I wasn't sure until now that I was going to write this post as it is deeply personal and extremely sad for me but I decided that this experience has at times been lonely and this is because the subject of miscarrriage is often not spoken about publicly.
I become pregnant in mid April and shared my news excitedly with close friends and family. I knew that the risk of miscarriage for a woman over 40 is around 20-30% so I knew there was a risk in sharing so soon. I also confess to being a bit smug at my effortless pregnancy (conceived first month of trying) at the age of 42 and a bit of feeling that couldn't happen to me surely. I also realised that if anything did happen I would need the support of people closest to me.
Almost from the beginning my pregnancy felt odd. I had very few symptoms except extreme cramping from about week 6/7 onwards. It felt entirely different from my previous pregnancy when constant nausea forced me to I live on mashed potatoes and crackers for at least 2 months. I sought reassurance from friends that each pregnancy can bring different symptoms or lack of symptoms. You're fine, we all agreed.The faint metallic taste in my mouth and inability to drink tea was part of both pregnancies but stopped in this one about week 7.
I remember being at my parents and googling 'miscarriage without bleeding' because I felt that things were not right. I found out that you can have a missed miscarriage but this is only found in 1% of pregnancies. As the weeks went by I was reassured by the lack of bleeding.
At my 12 week scan I lay down whilst the sonographer applied the ultrasound jelly and pushed and pressed into my belly. For too long. For way too long. Simon said to me 'the baby looks really small'. Just after that the sonographer said that she was having trouble finding a heartbeat and was going to ask another colleague to step in. I knew at this point that our baby has died. Maybe there was a tiny flicker of hope until the second sonographer looked at us and shook her head but really as soon as I knew there was no heartbeat, I knew there was no baby.
The next few hours are a blur and I was buffeted by shock and disbelief. We were taken to the Early Pregnancy Unit where a lovely woman explained that I had had a missed miscarriage and the baby had stopped growing at around 7-7 and a half weeks. Nobody knows, she said, why sometimes the woman's body fails to acknowledge the pregnancy has ended.
This all happened just before Eden's second birthday. We carried on with the party we had arranged for her, I went into hospital for an ERPC (the charmingly named evacuation of retained products of conception) and the next day was Eden's actual birthday. At the time I think it made it easier to be so busy, to have friends around me. Many of the friends that knew had been through similar experiences and there was a lot of love and sympathy around but it is still the loneliest experience. I had had the miscarraige and Simon had watched me going through it. It is not the same.
A friend of mine said that shock protects you for a while and I agree. About 5 days after my ERPC I became totally overwhlemed with grief and sadness. Previously I had been telling people that I was going to be OK, that we did at least have a little picture from the scan to remind us. Worse than the grief almost was the anger, the rage at what had happened and how could life carry on for other people whilst I was going through such misery. My friends were great but they cannot be with me all the time. I spent days sobbing. My worst day was when I found a list of baby names that I had made. I don't ever want to go through a day like that again.
It's now 3 weeks since the scan and I feel sad but calmer. I can still change from laughter or at least feeling OK to tears in a few seconds but I know that I have to go through these feelings. I have to grieve for the baby that we will not have. We have the scan photo in a frame and I bought myself a gold bracelet to wear to remind me of her (because all babies start off as girls). I feel comforted by the scan photo because the baby is an embryo, so small, so un-babylike that it does make it easier. What helps for me is to think that we did not lose a healthy baby but a baby that could never have survived. The midwives said that sporadic miscarraiges are usually due to random genetic chromosomal problems with the egg, sperm or during cell division and these are random happenings that are unlikely to re-occur. They reassured me that I have a far higher chance of a healthy pregnancy than another miscarraige if we do decide to try again.
I wanted to write this because I know that many readers will have gone through the same experience. For such a common occurence, miscarriage is not really mentioned. Until now, I hadn't told anyone other than my closest friends. I was talking to a mum I know quite well at toddler group yesterday and she asked me how I was. I said fine. But I wish I'd said more. I think I don't want to embarrass someone else by a sudden display of my emotion that might be unleashed. I also know that if anyone told me they had had a miscarriage I wouldn't care if they cried and sobbed. I work, I get through the day but I never forget. I think one day I can feel the sadness without so much pain. That is what my friends have told me. You have to follow grief where it takes you and evetually it will let you go.