Part 3 of our story so far….
So, at 8weeks and 3days pregnant, we went to the clinic for a second ‘reassurance’ scan. Just like the first, the seconds felt like minutes and the minutes like hours, but this time was different. The room was silent and after what felt like ages, the sonographer said that she was struggling to see anything and that she was going to call the Dr in for a look. That was when I knew. That was when my world fell apart. She left the room and Lyn told me not to stress, that it was nothing to worry about, he was sure that all was going to be fine. But, when the Dr came in and on seeing both their faces, looking at the screen, we knew for sure and then they said it – ‘I’m afraid it appears that your baby has died. We believe that you have had a missed miscarriage’. I didn’t hear much more after that and neither did Lyn. The words coming out of their mouths sounded as though we were hearing them from under water, muffled sickening sounds. We just about picked something up about a visit to the Early Pregnancy Unit (EPU) and were handed a piece of paper with a date for another scan. I was told to stay on the progesterone and oestrogen until the EPU had confirmed a miscarriage and that the drugs were probably the reason why i hadn’t physically lost the baby yet. I was reassured that upon coming off the drugs, the loss should happen quite quickly. That was something, I suppose. The sooner that this nightmare is over, the better.
Walking back to the car, the very first thing that entered my head was – is it my fault for not properly believing it? Has our baby gone because he felt like I didn’t love him enough? I promised that I did want him, that I loved him more than anything in this world, I was just so scared. I then thought about the day, 3 weeks earlier, when I had forgotten to take the oestrogen pill. I doubled up later that day, but I was worried enough to ring the clinic. They told me not to worry; however were they bending the truth to stop me from panicking? Was that the fatal error that caused me to lose this baby?? Was I too fat? Did my weight cause this? Could it be my diabetes? Did that high blood sugar last week cause our baby to die? So many possibilities regarding the cause of the miscarriage going through my mind, all at once, however regardless of the reason, in my mind, at that moment, it was my body that had rejected our child. The feeling of complete and utter failure was overwhelming. This was my fault. I had killed our baby.
Unfortunately, my husband and I had arrived in separate vehicles as we had both come from work. The journey home was the most horrific 50 minutes of my life, his too, but I was on a kind of autopilot and used the time to call our immediate family and my boss. I wouldn’t be coming to work next week. It was a Friday afternoon and I had the weekend to gather myself, but I knew that I wouldn’t be up to it, plus our appointment at the EPU was on Monday. I asked my sister to tell the few friends that we had told about the pregnancy, about the miscarriage and that I didn’t want anyone to contact me for the foreseeable. I couldn’t deal with it. I just wanted to shut myself off.
I got home and Lyn wasn’t in a good place. He was due to play in a gig that night and tried to cancel it, but couldn’t find a replacement drummer at such short notice. He was now playing in a rhythm and blues band, so not as easy to find a dep as a stereotypical covers band. He resigned himself to going and I went to bed. That gig was so hard for him, but strangely, he played the best set that he had done in years. It was like a little homage to our baby penguin.
The next day, we woke to a numb feeling inside. We were awake, functioning and going about our day, but the Lyn and Emma of old were buried deep down inside and would be locked away for some time yet. So, we decided to get out of the house and headed for Tenby, Pembrokeshire. A beautiful part of the world and one in which we are incredibly lucky to live so close to. Tenby would surely cheer us up….
It was a gorgeous, sunny day with blue skies, hordes of holiday makers, fish n chips and ice cream. Tenby had a real air of British summertime to it that day, but the second we arrived we knew it was a mistake. There were babies, kids and pregnant women everywhere. We couldn’t turn for constant, violent reminders of the grim situation that we found ourselves in. We had to go home,almost immediately. We had travelled all that way, only to stay 1 hour before getting back in the car, heading home and resuming our numbness. To be honest, it hadn’t really gone away, it just got worse.
I can’t begin to describe how I was feeling at this point, but my brain was still on autopilot. All that I could concentrate on was ensuring that my husband was ok, because he wasn’t. In the immediate aftermath, it was Lyn that took it the hardest. He began dealing with the situation immediately. I wish that I was more like that, rather than bottling it all up and saving my grief and emotion for a great big volcanic eruption at a later date. It’s so unhealthy and would have saved me months of therapy, had I just been able to deal with it there and then. Instead, it subtly picked away at me, sometimes ferociously, and affected my life for more than 2 years!! Lyn is a strong person, I’m so proud of how he has dealt with our entire fertility situation so far, I wish I was more like that. He deals with the issue immediately and as a result, doesn’t carry the heavy burden of grief with him for the next goodness knows how many years! He still very much feels the grief, but it is more manageable somehow. I so admire that about Lyn. I am proud of that. I, on the other hand, was holding it together for him during the first few days after the miscarriage, or at least that’s my excuse. I suppose that I knew I would fall eventually, but I also knew that that is when he would step up and hold it together for me. I like that about us, it doesn’t matter what horrific events are happening in our lives, only one of us will ever fall at a time. It’s like this switch in our brains will flick on and one of us will manage to maintain enough strength to keep the other one from going too far into the big black hole, and once they are strong enough, the other will start falling into it, only to be saved by the other, in the exact same way. Never a truer word spoken than the following quote – ‘a strong marriage doesn’t always have two strong people at the same time. It is a husband and wife who take turns being strong for each other in the moments when the other feels weak’. I can’t remember where I saw it, but it is so true.
