I wrote the below back in August last year when things were still fresh in my mind. At the time I looked for similar accounts of miscarriage but the majority of posts I found were of missed miscarriages and very different to my own experience. Miscarriage isn’t always openly talked about and I haven’t been ready to share my experience until now. Next week would have been the due date for our first miscarriage.
We lost one unconfirmed pregnancy in May. It was only a few weeks into the pregnancy but things hadn’t felt right from early on. I gained that familiar metallic taste in my mouth, just like I had when pregnant with Oscar. But my tummy was also incredibly tender and I experienced bad cramps from as early as week 3.I knew early on that something wasn’t right and when I came downstairs to use the toilet one morning to discover bright red blood in my underwear my immediate reaction was to shield Oscar as a two year old from the view. Dan quickly made it down the stairs and removed him from the bathroom.
Unsure of what to do I booked a doctor’s appointment and was seen later that morning. After being made to repeat the running order of that morning several times I was then asked to go through to the attached pharmacy and buy a pregnancy test then go back through to see the doctor. When I explained that I hadn’t brought along any money with me, not realising I’d need money during my appointment I was told to go home from the doctors to collect my purse, then walk to the shops to buy a test and then call back with the result and the doctor would let me know what to do next.
Embarrassed and a little angry to be honest. I made my way to ASDA. On taking the test I rang the doctor back, but he never returned my call. The whole experience made me feel silly and like I’d wasted everybody’s time; my time, the doctors time, Dan’s time as he’d taken the morning off work to watch Oscar so that I could attend the appointment alone without a toddler in tow.
I quietly waited out the next six days of heavy bleeding and took a week away from running, although running was all I really wanted to do. The loss fell right in the middle of my busiest period of exam moderation so I didn’t have too much time to dwell on what had happened.
Dan and I discussed things and, knowing that we still wanted to give Oscar a younger sibling we tried again, falling pregnant for a third time the following month.
I definitely felt more pregnant this time round. My boobs quickly grew and I felt nauseous from early on. Although nervous about assuming anything I started to feel a little more relaxed by week 6 and by the 8th week Dan and I were discussing where Oscar would go if the birth was not a planned Caesarean this time round and we looked at options for taking maternity leave from my many jobs.
I had my booking in appointment with the midwife just before eight weeks. Although she said she wouldn’t normally have seen me until the following week she made an exception as she didn’t have any further appointments until a number of weeks later. I felt relieved following my booking in appointment. At least I was in the system now. I wouldn’t have to deal with the rest of my pregnancy journey alone and in the dark about any problems.
There were a few local runners having just announced pregnancies at the time. I was eager to share my news as they were only a few weeks further than I was, but at the same time I wanted to wait until the security of having seen the baby on the scan.
With Oscar I had innocently never thought about the chance of anything going wrong. But, even then at my first scan date I found myself holding my breath until he appeared, super wiggly on the ultrasound.
It didn’t take long for this scan date to arrive in the post. 22nd August, my Dad’s birthday. The baby was due on my Mum’s birthday at the end of Winter the following year. Having lost my Mum the previous Winter I felt that these were signs that things were meant to be.
But evidently that wasn’t the case.
The following Sunday I had a bad pain in my side. Almost like a constant stitch in my left side. I hadn’t been particularly active that day. I’d spent the morning marshaling at my club’s annual race and then I’d worked from home at the computer in the afternoon. By evening all I could do was lie on the bed. On a Sunday evening I usually try and sleep for a few hours before working a night shift but I was too worried about the baby to be able to sleep much at all. By the time I came to leave for work I was feeling a bit better and managed to blag an easy aisle at the supermarket I was stacking shelves in. The pain disappeared completely as the shift went on.
The following day I went on a long walk with Oscar, a friend and her toddler, all at toddler pace. I felt a couple of twinges but never for longer then a split second so assumed things were OK and perhaps Dan was right, I had just done too much at the weekend.
On Tuesday morning I woke to find what appeared to be a small 5p size drop of blood in my underwear and when wiping, the tissue came back with a small amount of more browny-coloured blood. I had been wearing black underwear so it was difficult to assess the colour of the blood I’d lost overnight. Unsure of who to call, I rang the number for the delivery suite at Kettering hospital which I found on the front of my pregnancy pack. It wasn’t the number I was supposed to call but the lady I spoke to was very helpful. It was now 7am. She advised waiting until 8am and then booking an emergency appointment at the doctors, heading to A&E if I began to bleed heavily or feel ill in the meantime.
I rang at 8am and managed to get an appointment an hour later. Dan agreed to drop Oscar and I off at the doctors on his way to work so that I didn’t have to worry about wrestling a toddler along the correct path if I began to feel more poorly. It meant I arrived about 40 minutes early for my appointment (and we had to wait a further half hour as the doctor was running late) but at least we were there on time. Oscar was a real star considering how long we had to wait. At one point he loudly announced to the whole waiting room that he needed to go for a poo which one man in particular found quite entertaining!
The doctor asked me some questions but didn’t seem overly concerned with the amount of blood I had lost. He said that although there was a very small chance that I might miscarry, he was pretty confident on this occasion that I was just experiencing a Threatened Miscarriage and would go on to have a successful pregnancy. The worry must not have faded from my face though as he said he would book me in for a reassurance ultrasound scan if I liked. I quickly agreed, and after another short wait in the waiting room the receptionist handed me an envelope containing details of a scan at the Early Pregnancy Unit on Thursday.
The walk back home was a weird one. I bumped into a number of people I knew, putting on a big smile for them all. I was relieved to have the scan to look forward to on Thursday morning. Perhaps I’d finally be able to relax once I’d seen the baby up on the screen.
I had a fairly quiet afternoon with Oscar – painting and reading. At about 3pm when I went to the toilet I passed a small mass along with a couple of drops of blood. At the time I assumed that it was a small clot that had been inside me and as it had passed with very minimal blood I assumed that perhaps maybe now that it had passed my pregnancy would go on as normal. I felt almost relieved, certain that must be what was happening. Later on I now wonder if perhaps this was my mucus plug?
There had been no more blood and this filled me with hope. I just had to get through to Thursday morning and I would be able to see the baby on the screen. Even though I knew that if I was going to miscarry I would still miscarry but at least I would be able to see my baby first.
The hope was short lived. My tummy began to ache after tea and when I popped to the toilet before bed a little before 10pm I was met with blood.
A first day of period amount of blood but still enough blood that I knew I was losing the baby.
All I could do was try and go to sleep. Dan tried to put his arm around me but it was too painful across my tummy. I didn’t get a lot of sleep that night. In the early hours of the morning I group messaged my Mum friends to tell them I was miscarrying. I told them I still needed to come to group that morning as I would struggle to keep Oscar amused all day long alone in the pain I was in. I asked them to not talk to me about the miscarriage when they saw me as I really didn’t want Oscar to see me upset and I wasn’t ready to talk about it.
I have been so lucky with the Mum friends I have made in my hometown. We all parent in a similar way and despite sending the message at 5am that morning, it took just a few minutes before one of the other Mums offered to take Oscar for the morning so that I could rest. I appreciated that offer so, so much. I was in so much pain and knew I would struggle to stay upbeat for Oscar or to stop him from walking in on me in the bathroom if the bleeding got worse.
Jodie arrived at 9:30 and between us we managed to get Oscar’s car seat in to her car. Luckily Oscar was super excited to be visiting his best friend and was so helpful in getting his shoes on ready for the journey. Jodie took one look at me and took charge, which was exactly what I needed at that point. I couldn’t really talk without breaking. I didn’t want to leave Oscar for the day but knew it would be best for us both and give me a chance to rest.
I sat uncomfortably perched on the sofa unsure of what to do with my childfree time initially. I finished off a couple of small freelance work projects but couldn’t really concentrate to complete anything detailed. Eventually I poured myself a bit of cereal and set up The Hunger Games on the TV. Something easy going, that I knew well, but that would hold my attention enough to take my mind off of the worst that was happening.
Whenever I went to the toilet I was passing large clots. It was uncomfortable and I felt constantly disgusting and dirty. I took a bath which seemed to ease the pain and for a brief few minutes I managed to feel clean again. It didn’t last though.
Dan’s Dad was due to visit that afternoon. He hadn’t seen Oscar for a few months and was working in the area so was planning to drop by on his way home to see Oscar. By lunchtime I had begun to get restless. I couldn’t keep still. I was getting bad cramping pains every few minutes and it felt better moving through them than it did lying on the sofa watching a film. I rang Dan and let him know that although I had assured him that morning that I would be able to fake feeling OK for when his Dad visited later in the day, I no longer felt like I would be able to do this. Dan advised I call the doctor, who told me to head straight to A&E. Luckily Dan had already spoken to his boss about the pregnancy in order to get the morning off for the dating scan and was able to leave work to pick me up. Once again, I was so thankful to Jodie for keeping hold of Oscar as we wouldn’t have been allowed to have him in certain areas of the hospital.
A&E was the busiest I have seen it when we arrived mid-afternoon. By now the severe cramping pains were regular and more frequent. I realised that they were contractions and would find myself holding my breath to get through them. I still needed to pace around but my body was tiring by this point.
Despite now almost being certain that we had lost the baby there was some comfort in knowing that I was at least in hospital and would be seen by a professional in the very near future.
We had a very long wait though. Other than checking in and having a blood test taken I wasn’t seen until nearly four hours later. The initial concern by the doctors was that I was losing too much blood and it amuses me that the first thing they did when I arrived in A&E was to take more blood from me! Same thing happened after having my Caesarean with Oscar – I had been just below the level required for a blood transfusion and as soon as I came round from my operation they stuck a needle in my arm to collect more blood! (There was blood everywhere at this point!)
When I was seen it was by a lovely doctor though. She was similar in age to me and very easy to talk to. She took my background and then said that she would need to examine me and find out if my cervix was open which would involve an internal examination. I agreed and she left me a large sheet of medical paper to lay over my bottom half on the examination table, instructing me to remove my leggings and pants and to roll my dress up while she stepped out of the room. By the time she had stepped back in I had already bled through the paper I was laying on. The examination was rough and terrifying as I couldn’t really tell what was going on as it happened, unlike with an ultrasound where you can see the screen next to your head. A nurse had accompanied the doctor with the examination and as she left the doctor sat down with us and told me that my cervix was still closed, that this didn’t mean necessarily that I was having a miscarriage, although this was likely due to the amount of blood I had lost. She left the room so that I could get redressed and as I stood blood poured all over the floor and I realised that the table was covered in blood also. I didn’t like the not knowing. I’d come in believing that I was miscarrying but I now had doubt in my mind. Although surely there couldn’t still be a baby inside me with the amount of blood I had lost? The doctor returned and said that I would need to book in for an ultrasound the following morning. I told her that I had already been given an appointment via my doctor the day before. I was then offered the opportunity to stay overnight but I really wanted to return home and see Oscar.
That night I wasn’t very comfortable. It was impossible to get comfortable. I felt like I needed to shower constantly, and as Oscar hadn’t seen me all day, he wanted me to sleep with him that evening. Lying on the floor in his bedroom pretending not to be in pain until he fell asleep was almost an impossible task, but I got through it. My contractions had pretty much finished by this point, but I was still bleeding really heavily, so much so that when I slept through a couple of hours straight at one point because I was just so exhausted I ended up bleeding through onto the bedding.
When I woke I unsteadily managed to make it down the stairs for breakfast carrying Oscar on my hip. I felt dizzy from the blood loss and lack of sleep. I didn’t feel like eating but knew I’d have to get something inside me to make it through the day. I cautiously drove myself to Kettering hospital for my pre-booked ultrasound scan. The last time I’d been up on this ward had been for my pre-op the day before my Caesarean when I had Oscar. Things felt very different this time. I worried about sitting alone in a waiting room full of pregnant ladies, but luckily as soon as I arrived I was segregated into my own waiting area. I’d brought along a book for the waiting area to try and take my mind off the constant pain and worry. The Hunger Games, having watched the film during the worst of my contractions the day before. This trilogy will forever remind me of miscarriage now.
I didn’t have to wait too long before being called in and once again had to remove my lower clothing before laying on the table. I warned the lady that I had been bleeding so heavily the day before that blood had been pouring off the table around me. Again, she was very lovely and pointed out that it was a hospital, hospitals saw a lot of blood – I wasn’t to worry about a bit of blood.
She turned the screen on from the beginning of the scan and I knew fairly early on that there was no longer a baby. Even for someone not trained in what they’re looking for, I would have been able to spot a baby showing on the scan at 10 weeks. I almost felt relieved. I know that probably sounds silly, but to have bled that heavily and have been told that I may still be carrying a baby the night before? I’m sure that wouldn’t have worked out well for me or the baby.
I was given a full internal examination and told that from the amount of lining showing on the scan I could expect to still bleed heavily for at least a week and for a further couple of weeks in total. I was handed the standard Miscarriage leaflet and told to return to hospital the following morning to have bloods taken. The hospital needed to check the level of pregnancy hormones in my blood, with a follow up blood test at a later date to ensure that my body had fully rejected the pregnancy and that there were no further complications.
Somehow I got through the rest of Thursday. My friend Emily had looked after Oscar for me whilst I had driven to hospital. She had taken him out for lunch with her two children and then to the park where I met her and my other Mum friends on my way back from hospital. I am lucky that Oscar is so well behaved and the communication between us is so good. He was very patient with me as I struggled to lift him into his car seat and buckle his seat belt up. Then he chatted to me the whole way home. It was just what I needed. Dan had worked from home for the morning so that I had been able to drive into hospital, so I needed to get back quickly to return our shared car so that he could get into the office.
The bloods I needed to have taken the following morning could luckily be taken at the Blood Clinic in Irthlingborough, just a few miles up the road from me. The Blood Clinic is just a drop in centre so I would be seen whatever time of day I arrived. Making my way there though was challenging. This was during the time that Dan and I had gone down to just one car between us so I would have to travel there by bus…with a potty training two year old in tow…whilst still bleeding heavily. What is a four mile drive in a car took Oscar and I more than three hours to travel. There wasn’t a direct bus, so we also had a long walk at the end of our journey and by this point he was tired, so I ended up carrying him. I was exhausted and feeling so poorly by the time my bloods were taken. I really did not look forward to navigating the journey back home again.
The following day (by now Saturday) I was booked onto my one day Leader in Running Fitness course. I had been booked on to it for a while and been really looking forward to being able to take groups out from running club in the near future. I didn’t intend on missing it.
As I arrived though, and had to take myself straight to the toilet I realised I would struggle, particularly throughout the practical sessions. The first piece of paperwork we had to fill out asked the question ‘Do you have any injury or illness that the tutors need to be aware of, that limit your participation in the practical activities?’ So I used the form to inform them of my miscarriage.
The leaders were very good and as lots of the course required us to act as group runners for other leaders to practice their coaching I was given lots of other suggestions for ways to join in that didn’t require too much standing up at one time. At one point another trainee coach asked me why I wasn’t joining in with the practical elements. I found myself saying I’d just had a miscarriage. I guess I thought there was no point in trying to fake an injury and then dodging suggestions for modifications to the moves.
Life went on and didn’t low down. That night I worked a night shift – I had to tell my manager that I’d had a miscarriage so that I wasn’t expected to pull cages off the lorry, but struggled to tell him that it had been a miscarriage without choking up, which I hadn’t expected as I’d been able to tell complete strangers what had happened whilst on the course earlier that day.
Two days after the miscarriage in May I had experienced the worst migraines (annoyingly it had coincided with a family wedding which I was in pain for and felt bloated throughout). I had the same again after the second miscarriage. Once again we had a wedding to attend the following weekend, although having been 10 weeks pregnant by this point I no longer fit comfortably into any dresses I usually reserve for wedding wear. I had intended on wearing a maternity dress, but this now felt wrong and I didn’t want anyone to notice and ask questions. I ended up borrowing a size 16 dress from a friend (I’m usually a size 12) and consuming more alcohol than I perhaps usually would. A few people sat on our table made comments about Oscar being at the right age to start thinking about a younger sibling, but we managed to laugh the comments off awkwardly each time.
When something is wrong in my life I like to be able to head out for a run and just mooch things over in my head, but my core felt so sore after the miscarriage I ended up taking three complete weeks off from running. Things were so busy with work and day-to-day life that before I knew it we were hurtling towards our parkrun start date and Christmas and every spare moment I had was spent desperately trying to juggle things round to fit in more sleep.
It took a good two-three months before I felt back to my pre-pregnancy self again and didn’t feel like I had to hide my swollen stomach for fear that somebody would comment.
This year? After so many rubbish months in 2019 I needed a focus for 2020 and so I have booked in to run Autumn 100 in October. It’s nice having a goal to work towards again. I’m really enjoying having a focus. I’ve also begun working part time in an office at a race company and parkrun is definitely filling my time too. Something I’m aware I haven’t written about but really need to mention more on here as getting a parkrun up and running in the area has been on my to-do-list for the longest time.