From the moment I woke up and saw that minuscule drop of blood I knew something was wrong. I headed off to work with an unnerving feeling in the pit of my stomach.
Despite there being no more blood throughout the day – and believe me I checked enough times – I headed home with a sense of dread. The moment I got through the door I rushed upstairs and as I pulled my pants down the blood started pouring out.
Somehow my body knew I was ‘safe’, now was the time to let go of my baby. My first thought when I realised it was happening was to get to hospital.
They would be able to stop it. They must be able to stop it. Some drug or something. They can work wonders nowadays. If they can send a man to the moon, surely they could stop my body malfunctioning. Google confirmed otherwise.
Over the next few hours the bleeding got heavier and heavier. The blood clots started. Then the pain began.
That night, as I curled up in bed, I put my hand on my womb and told my little one, “goodbye, I love you.” I can’t really remember sleeping, but I think I managed a couple of hours deep in the dead of night.
By early morning the pain was washing over me in waves, leaving me doubled over and unable to speak, then fine a minute later.
I wasn’t quite 12 weeks pregnant. At that point in your first pregnancy you haven’t yet read up about the birth part of pregnancy yet, so I had no idea that what I was experiencing were contractions.
The ride to the hospital was agony. I couldn’t bear to sit down, especially over the speed bumps. Eventually we made it.
I told the woman at the reception desk I thought I was losing my baby. When I was called to see the triage nurse the pain had subsided. I felt like a fraud, how could I claim the pain was so awful when at that moment it was gone?
In my mind serious pain didn’t work like that, it came and it stayed. Perhaps I would be OK after all. Perhaps everything was fine. Just a little bit of blood – no big deal. The nurse asked me to take a pregnancy test – I hobbled off to the toilet to provide a urine sample.
As I deposited the pot of wee in the room next to her I felt an almighty cramp and a huge gush of liquid coming out of me. I went back to the toilet expecting to be greeted by a huge amount of blood.
But instead, staring back up at me was my completely blood free, miniature, alien like baby. Her skin was so thin it was almost translucent and I could see her bluey-green veins. Her black beady eyes were shining through her eyelids which were still fused shut.
She had stick thin miniscule arms and legs. And then I SCREAMED.
I’d managed to take in this much of what my baby looked like, but now I SCREAMED.
One of those gut wrenching, my life has just fucking ended, screams.
Now I could not pretend the blood was just some heavy spotting. Now I could not believe the pain was ending. No, now I could see my little, miniature baby lying in my fucking pants. Stretched out long and thin from having been pushed out of me.
God knows what the people in the waiting room must have thought. I kept screaming over and over again that my baby was in my kickers, my baby was in my knickers.
Staff came running, one said she would bring a wheelchair and I remember thinking I can’t fucking sit down, my baby’s in my knickers.
Perhaps I didn’t just think it, perhaps I screamed it in the early hours of the morning in that godforsaken hospital toilet, because they came with a trolley and helped me to lie on my side as they wheeled me into one of the cubicles. They kept saying how they knew it must hurt. But at that point I felt no physical pain and I kept wondering how they could care about physical pain when I’d just lost my baby.
The nurse got me to stand up and take my pants off. As I did, thick drops of blood splattered on to the floor below. My pants, with baby, were placed on the bed beside me. By now the baby had become a little squidged, perhaps there was some blood on her. Either way I remember she was no longer quite so long and thin or as pale as when I had first seen her.
I asked the nurse, “is that my baby?” I felt like a child, needing reassurance and clarity from the sensible adults around me, lost and confused in this world of grief that I’d suddenly been thrown in to. Even then some part of my brain was hoping that someone would tell me everything was fine.
The nurse whisked away my knickers. Doctors came and went. I was given huge maternity pads and horrendous hospital knickers. Then, with a warning that I might suffer some ongoing pain and that I should come back if it got ‘too bad’, off I was sent into the early morning winter sun.
No one explained what had happened, or indeed what was still happening to my body. They mentioned that the placenta may come out and said I should return after the weekend for a final scan.
I went home.
As I opened the door the phone rang. I walked like a zombie to answer it. It was the hospital midwife service. They were sorry they hadn’t got back to me yesterday when I called but they had been extremely busy. I couldn’t speak.
I handed the phone to my then husband. As I walked upstairs I heard him quietly say, “she lost the baby”.
Shortly afterwards I had a sudden thought – what happened to her when that nurse whisked her away? Did they just throw her in the bin? I had to know. Now! I insisted to my partner that he phone the hospital and find out.
After being passed around various departments, we eventually learned that she had been taken to the morgue and would be incinerated. I’m not sure if they could hear me prompting and asking questions in the background but the person on the other end said they could say a prayer for her if we liked.
I instantly freaked out. Until now she had not been treated like a person. Surely if someone said a prayer for her then she was a person. And if anyone was doing anything for her surely it should be us – her parents – not some stranger overseeing biological waste incineration.
I crawled into bed and curled up in the foetal position. I don’t know if I cried. But I know I lay there for the entire weekend. As they predicted, the pain got worse. I couldn’t move or breathe without being in agony. But I stayed there, curled up in that position.
I didn’t want to move, I didn’t want to return to that hospital. I just wanted to lie there and be.
In those first days and weeks I found it all so confusing. Had I lost a baby, a person? Or was it ‘just’ a miscarriage which women endured every day and somehow carried on as normal (or so I had been led to believe). How was I supposed to feel? It took a long time to realise it was both and it was OK to feel so lost and confused. It was normal.
I put together a folder with all the items from my baby’s short existence in my womb. Forms from the doctors, the hospital wrist band. Together with a beautiful welcome to the world card that I brought in the hospital as we left after the final scan that confirmed I was empty.
I wrote her a message, a message to tell her how much she was loved and how I had hugged her throughout her painfully short existence, hugged her with my womb all day and every night until she had gone. I hardly look at it now but I like to know it’s still there.
In my antenatal classes almost a year later I was able to piece together what I’d been through on that winter’s morning – labour.
I understood the different stages and the associated pain; that almighty gush when she came out of me was my waters breaking. I understood that the agony I’d experienced when the placenta was making its way out of me was because my body was still dilating and I was contracting more and more to enable that to happen.
My mum once suggested that the miscarriage was my body going through a practice run. When I saw that diagram of the stages of labour I thought perhaps she was right.
Despite the fear I had throughout almost the whole of my second pregnancy I felt reassured that my body would know what to do, if only it could make it to that point.
By Ellamental Mama @Ellamentalmama
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