Thursday, 11 October 2012

The worst week of my life

Obviously the title gives it away – this is not a story with a happy ending. But, it’s part of my motherhood journey, and from the start, I promised to be honest and share every aspect of the journey. Of course I wasn’t expecting the journey would take me here, but that’s the thing about a journey – you never know where you’re going to end up!

I was celebrating reaching 7 weeks and it had been a good day. I was feeling well and other than slightly sore boobs, hadn’t experienced any other symptoms.  In the afternoon, I went to the toilet and noticed black stains on my underwear. They were lines so it looked like old stains rather than spotting. I always imagined spotting would be just that – spots!

I knew they weren’t there in the morning but couldn’t figure out what it was. The midwife had only told me the day before that they didn’t really worry about first trimester spotting but to make sure I had anything checked out to be sure.

I called my Mother who told me she had some spotting with her first pregnancy and rushed to the doctor who told her to go home and rest up. My nearly 10 pound brother popped out a few months later! She said it’s probably nothing but to just watch it.

I was getting ready to go shopping and went to the bathroom before I left. There again were the black marks. I knew something wasn’t right and called my obstetricians office.  The doctor on call told me to go to the hospital. He said if everything didn’t work out ok I might need to stay over. It wasn’t a helpful comment.

My husband and I got to the hospital and I told the receptionst what happened. She told me she had spotting with all her pregnancies and her waters never broke. She said “I was a real pregnancy freak.” I said “This is my second trip to hospital in 3 weeks so I’m feeling like a freak too.”

We were taken straight through which is the benefit of paying to go to a private hospital. I had a blood test taken and we had to wait to get the ultrasound. I was due for my 7 week scan just a few days later so I wasn’t sure if it was too early to see a heartbeat or not.

As I was put in a wheelchair and wheeled to the scanning area, I tried to remain calm. I had read so many stories of women who had gone through this and everything was ok. I tried to shut up the voice in my head that was telling me I was not going to be one of those women.
The sonographer did the ultrasound and couldn’t find the heartbeat. He said they would “normally” expect to see a heartbeat given the crownsize which I later found out was the length from the embryo’s head to the rump. Again, I had stories in my head of women who had experienced the same but they found the heartbeat through the internal scan. The internal scan was done and there was no heartbeat. Peanut was not “viable.”

I was wheeled back into my room in a state of shock. We now had to wait for the blood results to confirm the miscarriage. I asked my husband to call the nurse to see if I could have water. I didn’t know if I would have to stay in hospital to have an operation or not. Unfortunately he accidentally pressed the emergency button and suddenly I had a swarm of nurses around me. We had to stifle a giggle – we needed some light relief in the moment.

I asked the nurse if I could have water or if I would need the operation. She seemed mad the sonographer had told me the pregnancy wasn’t viable and in her thick German accident, told me I had to wait for the doctor. I felt like a naughty school girl! But she bought us in some sandwiches and juice which were most needed as we had been there several hours and were starving.

Finally the doctor came in and told me my hormone levels were 78,000. For 7 weeks pregnant, they should be between 72,000 and 220,000 so it was clear the miscarriage was very recent.  He recommended we go home and wait for the miscarriage to come on naturally. He checked with an obstetrician who agreed and we were sent home to see if my baby would leave my body naturally.

That thought horrified me. I didn’t want to see parts of my baby coming out of me. I didn’t want to see something that looked like an embryo or bits of the placenta, or the yolk sac. Actually, I didn’t want to see any of it. Knowing I was going home to do nothing but wait ripped my heart apart.

When I got home I called my Mother to tell her. I was told that if the miscarriage didn’t come on by Monday to call the obstetrician who could operate on Tuesday. My Mother still had hope that it was too early to see the heartbeat. I did too, but it was vanishing by the second.
I went for a walk to clear my head. I rubbed my stomach and said “Peanut, if you’re not well or you’re not happy in there it’s ok to go my darling.” This was 5pm. By 7pm, I had on overwhelming sense Peanut was gone.

