by Louise Armstrong
I have 3 beautiful children who I adore, my family is now complete. I can now say this with meaning, however it was a very different story not so long ago. You see I am one of 'those' people, yes it happened to me, I had a miscarriage, twice. I look at myself and my children now and it's sometimes hard to believe it happened at all but then a simple memory, song or place in time can bring it all back again and I'm that scared woman asking why? Why me? Why my babies?
Back in 2011 I thought my family was complete. I had a 4 and a 3 year old when surprisingly found out that I was expecting again. I'd like to say that I jumped for joy but I didn't. I wasn't in a well paid job and my hubby and I wondered how we would cope both financially and emotionally with another child. I was run off my feet as it was but soon enough I settled on the thought that another child was a blessing and was obviously meant to be, right? Wrong.
Once my hubby and I had got used to the news ourselves we shared it with close family and friends. I was only around 5 weeks, but we'd had no reason to believe that the pregnancy would end the way it did. I remember one day so clearly, I was almost 8 weeks along and had already pictured carrying my baby in my arms, I imagined how my other 2 children would be having another brother or sister. My hubby and I were off to a family BBQ and my in laws offered to have the children. We'd booked a hotel so we could spend some quality time together.
On the way there we got into a petty squabble about something and nothing which ended up with me screaming at my hubby to take me home! (Dawn hormones!!). Anyway we managed to both calm down and carry on with our journey. This always sticks in my mind because even though we were told our miscarriage was 'just one of those things' I can't help think that me losing my temper and stressing my body during our argument somehow caused me to miscarry. The guilt is still with me now and I can't ever imagine it won't be.
For some reason that I really can't explain even to this day, I stopped feeling 'pregnant'. I just didn't have the pregnant 'feel' which I'd had in the beginning of the pregnancy and also with my other two children when expecting them
I suppose it's something only a pregnant person would understand. My breasts which previously hurt even putting my bra on stopped. Panic set in a little but I reasoned that as I had no other symptoms, it was just anxiety. I'd had no bleeding so surely everything was OK? Miscarriage happened to other people didn't it? Not me surely?
Within days I started spotting. I hadn't had this in my other pregnancies and although friends tried to reassure me that bleeding could be normal in early pregnancy I just felt that things weren't right. A trip to my GP didn't reassure me much. I was under the impression that he would send me for an emergency scan but no. I was simply told to sit and wait. Either I would miscarry or the pregnancy would continue. I felt so disheartened, the GP's words were cold and harsh, but true I suppose. However I simply couldn't just sit and wait. This was my baby we were talking about.
As I'd never had a miscarriage before I had no idea what my body was going through or trying to do to my baby. Once the cramps started I got really scared and took myself off to A&E. After waiting for what felt like forever I was seen. I explained my symptoms and gave a urine sample which still tested positive. Because of this I told myself that everything must be OK as I was testing positive, a slight glimmer of hope. The early pregnancy unit in the hospital had closed by this time so I was told to come back the following day for a scan. I went home number, scared, upset and felt that no one understood at all. I was in my own bubble. Smiling for my children's sake and pleasant to friends and family but behind all that front I was terrified!
We returned to hospital the next day. Friends and family text with their well wishes informing us that everything would be fine, if only. I sat in the waiting room with other pregnant ladies, I remember I found a foreign coin in my bag, for some reason my brain told me that this was a lucky coin so I sat there twisting the coin in and out between my fingers silently praying. I just needed something, anything to reassure me.
We were called into the scan room which was small and had two sonographers in there. They read my notes and looked at me sympathetically. By now my bleeding was getting heavier and I had to wear pads. The sonographer put the cold jelly on my tummy and got on with her job, slowly and carefully moving the screen away from my view. My heart was beating in my ears. They told me they couldn't see clearly and that they would carry out an internal scan and that this may be down to me being early (which confused me a little as by my dates I would now be around 8 and a half weeks). I was happy for them to do whatever they wanted. I just wanted confirmation that my baby was OK.
As soon as they used the internal scan I just heard the words 'I'm so sorry, there's no heartbeat '. In that instant I just broke down crying, my hubby sat there stunned. I'd prepared myself (or so I thought) that it might be a miscarriage, but no way did I expect it would really happen.
The sonographer turned the screen towards me so she could show me my baby on the screen. I'm not sure if it was meant to make me feel better or worse
I looked on the screen and saw the baby, my baby. My baby that I would no longer carry, my baby that I would never hold, hug or kiss. My baby that had simply stopped growing at 7 weeks. I left the room crying and was steered past a merry group of expectant mothers all excited with swollen bellies. Then there was me, an empty shell. Earlier, whilst I was sat waiting for my scan I'd seen a room to the side and wondered what it was for. I quickly realised that it was for people like me. In the room a nurse sat with me comforting me and passing me the tissues. I was so wrapped up in how I felt at that moment that I can't honestly tell you if my hubby was crying or not. It's as if only I existed in that moment, cradling my tummy I wept...and wept.
