I WAS TAKEN completely by surprise when I looked at the pregnancy test with its positive two lines. I had just come home from working over the summer and I was planning on going back to college. My boyfriend followed me two weeks later and we were both in a little shock, but we started planning for our unplanned pregnancy.
I arranged an appointment and scan as early as I could. A couple of days before this was due, we decided to visit my folks in Dublin. On the bus back home I got very strong cramps in my belly and just as I turned my head around to tell my boyfriend, my waters broke. I was 26 years old and 17 weeks pregnant when I lost my first baby. It took about 8 hours of constant bleeding, clotting, cramping and crying through a long winter night on a ward with other pregnant women. The nurses working that night were amazing, despite seeing this happen on a ridiculously regular basis.
Dwelling on the details
I spent the days following the miscarriage reliving the most prominent moments of the experience, like having to tell the nurse that I thought I had given birth into the toilet bowl, and her having to check. The Sonographer telling me the next morning that we should be seeing the baby on the screen and then announcing ‘No, there’s nothing there’. My surprise at seeing pregnant women pulling on cigarettes in a smoking room inside the hospital and thinking how unfair it was.
The following months resulted in me leaving my home, my boyfriend and my college course to move back to Dublin to sort myself out and try to deal with my loss. I struggled with my guilt and grief and thought that I needed to be by myself to do this, but I actually needed to talk to someone.
At this stage I didn’t know anyone else who had lost a baby and my own friends were having children of their own so I didn’t really feel that comfortable chatting to them in their time of happiness. They were very supportive of me but it was independent help that I needed.
Feeling sad, alone and depressed
I’m pretty sure you could say that I was suffering from depression although I didn’t know it at the time – I felt sad, alone and down. It wasn’t until I suffered two more miscarriages that I finally went to a meeting with the Miscarriage Association of Ireland and got some independent help.
My second and third miscarriages happened quite close together – and were completely different to the first. I was 8 weeks pregnant on baby number two when I went for a scan. Immediately the sonographer said that there was a problem, called in a doctor to review and I was told that the baby had no heartbeat. It’s so hard to hear those words. This time, unlike the first, I had to stay in hospital for a D&C. I don’t think I’ve ever been as scared as I was on the way into the operating room. The nurse sat me down and let me have a cry for myself and for my second baby.
My last loss was a little more complicated. I felt unwell so I went into the hospital for bloods. They sent me home with the promise to call with blood results and about an hour later, I got a call telling me to come straight into the A&E as they thought I had an ectopic pregnancy. Another scan showed that it was a small fibroid hiding in the womb lining and the foetus was nestled in the womb.
There is always a tinge of sadness
As this was so early in the pregnancy, around 4 weeks, it was impossible to hear the heart beat yet so for the next 3 weeks I was in and out of the scan room in hospital getting checked for the growth and beat of the baby. There was never any strong positivity about this pregnancy and I guess that because of my past two experiences, I was unbelievably nervous and expecting the worst from the beginning. I was in bed one evening after a scan and woke to heavy bleeding. This time there was no need to rush into the hospital as I had a complete miscarriage in my bathroom. This was confirmed in hospital later on in the day.
It was a few months after this miscarriage that I decided I had to go to a group meeting in Dublin. I was sad, frustrated, guilty, tired and felt alone. This meeting was the beginning of my turnaround. Slowly, over much time, I got to where I am now – happy, healthy and helping with the Miscarriage Association of Ireland.
I’m currently in the middle of investigations for recurrent miscarriages and I don’t have any children to date. I’m 39 now and it’s been a long road since my first miscarriage 12 years ago. Over the last 12 years, whenever friends or family announce a new arrival or pregnancy, my overwhelming feelings are pure excitement and happiness for them but there is always a tinge of sadness at the thought of my kids that never got here.
This article was written by a woman who wishes to remain anonymous. If you have had a miscarriage and would like support please visit The Miscarriage Association of Ireland.