Content warning: this article contains description of miscarriage
“There’s no fresh blood,” the doctor said with a smile. A good sign, I assumed.
Less than two weeks after my positive pregnancy test, I found myself in hospital at 4am, in pain and panicking, undergoing a vaginal examination after experiencing some spotting and cramping.
She booked me in for a follow-up scan – an invasive vaginal ultrasound scan, which my boyfriend was luckily able to attend, holding my shaking hand.
There, we saw our baby, who we affectionately nicknamed ‘Seed’. It was an amazing feeling. Yet the sonographer was concerned the baby was sitting too low in my womb, and booked another scan for Christmas Eve.
By Christmas Eve, I was no longer pregnant.
Just days before I’m sitting on the toilet, sobbing, too afraid to look down at the bowl. Because I know I have just passed a heavy, fist-sized clot, and my six-week old ‘Seed’ growing inside me, whose heart would just have started beating, is gone.
That second scan to confirm my pregnancy? It would confirm what I now knew: I had suffered a miscarriage.
Although, maybe that isn’t right. The brutal truth is I continue to suffer for the effects, and will do for a long time.
“The anaemia, due to the relentless, heavy blood loss was so debilitating even light exercise left me feeling faint and dizzy.”
Losing that longed-for life growing inside me was ‘a one day and you’re done’ experience. I’ve suffered from heavy periods in my time, doubling up on sanitary pads and tampons, waking up to blood-stained sheets, intense cramping… but this was all of those in one. A total horror show.
A month later I was still quite overwhelmed, emotionally exhausted and suffering physically, too. The anaemia, due to the relentless, heavy blood loss was so debilitating even light exercise left me feeling faint and dizzy. I was constantly fatigued by the smallest, mundane thing: having a shower, folding the washing, standing by the hob to cook. I felt pathetic.
I was prescribed ferrous sulphate as a result, which caused particularly uncomfortable side effects like constipation – when I did actually poop, it felt like I was passing a giant lump of coal both in colour and consistency.
No one tells you about the awkward embarrassment of leaking through to your jeans after not making it in time to change your pad for the fifth time today and it’s only 11am. No one tells you about the extreme bouts of loneliness and isolation or the waves of anger and confusion. No one tells you that you will aimlessly seek answers to questions no one will ever be able to answer.
I’d already started to imagine our lives as a three. What pregnancy symptoms would I get? Would it be a boy or girl? I started browsing mummy blogs on Instagram. I messaged my best friends to share my excitement, ask for pregnancy advice, and enjoy the happy news. And then it was all gone.
I’ve been through intense bouts of grief before when my mum died three years ago – in a cruel twist of fate, the anniversary of her death was a day after the miscarriage started – and I know pregnancy hormones are powerful, but this was more than that. I’d sob, face red and blotchy, shout and rant in frustration, clinging on as my loving and wonderful boyfriend silently enveloped me in his arms, pulling me to his chest, rocking me and soothing my pain while neglecting his own.
I’m a logical person, but I can’t comprehend how I had become so attached, and how I grieve for our Seed so strongly. And the determined, stubborn guilt and self-blame would peck away, even though I knew the overwhelming chances were that this had happened because of something completely out of my control.
I gradually began to feel physically better, upping my exercise intensity, taking longer walks outside and feeling generally less exhausted. And after two or so weeks on the medication, I was ready to stop. But the final, brutal knockout blow, after what had already felt like 12 rounds with Anthony Joshua, was still to come: I had to take a pregnancy test.
The reason was simple – to confirm that I was no longer pregnant. It was important, due to risk of infection, to wait four weeks after the first symptoms of the miscarriage to make sure no pregnancy tissue or hormones remained inside my bruised, battered, baby-less body.
Of course, the test was negative. A single, lonely blue line without its identical friend.
“Okay, we can update your records and send it to your GP now, that’s all we need from you,” the early pregnancy nurse said softly, with absolutely no intention of making it sound so like a business transaction.
But that was the reality. I was in the business of becoming a mum, and now my plans had been rejected.
Author’s note: I would like to say a heartfelt thank you to the Early Pregnancy Unit at Ormskirk Hospital for not dismissing my concerns and distress, for their diligent, kind, attentive and thorough care at a time when I was scared and in pain. All in the middle of a global pandemic.
Denise Evans is a freelance journalist. Follow her on Twitter at @denisekevans
Useful websites and helplines:
- Sands works to support anyone affected by the death of a baby.
- Tommy’s fund research into miscarriage, stillbirth and premature birth, and provide pregnancy health information to parents.
- Saying Goodbye offers support for anyone who has suffered the loss of a baby during pregnancy, at birth or in infancy.