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Losing our first pregnancy

*TRIGGER WARNING*

For some this might seem an odd thing to write about. To share. But as soon as I knew our baby was struggling, I craved others stories to help me prepare. As you’ll see from my story, no one medically helped me prepare. If I hadn’t have read one woman’s experience in particular, I would have been far more scared than I was. I think it would have been more traumatic and I would have struggled to find what was also beautiful in the tragedy. Please don’t read on if reading a miscarriage story will trigger you. But if you are going through this, or you have been and feel less alone when you read others experiences, then I hope this helps in some way. When something is so emotional, I find it much easier to write about than talk about.

My Miscarriage Story

6 IVF cycles down and I am just over 5 weeks pregnant. I have nausea, I’m completely off certain foods (goodbye peanut butter), tired and bloat more and more through the day. I’m “showing” more than most which seems to be all the fertility hormones. All things that should be showing my baby is growing nicely. My pee tests show strong pink lines, my clear blue screams pregnant. My HCG is in range.

I’m pregnant but I can’t shake this little voice saying it’s too good to be true. I had an early scan booked for nearly 7 weeks. I felt I needed the reassurance in the meantime  of a second HCG blood test so I could see the levels rising. Over the next two days I reminded myself each time worrying thoughts crept into my mind, that I had no symptoms to worry about. That I was just anxious because this had been a long journeys. It would just take time to accept. I had no bleeding. No lessening of symptoms. This should be okay.

5 weeks 4 days

The second HCG Test day came and I popped out in my lunch break. My date of birth was wrong on the hospital forms, so after nearly an hour’s delay the test was finally done. Again I reminded myself this was just for reassurance. Everything looked good.

Still, knowing I would be feeling anxious, I emailed pathology to ask when I would get my result and they confirmed it would be by 2pm the next day. I would be at work then in London, so not ideal, but I felt it would likely be happy news anyway.

The next morning, I did my regular pee test…only the line looked paler. Thinking there must be something wrong with that test, I did another. I checked and checked again hoping the line would get darker in time but it didn’t. I remarked to my husband I was worried but that maybe these tests were rubbish as they were a new brand.

I headed off to work, telling myself I was just being over anxious. That the struggles we have been through to get here were messing with my mind. That I’d get the HCG result and all would be right with the world again. But a voice whispered in my head to be prepared

2pm came and went. I was sat with my boss going over a brief, constantly refreshing my phone looking for the email. I replied to pathology asking for an update…but I started to feel sick that maybe it was delayed for a bad reason.

3pm a reply to say the test had been completed but they were waiting for pathology to sign it off to be able to share with me. I was suspicious.

4.30pm No update and worried they would be closing soon (I knew I wouldn’t be sleeping tonight without knowing) I snuck into an empty office and tried ringing them. I sat on hold for 20 minutes, only to be cut off. I tried calling the hospital direct but was told no one was authorised to give me the result. That pathology was now closed so to call in the morning.

5pm I was devastated. I couldn’t think straight. I felt something was wrong and I needed to know if my baby was okay. I emailed pathology to say I was upset at not having an update before they left…no reply but immediately I got a new email with my results.

My HCG levels had dropped drastically. They weren’t even in normal range for my dates anymore. The room was spinning. I was in a glass office trying to find the right angle so no one would see me cry. Hoping no one could hear. I rang Steve immediately unsure what to do. We decided to ring the midwife for advice.

As lovely as she was, she was clearly not wanting to say it was likely going to be a miscarriage. I’m guessing it’s protoc. I had already done some research so I knew. I’m pretty direct so the poor woman was wriggling but I wanted to know what was likely, even if that hurt. I wanted to prepare myself. All she would say was that HCG should be going up normally and maybe I hadn’t used a reliable pathology lab (I knew I had) but that the morning shift midwife would refer me to the Early Pregnancy Unit who would call me first thing. I had missed them by 30 minutes because of the delay in my result. Tomorrow felt like a lifetime away.

I called Steve back, and my colleague, who knew I’d been waiting for the result, kindly and quietly brought my bag in beside me without saying anything. That meant a lot to me. I had been worrying about how I would get my things from the office without anyone asking if I was okay. I didn’t want to talk for fear of being unable to stop crying. My colleagues are really empathetic and I knew if they asked the flood gates would open. I said to Steve I wished I was at home. I so wished I could have clicked my fingers and be there rather than fail to hold back tears as I made the two hour tube and train ride back to my home town.

The train was full. I covered my phone as I googled decreasing HCG and early miscarriage. It was clear from the forums the worst was happening. Women posting their worries and test results, asking for positive stories to keep their hopes up…but no positive stories followed. Medical sites told me decreasing HCG in early pregnancy is the sign of losing your baby. It should be in the thousands now, it was only double figures and a huge drop from before.

