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Lifestyle,  Pregnancy,  Update

My Miscarriage Story

There are no quirky headlines for a post like this, it’s the hardest thing I have ever had to write. I would have been approaching 13 weeks in my pregnancy this weekend. last week, I discovered I suffered a ‘Missed Miscarriage’ or ‘Silent Miscarriage’ as it’s sometimes called. If you are squeamish, this isn’t a post you should be reading. I will warn you, I’m not going to spare any detail.

My mission is to help and prepare women for one of the most common things that happens women. It’s talked about so little and brushed under the carpet. I didn’t know it was so common, myself! Fact is, miscarriage happens to every one on four pregnancies, ONE IN FOUR!

When I was younger, I had this stupid idea that I was going to have my children and there would be no pain or stress because “other people lose babies, not me!”.

“This is going to be our year.”

We moved into our first home last November, all was well. Everything was going perfectly, good things were happening to us, I am 36 and we were beginning to think about the idea of having a child. Then last April arrived. One night before going on a boating holiday, I suffered a bout of vertigo as I lay in bed, it was awful, the room spun like a carousel and it happened all night long. Then, I missed a period shortly after.

I did a test, a generic non branded one and it showed one single solid line, so I tossed it in the bin thinking that it was a negative and the missed period was just my hormones acting up again. It was later that night when I was removing my makeup and prepping to go to bed, I took another look at it and a second faint line had appeared. I mentioned it to my Husband and that man loves looking stuff up, he’s a sucker for knowledge. Apparently, once there’s two lines visible, no matter how strong they are, it was a positive. We looked at each other in disbelief and agreed to get a proper branded digital test in the morning. I did and there it was, TWO WEEKS PREGNANT! I did a second one a week later to be sure and there it was.

We broke the news to our parents only at about 7 weeks, basically because we couldn’t contain the joy that we were experiencing, our very own little ‘Peanut’ whom we were going to love and cherish with all our hearts. Ryan even bought me the What To Expect book which we read together each night. I bought my first maternity top to wear when the time came, I gave up coffee, alcohol, ate all the things I was supposed to and avoided what I wasn’t. I slept when my body told me to and I took my prenatal vitamins. I made home made skincare with nothing harmful for the baby, I did everything right.

The odd time I would get a little bit of brown or light pink spotting. I stupidly Googled it and apparently it’s old blood that appears when your period was due to arrive every month and it was nothing to worry about. The tiredness was a killer, I would literally come home from work and nap for a couple of hours before dinner- if I could even eat it. I felt nauseous constantly, I only ever actually threw up twice, I wretched but nothing ever came up. The smell of coffee or Mexican food would send me gagging. Pineapples, pickles and cheddar cheese were my cravings and the odd time, I would be like a woman possessed and could be found feasting on pickled gherkins and onions in the kitchen with a “don’t come near me” look on my face as I devoured them.

“It’s only spotting, nothing to worry about!”

Last week, I was 11 weeks and two days, I was at work on the Tuesday and what was my monthly spotting, became more pink and that became more red, got a little heavy and then stopped. I am not religious, I am not Catholic (nor any religion) any more but I must have said 100 ‘Hail Mary’s’ that this wasn’t something bad. It eased off and I was so grateful. When I got home, I was cooking dinner and BANG, it got heavy again and period like cramping started and got worse as the night progressed. I called the Maternity Hospital emergency department and was told that unless it was all over the floor, there was probably nothing to worry about, it wasn’t -yet. The nurse then told me to come in for a scan just to rest my mind.

I cried so hard that night because I had an awful feeling in my gut.

The next morning, I had soiled my pyjama pants with blood and it was then that we decided to get ourselves to Holles St Hospital and see what was going on. We waited and were seen very quickly but every minute felt like hours. Then, we were taken to a room with an ultrasound where I was given an internal and external ultrasound. After a few minutes, the Doctor told us that the baby looked a lot smaller than our 11 weeks, about 8 or 9 weeks and she wasn’t getting any heartbeat.

