#misCOURAGE story by Jessica Kayes-Smith,
Next week it will be the one-year anniversary of our second miscarriage. Our first was a chemical pregnancy in September, 2015. I have PCOS and the pregnancy was a result of a cycle of fertility treatment. We were only about 4.5 weeks along when I started a heavy period and we knew it was ending. I had just started law school and some of the people we told blamed it on stress. Other’s blamed it on god, or it not being the right time. Every time someone told me that ‘these things happen for a reason’, and ‘it will happen when it’s the right time’ my heart broke. Our baby had just left us, I didn’t need to be told why people thought it was happening, I needed to be comforted. This was not ‘god’s doing’, this was not happening because ‘it wasn’t meant to be’, it was happening because I have PCOS and have a higher risk of miscarrying. One person went as far as to tell us ‘if you would just come to church then maybe this wouldn’t happen’. Nothing could ever prepare me for the hurtful things people would say, and the sheer lack of knowledge that people have on the issue that affects so many women.
I made a promise to myself that whatever happened to us down the line, with further treatment, and pregnancies I would be open and honest to share my story, in the hope that one less woman is to be told the things I was told.
I was too heartbroken to even think about trying for a baby again for about 8 months. I cried a lot, and struggled to function in every day life, with it being a struggle to even leave the house. I felt like everyone was looking at me, that everyone was judging me – not many people knew, so I knew how irrational this was. I felt like everyone could tell I had failed as a woman. It took me a long time to realise that having a pregnancy loss did not mean I was failing as a woman.
We started treatment again with our Ob-Gyn in Spring, 2016 and had around 5 failed cycles before we were referred to a fertility specialist. We saved up and visited the specialist, and came up with a plan of a different treatment that might work better for us. We had our first cycle in October and to our disbelief we found out we were pregnant again! I still have the voicemail saved on my phone of the nurse calling me to tell me.
The next few weeks were probably the happiest weeks of our lives. We read a pregnancy book, and took ‘before’ photos. I even bought a little baby blanket. When we were due to go for our ultrasound though, I started to become filled with dread. I just had this deep feeling that something was wrong – everything was going too well. I was supposed to be 7 weeks on the date of the ultrasound but the silence in the room and the concerned look on the Dr.’s face confirmed my fears – something was definitely wrong. She explained that things seemed a little smaller and less developed than they should be and suggested I go back four days later for a follow up. Back in the same room 4 days later she told us that I was only measuring 5 weeks and 6 days instead of 7 weeks and 4 days. She told me not to give up hope and to go back the following week to see if there was any growth. But with the way she patted my leg, and the pity on her face, I knew it was gone. I cried and cried and cried. I couldn’t function. I had finals that week and I have no idea how I got through them.
Thursday, December 8 I went for my third ultrasound. The Dr. finally confirmed our worst nightmare, I was having a missed miscarriage, and explained I could have a D&C or take some medication to induce labour. I was too in shock and upset to think about my options at the time and asked for a few days to think. We eventually decided to opt for the medication. I did not want to be put under anaesthetic, and was worried about the long term complications that could be caused by a D&C.
That Saturday my husband and I bought lots of movies, junk food, and a heat pack. I inserted the tablets, and we waited for labour. Nothing happened. The next day we called the Dr. who seemed worried that nothing had happened yet, and we checked the medication to find out they were the same tablets as the pain killers I had been prescribed – a big box chain store had gotten my prescription wrong. This was going to be the hardest day of our lives, and the woman in the pharmacy could not even get our medication right. We had laid their crying, cuddling, and trying to prepare for what was to come, when all along I had been given the wrong medication. It seemed like no one cared. I eventually got the correct medication and had a 4 day ‘labour’. It would come for a few hours, and then I would have no cramps or pain for a few more hours. I even managed to leave the house a few times. I was surprised that it was taking so long though. I was confused, and unsure. No one was there to talk to that had been through it before, no one was helpful, Dr.’s were vague. We were in this alone.
By Thursday, December 15 I woke up in so much agony I thought I was going to pass out, along with heavy bleeding. My husband decided to take me to the emergency room, when I began to get dizzy. I curled up in a ball and cried in pain the whole way there. We were admitted around 5 AM and rushed straight through to see a Dr. A nurse gave me morphine and asked some questions – including: When was your last period ? Are you having cramps? Are you pregnant?Wasn’t that why I was being admitted in the first place?! A ER Dr. then proceeded to tell me that I’m young so I shouldn’t worry as there is plenty of time to have a baby.
I had another ultrasound and then an Ob-Gyn came to visit me. Without telling me what was going on she took us into a backroom and asked her resident Dr. to hold my hand. She used forceps and tried to remove my baby. The pain was unbearable. And I hadn’t been told what was happening. After about 30 minutes of her failing and me screaming, she confirmed I needed surgery and she would do it later that afternoon. I have never felt so violated, and vulnerable in my life. Now, the person who I felt had violated me the most, was about to do surgery on me while I was under general anaesthetic.
To wait for surgery, I was taken to my own room in the labour and delivery unit, rather than just being in the emergency room. On the white board in my room it said “mothers name” and “fathers name”. It was left blank. All I wanted to do was fill it in. No one was treating me like a mother, no one was treating my baby as a baby. In fact, I was asked to sign a consent form for the hospital to dispose of the ‘tissue’. That was all they viewed my baby as.
I’ve had good days and bad days in the year since that day. I have regular panic attacks, and flash backs to being in the room with that Dr. For about two months after I had fits in my sleep. I still wake up in the night thinking I am back in that room. You don’t realise how many babies there are until you’ve lost one (or two in my case) – you see them everywhere and it breaks my heart. We’ve tried three rounds of treatment since but I had to stop. I wasn’t strong enough and it was tearing my apart. So its on hold for now. I don’t know what the future will hold. Right now I’m still trying to heal emotionally. Every day is a struggle.
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