Debbie's Story: Miscarriage - My Personal Experience
I already have a child from my previous marriage and when my second husband and myself decided to tie the knot I always said that I wanted to have all that 'child-bearing stuff' out of the way by the time I was 40. I found out I was pregnant with my second child soon after we had set the date and she is now 4 years old.
In September 1998, shortly before my 39th birthday, we decided that I would come off the pill and try for another baby. As I had fallen for my other two children after only two months, I was expecting the same again. However, after nine months, still nothing. Just when I thought that maybe I was just 'past it' I found out I was pregnant. We were thrilled and relieved.
Between doing a home test and getting a confirmation result from my GP, I started getting a stained discharge ranging from light brown to pink with the odd spot of blood. This was at 6 ½ weeks. My GP tried to reassure me that this was not unknown and while the bleeding did not increase significantly and there were no accompanying pains, there was probably no need to worry.
To put my mind at rest I visited the EPAU (Early Pregnancy Assessment Unit) at my local hospital as the light bleeding continued. I was so relieved to see that a heartbeat had been detected and was assured that this was a good sign. Unfortunately the bleeding continued with no let up and was gradually getting worse, but while there were still no pains I held on to hope.
The day before I was due to go on holiday the bleeding got significantly worse. I contacted the EPAU and was advised to try and enjoy my holiday and if things did take a turn for the worse, I should go to the local hospital. They said I "would know" if I was going to have a miscarriage. Fortunately, we were only travelling as far as Somerset for a week so felt close enough to home should things go drastically wrong.
All through the holiday the bleeding got worse and on the first night I was getting cramping pains at night. I felt I had to stuff myself with toilet paper and a sanitary towel and wear cycle shorts to make sure I did not leak in somebody else's bed! As the week wore on more and more blood and now clots of increasing size were literally dropping out of me.
I continued with the trips out so as not to spoil the week for everybody else, with train rides, playing on the beach and swimming, although what possessed me to do the latter, I'll never know! I managed to return home still intact but still bleeding heavily and going to the toilet almost every half-hour to check to see if I had finally miscarried, inspecting every piece of material that I had passed.
It sounds gruesome, but until I saw the baby, I was still clinging on to some kind of misguided hope! Finally at about 11pm on Sunday 8th August I passed a large clot and there was a small sac with a tiny baby inside, a little shrimp with arms and legs. I put it into the bidet filled with water and just stared. I eventually called my husband and warned him of what had happened and we both just shook and cried.
Still shaking, I phoned the hospital casualty unit to ask them what I should do. I asked what I should do with the baby, and they said I should bring it along. At 2am we were finally seen by a gynaecologist who confirmed that I had had a complete miscarriage. Shortly afterwards we left, leaving the baby behind.
When we got home we both had a large glass of red wine. I felt that I had earned some alcohol after the experience and many weeks of (almost) none! It seems odd, but as we were drinking my husband was extremely upset, but I felt as if a weight had been lifted from my shoulders and almost as if I had been cured and was ready to move on! It was only after a few days and the following weeks that the thoughts of the experience upset me.
As I was due to have a follow-up scan the next day I used this appointment to confirm that nothing had been left behind and I would not have to undergo a D && C. We were given a leaflet produced by the Miscarriage Association who I have found very supportive and who have provided useful information. Undaunted, we waited for one period and tried again. To our amazement we found I was pregnant straight away. However, the slight bleeding started again but did not seem to get any worse. In fact, it practically stopped altogether while we were in Paris celebrating my 40th birthday.
On our return we went for a scan but a heartbeat was not detected, suggesting that my dates were possibly incorrect. Ten days later we went for a rescan but still nothing. At this point I really could not grasp what I was being told - I was pregnant, the sac showed up on the scan - but no baby! The nurses were very kind but as I could not really understand what was happening I needed the situation to be spelled out to me plainly and simply. Instead the nurses seemed to be skirting the issue so as not to upset me. I was already upset - I just needed to know plain facts! Eventually it dawned on me that I was being told that I had a blighted ovum and that I could either have a D & C or wait for a natural miscarriage to occur. I was booked for a final rescan the following week and would give them my decision.
Being two weeks before Christmas, 10th December, the decision was thankfully taken out of my hands as I started to miscarry that evening. It was a very sad and lonely experience. My husband was at an office party while I was sitting on the toilet waiting for the empty sac to finally emerge, which it duly did. I went for the final scan, again to confirm that I had passed everything and would not need to be admitted. A week later we both went to my office party and tried to put it behind us, for the night at least.
Thankfully this story does have a happy ending. After a few months of trying to get pregnant, the third and surely the last time, I can now report that I have just had my 20 week scan, which was just as positive as my 12 week nuchal scan 8 weeks earlier. A couple of spots of blood to start with and nothing but positive signs and symptoms since. I still find myself checking for blood all the time and I need a lot of reassurance, but I feel hopeful of a much happier Christmas this year with a new baby just a couple of weeks old. Fingers crossed!
N.B. Debbie gave birth to a healthy 10lb 2oz baby boy, Sean, on 23rd December 2000.
The Miscarriage Association
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome & Other Infant Death (SIDS/OID)
Helping After Neonatal Death (HAND)
The Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Society (SANDS)
M.I.S.S.(Mothers in Sympathy & Support)
SPALS (Subsequent Pregnancy After a Loss Support)
NetDoctor.co.uk - information on children's health & diseases
The Fetal Medicine Foundation
Harris Birthright Research Centre (originators of nuchal fold scan)