It looked like my baby died two weeks earlier and my body never picked up on it. I was carrying my dead baby inside me for a fortnight. It was at this moment, I just lost it, I sobbed so loudly that I’m sure it could be heard throughout the department, I just knew..my baby was gone. We were left alone for a few minutes before being sent upstairs for a formal ultrasound.

I remember being beckoned into a room with the lights off and a glow of an ultrasound screen and the gentle voice of the Sonographer who comforted me and told me she was so sorry before beginning. There was a large screen on the wall at the end of the bed and we waited for what felt like an hour. There he was (I know in my heart it was a boy, but it couldn’t be seen at his stage) his little head and limbs, still as can be, Ryan pointed out that he even had my nose and then the screen turned off. No heartbeat, no signs of life. gone. pregnancy over.

After the scan, we were taken to another room and greeted by a Doctor who gave us three options:

  • Wait it out: Let the pregnancy tissue come away on it’s own, normally for earlier pregnancies
  • Chemical Route: Taking Cytotec to relax my cervix and aid the waiting it out process.
  • Surgery: This was recommended to me because of how far along I was at 11.5 weeks, I chose the surgery to remove it as fast as possible. Just a day procedure, in at 7am and home later in the day, fasting from midnight and taking Cytotec to make the surgery easier.

“I want to feel numb”

We went home that night feeling numb and broken, I drank a whole bottle of wine that night and 2 gin and tonics because I didn’t want to be left with my thoughts. I wanted to feel numb, nothing, anesthetised . We sat in the garden, me on the egg swing chair that my Mum bought me for the Summer, for when my pregnancy belly was making me uncomfortable, it was to be my very own pregnancy throne. Now, void of it’s purpose, I sat and cried and cursed the heavens for doing this to me, robbing us of our future dreams and plans that we had made.

It then occurred to me that I never asked for a picture of him from the scan, I had nothing to remind me of him..

“I flushed him away!”

Having to get up at 4 am on the Friday to get ready and be at the hospital for 6:30 and allow the drive from Co.Wicklow, it was the longest morning ever. I took the Cytotec, got to the hospital and was taken to the third floor day ward and that’s when the pills kicked in, the blood started coming out in golf ball sized clots and contractions started. I destroyed my trousers and filled a night time sanitary towel a minute. I was in and out to the toilet every 2 minutes, literally and to the point where I was more comfortable sitting on the toilet. Standing up was agony and not helped by a fever and confusion, vomiting and the runs. At this point, we were only in our rooms 15 minutes and I was in a bad way. Poor Ryan didn’t know what was going on. We were waiting for the medical team to talk to us but by then I had passed my baby on my own, into the toilet. I was so dizzy and confused that I thought it was just a clot- I flushed him away without knowing.

Finally the medical team came and I had lost so much blood that I could barely cope with listening to them, it was the hottest day of the year so far and I was in a stuffy room with a digger out in the courtyard, one of those obnoxiously loud hand diggers that break up concrete and asphalt and two surgeons talking to me at the same time. I was feeling like I was going to faint, I blanked out and pretty much dismissed them.

Before surgery, I was to have another ultrasound, internal and external, bleeding as heavily as I was, it was awful, absolutely awful. The nurse gave me a stack of paper bowls which I was to put in the toilet each time and pass the clots to, which would then be given to the lab to test. It was a horrid experience.

After having another scan, the Sonographer said that the pregnancy sac had gone and it was at that moment that I realised it was my baby that I had passed and not a ‘clot’. .

The pain was starting to ease a little but the bleeding not so much, the nurses were incredible, I was given heat pads for my tummy and painkillers as well as maternity pads the size of mattresses which I had to wear two at a time, so I was like a baby with a nappy walking around and believe me, I would have worn a nappy/diaper, the bleeding was that heavy.

Brenda The Bereavement Midwife

Sometime that morning, a bereavement midwife came in to discuss our wishes, should any fetal tissue be found in the samples that were sent to the lab.

