In the February half term, 15 years ago, my husband & I, with our 2 kids and a load of others from our church, went on holiday. I was nine and a half weeks along, suffering badly with morning sickness and craving milk. I started spotting blood. Saw a local GP who advised there was nothing he could do. On leaving I tripped in the car park and fell heavily.
That evening I started bleeding heavily and passing palm sized clots of blood. I went to A&E, who had a separate area for miscarriages. I remember hearing a doctor say my blood pressure was 220 over something - more than double my usual - as they admitted me. A nurse came to give me a blood transfusion, but after trying twice in each elbow, hand and wrist to find a vein, she commented "you don't really need a transfusion, do you?" and left! The scars are still visible.
The following day I had a vaginal ultrasound and there was a heartbeat! The doctor explained it was probably a multiple pregnancy and I still had one foetus. If it survived the next fortnight, it should be OK and go to full term.
I was very relieved when the morning sickness and milk cravings returned a few hours later. After a few days in hospital, I returned home. Two and a half weeks later, just as we had begun to hope everything would be OK, I started having cramps and bleeding. Went to the local A&E. I was examined internally and bruskly told my cervix was dilated and to wait in the corridor as there were 2 others miscarrying who were in a worse state than me.
After waiting in the corridor for 5 hours, I was taken for an ultrasound and told there was no heartbeat. The image on the monitor of that still foetus is engraved on my brain. I was told to go home and rest for the weekend and I would be admitted on the Monday for a repeat scan and an ERPC (evacuation of retained products of conception) operation.
On the Monday morning I passed the foetus. I carefully wrapped it up and took it with me to the hospital, expecting they would do a post mortem and tell me why the baby had died.
Instead, the junior doctor threw my baby in the medical waste bin.
The repeat scan showed an empty womb and I had the ERPC operation. The consultant said afterwards that it had been necessary as there were bits of umbilical cord etc. still inside that he'd had to remove. He advised waiting 3 months for my body to recover before trying again to conceive.
My GP was brilliant. He apologized for having to put "spontaneous abortion" on the sick note for work, explained that 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage and it was often nature's way of preventing severely disabled children from being born. He pointed out that as devastating as a miscarriage was, it would be far harder emotionally to cope with having a severely physically disabled baby, or one brain damaged from lack of oxygen caused by an inadequate placenta.
Other people's comments weren't so helpful. Many in the community had heard I'd had a threatened miscarriage and congratulated me on the pregnancy, not realising I'd lost the second twin. My dad said it was just a ball of cells and not yet a baby, which was the most hurtful comment I received. A friend gave me a postcard showing a bronze sculpture of a tiny baby in the palm of a man's hand with a quote from Isaiah about being kept safe in God's hand.
Many people who I had no idea had miscarried came and said they'd also miscarried and would listen if I wanted to talk. After the 3 months, I became pregnant again. I cried a lot that summer, and many, many times after, but time has eased the pain. When the twins due date came near, friends arranged for us to stay in a country cottage for the weekend. My parents had the older two and we had a weekend to ourselves to grieve. Just over a year after the miscarriage, our 3rd child was born.
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