*It probably goes without saying that this could be a trigger post, but I write the warning just in case. It is at times brutally honest, and graphic, so some may want to avoid, but I think we need to make talking about miscarriage acceptable.*
I’ve been waiting for the “right time to write this post. I knew it was coming. It’s been like a splinter, irritating and sore, acute and ever-present. I just didn’t know when the right time was.
And then today, when I was rehearsing for a concert with a group (my other job is a professional classical singer) we started the anthem by William Purcell: “Hear my Prayer.” To my bewilderment and horror, when I first sang the line “and let my crying come unto thee”, the tears flowed, unstoppable (and most inconvenient as I tried to hiccup my way through the work). And I knew. It was time to write. Yes, I have a beating heart and clammy palms, but it’s time.
I’ve actually had a miscarriage before I had my first daughter. I’d been 6 or 7 weeks and just started bleeding lots and lots. I hadn’t actually known until the day before my bleeding started that I was pregnant, so it was one shock after another, but it was manageable. I took some time off work, watched back-to-back “Real Housewives of Orange County” until my sister and husband “staged an intervention”, took lots of walks, and carried on, falling pregnant 6 months later with E.
But this time. It was utterly, hopelessly awful. The baby had been one of those “first time lucky” flukes; “shall we have a 3rd baby?” “Oh go on then.” Oh, wow, it’s happened”. I found out stupidly early and for some reason got sent for a dating scan, where I was told I was two weeks earlier than I thought. Daft woman, going for that scan (the first of three it turned out before the miscarriage): in a Hypnobirthing teacher. I now that EDD is a fallacy. But still, I went, desperate to check Baby was ok.
At the third scan we saw the all-important heart-beat and we relaxed.
And then. And then, one day I woke up and my boobs didn’t hurt. And I didn’t feel so emotional. “Stop over-analysing Laura, wrote in your journal, have a bath and relax,” I told myself.
And then I started spotting. I’d already had one major bleed, and I’ve always had an irritable cervix (fancy princess she was), so I tried not to worry. But like the crappest Farrow and Ball paint chart ever, so the spotting went from light brown to dark, to rust, to red.
I knew what what was happening. I knew and I tried to forget. I went to a recording session that morning, bleeding and cramping my way through singing a soundtrack. I cried in the car on the way and rang my husband. I knew it couldn’t be right, but it was Sunday and I couldn’t go to the Early Preggo Unit (not the official name...)
I rang “A and E”: “I don’t want to waste anyone’s time, but I’m really bleeding.” “Are you gushing or leaking?” “Um...?!” “well either way come in in case you need an operation, and they’ll scan you. ” Hmmm.
So in I went, and after a traipse through A and E and past all the wonderful, vulnerable elderly being cared for by our amazing NHS. A lovely male gynae appeared after a while. He explained they were no longer allowed to scan in A and E as “their computers didn’t talk to the ones in EPU. I know it’s crap. I’m sorry laura.” I really appreciated his honesty.
The alternative? Blood tests, legs spread apart on the bed, and a speculum examination to see how much blood loss there was and the state of the cervix (closed or open). It was decided I was bleeding enough to need a transfusion, so I was sent home with massive NHS knicker pads, and a little hope (cervix still closed).
Home I went. I helped my husband put the 3 and 1 year old to bed, because I wanted to feel normal. I sat downstairs witg jome, and noticed that every time I moved, I would feel blood trickle out of me. I felt awful, but hopeful. Then I suddenly felt the need to be upright, forward and open. As I stood up, a massive lump plopped onto my pad, feeling like it was forcing me open then shutting me again. I remember groaning and my husband looking terrified and trying to smile.
So back we went to A and E-me walking like a cowboy, as more stuff plopped out, him being my rock and comedian as ever.
I was rushed through this time, and seen by a somewhat colder doctor, who said she wanted to “assess the gushing.” Amazing first date chat here. After swabbing me clear of us as much “clotting and waste products” as possible (at this point I complained about her language and told her I was a Hypnobirthing teacher, at which point she apologised, and I could tell poor woman had been on a frickin’ long shift) she said that I wasn’t “gushing” too much, and would need to return tomorrow for a scan.
That night at home was surreal, and tender, and revolting, and exhausting. We laid out pads on the bed and towels, like when my waters broke, or when I came home from the hospital. My breasts throbbed and my tummy cramped like the after-pains of labour. And every so often I’d have to be upright, forward and open to pass more stuff. At 2am I had to sit on the loo as I felt similar sensations to the “down” stage or pushing stage of labour. And that’s when the “grey tissue” came out. I was 10 weeks pregnant. And it was awful. It didn’t just go down the loo, but plopped into my pants as I sat down. I didn’t know where to put it. How could I flush this thing away? What should I do? Would it go down the loo? What the actual ARRRRRRRGGGGGG do I do?!
In the morning we cared for our children, hugged a lot, and said about 1848258393 times “our kids are amazing. We are so lucky.” We laughed and cried in the hospital later that day. We felt awful. We felt so blessed we what we had. I hated my pregnant/notpregnant body. I loved my pregnant/notpregnant body for growing two miracles. I cried.
I drank loads of prosecco.
i watched The Vicar of Dibley.
i cried more.
And now? Coming up to 7 weeks on? I’m mainly very happy. The bleeding has stopped, though I’m yet to have a period. My bump has gone (I showed immediately - Not that surprising I guess.) I love my life, my kids, working with amazing women. Working witg pregnant women has been a bizarre catharsis, knowing they are producing something beautiful when my little love that wasn’t to be was obviously not right, could have been in pain or unable to think for themselves.
We don’t know if we’d like to try for a 3rd again. We just don’t know. I miss my baby (and it was my baby, a little girl, in my head). I talked to her already. I loved her and loved my husband even more for making her with me. I look at the bath when E and A are sloshing away and think about the empty space there and wonder. But I also am loving my body to myself, the thought of avoiding any more “put on your shoes NOW” battles. Could we really give 3 kids the love and time we’ll give the two we’ve got, when they’re older complex teenagers?
We didn’t think we’d have to decide again.