The month of October is Miscarriage Awareness month. Sadly I know this because I had a late miscarriage in August 2014.
I am happy to admit that before this, I had no idea about miscarriage, how common it is or the help that is available. I knew of two people who had had miscarriages, one of them is my mum.
I never knew how hard it hits you, how it affects your family and how it affects your mental health.
My life and future was planned. I was studying to become a midwife (something I have wanted to do since my son Logan was born). I found out I was pregnant very early. It was very unexpected, though Matt and I were over the moon to be pregnant again. I had arranged to take time out of Uni, had all of that planned.
I was happy.
During my consultation with my midwife, I had arranged for my 16 week appointment to be a little later as we were travelling to Ipswich to visit the in-laws. Everything on my 12 week scan was normal. My baby was due 4th February 2015!
I carried on everyday like it was any other. I went to Uni, did my placements. One thing was different from the other pregnancies... I felt rotten everyday. I couldn't stomach tea (never have I been off tea!...I love tea). I couldn't drink milk either, so decided to stick to water and juice.
Whilst down in Ipswich towards the back end of August, I was certain I felt movements... I WAS POSITIVE I had felt movements. Like little flutters.
The whole family and my husbands family friends were excited for us both. We joked about going into labour early over the New Year whilst visiting them again and that I would have an English born baby. The night before we left Ipswich I took some paracetamol as I had been experiencing headaches for a few days. That night I lay there thinking about my baby and again thought I felt movements.
My midwife appointment was booked for the following week on the 25th August.
The morning arrived. Matt had taken the day off work to come to the appointment and the kids were coming to. They were excited to hear the baby's heartbeat. It was going to be such a special moment.
As I was getting dressed I said to Matt "What if she doesn't find a heartbeat?". Did I somehow know???? Matt told me I was being silly and that was that.
The appointment was for 1pm (I think....its all a blur). My daughter had a friends birthday party to go to that day for 3ish, so she was all dressed ready for the party when we turned up at the clinic.
I remember sitting in the waiting room talking to someone I knew who was almost due. We laughed and joked about the worries of labour etc like many women do. The midwife appointments were running late so I text my friend to say we may be a little late for the party. Then we were called in. I can't remember the time but it was approaching 2:45ish.
In the room I was nervous. I can't recall why I felt so nervous. Maybe it was because when I was the student, I always felt nervous at the 16 wk appointment because it is sometimes difficult to find a heartbeat straight away due to size, positioning etc. Or again, maybe subconsciously I knew I had lost my baby?
The midwife took my BP and a sample of my urine (which since finding out I was pregnant was showing blood in my urine and I had taken antibiotics to clear what they thought may have been an infection).
She had asked if I had felt movement... YES... at least I thought I had. I was 17wks and a few days according to my EDD.
I lay on the bed...again still nervous. WHY? She palpated my tummy (felt my stomach looking for the top of the fundus). The doppler came out...lots of cold gel. Nothing..... moved it around..... Nothing.....moved it around some more.....still nothing! She pressed harder, angled it in different directions. I joked that "He (I had a feeling it was a boy) was hiding from his big sister because she is loud"....still nothing.
I remember looking at my husband. He wasn't at all worried. He had no idea. Obviously I knew that this wasn't good because of my midwifery training.
She tried for about 3-4 mins, it may have been longer, it may have been shorter, I don't know, all I knew is that this wasn't good. She told me I would have to go to the hospital to be looked at. I knew then that my baby was dead, although I wasn't showing it as to not upset my children. I was remaining hopeful that when I got to the early pregnancy unit they would find him.
In the car I told Matt that my daughter would not be going to the party and to call my nana to tell her we were dropping the kids off now. I told him it was not good and that I couldn't do this on my own. Trying to hold back the tears we dropped the kids off. I could see my nana was upset. I couldn't stay talk or look at her because I would have just broke down.
At the hospital we parked up. Everything felt like it was in slow motion. At the foyer of the hospital men were hanging these beautiful butterflies from the ceiling. They weren't there before. They were beautiful. I have always loved butterflies.
