Like so many of you out there I identified so much with this article having found out our baby had died at our 12 week scan… so many people have no idea and it’s a loss i struggle with each day…
The heartbreak of losing your baby… before anyone even knows you’re expecting: Deeply moving. Bravely candid. And what every woman who has been through it will want to read
- Jennie Agg was days away from her first official scan when she had a miscarriage
- One in five pregnancies end in miscarriage, when the baby dies before 23 weeks
- Nearly four in ten women who experience a miscarriage get PTSD symptoms
As my husband drives me to the hospital, the gripping pain in my abdomen intensifies. It comes in waves and instinctively I try to breathe through it — the way women in labour are supposed to.
But when I realise what I’m doing, I start to cry. Because I am not having a baby, I am having a miscarriage.
I am 12 weeks pregnant with my first child and a few days away from my first official scan. Bleeding heavily I know, deep down, I will not be keeping that appointment. From the grim line of my husband Dan’s mouth as he stares at the road, I know he does, too.
When the bleeding started the previous morning, I hadn’t been too concerned. Spotting — light bleeding — is common in early pregnancy as the developing embryo implants itself in the womb.
I’d had it once before, around the six-week mark. That time, I’d had an early scan, the midwife found a heartbeat and the spotting stopped after a day or so.
So when it starts again almost six weeks later, I go to work as normal and try not to think about it. But with no sign of it stopping by the afternoon, I phone my GP, who suggests I go in to be referred for a scan. I hastily type a message to my boss and rush out of the office.
My GP books me in for a hospital appointment the next morning. All Dan and I can do is distract ourselves. We go for dinner, then to the cinema.
By the time the film is over, I have cramps — like bad period pain — and the bleeding is getting worse.
A miscarriage can be graphic in its violence. For me, it isn’t ‘just a heavy period’, as it’s sometimes portrayed.
When I sit up in bed the next morning, the sheets flood with blood. I race to the bathroom and to my horror, feel something slide away. I scream.
When Dan asks what’s happening, I can’t find the words.
On the way to A&E, we walk through the maternity wing, past smiling women with big bumps. We wait several hours for a scan. And then, just like that, it is over.
Our first pregnancy ends, not with a cry bursting from a newborn’s lungs, but with a midwife’s whisper: ‘I’m so sorry.’
I catch a glimpse of the ultrasound screen showing the image of my womb. Empty. It is exactly how I feel.
Miscarriage, defined as a loss of a baby in the first 23 weeks of pregnancy, is incredibly common, as Dan and I have been told repeatedly since ours three months ago. About one in five pregnancies end this way. Most occur in the first trimester.
The majority are thought to be due to a genetic problem, meaning the baby doesn’t develop properly. Infections such as measles can sometimes trigger a miscarriage and some conditions make it more likely, such as a weak cervix (the neck of the womb) or blood-clotting disorders that can affect blood flow to the placenta.
If women have more than one miscarriage, or if the miscarriage is after the first trimester, investigative tests may be offered. But most, like me, will never know why it happened.
If you’re young and otherwise healthy (I am 30, Dan is 32, neither of us smokes or is overweight, we eat healthily and I didn’t drink while pregnant), there’s almost nothing constructive anyone can tell you. It can leave you feeling as if a miscarriage is something to shrug off, like a cold.
Sometimes it’s not even clear if a woman has miscarried.
‘There can be an assumption it’s like what you see on TV,’ says Ruth Bender Atik, director of the Miscarriage Association. ‘A woman suddenly clutching her belly and collapsing in a pool of blood. But often that’s not how it is. A woman may have some symptoms, such as spotting, but a scan may not be conclusive.
‘There might be a heartbeat, but it’s not very strong, or the baby is smaller than it should be, so they may be told to come back in a couple of weeks. There can be quite a protracted period of waiting.’
There are those who discover only at their 12-week scan that their baby has died — they have no signs that anything is wrong and still feel pregnant as the hormones remain high.
After a miscarriage, women may need medication or even surgery to clear remaining pregnancy tissue. But the effects, of course, aren’t just physical. In the days after, I stay at home. I cry and watch rubbish TV. Some days I feel fine and determined — almost manically so — to get on with things: I go running, cook massive batches of dinners for the freezer. Other days I’m tearful and can barely do anything.