Caroline's Story | Baby Loss Portrait Project
*This story contains a descriptive account of miscarriage*
My story is a long one sadly. Recurrent miscarriage is something you never dream that will happen to you. I never dreamt that I’d be where I am today . . .
I have a three year old daughter and I am so incredibly lucky to have her. I never thought I’d be lucky enough to have a baby of my own. I’d looked after everyone else’s children since I left school. It was all I’d ever wanted and dreamt of, but as the years went on and no sign of Mr Right, I ended up making the decision at 39 years old to have a baby on my own.
It had taken me a couple of years to actually pluck up the courage to tell anyone how desperately unhappy I was because all I wanted was to have my own baby and be a mum. I fell first time at three months shy of my 40th Birthday and the pregnancy was perfect.
When my daughter was 17 months old I really knew I wanted to give her a sibling, especially as I was a single parent. Again it took me a few months to pluck up courage to tell anyone this was what I wanted, I didn’t want to be judged. My mum, yet again said she’d support me 100%. So I started trying for a sibling for my daughter.
On my second cycle my period was late and I had the familiar nauseous feeling. I waited to test as it was what would have been my dad’s birthday and I wanted to test then. The second line was very faint and I wasn’t sure what that meant as I was late. It should be stronger? I got faint positives for a few days and then I began to spot. I never told anyone. It wasn’t until a few weeks later after I heard someone on my daughters birth board talking about ‘chemical pregnancies’ that I looked online and realised that this was what I was having as I began to bleed. I put it down to bad luck and hoped that next time I’d be lucky.
Two more cycles and I got that positive test again. I had no reason to think anything would go wrong again. I knew I was at increased risk because of my age, but as I’d lost the last baby, surely it wouldn’t happen again? Wrong! Fast forward to almost eight weeks and I had period pains. I didn’t tell anyone. The next day I had a bit of brown spotting and in my heart I just knew. I knew there was nothing that could be done, so I didn’t tell anyone. The following day my mum was asking me if I’d get a new changing bag and I just didn’t really want to talk about it as in my heart I knew I’d lost another baby. I went to the toilet and I’d started to bleed.
I told my mum and I’ll never forget her face. She wanted me to stay at hers, but I wanted to go home and be on my own. I put my daughter to bed and had a bath, then went to bed myself. It was a horrendous night with the most awful pains, I got no sleep at all. My daughter woke several times too which was tough.
I rang the midwife first thing and was told I was borderline needing a scan and they’d book me in for the next day. I tried to carry on as normal and padded myself up and took my daughter to her Halloween toddler group. One of my friends was four weeks ahead of me so I text her telling her not to mention anything pregnancy related to me as I couldn’t cope.
The next day I had my scan whilst my mum sat outside with my little girl. They said it looked like I was going to miscarry and to have my bloods done and then repeated in 48 hours. I was given no leaflets or information at all, they just sent me on my way. I then had to sit with all the visibly pregnant women waiting for a blood test whilst trying not to cry.
The following morning at 6.30am as I got up to get my little girl up, I lost my baby at eight weeks and three days, it was Halloween. I felt such a failure for my little girl. I wanted this so badly for her. I managed to even take her trick or treating for her first time that night with her older cousins. I don’t actually know how I did it? I think I was on autopilot.
I had to go back to EPAU for a repeat blood test 48 hours later. I told my mum to stay in the car as my daughter was asleep and I didn’t think it fair to wake her. I sat in EPAU trying so hard not to cry. I went in to see the nurse and she sat there cutting out all the scan pics they’d taken just 48 hours earlier! I cried and said I had lost the baby the previous morning so knew what the bloods would say. She was very unsympathetic about me even wanting another baby. I said I wanted my daughter to have a sibling especially as it was just us and she said in a very rude tone “it doesn’t matter if she’s an only child! I am and I’m fine!”. I didn’t care that she was! I wanted a sibling for my daughter and I didn’t need to feel worse!
I drove home and had to nip into the supermarket to get some bits for tea for my daughter, life goes on. Typically we bumped into my cousin and her little one. I just carried on getting my little one into her car seat and didn’t say much. I know I looked rough. Then as we got in the car I got the phone call to confirm what I knew, I’d lost the baby.
At Christmas I had the familiar signs and another positive test. This time I didn’t tell anyone as I just figured it’d go wrong again. I experienced another early loss with this pregnancy.
Then in March the day before my 43rd birthday I just had a feeling and took a test, it was positive! I felt different this time and hoped it would be a happy ending this time. I took a test every day, I was so anxious. I asked a GP if I could have an early scan and was told “no, only if you have pain or bleeding”.
At my midwife appointment I cried and asked for an early scan and said I was terrified I’d miscarry again, but was told “no” only if I had pain or bleeding. I got to nine weeks and was still testing every day. I had sore boobs, nausea and could start to feel a tiny bump. Then I went to the toilet and I’d started to spot a bit of brown. I came downstairs and said to my mum “I think I’ve ruined your plans for tomorrow as I’m loosing this baby”. I rang the midwife and was booked in for a scan the following morning.