So, going back to the Monday morning after the miscarriage and we found ourselves sitting in the Early Pregnancy Unit at Singleton Hospital, with some of Swansea’s finest. Sat opposite us was a loud, crude woman in leopard print leggings, bragging that “this was her 6th pregnancy and what the f*** was she supposed to do with another brat? Looool”.
Yes love, hilarious.
To my left was a 15 year old girl, legs draped over her 15 year old boyfriend, having numerous telephone arguments with her mother regarding the news of her untimely pregnancy and to Lyn’s right sat a relatively normal couple. At least they gave us some sense of normality, ish.
After a 2 hour wait, but felt like 6 thanks to our new ‘friends’, the nurse called us in to the scanning room. It was here that the mmc was confirmed and I was told to discontinue all IVF drugs. We were given 3 options, wait to lose naturally, take a pill to encourage labour or have an ERPC. A close friend had opted for the pill once and went through hell and then an ERPC anyway and I couldn’t face the wait that came with letting it happen naturally and the not knowing of ‘when it was going to happen’, so we opted for an ERPC.
At what should have been my 9th week of pregnancy, I found myself checking in at the gynea ward and preparing for an operation to remove my baby from the safe haven that should have been my womb. It didn’t feel right. This shouldn’t be happening.
I remember feeling shocked when they asked me what we wanted to do with the baby, burial or cremation. I hadn’t thought of what would happen afterwards, why would I? We opted for burial as I have always been terrified of the idea of being burnt. I couldn’t do that to my child.
I don’t remember too much from that day, it’s a big blur really. However there are 2 things that have stuck in my mind, and that was the distress of being diabetic and nil by mouth for much longer than anticipated and the student nurse who came to assist me down to theatre….
Nil by Mouth is a nightmare for a type 1 diabetic and as a rule, we should be the first into theatre to avoid hypos. For some reason, it was 3pm before I was taken down and I really struggled with blood sugars, so much so that my diabetic nurse had to come down to help me. I didn’t need that extra stress, the situation was difficult enough. The 2nd thing I remember was the student nurse who came to assist me to theatre. She turned to me with a big grin and said “Ready to go? Are you excited?”
WT actual F??!!!!! No, no I am not excited, I am about to have my desperately longed for child, ripped from my womb, what are you on, you stupid woman?!! Luckily for her, I am an incredibly reasonable person and I just said no. I appreciated that she may not have realised and said it by mistake and we all make them, and then learn from them. However, I will never forget it. I cried all the way to theatre. I’m pretty certain though, that that nurse realised quite quickly what she had done and still lives to regret it, but that’s going to be part of her story now; one of the mistakes she made in training, which taught her to be the wonderful nurse that she will one day become.
After the operation, I woke up a little bit too soon in the recovery suite, as I remember thrashing about and trying to pull the tubes out of my throat. They must have sedated me or something as I passed out again quite quickly. I don’t know how much longer I was out for, but woke up as normal a while later. A couple hours later, we were told that everything had gone well and all ‘products of the pregnancy’ had been removed, so once my blood sugars settled and I had been for a wee, I could go home. One problem with that though, after every operation that involves general anaesthetic, my blood sugars go bananas. It’s nothing I can’t handle and obviously just the shock to my system that shoots them up. I need 3 times the normal amount of insulin to get them down. The ward sister didn’t appreciate this though, and insisted I stay until they were sorted. I eventually persuaded her to let me go though , and by the time I was arriving home, my sugars had started to drop. We got home at 10pm. A long and distressing day, but at least it was over. We could now concentrate on moving on and getting over this ordeal. The next day, we booked a holiday to Dubrovnik in Croatia. It was just what we needed to help us get over everything.
Fast forward to 2 weeks later, and I went to the IVF clinic for a follow up. They performed a routine scan and revealed that I had significant retained products in my womb. In other words, the ERPC had only removed my womb lining and the placenta was still there. I went back to the epu and yes, the miscarriage was deemed incomplete. I had been losing on and off since the operation, but nothing too severe, so we asked for as much advice as possible, in order to make the best decision possible. They couldn’t tell me how long it would take to lose naturally and they couldn’t guarantee that the pill would work. My hormone levels were still incredibly high, which is why the little penguin was hanging on. I took a tiny bit of solace from that. At least my body could generate those hormones on its own. I had come off the IVF drugs over a month before, so it was obviously my body that was refusing to let go. Sad really, I suppose.
We were going to Croatia 3 days later and we REALLY needed the holiday, so I opted to leave things be and wait to lose naturally. How bad could it be? I was given antibiotics as a precaution, due to my diabetes, and my medical papers in case I needed medical treatment out there! Looking back, i think we were completely mad to go, especially me being diabetic. Anything could have happened!!!
Whilst in Croatia, we concentrated on trying to have fun and in a way we did, however the incomplete miscarriage was hanging over us like a couple of albatross around our necks.
