I tried for three years to get pregnant. Three very long years during which it seemed like I kept ClearBlue in business - each month I would pee on the little stick and spend a few minutes wishing before binning the inevitably negative result. We both had fertility tests and many long talks about what we would do if it never happened for us, "it" being the magical positive result. When the day came that I did my by then routine test and it actually popped up positive I was stunned, my husband and I just stood in the kitchen hugging each other and crying because those three long years were finally over.
It didn't end well.
I lost the pregnancy at roughly 6-7 weeks. I'd lost a baby, not a clump of cells or products of conception, but a baby. I felt cheated, robbed of the first steps and little smiles and even the toddler tantrums that should have all been mine to share with my child. I didn't get pregnant and think of cells, I thought of a life begun and when I miscarried it was a life ended, I grieved for all of the things that should have been his to experience. My head was spinning, I was scared and sad and unbelievably tired - my gut response was to go to sleep and wait for it all to blow over. The doctor kept talking about retained products of conception and unevacuated cells until my husband asked her to stop. I asked to see the scan pictures and she joked that there wasn't a lot to see, "it's a bit of a snowstorm to be honest because of the bleeding". She got me to sign a form and then disappeared to fetch some pills. A nurse came in to speak to me and she was amazing. She sat on the bed with me and explained that sometimes nature makes the hard choices so that we don't have to but that it doesn't make it any less upsetting. She told me I'd signed a form consenting to medical management, something the doctor hadn't explained, but that she would recommend just going home - "have a bath, have a cry, and have a sleep". Hers was the best advice I was given that day and I took it.
Two years later, almost to the day, I woke up with some spotting. I was 15 weeks pregnant. I rang the hospital where I was booked and hit a wall, they kept telling me it was normal to spot after sex despite my insistance that I hadn't had sex recently. In frustration I went to my GP and even he couldn't get them to see me, he had to refer me to a different hospital who slotted me in for the following morning at their ante-natal clinic. The sonographer did the scan then sighed and left the room. I lay there with my pants pulled low, lower belly covered in gel, and no idea what was going on. A short while later a midwife came in, rescanned me, and then explained that my baby had died at 14 weeks. Surgery wasn't recommended for a late miscarriage and their policy was to use medical management. I was booked at yet another hospital for this as they didn't have the facilities for managing a late miscarriage. The day of the second round of pills I found that I was on an ante-natal ward, the only small mercy being that I had a room to myself complete with en suite - a friend had the same treatment on the same day at the third local hospital and had to share a four bed bay. I was expected to insert my own pessary to begin the process but I wasn't told what to expect after that. I don't want to be graphic about it, not because I want to shy away from the issue but because the memory of it still reduces me to tears. What followed were the most traumatic six hours of my life culminating in me having my baby while alone in the bathroom, pulling on the red alarm cord and getting no response for almost thirty minutes. By the time they came I was semi-hysterical and bleeding heavily. They laughed and said "everyone cries when it's over" and took the baby away in a bed pan covered over with toilet tissue. They didn't come back. There was a shift change an hour or so afterwards and the new nurse assigned to me came in, she asked if I wanted to see my baby and spend some time saying goodbye, I found that I did. She brought her to me wrapped in a swatch of blanket and lying in a tiny little baby nest. To the earlier staff she was just a 14 week old foetus, retained products of conception, to me she was my baby. She had the smallest hands I've ever seen.
After my first miscarriage I had a son, after my second I had a daughter. He's two years old and she's three weeks old and the facts of it are that without those miscarriages I wouldn't have either of them because they were conceived at times when, all going to plan, I would have been due to give birth. But the facts of it are also that the care I received was awful and I'm not the only one to have been treated so which makes it even worse, an isolated case can be excused as such but when countless women share the same stories there is no excuse.
The Mumsnet Miscarriage Campaign aims to ensure that all women have access to the same high standard of care, a standard of care that can make a distressing occurence slightly less so, and it deserves all the support it can get.