During the past 11 years working as a reflexologist in Leicestershire, I have prided myself on providing a confidential space for clients to unwind, talk, cry and relax – to release any tension that life events may bring their way. To allow them the space to just ‘be’.
Recently I had the privilege of supporting a client after they had experienced a miscarriage. My client, even through her own grief, suffering and loss, felt determined she wanted to raise awareness about miscarriage, and get people talking more openly about it. It sadly is an area that isn’t talked about a great deal, which can leave a woman and her partner feeling alone, vulnerable or unsure about what should be happening – and what feelings are normal at this time. She wanted to share her story, with the aim of helping other couples going through this journey – and for those who aren’t – to try and understand the pain it causes.
Thank you ‘T’ for sharing your story to help, support and inform others.
We’d planned the pregnancy – well I had! On receipt of a summer wedding invitation months before, the first thing I did was check my diary to see when I’d be ovulating. A few days after the wedding – perfect! A day for us to let our hair down and spend some time making a baby.
I suspected we’d hit jackpot those few days later when my boobs started to hurt. A few days more and they looked different, it was a dead cert. Not able to wait any longer, a test days before I was due confirmed it for me and I spent the next few weeks delighting in our little secret before the inevitable morning sickness hit.
And it hit – at first just the queasy feeling and the food aversions now and then, but within days of week five I couldn’t go two hours without eating. How colleagues had not suspected I don’t know, but I literally survived on a constant intake of beige carbs!
The morning sickness kept taking over, as I thought it would given my experience with our little girl who’s now three. But this time it was different, I felt depressed too. I started to question whether I could do this, whether I wanted it. How would it impact my relationship with our daughter? Could we really pull off 2 kids with our hectic work lives? The sharing of our news with our close ones got me through and on occasion I’d also open up to other friends and colleagues. I was confident after all. I’d done this before, knew the drill so what was to hide…..I even said “if the worst happens I’d tell people anyway”….I should play the lottery, I’d clearly pick the winning numbers!
Just as the black cloud of feeling constantly sick and crazy tired got me at my worst, it all changed. At 8 weeks, the feeling like I’d been hit with a tranquiliser dart lifted. I no longer felt like the blood cursing in my veins was made of glue. It came up in conversation with friends – “it happens” I heard, “no two pregnancies are the same”, the midwife even said “enjoy it”. Yes I thought, just keep going, surely everything is fine, stop worrying.
Then, one night I couldn’t sleep. My back and tummy felt off and paracetamol didn’t help. Red flag, but no red blood. Hmmm. The next day all was fine again but something inside of me spoke to me and I booked a private scan for that evening.
My husband waited in the car with our daughter. It was late and she didn’t need to be tearing up the place! After all, he was only bringing me here to reassure me everything was fine, or so he thought. Before I’d gone in, I’d sat in the waiting room filling out my details and ticking “0” for the number of photos of my baby I’d wanted – I just knew. Forty-five minutes later I called him to come in. “I’m sorry I can’t find a heartbeat on this baby”, at least I wasn’t going mad I’d said.
She was a good size, 7w6d. Timing that I quickly calculated as coinciding with my drop in symptoms. I took three photos home that the lovely (but clearly gutted) sonographer had handed me and we paid the £60 for the worst news ever.
I was booked in to the Early Pregnancy Unit for the following day. “I’m sorry we can’t find a heartbeat”. Crikey, I didn’t need to hear it again!
We were put in a room, one of those rooms you see on TV when people are given bad news. The obligatory box of tissues were just that – there wasn’t anything that could dry these tears! My three options were to let it happen (the natural route), tablets to make it happen quickly or a surgical procedure where I’d need to be put under. I was scared of anything other than my own body doing its own thing. So off we went, stopping off for dinner on the way home, just the two of us (or still 3? I’m not sure). It was a nice lunch and we enjoyed some us time for the first time in a while. The Hospital had informed me I’d bleed a lot, there’d be clots and some cramps and so off we went to wait.
We kept waiting, but nothing and so I went back to work. Despite being encouraged to take some time, what could I do? I was no good wallowing at home and my workload would only pile up or derail without me. At least I could do something there. A week went by and we then went away for the weekend to get away for a bit – something I’d booked the morning after finding out as I woke crying.
“When will you try again” said some. Jeez, let me bleed this one first, please! “You can try again”….I wanted that one.
The weekend came and went and the bleeding began on the Monday, 10 days after finding out. Just blood for a start. I carried on working, but by the early hours of Wednesday morning it had started. And when I say “it”, I mean a mini-labour. And just like full-blown labour, it seems the 4 mile walk I’d been on the night before had kick started my body into action!