I went to bed that night and sobbed. I was sad that I couldn’t protect my baby. I was sad that I couldn’t do anything to change it. I was sad that I couldn’t control anything – not even my body. But, I was also glad that we knew it happened when it did. I was glad that I wasn’t showing and the whole world didn’t know. I was glad that I wasn’t one of those women that miscarried at 7 weeks but didn’t find out until their 12 week scan. There were things to be thankful and I tried to focus on those. However, none of those really made up for the fact I didn’t have a baby anymore!

I woke up knowing I had lost my baby. I hadn’t felt any symptoms for a few days now and I knew it was part of the process. I decided the most proactive thing to do was just to get on with life. I went and did the groceries then came home and cleaned. While I felt some anger towards the universe, I was also immensely grateful for the fact it was a random weekend when my friend Chris was up from Newcastle. She had had two miscarriages and the operation both times. She was going to come over to have a chat to me about everything.

I told her about the last few days and she said the weird black marks were exactly what she had. Every detail I provided summed up her experience. Any last remaining drop of hope I had went in that moment. She went through the operation and recovery process. It was horrific going through this once let alone twice and I was so thankful for her bravery in sharing the intimate details with me. It bought me a lot of comfort.

There was no sign of the miscarriage happening naturally so we went to the obstetrician. I still hadn’t met my obstetrician as he was on leave so I saw the one the doctor had spoken to in hospital. He looked at my paperwork from the hospital and asked “How many babies do you have?” “None,” I replied. “How many pregnancies have you had?” “None,” I replied. “Well, that sucks,” he said. “Yes, it sucks a lot,” I replied.

He took one look at the scans and said “Yes, the baby isn’t viable.” He told me that given my age, and the fact it was my first pregnancy it was very common. I said “Are you sure?” and he said “There’s no doubting it but I can do another scan if you like.” I agreed.

He didn’t even bother with the ultrasound and went straight for the internal scan. He said it’s really obvious when the baby’s heartbeat was there and really obvious when it wasn’t. In this case, it wasn’t there. That was it. Nothing else needed to be said. Peanut was gone.

My husband asked him what the longest time was he knew of someone waiting for a natural miscarriage to come on. He said 16 weeks. I was shocked. The last 2 days had been painful enough, let alone waiting everyday for 4 months. He said I could wait but couldn’t guarantee how long it would take to come on. He recommended doing the operation as any extra time we waited was time we wasted in trying to get pregnant again. I was booked in for the next day.
The doctor asked us if we wanted to have chromosomal testing done on the embryo. He said he didn’t recommend it for the first miscarriage but would if I had another one. He said the first was treated as a random event and there was no reason to think it would happen again. Chris had told me she had it done for her second and had found out the sex and what the chromosomal problem was. We decided we didn’t need to know that information at this time.
We dined on smoked salmon for lunch and got some wine for dinner. I decided to send Peanut off with a bang! Despite not drinking for 2 months, I still managed to polish off a bottle of wine with no difficulties.

I tried to keep myself busy but I was exhausted as I woke up at 4am and couldn’t go back to sleep. I went to the shops with my Mother but felt overwhelmed so had to leave quickly to get home. The tears were coming in random moments in random places but for some reason, almost always in the car!

Eventually it was time to go to the hospital. I kissed my husband good bye and quickly left as the tears began to well up. I waited in this sterile room reading the paper. I was looking for anything to distract me so even read a 5 year old Readers Digest that was falling apart.
I was finally the last person sitting in the waiting room and was called in. The nurse looked over the paperwork and said “How many babies do you have?” I replied none.  “That’s really sad,” she said. I wondered why people kept stating the bleeding obvious. I just smiled.  As we were wrapping up, she said they had another patient come in from the ward and I would be pushed back. But she let me go into the other waiting room with the comfy chairs.

I was placed in the recovery room, outside the kitchen. So for the next few hours I saw sandwiches and drinks come and go to people coming out of their operations. I hadn’t eaten or had anything to drink in about 7 hours at this stage. It was killing me.

I was thinking it must surely be my time when the nurse sat down next to me. But no, the doctor had had to do an emergency caesarean and I would be another hour. A rather cruel twist of fate to think the operation to remove my baby was being held up by a woman having a baby. I chose to let that thought go.

Finally, after waiting nearly 4 hours, they took me through. There was another caesarean coming so they wanted to push me through before that would hold me up again. I was wheeled into a room and had my blood pressure taken. The doctor came in and put the drip in. The anaesthetist came in and explained everything to me. The nurse came in, looked at my paperwork and told me how sorry she was. Everyone was sorry but  I was just sorry I had been sitting here for so long and just wanted it over and done with.

