Meeting the dreaded 'M' word head-on

I tend to reminisce a lot at this time of year, and for some reason, no idea why, I have gone back to 2010 a few times.

Catherine looking happy with her two sons.

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by Catherine Lupton

It was our first year as a family without our son and brother, and was a year filled with uncertainty and the first stages of grieving.

To have said goodbye to Joseph on August 29th 2009 - without warning - was the ultimate worst thing ever. What came along in 2010 was just beyond words.

I think my memory has been partly jogged after I found the dreaded green slips that accompany you out of the door when they discharge you following a miscarriage. I saw the top form, and when I saw the date - 7.4.10 - it was enough for me to shut them all away again.

In 2010, we suffered the loss of three beauties, three miscarriages in total. There was definitely no 'third time lucky' in our home that year.

The first loss happened so quickly that we didn't even get our heads around it. There was no hospital appointment, no follow up. It was as though we had another little being in the blink of an eye.

The doctor said it was just 'one of those things', and to 'try again when ready'. Joseph had only died a few months before, and I was at the stage of wondering why - after having three perfectly healthy children prior to his arrival - my body seemed to be giving up.

Well, as I experienced it, baby loss goes one of two ways. You are either desperate to try again, or you run in the opposite direction for fear of the heartbreak involved in going through another painful situation.

Either way, everyone who is faced with this sort of situation is totally brave. I’m the one who runs straight into the storm. For me, running away just didn't seem an option.

The second time was a rather more traumatic affair. I had reached nearly ten weeks and started to feel unwell. At the time I was visiting a friend in Manchester, and over dinner I knew something was wrong. 

An ambulance was called and we headed to the nearest available A&E - in Bury. The doctor told me that it looked as though I was going to lose the baby and to stay with them for the weekend until they could scan me. I couldn't bear to be anywhere other than home, so came back the following day.

That night, I passed out in the bathroom. Another ambulance arrived and this time, York was the place I was sent to. I spent three days in a ward with ladies who were going through chemotherapy, some for breast cancer and the others for womb cancer. This really put some perspective into my 'woe is me' moments.

I had a scan on the Monday morning and the sonographer turned the screen, pointed to the baby and said all was fine. I just had to go back to check my HCG levels over a period of days.

The feeling of relief was absolutely overwhelming.

Only a few days later, I was feeling more optimistic and having lunch in the city centre. Feeling really positive and sure that everything was going to be okay, my attitude had changed from fear to a certain sense of positivity about the future. By this point, I already had a little bump that people had commented on and I'd started to believe we'd be okay - despite how early on in gestation we were.

Within the space of an hour, however, this all became a dream again. I was in absolute agony and it had come from nowhere at all. The third ambulance of the week was called - and this time I was laid on a stretcher in the corridors of A&E for over two hours until the 'emergencies' had all been seen to and they could then see me.

I felt scared, lonely, nervous. You name it, every thought was going through my head and not one person came to check on me. I knew then that I was wrong and my little baby couldn't make the journey to the end. I just knew.

Another scan a week later confirmed it all. I became an expert at bad news, I became an expert at looking at the ceiling with my heart beating so fast and my hands clenched so tight knowing I would hear the words 'I'm sorry, there’s no heartbeat'.

After this, I always knew what to look out for was the sonographer not turning the screen. It was something I was absolutely terrified about later on, in all the scans I had when I was carrying George and Seth. (They are our two precious rainbow sons, who gave us hope. For anybody reading this who feels that they'll never have their baby in their arms, they are proof that guts and determination can get you through, somehow!).

So I left the hospital that day with a yellow leaflet: ‘Welcome to the Miscarriage Association’, and a green slip saying ‘7.4.10: COMPLETE MISCARRIAGE'.

I'll never forget hearing the word that only meant something to me and not those who spoke it: “Sorry”. That word meant nothing. It wasn't going to make me feel better, wasn't going to bring back my hopes for the future.

Only six weeks later, without any thought of trying to be, I was pregnant again. I felt more relaxed this time, as if God couldn't possibly put me through a third miscarriage in a row.

We got to the end of June, coming to nine weeks gestation. It was a beautiful summer morning. Ironically, we had our first booking-in appointment with the same midwife who had looked after me when carrying Joseph.

An hour before the appointment, I knew something was wrong. I had felt unwell and started to spot blood.

As we walked into the room, the midwife seemed ecstatic to see us and straight away took out the forms to fill in.

When I explained what I felt was happening, she immediately rang the hospital and said she would wait to see what was what. As I recall, she said “I don't want to put you through all this excitement if your gut instinct is right, Catherine.”

We couldn't get an appointment that day for a scan, so bed rest was on the agenda. It didn't take long for the signs to properly appear. Andy had gone to pick the children up from school, and in the time it took him to get back, it all happened there and then.

How I felt at the time? Nothing. Just sick and tired of feeling like a failure, feeling like I had no chance of being a mummy again because my body wouldn't let me be.

Just like I had felt when Joseph arrived too soon and was too poorly to fight on.

We had another scan the next morning, but I was already numb and knew what the next five minutes were about to bring to our lives once again. I shut my eyes and just laid there, waiting, heart beating fast. Hoping I'd be prompted to have a look at the screen.

When I heard the words again, I got up and walked out. I couldn't look at anyone, even at Andy. I had to walk past heavily pregnant ladies and ladies in the early stages of pregnancy. That was so hard to do.

I didn't say a word to anyone, apart from a slight hint of rudeness where I demanded to be left alone and not ever have to go back there again. No HCG, no leaflets, no “sorry”; nothing was going to cut it for me. Nothing.

So with three miscarriages in a row, you have the involvement of the doctors. We were offered genetic testing and further examinations, to try to find the root cause of what was wrong.

Our consultant suggested there was a possibility we couldn’t carry girls. I knew before she had finished the conversation what my body wanted. To be left alone, be able to grieve, become healthy again. Like it used to be. So I responded with “what will be will be”, and both Andy and myself politely refused further intervention.

At this point, I decided that the children we had - the three beauties at home and one in heaven - were more than enough in this lifetime. So I spent the rest of 2010 finding myself again, enjoying the time with my family and planning for our future.

In 2011, I’m not really sure what changed my thoughts. I looked out one night at the sky and my star, asking Joseph to make my wish come true. I was pregnant with George only weeks later, and despite a relatively rough ride of a pregnancy, we delivered George Joseph safely into the world on September 14th 2011 at 35+ weeks’ gestation.

It was the most wonderful feeling that we had made it through to the end, and the months just flew by. Full of love, amazement and surprise - we really couldn't believe our luck.

Imagine our surprise when in 2012 we found out we were expecting again. Scans at 6, 8, 9 and 12 weeks confirmed a healthy heartbeat and growing baby. Our completely unplanned second surprise miracle!

On October 31st 2012, we welcomed Seth Jacob into the world at 36+ weeks’ gestation - another healthy and perfect little beauty.Miracles do happen. As George and Seth have shown me, a little bit of faith and an enormous amount of hope got me through this all.

I truly hope that everybody who is going through the awfulness of miscarriage has a happy ending one day. This is my wish for you all.

For my three teeny stars & great shining star xx

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Disclaimer

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

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