We arrived on the ward and the sister in charge took me to an examination room where a doctor joined her. They had arranged a scan. Again I lay on the bed. I wanted to see a heart beat. To hear him, to feel him move. They wanted to send me to ultrasound as there was something wrong with their equipment.
We took the walk down, entered the room. More prodding. Then those words..."I am sorry but your baby has died, there is no heartbeat".
They took measurements and handed me a piece of paper to give to the consultant on the EPU. I broke down. NO! They were lovely and let me go out through the back door so I didn't have to pass pregnant women on my way out. As we were walking down the corridor the consultant was walking towards us. I knew her from my placement on the wards. I cried and she knew.
Upstairs on the EPU Matt called my mum and nana and told them. I think he went off the ward so he could cry too and not in front of me. I was numb! Uncontrollably crying and felt like I was in a dream. People walking by talking but their voices muffled. I was shaking too, totally numb.
The sister then gave me some information and I was to come back first thing in the morning to start the process of delivering my baby. She had asked for us to think of names one for a boy and one for a girl. She asked if we would want to see it. Matt said yes although I think again he did this for me. She asked if we would want a blessing and funeral...... at that point I did not hear anything else she said.
When we picked the kids up from my nanas, she broke down and I did too. She held me tight. I hate seeing my nana cry.
We got home and when the kids went to bed we discussed names. We had always had Tristan for a boy and we didn't even have an idea of a girls name because I knew was convinced I was having a boy. Anyway, Tristan was not right. I wanted something which meant 'at rest' or 'peace'. We came across the name NOAH...that's it, that's the one! For a girl we had Erin.
The hospital the following day and coming days were a blur. All I knew was on the 29th August I would have to deliver my baby.
The day came and Matt had gone out and bought me a new nightie and slippers. When I got to the hospital they had ensured I had a private room. I was asked if I minded a student doctor putting a venflon in and inserting the pessary. I was ok with this, after all I was a student myself and everyone has to learn somewhere.The male student completly missed my vein and it tissued straight away so it had to be re-sited.
The young female who inserted the pessary was lovely. So sympathetic. The pessary was inserted around 11:30ish. I was told I could be there over night. They hooked me up to a PCA with morphine and I was told to press it every 5 mins to numb the pain. I didn't want to have any drugs.
I delivered both my children with no pain relief so why should this be any different, but my mum had told me that delivering a dead baby is different and to take it, so I did.
At around 12:50 I delivered my baby. They took it out of the room straight away. There was a problem with the placenta and it got stuck. The doctor eventually got it out but I bled a lot. As they raised the bed so I could use the bed pan I fainted, my BP dropped. Matt said it was a very scary moment. The nurses acted quickly and got fluids up straight away.
In that moment I wanted to go. I wanted them to let me go. Let me be with my baby. I felt relaxed and somewhat happy. I just wanted to drift off and be with my baby.
About and hour or so later they brought it to me. "It's a boy" the sister said. I knew it! My boy... but he is gone. "Are you sure you want to see him?" she said. "He doesn't look very pretty". There was no doubt I wanted to see my son.
They gave him to me. He was so small. His head was tilted to the side, mouth slightly open. He looked just like my son Logan. He was a very strange colour. Almost grey. The nurse explained that his cord was wrapped round his neck several times and also round his leg. He was severely deformed. There were no obvious signs of cause. Maybe it was the cord.
I pulled back the little cover they had put over his body. I could see tiny ribs. They looked like fish bones. So perfect. I could see the cord. It was like a piece of cotton wrapped several times round his neck and leg. Matt and I just looked at each other. She left us alone with him. He was perfect. My sweet little baby. I look at my son Logan and wonder if he would have looked like him.
From this point I barely cried. I just felt numb. It felt like a dream, a horrible dream, a nightmare. I was waiting to wake up. I spent the night in hospital because I had lost quite a lot of blood and needed IV fluids. Matt went home. It was so lonely. I was in a daze. The TV was on but I wasn't watching it. I ate but very little.
That night I asked the nurse if I could see my baby again. It was just me and him. I cried. I touched him. He was so delicate. I wanted to give him a squeeze and a kiss. I wanted to hold him skin to skin but he was too small. Later that night they took him to the mortuary. That was the last time I saw him.