Brenda was so lovely and understanding, I couldn’t imagine anyone more perfect for the job. She told us there was an option for a hospital burial where a group of ebryo’s would be placed in a small white coffin and buried at an Angel plot at Glasnevin Cemetery. (I knew there wouldn’t be and I would have heard by now, a week later, if there was). Brenda gave us a little gift of a candle and a paper butterfly embedded with with wildflower seeds that we can plant and the flowers will attract butterflies. Just that little token alone meant so much to us and I will light that candle on his due date and the 31st of May next year on his anniversary.

Brenda also discussed with us the matter of a new pregnancy and that she would personally arrange for an early scan, if we were to conceive again. She felt that this might put our mind at rest.

I lay on the bed for most of the morning and afternoon, drifting in and out of consciousness as my husband, exhausted as he was, sat and watched over me like a guardian angel. I will never forget him for how attentive and tender he was with me, we were both mourning the loss of our son but he was keeping so strong for me.

Another surgeon then came in and explained to me that perhaps the surgery wasn’t necessary, the tissue was almost gone and perhaps I’d take another dose of Cytotec that evening to remove the remaining 2cm of tissue. I’d have another ultrasound, see how the tissue was coming along at coming out and I was put on an I.V for fluids. She wanted to keep me in overnight as I was a hemorrhage risk and to go back on fasting in case I needed a D&C the next day.

That night was the longest night of my life, I sent my poor husband home to get some rest and eat, he told me that he cried his heart out when he got home and I wasn’t around and that’s how he deals with things, he is my rock, he amazes me every day.

That night, it was still so hot out, everyone slept with their windows open and as I was in the maternity hospital, the delivery ward was the floor below me, all I could hear was babies crying and it was too hot to close the window. I cried solidly for hours and then decided to put Spotify on to dampen out the cries of newborn babies that echoed and bounced off the walls of the courtyard outside. It may as well have been knives in my chest. I finally drifted off to sleep after almost choking on my tears.

The next morning, I was awoken by a nurse at 6:30 with that dose of Cytotec, they decided to give it to me the next morning so I could sleep and wouldn’t have cramps and contractions throughout the night. The bleeding remained the same, I didn’t have the same effects as the day before and so they sent me home, there was going to be no D&C and I was to stay home and rest because I was still a hemorrhage risk.

We stopped at Mount Usher Avoca and stocked up on meals so neither of us would have to cook, we were just going to stay close together, cuddled up and mourn the loss of our child, whom we named Samuel. I was trying to avoid wine, I did have a bit but didn’t want it to be the solution to my pain. I deleted all my pregnancy apps, threw my What to Expect book up on the high shelf at the top of the wardrobe where I couldn’t see it and turned off notifications on social media from friends who were pregnant or had babies, I shut out the world for a few days.

Anger at The World

Then the Sunday came, my poor husband wanted me to get out of the house for a bit and for some fresh air, we went to IKEA for a bookcase, he wanted to keep my mind busy and give me a project to focus on. I discovered I was not ready, I was angry at the world and bitter towards pregnant women and Mothers, doing their thing, walking around IKEA, carrying on with life when my child had died.

To say I was like an antichrist was an understatement, I was getting angry (in my head) at people in my way or not walking fast enough walking around the showrooms, it was just me and it was far to early for me to be around people. I was so weak when I got home too.

It’s taken me a week to start to feel normal, I have taken the advice of a friend who miscarried last year, to let people be around you, accept the love and support they are offering and it will help you heal.

I have incredible friends and Ryan’s family have been a blessing with their support and messages of love. My own family don’t seem to talk about illnesses and keep them hushed from the rest of the family so nothing is ever spoken of or addressed. You need support to recover, by sharing pain, you unload the burden on yourself, it’s the very definition of family. My second cousin has been amazing, she’s been through miscarriage and is like a Sister to me.