Whilst in Croatia, we decided to book into an exclusive restaurant for our 5th wedding anniversary. We heard that it was Beyonce and Jay-Z’s favourite place to eat in Croatia. Shwit shwew. It was a 7 course tasking menu and it looked divine! I’m a bit of a foodie, so I was ridiculously excited. On route to the restaurant though, I started to feel really unwell and just as we were being seated, I felt a massive gush. OMG!!!! I excused myself and went to the bathroom, and boy, I have never seen anything like it It was a massive loss. We had to immediately leave the restaurant and go back to the hotel. I was incredibly embarrassed but luckily i was carrying plenty of supplies with me, just in case something like that would happen. Our excuse to the restaurant was diabetes related and they were very good about it and even gave us our drinks for free, but I was sooo gutted to miss out on the experience.
So back at the hotel and at this point, Lyn and I thought that it was finally over and even felt some relief. We managed to enjoy the remainder of our holiday, but 1 hour after landing in Gatwick, I had a significant loss again. We had to stop in every service station from London to South Wales and took us nearly 6 hours to get home. An absolute nightmare of a journey.
The following morning, I had another scan at the EPU, only to find the products still there and still the same size! It wasn’t over, and it was at this point that I really started to go downhill. When would all of this end?
I went back to EPU fortnightly and they assured me that the placenta was getting smaller in size, so that meant that my body was absorbing it back. It would be over soon. So, for a little while, i put it to the back of my head. Then, late on Friday afternoon of the 19th September, almost 3 months since the MMC had been confirmed, I begun to feel strong period pains. I assumed that it was my 1st one coming and had read that it could be painful. I left work an hour early that day and went home. By the time I arrived though, I was in agony. I couldn’t even stand straight. I rang my GP who told me to come in immediately and he examined me. By this point I was writhing in pain and the sweat was dripping off me. The Dr said that I should go to A&E, but I was reluctant, we were supposed to go to our friends house for dinner that evening!! He said that if I began to feel sick with the pain, then I was to go immediately. He prescribed super-duper painkillers and I left the surgery. I got as far as the car, before I threw up, so the Dr called ahead to the Gynea ward in Carmarthen and off we went. Obviously, having to reluctantly cancel our dinner plans.
We had to stop around 5 times on route for me to go sick and poor Lyn was petrified, although he never showed it at the time!! I am also amazed that we weren’t stopped by police or got a speeding ticket!!
We arrived at Picton Ward in Glangwili Hospital and the first consultant almost dismissed my pain and said that it was probably a period. That really pissed me off, because I know that I have a decent pain threshold and would not go to hospital unless it was a real emergency. Thankfully another consultant came to examine me and it was during that examination, she discovered that the placenta was stuck in my cervix. They described what I was experiencing as what a woman at 9cm dilated would feel. I was almost in a constant contraction. Ugh, no wonder I was in pain and no wonder it was making me throw up!!! However, the second that they removed it, the pain stopped and within minutes, I was back to normal and feeling absolutely fine. I asked to see the placenta, I needed to see it. To this day, I’m not entirely sure why, it could be closure or just out of interest, no idea. However, seeing it certainly helped me. Lyn didn’t want to see it though, he found it too painful and I completely understood.
We left the hospital and I was genuinely feeling fine, so we called back in our friends house. They had already made dinner when we called to cancel, so I had a bowl of mushroom soup and a glass of wine. We stayed for an hour and then we went home. At least now, it was definitely over….
It was around this time that Gary Barlow’s song ‘Dying Inside’ properly spoke out to me. He wrote it following the stillbirth of his daughter, Poppy. I had always related to it quite strongly, but now I heard and felt EVERY SINGLE WORD of his pain. It was my pain too. I was putting a very brave face on and later, once the MMC was officially over, I would find myself making silly jokes about the whole thing. It would shock people and I quite liked it. I didn’t want them to know how much pain I was actually in. I was being funny and pretending to be strong, to hide the intense sadness inside and in an attempt to stop people from feeling sorry for me. I hated that pitiful look I would get from people and knowing that so many felt so sorry for us, so I shocked people with jokes in an attempt to avert their suspicions that I wasn’t coping. However, I eventually plucked up enough courage to send my closest friends a link to Gary’s song. It was the only way that I could communicate my feelings to them and it turned out to be the best thing that I would ever do. It forced me to speak to them about it as they all called the following day (I sent it to them at 11pm on a Saturday night, after a bottle of wine for Dutch courage, haa). Their responses were a mixed bag of sympathy and support, some of them even cried. I found those conversations so incredibly difficult, but I knew that it had to be done. It’s good to talk, even when it’s the last thing that you want to do. That day was a very small turning point for me and there begun my long road to recovery. Those conversations have also strengthened some of my friendships with such an incredible bond and one that will never be broken as a result.
My family and friends have been there for me every single day and very much let me lead the way in how I deal with it and how much I reveal about the situation. They know me very well indeed and I’m so grateful for being given the freedom and respect to deal with this my way. I’ll forever be thankful for that.
Part 4 coming soon. Sign up to follow my blog to get notifications of when I post 🙂 x