There’s been a lot of discussion regarding baby loss and miscarriage in the press lately; October marks Baby Loss Awareness Week, and celebrities such as Binky Felstead and Chrissy Teigen have openly and honestly spoken out about their experiences. However, particularly on social media, there was a backlash with online trolls slating the women for sharing a time that should ‘be private’ in their belief. But what those trolls fail to understand is that by opening up about such a painful experience, many women – myself included, will have felt a sense of solidarity, and have understood that pain. With 1 in 4 women experiencing miscarriage, it’s an unfortunately common occurrence and yet there still persists a sense of taboo about discussing early pregnancy, and loss.
For myself to see miscarriage and baby loss discussed in such a public forum was a great step forward, and here’s a little about why I feel that way.
Miscarrying at Eleven Weeks Pregnant
Just over a year ago, at eleven weeks pregnant I excitedly announced I was expecting our second child to our nearest and dearest. My gently rounded tummy was already necessitating trousers in a size bigger, and I was just fed up of hiding my near constant nausea from everyone. My first child had been a beautifully smooth pregnancy, and I had absolutely no reason to suspect that this one would be any different. As to be expected, there was great joy and happiness as we broke the news.
However, within a few days I started bleeding. Nothing big, nothing dramatic, just a small bleed that still terrified me and we were booked into the early pregnancy unit for an emergency scan. Despite arriving early, it was a long and nerve-wracking wait. In contrast when I was called through to be scanned it was a short and simple procedure. There was no heartbeat. In fact, there had never been a baby. I had something that I’d not heard of before, a ‘blighted ovum’. The egg had been fertilised and had begun to develop but an embryo never materialised. My body hadn’t recognized this and had continued as if there was a pregnancy, creating a foetal sac, producing the right hormones to sustain life, and preparing me for a baby that never was.
A cruel trick, as it meant I still had to undergo the physical process of miscarriage. An even more cruel trick as delays at the hospital meant I was only able to go in just before my birthday. I opted for ‘medically managed miscarriage’. A pessary was inserted at the hospital, which would bring on the miscarriage, but I returned home to await the cramps which would signal the official end to the pregnancy.
One of the difficult aspects of the actual miscarriage was that there was very little information given to me as to what to expect. I was told it affects all women differently, it could be straightforward and over in 24 hours, or it could not happen at all and I would have to return to the hospital for surgical intervention.
The worst of the cramps and bleeding came in waves over several days, I definitely over estimated my strength and tried to do too much early on though. For anyone going through this, my advice would to be to keep warm, keep hydrated, make sure you take painkillers, and ensure you are somewhere you can be comfortable.
It is an awful process; I was thankful that my work at the time were incredibly supportive. I was on annual leave the week of the miscarriage, but I took (and was encouraged to take) the following week off to rest and emotionally come to terms with what had happened.
Recovering and Talking About Miscarriage
Recovering from the miscarriage was difficult for me physically, it was an extremely slow recovery and again I felt frustrated because this was never something I had been warned about. I had been informed at the hospital, and again through subsequent phone calls that the average recovery time was two to six weeks.
Three months later I returned to the hospital for further scans and bloodwork, to check all was well, as I was still bleeding. With nothing untoward, a kindly consultant then said to me she had seen women before take this long to recover and as everything was fine just to wait it out.
But that wasn’t something I had ever been told, or in my late-night frantic Googling sessions even read about. I was worried about something being wrong with me, but also found it extremely mentally distressing as I had a constant reminder of what I had lost.
Despite it being a ‘blighted ovum’, where technically there never was a baby, I had still spent weeks envisioning a future with two children. We loved the baby, talked to the bump and made plans for a future as a family of four.
One thing that helped me throughout was opening up on social media (which I know isn’t for everyone), as well as to my friends and family. I received so many messages from women who had miscarried, messages of support, of understanding and of love. Yet some of these women I knew personally but had never known what they had gone through.
Its all part of the ‘first trimester secrecy’, it’s common not to announce your pregnancy until after the twelve-week scan. Why? In case something goes wrong. Well in my case, something did go wrong and the only memories we have of the baby we imagined are the joy and excitement of our friends and family as we told them the news, memories I will treasure forever.
One Year On
That was a year ago, and whilst I am now lucky enough to be halfway through a healthy pregnancy, I still think about the baby that might have been. I don’t think that will ever leave me, nor will the feeling of absolute helplessness as I was told there was no heartbeat.
Since the miscarriage I have continued to openly discuss the process, the healing, and the impact it has had on my current pregnancy. Which is why when I see celebrities such as Chrissy and Binky talking about their experiences, whilst I would never wish for another woman to go through this, I feel proud that its been spoken about in the mainstream media. For thousands of women reading those stories, it will never lessen the pain, but it helps to know that others understand what you have gone through.
And as for me, the baby that never was will always be remembered, eleven weeks is such a short space of time but one that will stay with me forever.
If you are reading this and have/are going through a miscarriage there is support available if you need it.
The Miscarriage Association
https://www.miscarriageassociation.org.uk/ / 019242007099
Tommys – this is a pregnancy line, but their midwives are trained in bereavement
email@example.com / 0800 147 800