I was pushed into the operating room and had a variety of medicines pushed into my blood system. I had a mask put over my face and was told to suck in the gas. I had a moment of panic that they would start operating on me without me being under so I made sure I kept my eyes open. I must have passed out sometime soon after.

I woke up in recovery 45 minutes later. I had some pain and they put a heated blanket on my stomach and gave me a panadol drip. They kept asking me what my pain level was and I kept telling them it was nothing compared to my hunger pains. At this stage, it was nearly 5pm and I hadn’t eaten in 10 hours. All I wanted was the bad sandwiches I knew were waiting for me around the corner.

Thirty minutes later I was told I could get dressed. I had some bleeding and had to wear a pad. I was also given some wet wipes to wipe the orange goop off my thighs they must have rubbed on before they operated. I was then put into a wheel chair and taken to the food.

I had a lemonade and sandwiches that consisted of ham and cheese, cheese, egg and chicken loaf. They were four of the most miniscule sandwiches I had ever seen. I didn’t touch the egg one as that was just wrong but I scoffed the rest down. I could have eaten another truck load but I just waited until my husband came and dreamt of pizza!

I was finally called to leave and had my drip taken out. The nurse gave me some information on how to deal with going home including a name of a support group. I listened to her half-heartedly as I was really just focussed on getting some food. I walked out, found my husband, and said just go to MacDonald’s or something.    

I went to bed early and my husband cuddled me. He told me he was so scared all day and was just happy to have me home in one piece. He was upset about the baby and wondered what it would have been and who it would have been. But he told me there could be plenty of babies but only one me and that was what he was most concerned about. I went to sleep feeling so lucky I had such an amazingly supportive husband.

I woke up feeling groggy as I hadn’t slept well. I hadn’t used pads in years and they were so cumbersome and uncomfortable. I felt crampy and had a headache so got up, had a shower and a few panadols.

We had decided to go up the coast for a few days so we could just rest and recover and not be at home to do it. I wanted to go to the bottle shop and get some wine to take with us. I then realised I couldn’t drive so had to get my husband to chauffer me. We were both tiered and emotional so had to try very hard not to snap at each other. We had to remind ourselves to be gentle with each other.

Just before we left, I checked the mail. My copy of Practical Parenting magazine had arrived. I took it inside, showed my Mother and said “Sometimes the world has a really sick sense of humour.” I didn’t even look at it. I just tossed it into the box where I had tossed all the other baby magazines and information I had been given. I’m letting it sit there until I need it again.
My husband and I arrived at our apartment and we went for a walk. We had a coffee and got some groceries. We decided we may as well make the most of the situation so we filled our basked up with blue cheese, brie, pate and nuts. All the yummy bad things I couldn’t previously have. That, and a bottle of two of wine would be dinner tonight.

I was starting to get a bit worried that I wasn’t really bleeding. I looked online and saw a lot of women had said they didn’t have any for a few days and then it suddenly hit. Clearly, it was going to be one of those things that would come on and off. I decided not to worry about it.
While I was googling, I came across a miscarriage support group. I read out one of the woman’s posts who said she had had a miscarriage, went on to have a baby, but still felt so angry and bitter about the miscarriage. I told my husband I didn’t feel angry about it as there was nothing to feel angry about it. I really was just accepting it. I didn’t want to be like this lady and hold so much anger and bitterness about it. I was really focussing on the things I was thankful for about the timing of it. My husband and I decided we would try again as soon as we could. We would try before my cycle came back and just take pot luck at when I would be ovulating. We wouldn’t put any pressure on ourselves and just see what happens. It seemed the most logical, calm and peaceful approach to take.

I woke up this morning thinking how quickly your life can change. This time last week I was celebrating being 7 weeks. Just 7 days later, I was lamenting the loss of my baby. I’m always amazed at how life throws us curve balls and all we can do is decide how to deal with them.
I told my husband I could easily be angry every time I see a pregnant woman walk past or a woman pushing a baby in a pram. But shooting them death stares would not be a proactive or a terribly caring thing to do. Even when I told my friends who knew I was pregnant, I wished them love and hugs to their precious babies. This process has taught me that every single child who makes it into this world is a precious addition as so many don’t. What I hope this situation will teach people is value every morning sickness vomit you have. Value every time your 2 year old has a tantrum. Value every time 4 year old tells you they hate you. Because they could have very easily not have been here to do those things.

Luckily, I’ve done a lot of emotional work with counsellors over the years so I think that’s put me in a good place to deal with all of this. I feel well equipped and relatively emotionally stable, minus the random tears. But I know that moving on all depends on how I choose to respond. I choose to respond with love and appreciation rather than anger and bitterness. I know the hard times will come when I see in my diary in a few weeks time I was meant to be having my 12 week scan. Or when I see my friend who was due at the same time as me and realise her baby is coming and mine isn’t. When I see my grandmother in a few weeks time and realise that was when I was meant to tell her. So, I am under no delusion that there will be some tough times ahead.

But, I have decided I will look at pregnant women with love and joy for them knowing my time will come. I will look at my diary and know my 12 week scan will come. I will look at my friend’s growing belly, send silent prayers she has a safe pregnancy,  and know my growing belly will come. I will look at them with the same love, joy and appreciation I always have. Because, afterall, when my time does come, that’s what I want to teach my child – that the universe will throw curve balls at you but you can choose to survive it and come out the other end stronger and better off for having experienced it.


  1. I just wanted to comment on this as it's such an honest piece of writing, really really sad but really hopeful at the same time. The way you've accepted your bumpy journey to motherhood is amazing and so strong after what you've been through. I wish you the best of luck with what is to follow, your child will be so lucky to have a mother with such a considered and positive attitude to life. x

  2. Thanks so much for your lovely comment. I'm glad you enjoyed it. Clearly, it was one of the hardest posts to write! I haven't read this post for quite a while and as I glance over it, it reminds me how far I've come. Thanks for reminding me of it!

  3. I just found your site and have to say it couldn't come at a better time. I'm in the middle of a TWW myself. My husband and I have been TTC for 2 years now and this is our 7th IVF cycle. The positive and hopeful outlook you write on this blog is definitely helping me stay positive during this TWW.
    It might seem odd I chose this post to write about how positive your outlook is but almost a year ago I had found out my baby's heartbeat didn't begin either at the 7 week u/s appointment. The emotions you describe are exactly how I felt. Unfortunately that was my 2nd loss (1st was ectopic) and my 3rd came in August 2012 at 9 1/2 weeks. It was so much worse, for me, making it through that first appt seeing and hearing my baby's heartbeat only to have it stop a few weeks later. I had to take a few months break before I was ready to try again. It's been a long emotional ride but I hope and pray this one is different for me and you experience your dream of motherhood, again, one day soon. Thank you for your positive outlook in a very difficult experience.

    1. Hi Robin,

      Thanks so much for taking the time to post a comment. I'm glad you found this post postive. While it was a difficult time, there was some positivity to come out of it. A few months on, I think how far I've come since that week and I'm proud of myself for getting as far as I have!
      It seems you have had a very painful journey. It's been hard enough to go through this once let alone three times so my fingers are crossed for you that this time your little angel will finally make it to this world!

    2. I'm going to re-read that last paragraph many times. :)

  4. I am 16 weeks pregnant for the first time at age 28 and am looking up various pregnancy blogs. While I don't have any experiences with miscarriages, I wanted to read your story. Pregnancy is something I will never fully understand and I doubt any of us will. While many struggle to get pregnant, my husband and I got pregnant the first time trying. For about the first few weeks when I knew I was pregnant and when I didn't, I was worried about a miscarriage because I was an emotional mess for other unrelated reasons with hysterical crying and crazy stress. What made me carry the baby and you lose it when you did everything right? It is so scary how this is so out of one's control. Thanks for sharing your story.

    1. Hi Nikki, thanks for taking the time to take a look. Congratulations on your pregnancy. It's great you were able to fall pregnant first time! Pregnancy is certainly an exercise in giving up control but then again so is parenthood. It can be a very challenging journey but as I sit here about to meet my daughter in 4 days time, I know it's all been worth it. Good luck in your pregnancy and enjoy being a Mum!



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