I'm not sure how long we were in the room for but the nurse was lovely and explained what would happened next and what choice I would make! I'd been so heartbroken and upset that I didn't think of the next step and what my body would go through. This was just the beginning. The nurse explained that I could come into hospital for a procedure called D&C under general anesthetic, or go home and wait for nature to take its course. My mind was fuzzy and I had no idea what I should do, but I knew that I didn't want to be in hospital a moment longer so I chose to go home and wait. I was told that if nothing happened within a week I would need to return for the procedure.
The car journey home was deafeningly quiet, the only sound came when I phoned my family and between sobs, tried to explain what happened. Only I didn't really know did I? I mean, what the hell had happened? I went home completely numbed by the days events. It just didn't feel real. Oh how I wished it wasn't real. One of the hardest things was telling my daughter. She was only 4 years old but so clever. We'd told her about the pregnancy when we found out and she was so excited to have another brother or sister. My heart broke as I told her, not for me, but for her. She didn't deserve this, none of us did.
I was scared and also curious at what would happen next, would it hurt? Would I be in pain? And mostly...what would my baby look like? Would it even look like a baby? Sure enough, within days the bleeding got a lot heavier and the cramps more uncomfortable until one evening the cramps came in waves until they were minutes apart. This went on all evening, and after a long, painful emotional night I was slightly numbed with painkillers I actually managed to sleep a while.
Mid-sleep I was woken by a sensation that something was passing through me. I jumped up and ran to the bathroom where my baby slowly came out
Again I felt a range of emotions, shock, sadness and part of me was slightly freak out. I just didn't know how I should react. I shouted my hubby who promptly rushed to the bathroom and found me hovered near the toilet with my baby caught in my pyjama bottoms. My husband couldn't help but look as he slowly removed the baby which I was unable to look at. It was just all too much. Not really knowing what to do we wrapped the baby in tissue and flushed it down the toilet. Looking back I'm still to this day tortured by the notion that we simply 'flushed' our baby away. Oh how I wish we'd organised a burial of some sort but we truly didn't know what else to do. I've since heard that if the miscarriage happens in a hospital, the baby is cremated and placed in a garden of remembrance.
As we were sent home 'to get on with it' we simply had no support or guidance so flushing down the toilet seemed the only option at the time. This will haunt me forever but I have to believe that we thought we were doing the right thing. It didn't mean that I didn't love my baby. I was just so inexperienced in the whole situation. I think because of this I never really had closure and to this day I still don't. I went to see my GP the same day and hoped for some sympathy, however I was just told to do a pregnancy test in 2 weeks and promptly sent on my way.
So that was it, done...dusted....the end. Except it wasn't, not for me anyway. As all my friends and family got on with their lives I was left wondering why me. Sadness followed by anger then frustration. So many questions and no one to really answer them. Friends and family offered the obligatory 'it wasn't meant to be' and 'well at least you can get pregnant'. I even had 'well at least you already have children'. This one hurt the most. It's as if all my pain and suffering didn't really count, like I shouldn't be upset because I already had children, but it didn't make the loss any less real...or frightening.
As time passed I was slowly able to start rebuilding my life, but my baby was never far from my thoughts
Things did start to get easier and I threw myself into being the best mum to my son and daughter. I would say the experience has definitely changed me. It's like the light inside me burns a little less bright, but it's only me that notices.
I had thought my ordeal was a one off until I ground myself expecting again in March 2014. I'd dared to expect everything would be fine this time, surely it couldn't happen again? Everything happened so much quicker this time. Within a week of finding out, I started to bleed again and quickly passed the baby at home before I was able to get to hospital. My nightmare was happening all over again. All I could think was why, why, WHY! I didn't feel I was strong enough to get through it this time and my ordeal was far from over as my pregnancy hormones continued to rise and I had to be treated with a drug called Methotrexate.
Again I grieved for the baby I'd lost, the one saving grace this time was that we had only told one or two people so I didn't have to make the dreaded call to let people know.
Within the same year I'd fallen pregnant again and gave birth to a very healthy rainbow baby in May 2015. I can now look at my 3 children and finally feel content. Yes of course I'm damn lucky to wake up every morning to cuddles from my children but I'll never forget the ones I lost and never got to hold in my arms.
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