#misCOURAGE story, 02/03/2017, by Amie
Our first two lines
Our first two lines came in November 2015. I had a week booked off work around my 28th Birthday. We had plans to go away with friends the weekend after my birthday & my Mum treated me to a visit to the Harry Potter StudioTour the weekend before (Ravenclaw in case you were wondering. Mum's a Hufflepuff).
I’d been feeling generally leisurely and napping my afternoons away. With our friends I drank far too much wine & had an incredible time. The hangover felt like it lasted for days. Now as I’ve gotten older and moved to decent red wine being the drink of choice, my hangovers have gotten much worse but this was something else. I took a pregnancy test when I couldn’t brush my teeth. It was a Thursday at about 6am, my husband was at work and the immediate feeling of joy was unlike anything I’d ever experienced.
From the moment I saw two lines, I felt my heart grow. Like it was getting all the room it needed to burst.
I imagined little hands & feet, my husband singing lullabies, evenings sharing my favourite books, whose words would drift off into dreamland with my child. I imagined cuddles, kisses & a lifetime of memories. What I didn’t imagine was a pause button, followed swiftly by a stop. Then my world standing still.
I continued to feel terrible but I wasn’t physically sick. I read up on all the “right” things to do, took my vitamins. We told our families – purely because I can’t keep anything from my parents & I looked like something from a horror film & they worry. We had our booking appointment with the midwife on Christmas Eve & discussed a previous chemical pregnancy, the fact I was overweight and my increased risks due to family history. We were beyond excited & it all started to feel real with a twelve week scan booked for January.
Christmas for me was happily alcohol, gorgeous cheese, pate and shellfish free. The day after Boxing Day, it all started to fall apart. I started spotting & I knew it wasn’t normal. The EPU wouldn’t see me unless the sporting got worse & my GP couldn’t help. We had to wait. Just a few days later the spotting hadn’t stopped, or slowed. It was getting worse, more red and I was starting to get twinges of discomfort. The EPU agree to see us for a scan. I drove to the EPU (oh so kindly part of the women’s and newborn unit of a hospital, just go make the process more bluntly painful) in a daze. The scan showed the lack of development (the words not viable were used) but the unit couldn’t make a call on the development-or lack of for at least a week so they sent me home where we thought about our options, read countless facts about reoccurring miscarriage and trying again.
We also had to have those horrific conversations with our loved ones about the impending loss and watch faces fall, hear voices crack & feel their hearts breaking for them and for us.
On Sunday 10th January, just hours before my repeat appointment nature made the decision for us. We’d been for Sunday lunch at my parents & had just gotten home and settled. Suddenly i felt as though something was wrong & ran upstairs. Moments later I understood why people who had previously miscarried had repeatedly told me to make sure I stayed close to home. It was beyond what I’d imagined.
Just over an hour later called the EPU who were closed so then called 111 as I was concerned by the volume of blood I was losing. Two ambulances, two hospitals, various observations, internal examinations, a plasma drip due to the haemorrhaging, a sleepless night & a final scan confirmed what we already knew – the “pregnancy matter” had been “expelled” by my body. The hospital staff were sensitive, kind and full of apologies and we were sent home with some pain relief.
I was left with residual bleeding, was advised to wait 4-6 weeks for my cycle to return to normal at which point we could try again.
As I’ve said, the staff at the EPU & the paramedics were sensitive and very kind however the process of self referral, first scan and then the agonising wait with little detail on what to expect was the most anxiety inducing part of the process. How busy the department was stunned me.
Statistics read as they do – 1 in 4 pregnancies end with a couple not having a baby to take home and yet people don’t talk about it. As I sat in the EPU waiting for my final scan to confirm the miscarriage was complete, surrounded by people who will likely suffer in silence struck me as being fundamentally wrong – hell we couldn’t even make eye contact with each other, what were the chances of us managing to find the words to speak to people about it?
Miscarriage is all to often unspoken. A social taboo which results in isolation and loneliness for those who encounter it. 15-20% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage, many before the elusive “safe” 12 week scan date.
I was lucky, my husband was incredible, my parents as usual were pillars of strength – having suffered multiple miscarriages themselves they were invaluable.
The wider support we received from loved ones was beyond words & despite all this the loneliness was desperate & bleak. We were dealing with as a couple and in a wider sense our families were dealing with it too. Queries of “oh, when are you going to give your parents a grandchild?” “No babies from them yet?” were commonplace. Whilst plastering on a fake smile and saying “yes, someday” made me realise that I’ll never ask people about their plans (or lack of) for a family as you never know what people are dealing with.
I’m under no illusion that without the brutal honesty of my parents & others close to me who suffered losses of their own in years gone by that the isolation we felt would have been so desperate that I’d have sunk much further than I did – which is precisely the reason I’m talking about it. Not because I want sympathy (in fact the head tilts were unwanted) but because why the hell do we not?