I hope, that by reading this, if you are going through miscarriage, have been through it or know someone going through it. I hope that this brings comfort to you or helps you address what someone’s going through.

This is NOT an issue that should be kept hushed, it’s far too common to be a private grief. If someone doesn’t understand how common it is when they go through it, it increases the feeling of isolation and “Why me?” or “What did I do wrong?”. The truth is, it is NOT your fault when you miscarry, it’s most often a genetic issue or a chromosomal abnormality at conception, you did NOTHING to make this happen, so stop blaming yourself.

How did you get over it?

The truth is, I only found out 10 days ago, I am still struggling, I cry every single day and sob so loudly that I frighten my dog. I am struggling, I am still bleeding and probably will for another week.

We planted a Lilac tree in the front garden so it can grow with us and we can have a place to grieve when we need to. Also, this weekend, we’re taking a basket of flower petals and scattering them into the wind up at Lough Tay in the Wicklow mountains to release and remember our baby.

I also find comfort in listening to podcasts on Spotify like ‘Managing Miscarriage’, doing guided meditation, there are loads out there on YouTube and Spotify and reading other blogs from girls who’s been through it. By exposing yourself to other peoples experiences, it’ll help you feel more human and less of a self blaming mess like I was.

I’m going back to work on Monday, I have a scan on Tuesday to see if all the tissue has passed and then we must wait for my next period to come in 6-8 weeks before we can try again and we will try again.

Getting Pregnant Again/Boosting Fertility

I learned of a technique called ‘Seed Cycling’ which I had been following the time that I did get pregnant and I am convinced that it was the reason I conceived so quickly. I follow a company called MYLADYBUG on Instagram, she had mentioned it and i quickly jumped on the bandwagon. Seed cycling is a method of eating certain seeds at different stages of your cycle that promote estrogen and progesterone and make you more fertile. Seed Cycling is also known to aid PCOS (Polycyctic Ovarian Syndrome) which I have too, this can effect fertility. Here is an example of how it works.

Image: Pinterest

However, it’s important to remember that the seeds are more potent if you purchase them in whole form, not milled. You should also only grind them just before you eat them to gain it’s full effect. I just chewed them really well before I swallowed them. If you eat them whole without breaking them down, they will just be digested in their shell and won’t e of any benefit. Give it a go! You don’t have to have problems to try this, it’s like a health kick for your reproductive system.

2 Comments

  • Ana

    Hi there,

    First of all, I am very sorry for your loss. Unfortunately, I also found out about my missed miscarriage on May 31st. A week later, I am still struggling with sadness and frustration and exactly all the feelings you described on your post. Thank you for sharing your story, i did not announce the pregnancy/miscarriage to friends and family to spare them from any sadness or from worrying about me. Somehow reading your post has made me feel like I’m not alone on this and also that things will get better. At this time I’m still waiting to medically miscarry even after 2 rounds of Cytotec in the past couple of days.
    Again thank you, take care of yourself and my wish is that we both get our rainbow babies soon!
    Ana

    • Sarah Cooke-O'Neill

      Oh Ana, thank you for taking the time to write that and thank you for your kind words. I too am sincerely sorry for your own loss.

      Depending on your situation, I highly recommend sharing your burden with your close family Member’s, you can mourn together and being able to talk about what happened to you will make you feel so much better. I honestly feel that if I wasn’t able to share it with someone, I would have had a breakdown. A close friend of mine had a miscarriage last year and i was so grateful that she told me, it actually brought us closer. I urge you not to keep it to yourself Ana.

      I am still in so much pain and feel like my heart is in a vice grip but it’s definitely eased when I discuss it. I found writing this blog post helped a lot and perhaps if you write a letter to yourself or a journal, it might help you too, as a form of release.

      I am glad my post helped you not to feel alone and i am here if you ever need someone to talk to. We’ve been through it together and 25% of women that have been pregnant, it is much more common than you think.

      Mind yourself Ana, promise me!

      Kindest regards,
      Sarah

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