Miscarriage

This week has been awful.

What started as heavy bleeding Monday morning slowed up into the evening, only to start again Tuesday morning, repeating this pattern over a couple of days. With each decrease in flow, hope creeped back in. But the next morning, around 9.30am, the cramps and bleeding started again and I was sure it was over. By Wednesday the bleeding had become more constant. I was maintaining the fertility drugs as instructed, but I really felt like they were just fighting against a decision my body had already made and were prolonging the pain. I took them nonetheless.

Hope faded with every painful cramp, and by yesterday I was sure it was over.

We’ve cried a lot.

Today was our appointment for a scan at the fertility clinic, that had been arranged on Tuesday by the Early Pregnancy Clinic (EPAC) in light of the news they wouldn’t scan us that day. On Tuesday, Friday seemed like a lifetime away. But by the time it actually came around it felt a bit after-the-event.

The benefit of having a scan at the clinic – besides the much nicer sofas and free tea – was that we were able to have a really good chat with Mr Walker, our consultant, who has looked after us since we began trying for Toby 6 years ago and who is just lovely. He was very empathetic about how hard and awful this all is. He knows us and he knows the journey we’ve been on to get here, and how that all adds to the disappointment we feel right now.

We didn’t get scanned as it was clear to us all that it was pointless. I am to stop taking the drugs to sustain my womb lining, and we will do a pregnancy test when I finish bleeding just to be 100% sure there’s nothing left in there. But he said he thought it would be negative. As do we.

We can start another cycle whenever we’re ready. The miscarriage has no bearing on our ability to conceive in the future and, reassuringly, wasn’t caused by anything I did or didn’t do. He said we’ve got a 35% chance of pregnancy with each of the 3 embryos we have left in the freezer. Then when pregnant, we’ve a 1 in 5 chance of a miscarriage. He also said not to pay too much attention to the grade of our embryos, which was reassuring as we’ve only one Aa left, and two Bbs.

I feel better after speaking with him. He was encouraging without being misleading, and empathetic without seeming disengenuine. We’re very fortunate to have such a great consultant. It was the closure we needed for this particular cycle.

In the past I have been guilty of secretly thinking that the lateness of the miscarriage was proportional to the amount of grief a couple should feel at the loss. An early-stage miscarriage was common and to be expected, so while sad, it’s not really such a big deal. Just a late period really. Obviously I’ve never said that to anyone. I’ve always been sad and comforting. But wow, I couldn’t have been more wrong.

From the moment of a positive pregnancy test, even with the most cautious of optimisms, everything changes. You immediately start to reorganise your future – when are you due? What does that mean for long-term plans? What can you no longer do (painting the house, lifting heavy things)? What will you need to do now (appointments, eating your steaks cremated)? And for us: Phew, our lives are free of the fertility schedule, we can book a holiday, we don’t need to go through that crap ever again, no more wondering if this will ever work! The relief!

It doesn’t matter if you’ve had that positive test for a day, a week, or longer. That “pregnant” penetrates your heart and changes your life. So to lose that future, that potential, those plans, that respite from fears, that life, is utterly devastating. No matter when it happens.

Another thing that hadn’t ever occurred to me is the drawn-out nature of a miscarriage. It’s not just one trip to the loo, which I think somewhere in my mind I sort of considered it to be. It’s not even one afternoon or a one-whole-day event. It’s ongoing, usually for several days or a couple of weeks. You could see me at a toddler group or a coffee shop and have no idea that I’m currently going through a miscarriage. However I’m reminded at every loo break, and in between toilet stops the cramps are there to make sure I don’t forget what I’ve lost.

So to anyone reading this who has been through a miscarriage, at any stage in their pregnancy, I want to say I’m sorry.

I’m sorry for not fully appreciating the horror you’ve been through. I’m sorry nobody talks about it. I’m sorry you’ve had to go through it. I hope you found support from those around you. I hope you talked to people and processed your grief. And if you didn’t, please please can I encourage you to do so. A private therapist could help you, most fertility clinics have specialist counsellors on hand who could help, and there are groups such as The Miscarriage Association (UK) who have resources and links on their website. What you’ve been through is awful and your emotions are valid.

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