Its an abrupt title, I know, but one of my pet peeves is that no one talks about it. I want to talk about it, and I want to make it clear what I am talking about.
7th February is a date that is lodged in my mind. 7th February 2015. It was my first due date. It was the time I was ment to be at home with my feet up, waiting for the appearance of baby number 1. But it wasn’t to be, baby number 1 didn’t appear until later in 2015, and I never forget for a second how lucky I am that she did.
Shortly after my wedding to The Husband I found out I was pregnant. It was after a year and a half of trying, (we figured it might take a while and we weren’t getting any younger so started trying before the wedding) and it was the best bit of news-I was made up, overwhelmed with feelings, thrilled and terrified at the same time. I was beginning to think it might not happen. Finally, this was it, finally we were going to have a small human to care for, to go on adventures with, to nurture into an adult.
Like many people we know, we persponed our honeymoon until a few months after our wedding. When we flew I was 11 and a half weeks pregnant. I was excited to be going on the holiday of a lifetime, carrying our little surprise with me all the time. No one but us knew yet, it was our secret, we were planning a fun little revel when we got back...shoes on the beach via Facebook or something, we had time to plan it...
...the day we flew, I had found blood that morning. It was hardly any and after googling it I figured it was so little it was unlikely to be anything major. At the time I didn’t know about Early Pregnancy Units. We set off on our honeymoon, blissfully happy and excited. We had everything we wanted, our wonderful wedding to look back on, we both had careers we were happy with and we had space in the house for our little glowing seed of hope growing in my tummy. We were going to a destination we had dreamed of. We couldn’t wait.
By day 3, there was more blood. Frightened and unaware of what it might mean, I carried on, not letting on how scared I was becoming. We went on a day trip from the hotel, my tummy was cramping a bit now, but not a whole lot (google told me it was ‘round ligament pains’) and something didn’t feel right, but I didn’t know. I didn’t know.
In future pregnancies, I would suffer the same thing, at about the same point in the pregnancy. Both times I went to the Early Pregnancy Unit in the UK, both times convinced I was losing the baby, and both times I was lucky and the baby was ok.
The first time round I was not so lucky.
By the morning of day 4 I was up early and there was more blood. I called a friend who lived (relatively) localy and knew the area we were in. I explained I thaught I was miscarrying. She told me to call the Hotel reception and explain. I did.
The hotel couldn’t do enough for me. I was scared. 1000’s of miles from home and totally out of my depth. They were locals, they knew the area and they immediately called an ambulance. Their trade is tourism, they weren’t going to take any risks with a honeymooning Britt.
The details of the day are hazy, it was hot. So hot. I was on a drip. There was a scan. Several specialists inserted their fingers into me and had a prod around. There was a second drip. Blood tests. The Husband-utterly blind-sided by the whole thing kept getting wisked off to sign papers, give over credit card and insurance details, trying to console me at the same time. I was not consoleable. The receptionist from the hotel came to check on me. How very sweet they were, but I couldn’t show gratitude very easily. I was too distracted. People kept asking me why I was crying. It was ok, I could always try again they told me. It didn’t feel like it-it had taken so long to get here, and that seed of hope was lost. They were so very nice to me, but I couldn’t stop the tears.
Eventually, an experienced doctor gave me my options. I was experiencing a ‘missed miscarriage’ which ment it probably happened before I saw any signs. I needed surgery, a ‘D & C’ to remove ‘products of conception’ namely:my baby.
I couldn’t really process this. The surgery was to be done as soon as the doctor was free (between delivering sets of twins, it turned out) but it would be better, I was told, not to have any anaesthetic, because anaesthetic would make recovery slow and cost more money. The choice was mine, but the procedure was routinely done locally without. I had no real idea what to expect, so followed advice. Meanwhile The Husband was given a landline phone and a local equivalent of the yellow pages and told to call round the local pharmacy’s to find an Anti-D injection, there was concern that there was none to be found on the island. I guess they thaught he needed a job, of course he wasn’t allowed to stay with me.
So I made a choice. With 2 burly nurses to hold me down, the skilled doctor carried out the procedure with no pain control. If you don’t know what a D & C is, it involves a sort of medical vacuum-cleaner designed to remove the ‘products of conception’ from the womb. It is not a pleasant procedure but I understand it’s needed in many of these circumstances. In this country it’s done under general. I have since delivered 2 babies and nothing felt quite like this did. I couldn’t tell you if it was more or less painful, but crucially, what is left at the end is the opposite of a baby. What is left is no baby. That little shard of our future was removed, and, for some time afterwards I felt completely empty inside. Hollow, that vacuum had taken everything.
While I was in recovery The Husband was packed off in a taxi to fetch the only Anti-D prescription left on the island. It was administered to me before I left the hospital. The Husband was checked again for payment & insurance. I have always been greatful for the NHS but more so since this day.
We were taxied back to our honeymoon suit just before midnight. We had left at 8 that morning. The hotel sent soup and crackers and fruit to our room. I had run out of tears. I felt empty, bruised, sore and utterly utterly lost. The Husband looked shell-shocked. We went to bed hardly saying a word to each other. We both needed to process what had happened and neither of us knew how.
I googled a lot. Everyone manages grief differently, but I needed to hear the stories of others who have gone through it. How they felt, how it happened, what happened next. In many ways the idea for this whole blog was planted here because I had such a need to read the experiences of others. I needed to know I was not alone, because I felt it. But people don’t talk about miscarriage. So I was left with anonymous internet posts from strangers as re-assurance that I would not remain an empty husk.
Society needs to be more open to talking about this, because in those dark moments after I felt so alone. I have little doubt that The Husband felt the same. We were together in it but each managing it differently and both trying to cope for the other. No one tells you how you should feel or act. Everyone’s story is different but there are enough similarities that mean sharing experiences might go some way to supporting others if they are unlucky enough to go through it-whatever stage they are at.
It wasn’t long after this that I fell pregnant again. The Girl was the gift that followed this story. My ‘rainbow baby.’ I was different this time round. More practical, I asked for support, when blood appeared at 13 weeks I acted immediately. I learnt from it. And I am lucky I have two beautiful children, the the risk of that hartbreak paid off not once, but twice after. But if you have been through it, please talk about it. Ask for help. Offer support. Share with others. Empathise, sympathise, talk.