I had tried a bath, hot water bottle, following all the advice I could find but the pain was bringing a tear to my eye. Mum told me to ring the unit and ask for advice. I spoke to the maternity unit as it was now out of hours and ask how much bleeding I should experience before seeking medical advice. Hearing my situation I was told to come to A and E ASAP.
My husband then returned home and I updated him and off we went to A and E. I thought it would be over pretty quickly at this point, but how wrong was I.
We sat and we sat and we sat, I was finally seen about five hours after coming in. I was then admitted onto the ward, where staff offered me food and explained what would happen next. I was examined by the doctor, dignity totally gone out of the window at this point (when someone comes at your lady regions with an industrial sized torch, you know it is going to take a hell of a lot to get you embarrassed in the future).
I was booked for another scan the following morning to check that the pregnancy had fully left my body, if it hadn’t I would need a small operation. I spent the night hoping the scan showed it had all gone and I wouldn’t need any further treatment. At this point I was alone, I told my husband to go home, eat and try and get some sleep.
I knew I wouldn’t be able to but again my practical self was saying there is no point us both being tired. The scan confirmed our pregnancy had ended naturally and providing I was well enough I would be allowed home by the end of my second day in hospital. My blood pressure was a little high, but they allowed me home.
I thought now the physical pain had subsided I would be ok and would be able to move on.
Little did I know that the emotional torment would really take its toll.
I started my new job and all was going well. I was constantly being asked, “ do you want children” “will you be having children soon”, which led to one day a simple question of ‘how are you’ making me break down in tears and I told a work colleague, now friend what I had been through.
I took the rest of the day off and rung to speak to my doctor. He was amazing and said that he would see me later that afternoon. I honestly thought I was cracking up, he reassured me I wasn’t. I realised that I needed to take on board some of the practical advice and support I offered the children at work……I needed to look after my own emotional wellbeing.
I went to a counselling offered through my work, I have got to admit that counselling isn’t for me. I was able to speak freely but at the time I needed practical solutions. I know counselling works, but one size does not fit all. I took the decision to then be honest when people asked me those questions. I couldn’t believe the weight that lifted and the support that would follow. If I could offer any one a small amount of advice, please do not be silent, we can all help and support each other and as the poster said 1 in 4 pregnancies ends in miscarriage.
When is it then ok to think about trying again? I couldn’t contemplate this for a while. I needed to get past the estimated due date of first pregnancy before I could think about trying for another baby. This was hard for my husband, he was so broody (he had been broody for years, we bought a puppy to attempt to quell those thoughts). He understood my need to have the date pass and for that to act as my closure.
Just because you fall pregnant quickly once, doesn’t mean it is going to be that easy next time…….definitely something I learnt the hard way. Every month putting pressure on myself, blaming my body that we weren’t pregnant.
Something that bothered me and made feel guilty throughout the whole process was the lack of support for my husband. Yes I was the one that had the physically pain but if we can both be pregnant, then we can both most definitely suffer a miscarriage. It is a cliché but he was my rock and the experience bought us even closer.
We did eventually fall pregnant again and had a baby girl in December 2015. I have heard the term rainbow baby being used for a child born after a miscarriage, my personal preference is to not use this term. We will never forget the baby we were unable to meet (and listening to Gary Barlow’s Let Me Go, will always make me cry, so be prepared) but the pain does get easier and I do not want our little girl to be anything other than our little girl, in no one’s shadow, creating her own path.
What I have learnt over time and wish someone had told me; it’s ok to not stay strong, allow yourself (and partner) time, don’t let anyone else tell you how to feel, its ok to keep remembering what happened, be honest with people and finally be kind to yourself.
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