They gave my a memory box. Inside was two small teddy's and two wristbands. I wear my wrist band everyday.
A few days later the vicar came round to discuss the cremation.
In the days leading up to the funeral and after I did not cope very well at all. I cried everyday, all most all day. I couldn't sleep. I didn't eat much. I didn't do my hair. I wore no make up. I sat staring. I blamed everything. I blamed the stress of Uni. I blamed Aspartame in the fizzy water. I blamed being intimate with my husband.
One day we had a row. I can't remember what was said but I remember him shouting "he was my baby too" and breaking down. I have never seen Matt cry like this before. We just held each other. For us I think the experience has made us stronger. We have always had a good relationship but in that moment I saw a different side to him. It affected him too! We share a very raw emotion. Noah was part of the two of us. He lost a part of him too that day.
The funeral day came. I woke up but didn't wake up as I was up most of the night. I had chosen a poem I wanted to be read out during the service. When we arrived at the crematorium, my mum, dad and nana were there. A very good friend of mine came to. So few people. I didn't necessarily invite anyone. I didn't know you had to. But it was fine.
The most important people were there. I don't think I would have noticed if the room was full. My head, thoughts and body felt like they weren't mine.
A car pulled up and out stepped a fella. He opened the back door and off the seat took out a small coffin. It was so small. I couldn't believe my baby boy, my Noah, was in there.
Someone asked me if I wanted to carry him in. I couldn't. I felt like someone had just punched me in the stomach. Matt volunteered. Later he said "It's my turn to carry him now". That thought stays with me every day. I carried him at the beginning of his life and Matt right at the very end.
As we walked in 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow' by Eva Cassidy was playing. I love this song. The words felt so right. It is a song I sang to Logan and Seren when they were babies, so it just felt right. My dad held me down the isle. The last time I was walking down the isle was on my wedding day. Life can be so cruel.
We had bought a little spray of flowers in white and baby blue. Later we put these on my granddads grave. Logan and Seren both had a little Winnie the Pooh teddy. Logan had it first then passed it to Seren, so we decided that this would be buried with him too.
The vicar read the poem. Again every word in it was exactly how I felt. The last few word ring in my head everyday...' think of him as never gone, as something loved is never lost, and he was loved so very much'. And then it was over, he had gone.
I have a picture the hospital took for me. I have a memory box with scan pictures and all of the documentation of his death and Noah is here everyday.
When we were home in the coming days, I sat staring out of the window and I could see a butterfly. It wasn't the prettiest butterfly. Browish in colour. It flew across the window several times. I thought of Noah in that moment.
This year another butterfly was flying around by the window. Similar in colour. I believe this is my Noah. He is letting me know he is here. He is free and although not the prettiest he is still beautiful.
At first I wouldn't let the urn go. It went with me to the toilet. I took it to bed and put it on my bedside cabinet. In the morning I would take it downstairs. I wanted him with me all the time. I carried the other little teddy everywhere with me. If I couldn't have it in my hands, I would pop it inside my top close to my heart.
Then a few days later, as if life isn't cruel enough, I started to lactate. My body thought I had a baby. It was trying to do it's job. But there was no baby. The thought of going back to Uni, being round pregnant mums all day, having that moment of listening to the heart beat and the possibility of not finding it, freaked me out. I couldn't go back. To this day still don't know whether I can.
When you want something so badly, you see everyone else with it. Every which way I turned, there was/is a pregnant woman. I wanted what they had. I wanted them to tell me that they were having a girl and every one who did, I breathed a sigh of relief. I thought that if it is a boy, it was MY BOY. That he didn't want me, he wanted someone else to be their mother.
My best friend told me she was pregnant a couple of months later. I had feelings of deep sadness because I wanted to be pregnant but at the same time I was happy for her. I found it difficult to talk to her because again I thought that it was MY BOY. She herself said that she didn't know how to tell me because of what happened. I suppose even for her because she saw me in my rawest state, pregnancy was suddenly a scary process.
The last year has been difficult, I am not going to lie. For all my friends who have had healthy babies, I am so pleased for and am thankful that they are beautiful and healthy. I still on occasion look at a pregnant woman and long for that to be me. Maybe one day it will?
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