Sadly the worst cast a shadow every day and prevent me from fully enjoying being a mummy.
I always wanted children and I was shocked, but delighted, to find I was pregnant just a month after Damian and I married in 2010.
At seven weeks I started spotting at work, panic washed over me and I had no idea what to do. Calls to the birth centre and the hospital left me feeling so let down, ‘it happens,’ they said.
Within days I was at the EPU for a scan, a cold, clinical experience from the dilapidated waiting room to the impersonal staff. They explained I’d had a threatened miscarriage but my baby was fine and measuring at six weeks. Alarm bells rang but I was reassured I’d probably got my dates wrong.
A second scan in early January was at a different and much more welcoming hospital but I still shook as I was led to the table. I was nine weeks pregnant but my baby measured just seven and had no heartbeat. I felt broken.
I was so confused as they explained my options but I chose medical management. That night at home I was in unbearable physical and emotional pain.
Second pessaries the next day and the bleeding started. I came home from the hospital, crawled up stairs to bed where I sobbed. The pain was horrendous. You’re told it’s manageable with over-the-counter relief, but looking back, it wasn’t and I should have returned to hospital, but I didn’t want to make a fuss or feel like a nuisance.
After one immense surge of pain I passed a clotted mass which, I knew, contained my tiny baby. I panicked and flushed it away then immediately regretted it. I should have seen my baby, should have said goodbye.
Like many people I’d thought of miscarriage as just bleeding, like a ‘heavy period’, I wish I’d known then that it wasn’t. Crushed, I shut myself away for weeks, feeling angry, anxious and completely overwhelmed.
We started trying again and by April 2011 I was pregnant, but there was zero excitement, just confusion and fear.
Two weeks later the bleeding began and although I wanted to believe it was okay, I knew it wasn’t. Sure enough, we were soon back at the same hospital where they told us our baby had no heartbeat.
The real torture was that it was so early they needed to wait two weeks to double check with another scan which confirmed our baby was gone.
Knowing I wasn’t eligible for tests unless I had a third miscarriage felt so cruel. We started trying and by August I was pregnant but I had no hope. I cried every day and lived in fear of bleeding.
At our nine week scan we discovered I was carrying a healthy baby, at 20 weeks we found out that we were expecting a little girl. Every milestone should have boosted my confidence but I lived in fear, unable to bring myself to hope.
My waters broke at 40 weeks but I had no contractions. Fearful of infection, I pushed for an induction which eventually resulted in a c-section. The experience left me traumatised, confused and in terrible distress.
It wasn’t until Amelia was almost two-and-a-half that I began feeling slightly normal. I didn’t register I had PND and getting help was a lengthy process. I was prescribed anti-depressants but, I believe, what I really needed was baby loss support and a continuity of care that just isn’t available. Unless you’re under the care of the community mental health team, it’s just your GP and you never see the same one so, every appointment is like starting again.
Moving house, and GPs, meant I finally found the support that I needed, a level of understanding that so many women aren’t lucky enough to be given.
We began trying for our baby number two in November 2014 and, within weeks, I had a positive pregnancy test, but later that day I started spotting. It was sad and frustrating but we carried on trying.
I had my fourth miscarriage earlier this year and it was, by far, the most heart-breaking. I knew I was pregnant straight away. I felt surprisingly calm but soon started feeling ill and by six weeks was so sick and exhausted I was signed off work and referred to the perinatal mental health team because I was so low.
We opted to have a private scan and there was our baby, measuring six weeks with a strong heartbeat, but it didn’t buoy me at all.
I felt so anxious about my 12 week scan that on the day I wanted to run. I was shaking as the sonographer led me to the bed. I knew immediately that my baby was dead, she said she couldn’t get a clear reading, but I could see a lifeless baby on the screen over her shoulder and I just knew.
I was sobbing hysterically because I knew the decisions I faced and the heartbreak that followed.
I remember putting the £10 for scan pictures back in my purse and thinking, ‘I’d give £10,000 to have a living child’.
I booked in for medical management and found myself in the same room I’d been in four years earlier. Then I went home to wait. Later that afternoon I was in the car when I felt a pop and realised it was my waters breaking, it was so unexpected, so shocking and I was overcome with panic and fear.
As soon as I got home I went to the bathroom to change where I felt one huge cramp and then, there’s my baby, tiny but perfectly formed with fingers and toes. I scooped it up, held it and broke down on the floor. Damian had gone out for supplies so I waited, wanting him to see our baby. I thought it might help him understand the level of my grief.
When I called the hospital for advice they were fantastic, explaining that, by law, my baby wasn’t considered human remains but offering, what they called, sensitive disposal. I just couldn’t make a decision there and then.
That evening I started bleeding really heavily. It was terrifying and, nowhere in the literature they give you about miscarriage does it warn you this can happen. I went to A&E, where I passed out. It was only previous experience that convinced me to get to hospital, if I’d waited longer, as many women do, it could have been so much worse.
I remember waking up the next day, Mother’s Day, in hospital without my special little girl and having lost another baby. I felt like my heart had been ripped out.
The following days were some of my most difficult. I felt so angry that the information on miscarriage is so vague and knowing that I won’t be eligible for testing because, although I’ve had four miscarriages, I’ve not had three in a row.
Back at home we made a plan. We bought a beautiful cherry blossom shrub and I placed my baby underneath it. I struggled afterwards to know my baby was so near, but so far. Breathing hurt and every minute felt like an hour.
For a long time I didn’t feel justified in giving my baby a name. There’s such a stigma attached to early miscarriage, a lack of understanding, and it was too early to know whether my lost child was a boy or girl.
In the end I called him Ezra, it seemed wrong not to give him a name and doing so really helped me to grieve properly.
‘I’m sorry for your loss.’ But the trouble with miscarriage is that most people don’t understand what it is you’ve actually lost. I’ve lost my babies. I’ve lost the ability to be excited about pregnancy. I’ve lost trust in my body, in hospitals and in statistics. Most of all I’ve lost faith, in myself and in the future.
I know I’m lucky to have Amelia, my courageous, funny, bubbly, ballet dancing, pink and sparkly loving girl. She’s my world and, even on the bad days, she’s guaranteed to make me laugh, make my heart swell with love, but she does not fill the gap of my lost babies and she shouldn’t have to, it’s too much weight for a tiny person’s shoulders.
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