Story of #miscourage by Georgina,
I woke up this morning with a sensation that I can only describe as an empty ache in my stomach. A painful physical absence.
The evening before last, I was almost 12 weeks pregnant. As I was singing a song to my daughter at bedtime, I started bleeding. Just a small amount, but enough for the panic to set in and my mind to start racing with all of the things that might be wrong.
I knew as soon as I saw the image from the ultrasound, projected onto the screen in front of us, that there was no baby. An empty sac. The sonographer said it wasn’t an 11 week sac… and then everything went hazy. There were a lot of words that I didn’t take in. The image, like a crater of the moon, a black space surrounded by static. And moon river playing softly in the background - Oh, dream maker, you heart breaker… We're after the same rainbow's end…
If I had been processing anything at the time then the walk back through the shop past cots and buggies and tiny baby clothes would have been devastating. But instead, just a cursory glance at the Christmas babygros before leaving the shop. The baby wouldn’t have been here for Christmas anyway.
In the car home, my mind going back over dates. The sonographer estimated that growth stopped at six weeks. Was that when I had a glass of wine? Did I kill my baby? Would finding a reason to blame myself, my actions, be better than having to accept that my body just didn’t work properly this time? Wasn’t able to make this baby…
The cramps started, like a band of pressure around my pelvis. I sat in the bath for an hour and realised I was frightened to get out. Frightened of what was to come and how painful it would be.
Everyone says not to google symptoms, not to read forums. But at times like this, frightened, confused, it’s hard to know what to do. Sometimes the anticipation is worse. What I found were pages and pages of American websites full of terms such as “missed miscarriage” and “blighted ovum” and the word “viable”.. which I have always intensely hated.
And then the glossy published personal accounts, accompanied by a stock image of a woman, her head in her hands, with or without the translucent ghost of a child, just out of reach.
Nothing prepared me for the pain and the horror. I have heard so many people mention miscarriage in passing but no one has really talked about it. Not really talked about it. I realise now I expected that it was just like having a heavy period, some blood loss. And then nothing. Or maybe I’d never really allowed myself to think about it. We’re good at avoiding the horror of things that have not yet affected us.
The blood loss was terrifying and the pain was excruciating. Almost three hours of contractions. Not intense cramps, contractions. Like labour with nothing but a bloody mess in a kidney dish at the end. Labour with no joy, no excitement about what’s to come. At home it was manageable – from toilet to shower, toilet to shower… But once in hospital, left alone in a room for 25 minutes, I was howling in pain. Howling and then crying. Because there’s nothing to escape from the fact that it’s just really fucking awful. A silent epidemic of awful.
In my search for the Emergency Gynaecological Unit, I accidentally went into the maternity unit. I asked the woman at the desk to direct me, she looked up and said, casually this is where babies are born… She might as well have said this is not where to come when your baby is dead.. The Emergency unit was next door. A grey, solemn building with the letters EGU on the front. Through the double doors and into an empty reception area. Asked to fill out a registration form, I can only just focus on the page. What’s the date please? The 17th November 2017. A Friday night, with a waning crescent moon.
Another scan and the crater had gone, collapsed into the mass of static. Somewhere edging it’s way out of my uterus apparently. I’d read about people being anaesthetised so that whatever was left could be removed. The matter… But instead, I’m on the couch, legs up, having what I joked was the worst smear test ever, with some Diclofenac slowly working its magic. Smear test wholesale joked the nurse. I loved her for that. And for the fact that she kept saying how sorry she was and how well I was doing. I wasn’t doing well. I was breathing through it, but inside I was screaming. Screaming at the horror of two nurses attempting to scrape an empty amniotic sac out of my uterus.
I attempted to fixate on a particular part of the ceiling. Hospital ceiling with cardboard squares; one with a piece broken out of it. Focus on the piece. From that to the nurses in the light. You’re doing really well.. say if you want us to stop. I do want you to stop but then what? More of the same.
And then it was out, gone, placed in the kidney dish to be sent off for analysis. I’d read something, in the midst of my apprehensive googling, about it looking like hamburger meat. It didn’t. It looked like stringy bits of kidney, offal… Not a sac at all, not any more. Do you want us to return it to you so you can bury it? Absolutely fucking not.
Home and then nothing. Because that’s what it was. Nothing. An embryonic miscarriage, which means there was no baby. And it’s a total mind fuck because I’m now grieving the loss of what I imagined. My June baby. My little girl. My summer holiday full of new baby joy. And I realise how much I’d planned and thought about, without perhaps fully realising it.
A tremendous urge to be pregnant again, to fill the void. To make it something. But it won’t be my summer baby. Do I have to grieve for her first? How long does she need?
Sat in bed, watching the birds fly over the rooftops as the sky changes colour throughout the day. I know I need to sleep but instead I’m reading about the song moon river… It was written by Johnny Mercer who, as a child, picked huckleberries in the summer… It was sung by Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, who apparently had five miscarriages. Five. I had no idea.
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