This week Mumsnet is launching its Campaign for Better Miscarriage Care, and Baby Loss Awareness Day is on October 15th. To encourage discussion on what is generally a taboo subject some of us bloggers are telling our stories this week. Below is a re-written version of a post I wrote back in February 2010 about my first miscarriage, and later on this morning I will be posting a guest post from Claire, who will also share her story. These posts and many others will be linked up across several blogs this week via MmeLindor's site.
Please also take a moment to have a look at the code of care mumsnet have developed.
Going into online forums you read a lot about the nightmare that is miscarriage. I am writing this account to show that with good care, which I was lucky enough to have, miscarriage doesn't always need to be as traumatic as it often is for so many people.
I found out my baby had died the week I was due to have my 12 week scan. Something didn't feel right, so one morning I went to see my OB GYN and had a scan immediately. The baby had died about three weeks before. Ironically three weeks before I had had a scan as it was picked up very early that the baby wasn't growing fast enough. My twelve week scan was in fact going to be my third of the pregnancy. One at eight weeks (which I had requested on a whim as I didn't feel right) where the growing issue was picked up on. Then one at nine weeks where it had picked up its growing pace, had a strong heartbeat, and so I was reassured.
Although it is difficult to know that something isn't quite right, it is better than knowing nothing at all when you feel something isn't right. Access to regular scanning saved my sanity those few weeks. But despite being reassured the reality of miscarriage was still something that frightened me. It turns out that miscarriage was far worse in my imagination than in my reality.
So at almost twelve weeks I woke up to a twinge and went to the doctor with no appointment. He immediately fitted me in between two patients - I didn't have to wait. Within two minutes of me entering his office my fear was confirmed. No heartbeat. And no growth since the last scan. It must have died pretty much immediately three weeks before.
That was a Wednesday. My doctor was very pragmatic about it. "It is for the best," he said. "It is a disappointment, I understand that. But it is nature's way of removing non-viable babies. Your baby had grown no limbs, it is likely that it was damaged in many other ways and would not have survived in the outside world."
I make him sound very unsympathetic, but he wasn't. He was realistic. He gave me the facts. Although it didn't seem like it then, it was for the best, he was right.
Everything happened very quickly after that. On the Thursday morning I had an appointment at the clinic with an anaesthetist. And on the Friday I had a D&C, or ERPC as they are called now. I didn't have to wait and see if the miscarriage would complete on its own, even though it started for real just after my scan. I didn't have to feel any pain as when I left the doctor on the Wednesday he gave me some industrial strength pain killers. Then the operation itself was easy.
Before I was taken into surgery they gave me a couple of tranquilisers. That took my mind off why I was there. Then just before surgery I had a spinal block, so could feel nothing below the waist. The operation lasted about 5 minutes, the nurses and doctors chatting to me and laughing. Making me laugh. At the end my OB GYN appeared. I hadn't noticed him before but it was he who had done the procedure. I couldn't believe it when he said it was over. I hadn't seen anything or heard anything. The people standing at my head had done a good job of relaxing me and taking my mind off what was going on behind the screen.
He explained that the remains would be taken, with my persmission, off to the lab to be tested. Any clear cause will help research. Of course I gave permission. I thanked him and asked if there had been any complications. He said no, it was the fourth D&C he was doing that day. That is how common miscarriages are. Isn't it incredible how little we speak of them? I asked questions about any possible consequences, and most importantly when I could try again.
After a session in recovery I was taken back to my room. An hour or so later once the nurse was assured I could walk I was allowed home. I was given pain killers, as the next couple of weeks of bleeding and cramps I was told would be uncomfortable.
On the Monday I went back to work.
My miscarriage happened in Luxembourg. Over here we have access to regular scans, we do not have to wait for appointments and we are given complete information about what is happening to our bodies. Everyone I came into contact with had been briefed and was aware of why I was there. I didn't have to explain what happened to anyone. There was a moment while I was waiting to go into surgery that I was suddenly frightened. I pressed a buzzer and a nurse was with me within a minute. She sat with me until it was time for me to go to surgery. She didn't have to, but she had the time to and wanted to.
I didn't have to go home immediately. They offered me a bed for the night to rest. I chose to go home - I miss my husband and pets if I stay away from them. Before I left I was given the phone number of the clinic's counselling team. I could have booked an appointment then if I had wanted to. I chose not to. I felt fine. I didn't have any questions as I had already asked them.
Miscarriages are an unfortunate fact of life. They happen far too often and they are never pleasant. My miscarriage was however as untraumatic as it could have been. My family and friends back in England wondered why I was so relaxed about it. But as my doctor had told me, it was for the best.
The care I received in Luxembourg was second to none. It wasn't private care. Everyone over here has access to the same care. Without it I may have endured a nightmare. As it was I felt supported every step of the way. Surely that is how it should be done. Surely we all deserve that kind of care.
So what happened next? I was told back then that a healthy baby would be worth the wait. After a second very early miscarriage a couple of months later, I conceived a third time in June 2010. I gave birth to my little girl just over six months ago, after a closely monitored pregnancy: scans every four weeks, appointments when I wanted them, and reassurance during my moments of doubt at the end of the phone. I repeat, this was not done privately. The same care is available to all.
It was worth the wait. If I hadn't had that miscarriage I wouldn't have the daughter I have now, and she is just perfect.
My story highlights what can be done to reduce the trauma of a miscarriage. When I hear how things happen so often in the UK I understand completely why there is a massive need for change, and this is why I will be trying to draw as many people's attention as possible to the Mumsnet Campaign for Better Miscarriage Care.