I have two boys aged 10 and 18 and I’m engaged to my partner of over 4 years. He does not have children of his own as he is 15 years younger than me, but we agreed early on in our relationship that it was not something we planned to do together. I turned 44 in February so it was a very big surprise to discover in early January of this year (2019) that I was pregnant.
After an emotional roller coaster for the first 2 weeks, we decided it was something we were prepared to do given it felt somewhat like a miracle that it happened at all, and my partner was clearly excited. I was coming to terms with going through the parenting roller coaster a third time and nearly a decade between each of my children, while trying to remember that the chance of miscarriage was higher than it was when I was younger.
By the end of January my pregnancy symptoms subsided and I needed to know how far along I was so we scheduled a dating scan. I could tell it wasn’t good news going by my prior experiences but the young lady would not tell us anything and we had to wait several more hours until our GP appointment. We were new to the area so it was a GP we had not seen before. She confirmed the baby had no heartbeat and that over the next few days I would miscarry. She suggested I make an appointment with the early pregnancy centre just in case I did not miscarry naturally, and gave me a phone number. I was told it would be like a bad period and that if I did experience excessive pain or bleeding I should go to the hospital. I explained I had just started a new job and did not want to take any time off work. The GP did not enquire about my history and in retrospect if she did she may have recommended going to the early pregnancy centre asap to book in for a D&C.
My partner was devastated. I was relieved and drank wine – because now I could. I was very upset to see how much my partner wanted it – and that it was something I could not give him – but he assured me it was something he wanted with me. Over the next few days we processed what occurred. Going from not thinking about it to having to decide to want it, then having the promise of that life taken away and being confronted with the reality of our age gap. I tried to carry on as normal though felt distressed at the thought that I was carrying my partner’s dead promise of a baby waiting for my body to expel it. We went to an art deco ball we had tickets for and I over indulged in the food and wine package distracting myself from it all.
By the Sunday on our way home, I started to cramp and only in the wee hours of the following morning when I started to bleed and felt the first clot leave my body, did I really start to grieve what was lost. Not just the embryo itself (we were about 8 weeks along when it stopped growing) but my fertility as well and the hidden dream I had of having a little girl with my partner and having a good dad for my children this time (I raised my other two children on my own from a young age).
It was at this point, when I couldn’t go back to sleep around 2am that I started to read through the Pink Elephant website that an old school buddy of mine (who is a fertility specialist) recommended when I told her I would miscarry – and thank goodness for that. I downloaded the resources and asked my partner to read the partner information before he went to work that morning. I wanted him to stay home with me but I didn’t know if it was ok to ask. He stayed home with me and he was terrific that day as I thought I went through the worst of my miscarriage – a bad period. I told my new employer I had a bad cold because I didn’t want to alarm them that I was trying to get pregnant and would not stick around in my very much loved new role.
However it was just the beginning. On the Tuesday the amount of blood and clots ramped up significantly along with the pain. I felt like I was in labour. My naturopath was helping me through most of the day and I took the strongest pain relief I had in the house. It helping but I was not ok. By Tuesday evening we went to the hospital and they gave me an endone – after waiting there for a couple of hours I seemed to feel better and based on how much I passed and my blood test results I was told it was probably ok for me to go home rather than waiting another couple of hours for an ultrasound as it seemed the worst had passed. I was only 20 minutes from the hospital.
At around 2am on Wednesday morning (my partner’s birthday), I woke in excruciating pain, with very heavy bleeding. I called my mother to come look after my sleeping son and my partner took me to the hospital. The hospital had a lessor sense of urgency on this second visit for some reason and after they managed my pain I was left lying in a bed for quite some time until I told them that despite the large amount of drugs I was on I was still in discomfort and felt like I was going to burst – not to mention the bleeding was not subsiding. Finally a doctor saw me and asked the questions I think the GP should have asked about my other birth experiences – no I had never delivered naturally because my cervix got stuck. He explained that what he thinks had occurred is that the clots got stuck in my cervix causing the incredible pain, and thus the bleeding would not stop. At this point I told my partner he’d better let my new boss know I was in hospital and would not be back at work this week – at this point I knew I’d have to offer a full explanation of what was really going on.
As the obstetrician would not get there for a few more hours, the doctor had to try and clear the blockage to easy the pressure and pain. He did not have the right instruments available to him but finally did and it gave me immediate relief when I felt the gush of clots and blood leave my body. I was soon after rushed through for a general and emergency D&C. I was just as quickly exited from the hospital when I came to – asked to sign a bunch of paperwork I was barely coherent enough to read let alone understand – both times while my partner was not in the room after being told it was ok to get food, then fetch the car. I found this odd.
We were sent home with an info sheet on pain management and a doctor’s certificate for the time off work. That’s it. We made a follow up appointment with the GP for the Friday. They requested the paperwork from the hospital as we were not given copies.
I spent the next couple of days in bed. My partner stayed home from work with me. I’d lost a lot of blood but just avoided needing a blood transfusion (though approval for it was one of the forms I signed).
On the Friday the GP explained that I’d need blood tests to check my HCG levels were going back to normal. That was it. I asked her if I needed a care plan given what I’d been through physically (let alone emotionally) – she looked at me blankly – I said, ‘Do I need to take iron or something?’ to which she replied, ‘Might not be a bad idea.’ Fortunately I have a very good naturopath and she sent me a care plan – neither mentioned what might happen next.
By Sunday, I was extremely emotionally unstable so I didn’t eat which was probably not a good idea – by the afternoon my mood crashed – I felt suicidal, I hated myself and I was completely irrational. I smelt pizza and realised that eating might help – then I nearly decapitated my partner with the small pizzas he ordered because I wanted him to order large. It was only because a friend who had lost hew newborn child a few months earlier mentioned that I might act ‘crazy’ that I at least knew it wasn’t just me going crazy – then when I reached out to my naturopath she said that my progesterone levels would have crashed and just saying that helped me realise that there was a reason I was feeling the way I was.
If I’d been better informed through the whole process I think it would have been far less traumatic for me and my family. If it wasn’t for the Pink Elephant resources, it would have been even worse. These resources should be available to every woman who needs it when she needs it (and may not know she does yet).
I’m deeply grateful that you exist and hope my story will help to ease the suffering of others. I had no idea a miscarriage could be like this. To end on a happy note, the experience brought my partner and I closer together and in experiencing the pregnancy and miscarriage together, it has actually made our relationship stronger.