by Lucy Westley
In April 2013 when we decided to try for a family we thought it would be conceiving that would cause us the most stress. As it turned out, we conceived very quickly and I fell pregnant almost immediately. I went to my booking appointment at 8 weeks and eagerly awaited the 12 week scan. I thought that if you made it to 12 weeks you were safe. So when we went to our 12 week scan and the atmosphere in the room changed we were totally unaware of what was about to happen. The midwife called in another midwife for a second opinion and then told us it was a non viable pregnancy. We could see the foetus but there was no heartbeat. This is when we learnt the meaning of a missed miscarriage. Until that point we didn't know that this was a potential outcome of a 12 week scan. I thought you miscarried or you didn’t and it was obvious. They did an internal scan and advised us on the next steps. Either my body would realise and we would miscarry soon or we could opt for medical intervention. They advised us to wait a week when they would re scan me. Two days later though as we boarded a plane to see family in London I got the most terrible cramps and the miscarriage had started. My body had caught up. It only lasted for a couple of days and the miscarriage never really happened so I was booked into hospital for a medically managed miscarriage. They did everything they could to make us comfortable but it was one of the hardest experiences of my life yet. No one can prepare you for what you see and experience in that room as a couple and I couldn’t have asked for better care from the midwives and a stronger husband. Ten days later my husband deployed to Afghanistan for 4 months. I thought I was coping okay but a few months in I realised I wasn’t coping at all. After feeling like I was a crazy person who had no ability to deal with life and when I realised it was not normal to cry as much as I was, I went to the doctor who diagnosed me with mild depression. My very understanding boss told me to take as long as I need and so I took 2 weeks off work to stay with my parents and sort myself out.
When my husband returned from Afghanistan once again I fell pregnant very quickly in August 2013. This time however, the joy and excitement was not there.
The positive test was met with caution as we entered into the unknown again, this time a lot more educated.
This time it was different. I was more tired, I was sick and my symptoms were stronger. I telephoned for my booking appointment and was granted an early scan at 8 weeks because of my previous experience. We went to the scan and once again saw a foetus with no heartbeat. When we asked if they were sure, they showed us that there was no blood flow at all going to the foetus and that it was once again not viable. I opted for an immediate medically managed miscarriage and a few days later we were back with our lovely midwives supporting us. This time, we decided to plan a trip to Paris to give ourselves some happier memories of the room. I ended up staying in over night as it was different to last time and not everything felt like it had passed and I didn’t have the same feeling of closure. I went home the following morning to recover. That week though I felt increasingly ill. My skin was grey, I felt drained and I smelt like I hadn’t showered. I didn’t have a temperature though and that’s what I was told to look out for. We telephoned the hospital who told me to come in for another scan. On the scan there was nothing, but I wasn’t feeling right. They kept me in for the day and finally decided that I should go in for surgical intervention. Just before the surgery, they examined me one last time and managed to free up the miscarriage. Not only had I had a missed miscarriage but it had then been incomplete and was causing an infection. Within hours I felt better and was put on antibiotics.
In March 14 I then fell pregnant for a third time. We had moved to England (from Scotland) by this point and so I had to go to my GP to request a referral for an 8 week scan, rather than telephone them direct, which was thankfully accepted. I didn’t bother with a booking appointment as I didn’t want to waste 2 hours giving my medical history to then never use it again so I thought I’d wait until after the scan. We were nervous wrecks, we were both almost in tears just driving up to the hospital waiting for the inevitable news. When it came to our turn to be scanned my heart was in my mouth. She scanned me and there bright as anything was a strong beating heart like a beam of light glowing on the screen. All I remember is the hearing my husband cry out in relief and break down - at that point I realised how much he had held things together over the year for me. The midwife was over the moon for us and exclaimed that although it was midday, ours was the first viable scan she had seen all day. A stark reminder of how lucky we really were.
Our son Fraser was born 3 weeks early on 14 Nov 14. Although the journey was long, without that journey we wouldn’t have him.
I have been very open with friends, family and colleagues about our experience as the worst thing about it was not knowing that missed miscarriages could happen. We were not one bit prepared for what was coming and neither were our families. As we told friends, we were amazed at the number of people that said ‘oh, that happened to us’. We felt like we had joined a private club that you don’t know about until you’ve joined. We found relief in talking to them and seeing them with their children. I try to balance telling friends of our experience so that they are informed without scaring them unecessarily. We’ve got some very lucky friends who get pregnant and have babies and they say they feel guilty. But I wouldn’t wish it on anyone as it’s a truly heartbreaking experience and they are as supportive and inspirational as those that have been through a miscarriage. Making babies is a miracle and the odds are stacked against you - so much needs to happen. To make one on the first attempt should be celebrated, to make on the fourth attempt should also be celebrated.
I have just found out I am pregnant again and am not entitled to a viability scan. We are going to a private scan clinic though to start our next journey wherever that may take us....we will find out on 3 May.....
Tommy’s thank you for spreading the word and doing the research. I took aspirin for my third pregnancy but will never know if that’s what helped it turn into Fraser, but if something that simple can save heartache for someone and the research leads to solutions then your work is invaluable.
Please note that the opinions expressed by users in Tommy’s Book of #misCOURAGE are solely those of the user, who is unlikely to have had medical training. These opinions do not represent the opinions of Tommy’s and are not advice from Tommy's. Reading individual, real-life experiences can be a helpful resource, but it is never a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment from a qualified health care provider. We strongly advise readers not to take drugs that are not prescribed by your qualified healthcare provider. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor, midwife or hospital immediately. Read full disclaimer