I am writing this post in conjunction with the Mumsnet campaign for better miscarriage care.
I found out I was pregnant when I was about 5 weeks. It was unexpected, I had only had one period since having my first baby 8 months earlier. I was sick and tired, more so than I remembered being with my first.
The nausea was unbearable most days until about 7 weeks and then it subsided but I still felt tired. At 9.5 weeks we flew to NZ, I felt very nauseous all through the flight but put it down to stress of travelling that far and with a 9 month old baby. We arrived on the Saturday, on the Monday I went to the bathroom and there was a spot of blood.
We went to a local GP who assured me that because I had carried one baby to full term this was probably just spotting and very unlikely to be a miscarriage. The doctor asked me if I had any pain, if it was cramp like. I lied and said no, I was not ready to lose this baby, not here, not so far from home. They took some blood to measure my pregnancy hormone levels and sent me on my way. If it was to miscarry, they said, it would just progress like a period and be over in a week.
I didn't have any bleeding for the rest of the Monday or the Tuesday. On the Wednesday I went to the bathroom and there it was. Blood. Lots of it. Like a heavy period. I was losing the baby. The emotions were impossible. I was devastated and we were on holiday. We still had to meet people, see people, socialise. I still had to be a Mum to my little boy a million miles from my home, my Mum, my friends.
And then the pain started. It was excruciating. It was contractions. I am so grateful I had already had a baby and could understand what the pain was. I felt like I was in labour as my body tried to expel the fetus. On the Thursday we were supposed to fly from Wellington to Auckland but the pain was so very, very unbearable that I went back to the doctors. This was not progressing like an ordinary period. The bleeding was heavier than any period I had ever had and the pain was only comparable to labour.
The doctors wouldn't see me and so I went to the hospital. They felt my tummy and examined my cervix. Because I was between 9 and 10 weeks pregnant there was a high chance that the pregnancy was ectopic. There was a chance the embryo was rupturing in my fallopian tube. There was a chance that I would have to be operated on. There was a chance that I would have to have my fallopian tube removed. There would be a chance that I wouldn't be able to have any more children. They put me on a morphine drip to numb the physical pain.
I was sent in an ambulance to a bigger hospital where they could do more tests. I had an emergency ultrasound. There was a fetus. It was in my womb, where it was supposed to be. There would be no operation, no irreversible damage. The baby was just 6 weeks gestation. No heartbeat. But that could be because it was just too small to see one. There was hope. Except I knew that there wasn't. I had lost too much blood, been in too much pain, no good was to come from this.
They took another blood sample to compare my pregnancy hormone levels with the one taken a few days earlier at the doctors. We went out for lunch.
We went back to the hospital to be delivered the inevitable news. The baby was dead. It's heart had stopped beating at 6 weeks gestation. It had been dead inside me for 4 weeks, a month. I had no idea. They call it a missed miscarriage.
I took a full 10 days for the bleeding to stop, I was prescribed super strength codeine for the pain. On about the 5th day the codeine didn't touch the pain, I could barely walk. But we had people to visit. I was in my partners God Mother's house. I went to the bathroom and my sanitary pad was saturated after only an hour or so. I sat on the toilet and had an overwhelming urge to push. There was a plop. There it was, my fetus. In the toilet. It was the fanciest bathroom I had ever been in. I came out and went to the beach, telling no-one what had just happened.
After that day the bleeding and pain eased and eventually stopped. The heartache has neither eased nor stopped and I doubt it ever will.
For me the worst thing was being so far from home and my family. I cannot fault the care I was given.
People band around the word miscarriage like it's something simple. I always thought it was just a late period, especially miscarrying before 12 weeks. For me it was like labour but with no happy ending. People need to be made more aware of the intensity of the pain, both physical and emotional that comes with miscarrying.
Please, read the Mumsnet campaign for better miscarriage care and support it. It is something that so many women will go through and we need to make sure that support for both the physical and emotional pain is both available and appropriate.