Had I not had a baby before, I’m sure I’d of phoned an ambulance. The contractions were excruciating, but rather than all over my tummy and back, they were more localised deep into my stomach. “It’ll be over today” said a kind friend of mine who’d been through this before, and, funnily enough was now pregnant with her second and due around the same time as I was expecting to be. The supportive texts kept me going, but at moments I was on all fours and close to screaming. And then it stopped and I slept. But I’d not passed anything. I’d bled heavily, but I’d not seen anything remarkably like pregnancy tissue – not that I really knew what I was looking for.
The next day I kissed my husband goodbye as he went to run an errand before he’d be back to take our daughter to nursery. I’ll be ok I’d said, I felt fine – how silly. Within 20 minutes I was crawling the walls. Ibuprofen and co-codamol didn’t touch it. My sister-in-law arrived, shocked and helpless as to what to do. Then, within 90 minutes of lots of blood and some small clots, it had stopped again and I could rest.
The next two days were spent wondering whether I’d just not seen the pregnancy tissue and she’d gone down the toilet without me knowing. But my friend who’d been through it was clear about what I should be seeing – tissue as big as the palm as my hand. Yes, even an 8 week old pregnancy is that big.
Out of the blue, I invited a mum of one of my daughter’s nursery friends round on the Saturday. My little girl was bored and needed company, but I’d not dare take her out on my own in case it all started again. My friend reminded me her mum was a midwife, I could speak to her! A few hours later, following a chat with my friends midwife mum I found myself waiting in A&E on her advice, then waiting in the Gynaecology unit. What a fun Saturday night! 3 hours of waiting and I hit a wall. I can’t do this, I’ve not passed the pregnancy tissue, but I don’t want surgery and I don’t want medication….I have no options. I broke down and the tears couldn’t stop. I wanted to go and get drunk and forget everything. Two weeks worth of limbo came crashing at my door and I wanted out of this world right now!
But then we were seen by an Angel in the Gynaecology unit. She listened and she must have just knew. She got me on the bed and sorted the specula. “Take some coughs”. I did, but I was confused? Why? Is it nearly over? This hurts! “Cough again” she said, “what you’ve been waiting for is nearly here”. My husband held my hand and I coughed, cried and wailed. I knew what was happening – she was coming out.
After it was done, I sat up and we inspected her – not that we could see her – she was snug inside a sac the size of a small candle lightbulb. I cried with relief, grief, sadness and more relief. She had gotten stuck in my cervix! Unbelievable. It was, in the deepest moments of grief, a miracle. She had passed now, but in the dignified way I’d wanted. No nasty meds mucking my system up and no going under for her to be sucked out and ruined for me to never see.
We brought her home and the next day we bought a tree for her memorial. She’s buried with the potted tree and we named her Blossom.
Of course I don’t know she was a she, but I’d had that feeling and so I went with it. And that’s my lesson really. I knew when she was there and I knew when her heart no longer beat. I also knew when her body was still in mine – I even sat holding the scan photos close to the end asking her to let go. My body is powerful and tells me things all the time, but I often choose not to listen or to listen to other people instead.
Despite the deepest sadness in my heart, there are so many positives to come from this experience. The closeness with my husband is certainly one. Who knew we loved trips to hospitals together! Whilst we waited for things to happen, we often sat and talked about it. We talked about the experiences of others who had opened up to each of us after we’d shared our sadness with them too.
Did I feel lonely through all of this? Not really, and I’ll tell you why – I opened up. I’m an open book anyway, can’t keep an emotion off my face and have never been able to. And that did me a massive favour – opening up to colleagues, friends and family meant my burden was lightened and I, we, weren’t alone. Some of my closest friends cried with me and I can’t tell you what that means. What a gift it is for someone to cry with you about your pain. Sometimes friends would unintentionally say something a bit cold, but not everyone can understand and it really does feel like something you have to go through to truly understand. I also realised that not everyone counts that little life with all its potential as a baby.
What struck me about being open though was that so many shared their own stories of baby loss with me. It was clear these individuals had never gotten the chance to tell me, or perhaps even not many others before, and that made me so sad that they’d carried it around with them like a heavy dark secret. It made me pleased I’d shared with them as it was a chance to heal a little of their hurt too. We were part of a club now – a club that has many members all walking around thinking they’re on their own.
One of the most remarkable and poignant things of this experience has been the kind words other men have shared with my husband. Men who’ve gone through it with their partners, had witnessed the physical pain and all it gruesomeness and had grieved too. If you’d of asked me before how men behave and react about miscarriage I’d have probably seriously responded to say that there wouldn’t be much of a response! Silly me – what a stereotype society has constructed around men, grief and miscarriage too!
And so that’s my story. Baby No.2. Baby Blossom. Forever a “who should have been”. Will I try again? Yes! The longing to grow our family is strong. But regardless, her 12th May due date will be marked in my mental calendar next year and every year thereafter, whether we go on to grow another baby or not.
If you have suffered a miscarriage, always consult with your GP if you have any concerns about your health and well-being.
You may also find these resources helpful at this time: