I went for my 12 week scan three weeks ago and found out I had a missed miscarriage. I hadn't even heard of missed miscarriages before then and have since realised that miscarriages in general aren't really talked about and are something we deal with in private. But I wish more people would talk about them. Talk about them honestly. Talk about them when they happen. Talk about how painful they are. This is my miscarriage story...
My husband and I had been trying to get pregnant for nine months (another thing people don't really discuss until they're finally pregnant) and so when we got our positive pregnancy test we were so ecstatic and relieved to finally get access to the elusive parent club. The excitement hit us immediately and our baby became a part of our lives instantly. We talked names, birthing options, maternity leave, parenting methods and more. We fully embraced our lives completely changing in July and were 100% ready and prepared for the adventure of having our own family.
We told our families and loved ones we were pregnant - it's such happy news and we couldn't keep it to ourselves. Plus, not drinking over Christmas and New Year was an obvious giveaway! I went through all the normal early pregnancy changes - sickness, unparalleled tiredness, altered sense of taste, bigger boobs etc. We went to our first midwife appointment, had all the questions, prods and tests and downloaded an app with weekly updates on how our baby was developing.
My friend had her 12 week scan three days before ours and horrifyingly discovered she'd suffered a missed miscarriage and her baby had stopped growing at 10 weeks. I felt both distraught for her loss and hugely guilty that she would have to watch my pregnancy develop whilst being constantly reminded that hers wasn't. It was the first time I'd ever heard of a missed miscarriage and thought that bleeding and cramping always happened when a baby stops developing.
Days later we were sat in the waiting room laughing about discovering we were actually having triplets or seeing an enormous baby penis and knowing we were having a boy. There were no nerves, just excitement.
We could tell the second we saw our scan that our baby hadn't developed as expected and the wave of shock, panic, sadness and loss hit hard and instantaneously. The sonographer explained that our baby wasn't taking up the space in my uterus that it should and she couldn't detect a heartbeat. A second opinion and an internal scan sadly confirmed that our baby stopped developing at seven and a half weeks.
We discussed our options at the early pregnancy clinic the following day - either wait for my miscarriage to occur naturally or have ERPC surgery (the beautiful acronym for Evacuation of Retained Products of Conception). I opted for surgery following advise to have my placenta tested to rule out a molar pregnancy.
Surgery was really surreal and I felt no physical difference leaving the hospital to when I entered. I bled very lightly with no cramping but I wanted the exact opposite. I wanted to bleed heavily, be doubled over in pain and have a hormone crash; I wanted and needed to feel the physical effects of losing my baby.
The heartbreak and grief we've felt is horrendous - I feel like our hopes, dreams and plans have been stolen from us and I'm still struggling to make sense of the whole situation. My 12 week scan was supposed to underpin our pregnancy, our excitement and our future. The shock of finding out at the scan that our baby stopped growing five weeks earlier is the cruelest thing; those extra weeks further cemented our baby in our lives and have made it harder to accept that we're no longer pregnant. I should be a third of the way through my pregnancy and now we don't know when we'll be able to start trying again.
I hate that I should have been nine weeks pregnant at my midwife 'booking' appointment but in reality my baby had already stopped developing. Why aren't we scanned at this first appointment? We were asked where we wanted to have our baby - a really important question that reinforces impending parenthood - but shouldn't this decision be made after the 12 week scan, especially when one in four pregnancies end in miscarriage?
I'm fortunate to have an amazing and supportive husband (and family and friends) and we have wiped each other's tears, calmed down fits of anger and continued to talk honestly about how we're feeling. We've also managed to retain a sense of normality and laugh together too - especially at the irony of wanting a baby but having to wear condoms!
I'm still waiting for the results of my placenta tests and for my hormones to return to normal. We've remained very aware that other people have suffered this and worse before us and have got through it and the biggest positive we can take is that our loss reinforces our want to be parents and that one way or another, naturally or through adoption, that will happen one day.