Pregnancy Loss A Silent Grief
On Friday May 1st driving to Wexford for the bank holiday weekend with my husband and 2 year old I was very much looking forward to time in the country, fresh air and at 11 weeks pregnant some much needed down time. This pregnancy felt very different to my first with none of the early pregnancy signs I had on Eabha so I was in many ways counting myself lucky. Little did I know that our baby had probably stopped growing around 4 weeks earlier when their little heart just stopped beating. There were no symptoms, no indicators, no pain, nothing of note. On Sunday May 3rd I awoke to bleeding beyond the norm in early pregnancy. I phoned my maternity hospital in Dublin to be told that if I was losing my baby no matter what I did it was going to run its course and that if the bleed continued and got heavier to come to the hospital but otherwise to carry on as normal. The call felt very heartless and unhelpful and left me stuck between floods of tears, anger and shock. There was no sense of sympathy or even empathy towards my situation, I now like to think I just got someone on a bad day.
In desperation to have some answers I called the maternity unit in Wexford and was told to come straight in. Several hours later I left the hospital with scan photos of our baby measuring 6 weeks 4 days not the expected 11 weeks. The scan also confirmed there was no heartbeat but the doctor would not 100% confirm that our baby was dead. The advice if the bleeding continues and gets heavier go to the hospital once home in Dublin. In utter denial of what was happening I went home, slept, awoke the following morning and went to teach baby massage. Halfway through the session I could feel gushes of what I knew must be blood but I continued with the session giving nothing away. By the time I left the venue and walked 100metres down the road to my husband parked nearby my jeans were blood soaked to my knees and the blood was continuing to flow. The realisation our baby was gone finally sank in. A further scan confirmed indeed that baby was gone and that all that remained were some blood clots that should pass themselves, they described my miscarriage as a total miscarriage with no need for intervention. The following day in the shower a huge clot of congealed blood just hit the shower floor with a bang. I knew this was part of our baby but I couldn’t bring myself to pick it up or touch it I just wanted it to wash away. Even now this visual remains and is not something I will ever forget. For days I replayed the previous weeks in my head wondering was there something I had done to make this happen. A whole myriad of irrational thoughts ran through my head was it my age, was I overdoing it, as it was an unplanned pregnancy and we were initially in shock did the baby pick up on this. The reality is more than 1 in 5 pregnancies in Ireland end in miscarriage amounting to around 14,000 women every year. I was not alone yet felt very much alone. 4 days later I was back in work and it was just business as usual as if nothing had happened.
Over the following weeks as I shared my story many others shared theirs too, many were good friends why had they not told me until now? Why is it so hard to share this great sadness? I pondered this for weeks while still experiencing some discomfort and what felt like bloating and stomach pain. Following a miscarriage you’re advised to wait about 4 weeks after the bleeding stops and do a pregnancy test to make sure there are no clots remaining that could make your body still think it is pregnant. I didn’t do this test until somewhat later as I was experiencing abdominal pain. On phoning the hospital I was advised to come in for tests as I may have clots. A pregnancy test confirmed I was pregnant but I was advised that the pregnancy hormones may still be in my body frollowing the miscarriage and can take some time to pass. I was sent for and ultrasound and while preparing for the worst there on the screen was a tiny but healthy baby with a strong heartbeat. It was like the rollercoaster of emotions from the previous weeks just erupted and the tears just kept flowing. Apparently as one baby left another arrived to take its place. I’m now 23 weeks pregnant and preparing for a much anticipated home birth. I’m not sure why I wanted to write this story but I guess I hope it might give an insight into miscarriage and also offer hope and healing. I like to think that our baby let go so his/her brother or sister could grow. Tomorrow October 15th is the final day of pregnancy and baby loss awareness week I hope the barriers to talking about this loss are being broken down to allow people to grieve, to heal and to share their story.