In worrying times I crave information. I wanted to know my chances because I knew no one wanted to tell me themselves. I wanted to know what would happen next. What my options would be. What my body would go through. What I would see. I didn’t want to lose my baby tonight before I knew what to expect. To mentally prepare.

When a few people got off the train, the lady next to me took the chance to move to another seat. She must have thought I was crazy, sat there with tears running down my cheeks.

My husband had come to the station to collect me. He had had to bring our son who ran up to hug me. I couldn’t even look at Steve for fear my legs would fall beneath me. I smiled at my boy and thanked him for coming to get me. As we walked to the car, Steve carrying our son, he asked “mummy did the eggies not work”. I couldn’t hold back the tears so I ran on ahead so he wouldn’t see me. Steve later told me, so J didn’t worry why I might look sad, he’d said mummy is worried the eggies aren’t well.

Back home, once J was in the shower so he couldn’t hear us, we clung to each other on the bed and cried. I listed all the reasons this could be my fault, the guilt taking over.

That night J told Steve that at night he thinks his toys come alive, so once he was asleep we set them up for him to find in the morning. His face was magic.

The next day I waited until 10am for a call, from anyone, any medical professional. I just wanted information and to know what was next. Nothing, so I called the midwife who hadn’t got the message from the night before, and hand’nt referred me to the early pregnancy unit. She was the first medical person with real sensitivity and honestly though and advised if I didn’t here from EPU in the next couple of hours to call her back.

I knew there was nothing anyone could do. I just wanted it confirmed and for someone to help me prepare for the next steps. I had emotional support from Steve and my friends but medically felt very alone.

I emailed my fertility clinic to advise my results. They advised if the hospital confirmed miscarriage then I could stop meds. So I sat in limbo, feeling sick as I could feel my medicines fighting with my body.

1pm and still no one. I tried calling the midwife but it rang for 9 minutes. I gave up and rang EPU directly. A chirpy receptionist answered. When I told her my name she said she was just about to ring me. She came across annoyed I had called first. She had no appointments left for today so I would need to wait for scan tomorrow. I asked if I needed to continue my medication as it was making me feel sick. As has been the usual story for this pregnancy, I was told to make an appointment with my fertility clinic…the fact I was under a consultant at their hospital, who was prescribing me the meds apparently made no difference. No one wanted to be associated with them. Everyone seemed confused by an IVF pregnancy (which is a normal one by the way, just with some fertility medication to help your body until 3 months when it takes over, but you would think from the reactions I’ve had so far, especially from my GP, that I was carrying an alien).

We tried to keep busy all day, in between bouts of nausea and back ache, tiling our kitchen. The Parker’s coping mechanism is always to be busy, stop for a cry together then get busy again. It was weirdly therapeutic to be doing something busy together. Just being close. Talking but also being able to distract ourselves when we needed too.

Before
After

I ordered family birthday presents. I was about to be letting them down with our baby, I didn’t want to let them down being late for their birthdays too

9.20am the next day. Sat in the waiting room of EPU with another couple. A sign on the wall saying EPU was often bad news and to please share your news once outside the centre.

A nurse asked me to do a urine sample in an open cardboard bowl. I carried my urine and blood that has started that morning, through the corridor back to her praying I didn’t see anyone on the way. A few minutes later she called me in to an office and advised they wouldn’t be doing a scan because the test was now showing negative meaning my HCG was now below 50. Another member of staff busied herself going in and out of the room.

The nurse said she didn’t know what would happen next “because it’s IVF”. I might bleed, I might not. I might be in pain, I might not. I asked hwat happened normally. She asked if we would be going for further fertility treatment. Not really the time for thinking about that thanks.

I gave up asking questions as everything seemed to come down to not knowing “because it’s IVF” and “just ask your fertility clinic”. I can’t help but wonder what information people in our situation who didn’t have IVF are given.

When IVF normally fails, they tell you you will have a normal period. It’s a lie. It isn’t. For me at least. It’s heavy. It means soaking the bed. It means waves of cramps that make me feel sick. It means clots and lots of them. And now I’m supposed to think that post miscarriage I might not get any bleeding? Even though I’ve already told her I’ve been having spotting since yesterday each time my medication lowers in my system, which stops when I take the new lot? Even though my back already hurts and I’m cramping? Even though I feel sick because I can feel my body and the medication fighting each other.

“You can get going now. If you think you bleed too much just go to A&E”

There’s nowhere private to sit at the hospital. I remember years ago, when someone I knew was in intensive care, they had a private room you could use. Just to sit, cry, just have some space to compose yourself before you had to go back into the world. I thought how nice that would be here.

