Fran's Story | Baby Loss Portrait Project

oman sat on a bench in the Somerset countryside, smiling into camera.

I lost a baby.

I feel like such a fraud saying that. If you ask me how far gone I was, I’ll tell you I was only eight weeks. I use the word only like it was insignificant and it didn’t really matter. Then I’ll constantly tell you how lucky I was when you compare my story to some of the horrendous ordeals some women have been through.

But I did lose a baby and it was important to me. Each new life, no matter how brief, changes the world forever.

It feels like time stands still when you’re pregnant, days feel like weeks and weeks feel like months, constantly waiting for the next milestone.

I started spotting at five weeks, which anyone will tell you is normal. But how much is normal? No one tells you that bit.

I contacted my midwife via text which is the only form of contact I’d had with her at this stage and even she agreed it was normal and basically there’s nothing anyone can do until I’m at least six weeks. If anything happens before six weeks you’re just left to get on with it and it’s not even classed as a miscarriage.

However, I was lucky (there’s that word again!) and didn’t have any further issues until I got to seven weeks and had what I classed as heavy bleeding. In the scheme of things, it wasn’t particularly heavy but seeing any blood when you are pregnant is frightening. And if one more person told me to “not get stressed because that’s not healthy for the baby!”. So I text my midwife again, explained the situation that I’d been bleeding over the weekend and I’d seen an out of hours GP but because I wasn’t in any pain and it wasn’t what was classed as ‘heavy’ nobody was concerned. The midwife did agree to get me into the EPAC centre for an early scan.

That afternoon at the EPAC centre I had a scan and all was fine everything looked as it should although the baby was measuring slightly smaller and the heartbeat was a little slow but at this early stage it’s so hard to tell as everything is so small. The amazing staff at the EPAC centre arranged to see me again in a weeks time so we could check everything was progressing as it should.

After the longest week of my life I went back for another scan to be told my baby had died and there was no longer a heartbeat.

After hearing that devastating news I had to then make a decision of how to move forward and I decided for me that  the best option was to have surgery, I didn’t want to prolong the agony any further and wait for things to happen naturally as no one could say how long this may have taken and still even at this stage I wasn’t bleeding what anyone would class as heavy.

I remember walking out of the EPAC centre and I just wanted a can of ice cold coke to help with the shock and  the headache I’d given myself from crying so much. I grabbed a bottle of diet coke (It’s impossible to get full fat coke at a hospital these days, how annoying is that?!) and headed outside and stood to have a drink. As I opened the bottle it fizzed everywhere, so I’m stood outside the hospital with my handbag on the floor, fizzy, sticky diet coke all over me and my bag, fighting through the tears to try and find a tissue to get cleaned up.

I was alone. I stupidly went to the appointment by myself expecting (and hoping) that everything would be fine. I couldn’t bear to ring anyone by now as I couldn’t talk and all I wanted to do was get out of that hospital (which involved walking past the maternity unit that I was now never going to need) and getting the car and driving home.

Two days later and the day of my surgery had arrived. I sat on my bed and had a panic attack and decided I couldn’t go through with it. I didn’t want to have to go to hospital and have an operation to remove my baby that had died inside of me. Maybe I was hopeful that it was all a dream and they got it wrong and things might be ok? I then decided I was being stupid and I really couldn’t wait for things to happen naturally and have to endure the physical pain that would come with that.

My surgery went well and the staff in the day care centre were absolutely wonderful, so caring and thoughtful about everything. Apart from the stupid generic form you have to complete before any surgery and one of the first questions asked is ‘Do you think you might be pregnant?’ I really couldn’t praise the staff and also the staff in the EPAC centre enough, how they do that job day in and day out dealing with such devastating news constantly I’ll never know.

I was home again within four hours. I ached physically but the painkillers helped. Within 48 hours I was physically healed. Mentally I was ok too, I had a couple of low days over the next few weeks but generally I was ok and back to work and moving on with life as we all have to. It wasn’t until my first period arrived a month later that I grieved, the tears started and didn’t stop for about 48 hours. There was one point I sat there and thought I don’t even know why I’m crying the tears will just not stop.

I might have only been eight weeks but in my head, I’d fast forwarded 9 months, I’d decorated the nursery, I knew which pram I wanted. I knew what date I was going to finish work for maternity leave and I know that due date and I will forever know that date and until then I still have lots of milestones to get through. About now I should have been sharing the news with the world that I was having a baby, not sharing my story about how I lost that baby.

But I am lucky, I have hope that one day soon I will have a precious baby. I have chosen to become a single mother and that means dealing with all of these bad times along with all of the amazing good times that are to come alone, but I have amazing friends and family who I know will support me through my journey.