This is a post by my beautiful friend, Sange. A woman with a warm heart, so full of love, and yet Mother Nature has dealt her a duff hand so far. I hope and pray her experiences to date have just been sent to try her; she deserves so much more. I’m very grateful to her for sharing her experience so candidly, when I know it’s been hard to do. She’s so right in her bravery, awe-inspiring as it is – miscarriage isn’t a taboo and should be discussed, don’t you agree?
Our story isn’t unusual. It’s very ordinary, really. How many of us spend our 20’s and early 30’s with unsuitable relationships, drinking and having fun? There were long term relationships. But I never felt broody. Children happened to other people, not to me and that was the way I wanted it.
A change occurred when I was 38. I married my husband after six years together; he pressed my procreation button – I don’t know if this is because he truly wants what is best for me and would support me whatever I chose to do. He knows I would do the same for him. I feel safe; gathered in. Perhaps I needed to feel this first. Because getting pregnant is easy, right?
We did conceive quickly, after a couple of months. We felt so fortunate as some aren’t so lucky – H was beaming at the sight of the positive test and I was nervous and panicked at the same time. I also had an overwhelming urge to stand still which I cannot account for; like if I moved around too much I could harm my little passenger. It very quickly descended into a whirl of midwife appointments, room planning and all day sickness. And whoever thought first trimester tiredness was a good idea is having some sort of laugh!
Our families had been told at this early stage as I had to tell work immediately on the advice of my GP, due to being in a high-risk occupation. It felt wrong to tell my employer and not family, so we attended the first scan appointment with all the good wished of our families and excited requests for a first picture of baby. I leapt up when our names were called and was ushered into the darkened room – a hush descended as the gel was applied to my abdomen and I held my breath. H holding my hand, staring at the TV screen. Not breathing. Bursting for a wee. No, I don’t know what I’m looking at, this is my first pregnancy. Hmmmmm, it’s dark in there. Come on, where is it? I know it’s small, it’s only 12 weeks old. Yes, I’m sure of my dates, I keep accurate records. Oh, you mean too small. Not viable? You’re sorry? Sorry about what? Oh, it’s not viable……
Image by the incredible Paula Knight
It took a while for the penny to drop. I was looking at my empty womb, with a little blob to one side; our baby, which had stopped growing at approximately six weeks. I had to have an internal scan but it didn’t change anything. I felt like I’d had my brain emptied out of my head. I couldn’t answer the most simple questions – I had been struck dumb. H had to help me to the side room; my legs had stopped supporting me. The midwife said that the sickness was a sign of a strong baby. Then she told me that it had already died. Even my body had lied to me; it thought I was still pregnant as I was still being sick every day.
A missed (or silent) miscarriage. Very common, apparently; the unit I was in had one or two a day. My baby had died but my body had carried it for a further six weeks; I elected to have an SMM (Surgical management of miscarriage; the new name for ERPC) as I just wanted it out. I felt betrayed by my body, and desperately, emptily sad. I’d let my H down, I mean how hard is it? To stay pregnant? I didn’t have to actually do anything and still cocked it up.
And so the thoughts go on, for months. And the tears. I’d forgotten what I looked like without red, puffy eyes. Lots of support from internet weirdy friends, lots of pity and ‘helpful’ suggestions in real life. But one thing was clear, it wasn’t going to happen again, we’d had our bit of bad luck, so we focussed on the future and trying again. And we were lucky to conceive again. And I felt dread, but clung to what the hospital had said – “extremely unlikely”.
Except they lied too – the second time we found out at an eight week scan I had as I was so anxious, and still being sick regularly. This was an internal scan at the EPU, and baby was measured a lot. It was inconclusive, the nurse said; could I come back in a week to check for growth. I knew there was no point, but I had nothing left. I have never felt so empty as I did for that week. Still working, going through the motions, but not there. Needless to say that there was no growth, so again a decision needed to be made; I opted for a pessary-induced miscarriage at home. And we carried on. Like you do, as your world has stopped turning briefly, so everyone around you carries on.
We somehow conceived for a third time some months later, but in a final show of Mother Nature being the boss, we lost it naturally at six weeks. Afterwards, I felt a pain that I cannot adequately describe to you. My heart has been broken and no matter whether we have children or not, it will be scarred. We’re learning to live with it now – I’ve had a lot of counselling, but still have bad days when someone puts a scan picture up on Facebook or proclaims how great it is to be a mother. I’ve hidden a lot of people on there to protect myself. Not in a malicious way – I wish them all of the joy in the world, but they’ve been lucky and you’ve got empty arms and a wound that won’t heal.
Perhaps we’ll get a chance, perhaps we won’t. We’ve begun investigations at the hospital, but I’m realistic; I’m now 41. I’m too old for IVF and similar procedures on the NHS – we can’t afford private care. Too old for adoption. Well and truly missed the boat. Hopefully we can be happy as a little family of two – H seems to think so and I agree with him. Here’s to us and our little family of two.