Why are those couples who avoided each other’s & my gaze in the waiting room of the EPU not able to talk about it. Facebook news feeds and Instagram and the newspapers are full of scan photographs, pregnancy announcements and bump photos but save for one day a year when very brave women may share they light a candle to remember a loss, they remain silent.
Nobody wants to share bad news but people should feel like they aren’t alone. Surely that’s more important?
Nobody suffering a loss should feel that silence breeds silence and therefore suffer quietly. There’s also a feeling that people who are pregnant wouldn’t be able to enjoy their own pregnancies, upon finding out about a friend/family member/acquaintance’s loss – which is absolutely not the case. The truth of the matter is that pregnancy is a wonderful blessing and that no loss gives anyone the right to diminish joy.
Miscarriage prior to twelve weeks is more often than not, bad luck. The roll of a dice. A single occurrence of miscarriage doesn’t increase the odds of a repeat. Despite this, those who suffer loss wind up doing so in silence. Trawling the Internet for forums and posts from other people expressing their grief, their guilt, sharing their stories. Pulling facts from the miscarriage association website at 3am when they can’t sleep, or when they are in the bathroom trying to hide tears from their partner. At least that’s what I spent a week doing.
Nobody should feel that their love should stop just because those two lines didn’t lead them to the ending they imagined shortly after they appeared on a stick.
Our second two lines
After we miscarried, we knew the emotional recovery would take a lot longer than the physical, however we dusted ourselves off, deciding that the best way for us to heal as a couple was to try again. To not allow ourselves to lose hope. Telling yourself that is one thing and had we not been incredibly lucky to get pregnant as quickly as we did, I imagine that we wouldn’t have had the strength to have as much faith in it as we did.
As it turns out, we were telling people that we were “getting back on the horse” so to speak and we were already pregnant again.
This time, there was nothing resembling a hangover, I simply had a late period. I left it a few days as I was unsure what my post-miscarriage cycle was but much to our disbelief, a test I took on 22nd March 2015 displayed two Lines. I immediately went to the supermarket for another, just to check. I then told my husband. We were floored – stuck between shock & a feeling of being incredibly blessed. Then almost immediately the anxiety crept in. Anxiety like I’ve never known before.
It was then that I realised that anyone affected by miscarriage has the rosy view of pregnancy stolen forever. Gone is that innocent belief that Two Lines = a baby and with it, that purest joy in the world ceases to exist.
I felt ill whenever I went to the toilet, just incase. Every twinge, every slight change in how I felt immediately made my brain go to that place. I had terrible morning sickness – we are talking having to pull over in the car and be sick into a tuppaware dish that I kept in the footwell on an almost daily basis. The midwife told me this was a good sign – so naturally if I had a day I wasn’t physically sick, I panicked.
Then at around 8 weeks I had some spotting. I’m not too proud to admit that there was no optimism. I paid for a private scan and when the sonogrpaher said “I’ve found the heartbeat” my heart cracked open a little. I was full on gaping between my husband and the screen. The wait between that appointment and my twelve week scan felt like an eternity. Thankfully, everything was fine. However my anxiety didn’t dissipate.
I was comfortable with the sentence “I’m pregnant” but not “we’re having a baby” or “we’re going to be parents”.
In fact, I never uttered either the entire length of my pregnancy. I couldn’t allow myself to believe it. Miscarriage is that cruel. It changes you forever.
When we found out we were having a girl, it became slightly more real but I never allowed myself to imagine having a daughter – even when we started buying pink things. My husband is ever practical and wanted to prepare, get organised. If I’d have had my way I wouldn’t have bought a thing, just incase. We named our daughter before she arrived and things became a little easier to stomach once I’d hit 30 weeks – purely because I was born ten weeks early and survived 30 years ago.
As it turns out, I had a long wait. I was induced and finally gave birth at 13 days overdue. For all the simplicity of my pregnancy, my labour was far from it. Ruby came into the world via emergency section following a 15 hour labour due to her being compromised. When they asked me to sign the consent forms it was a no-brainer. Neither was the absolute sincerity when I told the surgeon that getting her out safely was the most important thing. She was the most important human on that table.
When I came round, groggy as anything and saw a baby in my husbands arms, I asked the nurse whose baby it was. They told me she was mine and that she was fine. Absolutely healthy. I fully exhaled for the first time since I’d seen those two lines.
I didn’t realise just how heavy the fear had been, how encompassing but the weight being lifted was palpable.
We spent a few days in hospital recovering and our first few days at home were incredibly difficult – but I had a baby, our baby in my arms. In our home. Healthy, safe. I remember looking back through all the clothes we’d bought her and barely being able to recall them. It’s like I’d blocked out anything tangible, anything hopeful. The fall does more damage the higher you climb, after all.
She is however the greatest blessing and she arrived almost a month to the day before the anniversary of our previous loss. The most perfect, blinding light to bookend the worst period of our lives.
I couldn’t have wished for anything more.
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