I was feeling pretty grotty. I had terrible insomnia (excitement I think), debilitating exhaustion, and morning sickness – permanent nausea, like a travel sickness. I knew it well from my previous pregnancies. It was all good though, worth every single second. I also knew that by ten weeks it would subside, from experience anyway. I was counting the days until my ten week point when I’d start to feel all glowy. I had all the symptoms of a good healthy pregnancy and was doing everything right. No caffeine, no alcohol and stayed away from cigarette smoke – all made me feel sick anyway. I avoided unpasteurised cheeses, mayonnaise, all the things on the suggested ‘banned’ list. You could say I was a bit neurotic. I don’t know why, I’d never had any problems in pregnancy before. I guess I just wanted the absolute best for my baby.
We were slightly concerned about any problems that there might be with our baby due to age not really being on our side, so had booked a private Harmony Test. This is a relatively new test to be carried out at around ten weeks which, through a simple blood test (analysing the mother’s DNA), can determine any chromosome issues. It is expensive, but a lot more accurate than the 12 week nuchal fold scan. The blood test can also, amazingly, determine the sex of the baby.
I was having trouble sleeping as my tummy was hard and had grown a fair bit, so we bought a pregnancy pillow which would then be used for breastfeeding. It made a world of difference!
We told more people, and Stuart had told his Dad and Stepmum. They were very excited. His dad even began signing off on messages as “Granddad”. Our child had been accepted into the family with open arms 🙂
One of the best things about February was a gig we had planned. We were going to see The Libertines at the O2. I was really looking forward to this, but (I’ll be honest) it would be the first time I’ve been to a gig without getting absolutely hammered! I was also running to the loo every ten minutes so I had to bear this in mind, not to mention being so shattered. But we had a great time! The Libs were awesome. We danced and sang and I rocked my baby to the beat, hoping she’d hear everything. Our baby’s first gig! And what a great band to start her on 🙂 I didn’t need to be drunk, I was drunk on love and happiness.
One evening, I came out of the bathroom.
“Stuart, I’m bleeding”
It was only a little but I was concerned. I did what anyone would do and Googled everything I could about bleeding in pregnancy. “It’s totally normal”, “I bled throughout my pregnancy”, “I had very heavy bleeding and baby was fine”. Everything I was reading pointed to positive outcomes. I started to relax about it, besides, it wasn’t very much and it was only once. There was no more blood that night. I stopped worrying.
The next morning there was a bit more blood, nothing major. I called the Early Pregnancy Unit at St Georges hospital. They were great, told me to come in just to check things over. I called Stuart (who was en route to work) and grabbed the boys (it was half term) and made our way up to the hospital. If I’m honest, I was actually quite excited to see my bouncy baby on the screen! The boys would see their little brother or sister. Stuart arrived at the hospital and we were finally called in. It was a double room, one side had the sonographer’s desk and some chairs. The other side was the bed with a curtain and the scanning equipment. I made a joke that I was having to have the “vagcam” again (having PCOS and past fertility issues I was pretty used to the vagcam) and rolled my eyes. The boys stayed on the desk side and I got undressed and got up onto the bed. Stuart stood next to me. The sonographer began searching around.
There was a long silence and then the sonographer wnet off to get, I imagine, the ‘head’ sonographer. She had a look. More silence. I looked at Stuart. My heart started racing.
She turned the screen towards me. I could see my baby, beautiful but so still. A little astronaut floating in space.
“I’m so sorry” she said.
“Your baby’s heart has stopped beating”.
I stared at the screen.
My beautiful little baby was there, clear as day, little arms and legs, everything was there, what are you talking about!? We were going to meet our baby in September, we’ve made all these plans, we were about to buy the car seat, all these hopes and dreams, I didn’t believe her. She was wrong.
I sat up, just staring at the screen for ages. I don’t remember much. But I do remember Jack in the background talking to the ‘head’ sonographer about having a new baby brother or sister. I couldn’t speak. My baby was almost nine weeks and gone. Jack and Charlie would not be having a baby brother or sister. How the fuck do I tell them?
My emotions were comatose.
I couldn’t cry, I couldn’t think, I couldn’t understand. My chest tightened but nothing else. The sonographer was talking at me. Something to do with options and what to expect physically, gave me some leaflets. Told me to go away and think and call her back on this number. They had a slot for Surgical Management of Miscarriage the next day. No. No I wasn’t ready to say goodbye yet. We’ve only just said hello.