I had the scan and was asked if I was sure of my dates as they could see a six week pregnancy. I was told they’d re-scan me in one week just incase. I knew my dates and knew I wasn’t six weeks. It also didn’t match with the date of my first positive test either. So this time it was looking like a missed miscarriage. The next day I had no more bleeding or spotting until later in the afternoon. I started getting terrible pains around 1pm. My mum called in at 3pm and at 4pm I suddenly felt a gush and was in pain. I got to my bathroom and was bleeding so heavily, I was in there for an hour. When I came downstairs to tell my mum I was miscarrying I bled through a maternity pad just by walking down the stairs.
Mum took us back to hers which was about a five minute drive, I was in pain and went through another maternity pad! I went straight into her downstairs toilet and had to push. I caught my baby in my hands. It was a clearly visible baby, I was shaking and crying in shock. This wasn’t what I’d been told at the scan. I was told it was a six week pregnancy not a 9.5 week pregnancy! I was not expecting to be able to really see anything! I was shaking and crying and called my mum. She too could clearly see the tiny baby. I said I couldn’t flush it away and needed to take them home to bury. She found me a little box to put them in.
I went and hugged my daughter, but had to go straight back to the bathroom where I passed the placenta and then another sac with a tiny baby which I’m guessing was the six week baby.
I was in shock, this was the worst thing I’d ever been through. Mum said I looked so pale and I was shaking. The bleeding really slowed and I wanted to go home to be in my own bed.
I knew I had lost too much blood but I didn’t want to be in hospital overnight.
I had a bad night with the shivers and in the morning my mum came round to help with my little one. I’d got her dressed but hadn’t yet given her any breakfast, so mum did that. She didn’t like the look of me so rang EPAU. They said they’d get a nurse to call within the hour. An hour and a half later I rang again, I explained how many pads I’d gone through in such a short space of time and was told I needed to go in as an emergency admission as I may need a transfusion.
I had to sit in a communal waiting area for almost two hours. I was so uncomfortable and just needed to lay down.
I was then taken to a room, it was a store room with a bed in it! I was examined and had to have clots removed from my cervix which wasn’t very nice and just reinforced that I’d lost my babies. I was told I was still miscarrying. I had bloods taken as they thought I may need a transfusion. I described to them exactly what I had lost and was told it did sound like two babies. I laid in the bed whilst having staff come in and out to get equipment from the cupboard. I felt completely in the way, I was then eventually moved to a proper room.
It was my daughters follow up appointment that afternoon in the hospital and I wanted to go to the children’s department for it, but I wasn’t allowed. I sent my mum down to cancel it, but the consultant tried to FaceTime me. I didn’t answer so he rang the ward phone and the receptionist bought it to me so that I could listen in on her appointment. He was such a lovely consultant and it was awful when he asked what I was in hospital for and I had to say I was having a miscarriage. He didn’t know what to say, what do you say?
I was then told by a nurse that I could go home but I couldn’t be alone and that I had open access to the ward for a week. She mouthed the words ‘bleeding’ as if it couldn’t be said! And said if my bleeding got any worse I had to go back in. I stayed at my mums and just felt so empty and alone. No one wanted this baby like I did (or as it turned out babies) and I was doing this alone. No one to completely understand how it felt, it was the worst time.
I had to have a repeat scan two days before what would have been my dating scan and on that day I received a text reminding me of my dating scan! I rang EPAU and said did I really have to go in as I really couldn’t face it but I was told they had histology back and that they needed to see me. For the first time had two sympathetic Doctors! They actually gave me leaflets on miscarriage which I hadn’t been given at any point before. They said they viewed me as having recurrent miscarriages and said what an awful time I’d had in the last nine months loosing so many pregnancies and that they should have seen me from six weeks pregnant this time. I asked about the histology and was told there was nothing to report, just that it was pregnancy tissue, such a horrible term.
Unfortunately history repeated itself with another loss at the beginning of this year.
I haven’t shared my story before and not many people even know I’ve lost a baby let alone six, but I felt I needed to have it recorded somewhere for my daughter, for when she is older so that she can see that I did try for a sibling for her.
Had I had my miscarriages in the hospital I’d have been offered a small burial service for them so that would have been a record for my daughter when she’s older. Instead I buried my babies in tiny boxes alone once my daughter was in bed. And I hope that one day when she’s an adult she will read this and know how badly I wanted this for her.
People say the most insensitive things like “well at least you have her, you’re very lucky….”, as if I need reminding how lucky I am to have her?! I never thought I’d have her and she’s my absolute world. But it doesn’t mean it’s ok that my other babies died does it? I loved and dreamt of them exactly like I did when I was pregnant with her. They all had potential to be just like her, so it’s not ok that they died just because I have her.
So why is it I haven’t shared my story before? Because we don’t do we? We are told, don’t tell anyone till you are past 12 weeks. Is that because it doesn’t matter if your baby dies, yet it does at 14, 15, 16+ weeks? The moment you get two lines everyone refers to it as a baby, even the midwife at your 8 week appointment, asking how you want to give birth to your baby? Yet as soon as you miscarry before 12 weeks it’s suddenly not a baby? I find that very sad and I really wouldn’t wish it on anyone.