In the lift Steve is as confused as I am. We know we are miscarrying. We comfort ourself that at least it’s confirmed. We just feel a bit lost. There was no mention of support. No counselling or groups. No follow up. Just sorry, and now you can go.

So we leave. We walk past a full wall sign saying “Ipswich hospital congratulates you on the birth of your child”. FFS

Steve asks what I want to do now. I ask him what are you meant to do after its confirmed your baby had died? We both shrug at each other, and hug back to the car. We cope in the usual way by being busy. Stopping at Sainsbury’s for coffee pods cause if I’m doing this, I’m doing it with caffeine. Stop at Mothercare to collect our sons new car seat but I stay in the car. I can’t walk past pushchairs. I can’t miscarry in Mothercare. I have no idea when “it” will happen.

I text my colleague and ask he tells the staff so I don’t have to. I get caring messages back. I tell my best friends and my mum. We wait to tell others as we don’t want them upset at work. We know some will suspect as we’ve been missing calls. We dread telling them. The thing with fertility treatment is choices are taken away from you. To have the support you need, you need to be open. That means also being open with your result sooner than is traditional. With that comes disappointing people. On the flip side it means you aren’t alone and they can support you through bad and good. It brings guilt too though.

The first time I cry is the thought of telling our boy tonight. We talk through how we predict he will react (grumpy. When he is upset he gets cross bless him). We buy him a pot of sweets and talk about having a movie night at home after his sports club.

I email football clubs looking for a space for him. Focusing on being a good mum to my first child, even if I couldn’t to my second.

And we wait. Wait for the unknown. From the stories I’ve read of others losing their baby at this stage (The Miscarriage Association has been a lifeline for me in that way), they are all different. I know what I could expect. I feel my tummy starting to cramp more . I don’t know what it will be like for me. I do know we will be okay. I do know we have each other. I do know we have friends and family. I do know this will pass even if it has changed me yet again. I know I can do this. I know I don’t regret this short time with this little one.

Now our family know, I post on Instagram. I’ve been getting messages the last days or some checking in okay. People suspect and hope it isn’t what they think. The love that pours in is immense. Messages flood in of stories of loss that I wish hadn’t had to happen to them, but strangely give me comfort I’m not alone and can take a little strength from each one.

The next day I go through phases of feeling “fine” though my lower back is consistently achey, to needing to crouch on the floor and wait for cramps to pass. My friend takes J our for a few hours so I can take my pretending face off for a while. I paint the kitchen wall then rest with J watching Dark Crystal when he gets home. He holds my hand.

I wake in the night. I’ve no idea what time. I’m just really aware the world is so quiet and dark. I feel alone but I like it. I feel my contractions and the thought makes me wretch. I crouch hanging on the side of the bed and cry quietly not wanting to wake Steve. I’m torn between wanting it to stop but also wanting it to continue as long as it needs for this to be over properly. My body calms and I make my way to the bathroom and start running a bath. My body contracts again and I lean over the sink, feeling like I will be sick. It feels like my insides are stinging. Not something that can’t be handled, just nothing I’ve felt before.

I try to sneak back to our room to grab a towel but Steve’s wakes and asks if I’m okay. I explain through tears. He helps me into the bath. We are silent as I breath through pains. It feels sad, scary but also somehow special. We are in this together. I can feel our strength together.

When my body is calm again and I can lay down, he quietly leaves and returns with a pillow and towel. Lays down under it on the bathroom floor to sleep. I try to persuade him to go to bed but he says he feels he can’t do anything to help me so least he can do is be here

I can hear the birds outside now. There is a little light. I think it’s maybe 4am. My body contracts but it’s not as strong. I can feel the tension releasing from my body. Somehow I know the worst is over. I feel supported in the water.

After a while we make our way back to the bedroom to sleep. I just feel relief.

We are woken by J getting into bed to snuggle. I felt like was waking to a new phase. Relief, acceptance, proud of our relationship last night, lucky to have my boys. Sad at what’s been lost but grateful to have something so special for a little while at least. Ready to ride the waves that will inevitably come over the next few weeks and months, but also ready to make the most of the calm in between.

3 more days and the bleeding begins to stop and the emotions start. I think physically it is over only to be met with my baby when I go to the loo. And panic at what I am meant to do with it. Too scared to look too closely. Overwhelmed with a decision for a life I never met yet has changed me so much. Wishing the hospital had told me this would happen. Had advised me what I could do.

A plant pot is all we can think of. Something to visit as it grows over the years. That we can take with us when we move.

——————————

It’s a messy situation. I heart breaking one. But also a beautiful one. A chink of hope in some ways. Another part of our story but not the end.

This next video is hard to watch but it helped me so much. It helped me match feelings with words. Helped me feel valid in our loss. Helped me see beauty in it

If you need any support and guidance regarding miscarriage the following organisations are brilliant.

The miscarriage association
Saying goodbye
Tommy’s

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8 Comments

  1. Rachael Wilson
    1st September 2019 / 12:38 pm

    You are a good mother to your second child, a bond forged in such love will not be broken. I once heard a quote from a lady who had lost a child “they stayed as long as they could” which gave some sense of peace amid the pain. I’m so sorry for your loss. xoxo

  2. ivf_paa_godtogvondt
    1st September 2019 / 1:03 pm

    Dear Jules❤ I just read your blogpost. I’m so sorry for your loss and how you’ve been treated, but glad you’re able to put it into writing! I wasn’t. I really feel your pain❤️ I lost my little “baby” a year ago, 8+4 weeks, after 6 IVF. Luckily I had an amazing gynecologist taking care of me, a week earlier we saw heartbeat, but a small gestational sac. I was devastated, alone and referred to hospital were I had a vakuum aspiration. My clinic was closed for holidays, and didn’t respond to me. A year later, the first part of my pregnancy have been filled with beta HCG every 2-4 days and weekly ultrasounds (also due to bleeding). You get all these disappointments and all you can do is to work yourself through it. I hope you are ok, and take your time to heal, and then succeed with your next try❤️

  3. 1st September 2019 / 1:35 pm

    Reading your post, there are many parallels with my experience of losing Baby Bean. Medically, I felt so alone and no one wanted to take responsibility for my medical care at a time when I felt most vulnerable and lost. I had no idea how to prepare for my miscarriage and what would happen next. Please know that I’m here for you. Xx

  4. Laura Taylor
    1st September 2019 / 2:15 pm

    I am so sorry for your loss. I really hoped this was your time. Your epu is alot different to mine and not in a good way. Whenever I have phoned mine I have been able to get an appointment and advice over the phone and once you’ve had the appointment of its confirmed they give you a leaflet with advice and places for help understanding.

    I understand not wanting to wake your hubby I was the same part of you feels you need to do this alone but at the same time you need them there. I think it also helps them dad’s are often forgotten during miscarriage.

    It’s heartbreaking having to explain it to a child when you can hardly understand it yourself.

    I don’t believe there was anything you did or didn’t do that caused this to happen but me saying won’t stop you thinking there was.

    There is a positive in all of this but at least you know now you can become pregnant with assistance. (I hope that doesn’t sound insensitive it’s not meant to be)

    Take time to heal physically and mentally. Don’t rush back to everything.

  5. Laura
    1st September 2019 / 4:08 pm

    I’m so sorry to hear about your story, especially your experience with health care. It shouldn’t be that way. You have the right to get the information you need when you need it and to be told straight. Before Christmas I had a similar experience with HCG dropping. So much googling to find the “normal” range, so much googling to find out what that means. I had a very caring health professional on the other end of the phone who could explain exact what it meant and I’m thankful for her.

    I wish you so much peace and happiness in all of this. I don’t know you, but I think about you lots. I follow your story because my best friend has been through 2 rounds of unsuccessful IVF and is trying to find the mental strength to come back to it again. Following you helps me to understand her a little better, even when she doesn’t feel like talking about it. Sometimes you help me to know what her silences mean, or her laugh, or her manic tendencies.

    Thank you.

  6. 1st September 2019 / 9:05 pm

    Jules, I just wanted to send you all my love. We lost our second baby Sophie at 24 weeks in 2012. The part of your blog post that resonated with me so much was you booking football lessons for J. I’ve always felt like even now I try and overcompensate as a mum as I couldn’t do it for Sophie. Be gentle with yourselves and take care. I promise, brighter days will come. All my love xxx

  7. Mimm
    1st September 2019 / 10:26 pm

    Oh Jules, thanks for writing this. So brave if you to share & so helpful for others going through the same. I had a misscarriage last weekend, my second. Although not as physically traumatic as the 1st, I can relate to what you written. I’m still physically recovering, and the emotional bit hasn’t set in yet, but I’m sure it will come in time. Thanks for the recommendation of ‘saying goodbye’, I’ve ordered Zoe’s book about baby loss. I also had to wait 4days for a scan to confirm misscarriage, as I had to wait over the weekend and bank holiday, doesn’t seem fair really, surely someone works the weekend/bank holiday in this day?…Last time I was given info about miscarriage, this time nothing…I was told I have to do a pregnancy test in 2 weeks to confirm I’m not pregnant and to let the hospital know. I just think that’s cruel, will probably not do it… Anyway, sorry for the ramble, thanks again for sharing. Ps, my 5year old is also adopted, she is my shining light throughout this whole experience.

  8. 9th September 2019 / 5:23 pm

    one of the most heart breaking but beautifully written things I’ve read. I’m so sorry for you Jules. I really am. I’m disappointed with how you’ve been treated too. x

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