Somehow Stuart got me home. I ran straight to my bed and sobbed. I sobbed more than I have ever done in my life. I held my tummy, rubbed my baby. Come back. Please come back. My sweet little boy Jack saw how upset I was and gave me this which made my heart melt. Such a sweet boy:
The following few days were a blur. Stuart had to go and get me towels and strong painkillers in case nature took over. I remember I was told I would experience actual labour at that stage, so I should be prepared. It wouldn’t be pleasant, there would be a lot of blood and a lot of pain. Strong contractions.
The next day, as I lay in bed. Eyes puffy, face soaked and swollen with tears, we looked out of my bedroom window. A beautiful rainbow had formed. Now, I’m not one for religion or ‘woo’ shit, but I will never forget that moment. I felt like our baby was saying goodbye to us. I cried.
I didn’t bleed anymore. I decided to book in for Surgical Management of Miscarriage for the following Monday – four days later. An operation under general anaesthetic where they take the baby, placenta, and any other pregnancy tissue.
The night before the operation Stuart lit some candles to say goodbye.
That Monday morning we arrived at the hospital. Sat in the EPU, crying my eyes out watching all these happy pregnant women going in for their scans, into the very same room our lives fell apart. I kept looking for them to come out, they were all happily holding their scan photos. Was I the only one who’s baby died? I cried and cried. This was not how it was supposed to be. This is wrong.
I wanted to be scanned again. I demanded it. They were not keen but did it anyway.
“See” She said
I asked for a picture.
I held on tightly to that picture. Held it close to my chest. Come back my baby.
We were sent to the Outpatients building. I had to put on a gown and paper knickers, they told me to insert a couple of tablets that would make my cervix dilate. How could I play a part in this? Deliberately force my sweet baby out? I still wasn’t ready to say goodbye but I felt like it was all out of my hands. I had no choice.
I was given a quick briefing by the nurse, or he could have been the surgeon, I can’t remember.. He was ever so compassionate. I’ll never forget the look in his eyes when he was talking to me. Like he understood what I was going through.
Stuart hadn’t left my side, pretty much the whole time since our world fell apart. I was told he had to wait in the waiting room throughout the whole procedure, he couldn’t even be there when I woke up. We couldn’t see eachother until I was out of recovery. I was devastated. I needed him, I didn’t want to let him go, but they made me.
We had a long wait so Stuart had brought his laptop so we could watch a film, to distract us from the torture. We watched Legend. Anyone who knows me will know I have a rather large crush on Tom Hardy. Who doesn’t!? I know straight men who have a crush on Tom Hardy!
I was eventually called in, having watched the whole film, I was tugging at my surgical stockings which were ridiculously uncomfortable. I have a bit of a sensory issue where I cannot stand things tight on my body. I felt like the blood supply in my legs were being cut off. The nurses took me through the double doors on the other side of the reception desk. They were talking to me, but I looked at Stuart on the other side of the reception and I burst into tears. He told me that at that point he wanted to rescue me and take me away from there. I guess he felt helpless. What he didn’t realise was that he was far from helpless. He’d cushioned my fall.
I lay down on the operating table, sobbing, sobbing , sobbing. I’ll never forget the last words I heard from a nurse, before I went to sleep
“Awww, don’t worry. It’s not the end of the world” she said.
Not the end of the world? I’m sorry, what? My world has just collapsed around me into billions of pieces, in case you can’t see that. Her words will haunt me forever.
I woke up on a ward with maybe two or three other women. It was very quiet. I was shivering, so cold. Shaking uncontrollably.
I was lonely.
I wanted Stuart there so badly. I could feel blood pouring out of me. A nurse came over to check on me and saw all the blood so she had to change everything. I’ve never seen so much blood. I didn’t care. I just wanted my baby back.
“Excuse me, I don’t know whether I should ask this but… Where is my baby? What have they done with my baby?”
“Medical research” she said.
But secretly I wanted my baby. I wanted to take her home and say goodbye properly, have a funeral even, but I was scared that I would be seen like a crazy person so I didn’t say anything. Now I wish so much that I had spoken up. I wish I’d taken my baby home. My sweet little girl was away from me, her mummy. She should have come home with me.
Stuart met me in recovery. We went home and that was that. We were expected to just get on with our lives as if nothing had happened. Like our hearts hadn’t just been ripped out.
My friends were so amazing. We received flowers and a couple of cards, but I could tell that a lot of people didn’t really want to talk about it. Miscarriage is still so taboo. But how could I not talk about it? My entire world had been focused on preparing and planning for our baby. Every single waking moment was consumed by thoughts of my baby. What do I think about now? How do I live? I didn’t even know who I was anymore….