I can only talk about half of the first part of my story, I have tried to type the first half so it makes some kind of sense but I was only 16 then and it was traumatising, so much so that I have blocked most of it out and I just remember the opposite of the relief I should have felt as a pregnant teen aged girl who was no longer pregnant but instead I just felt this empty sadness that nothing could over come, not even now as I am typing this all these years later. I was almost 10 weeks gone when Nathan died. I didn't know if he was a boy or not but that was and still is is name. I had known I was pregnant for about 2 weeks, long enough to come to terms with it all and try to work out what I was going to do. Abortion was not an option for me I had read about it in a leaflet the Doctor gave me when I tested positive. I tore it up and thought no more about it. I don't remember much of the next week or so, it was all teasing from the kids at school. I just tried to ignore it and crack on with life in between being sick and feeling like shit. I can't even remember the day that it happened, I just remember what came after and how I felt not only mentally unprepared for what was happening but no one explained how painful it would be and no one thought to tell the scared 16 year old what to expect, they just left me there, in a room with no one.
I remember the scan and them saying what I thought were meaningless words at the time, I wasn't really old enough in my own head to realise what kind of effect this would have on me. I was told to go home and rest taking paracetamol when the pain got bad. That was that then, no leaflet, no do you have any questions, no sorry for your loss, just a can we call you a taxi. I didn't have any money for one, they didn't even think to call my Foster Mum or my Social Worker so I had to walk the mile and a half home with a tear stained face almost doubled over in agony. I spent the next week locked in my room in pain and feeling confused about what had just happened and I couldn't understand why this was happening to me and why I was so upset. I was grieving, even though no one said that I would. I didn't understand much as nothing was explained to me, I was just in, and out again. Just another teen aged statistic, another number on a chart. I just felt like the nurses at the hospital thought that I deserved this because I was so young. I didn't. I just was so naive at the time that I didn't say anything and I just got on with it. It took me a long time to get over it and then just after my 18th birthday I missed another period...
The sickness began and I took a test, it was positive. I was dubious about what to expect as my last experience was something that part of me was wanting to forget and part of me would never get over. At 16 weeks I started to spot a little. I was terrified and rang the doctor straight away. He sent me for a scan at the hospital to check everything was OK. I spent the next few hours afraid of what had come before. Was it going to happen again? I had a scan and there was a heartbeat. My bleeding was just an irregular bleed and the baby was fine and dandy. K was born the following January, he was perfect in every way. I felt blessed and lucky that everything was OK this time.
In March 2003 I missed another period and did a home test. It was positive but it wasn't a happy sign. I was still only young and so I had just started to get back into life. K was going to nursery and I was at college. It seemed silly to have another baby now. Misteright and I spoke about it for a long time and came to the conclusion that abortion would be the right thing to do if I wanted to go to college and finally get my qualifications in music. I was a Full Time Mum and all of my friends were out going to parties and starting careers. We decided to go and see the doctor to book an appointment. It was for the Wednesday afternoon (funny I can remember that!) On the Tuesday evening I went to bed early with a horrible pain in my left side and I was feeling vile. I just put it down to backwards morning sickness. The Wednesday morning when I woke up I knew there was something wrong. I was in a lot of pain and bleeding quite a lot. I had worked out that I was about 6 weeks pregnant by this point. We went to the doctors with the positive home test and explained to her I thought I was losing the baby. She was not very nice to me about it, nor was she sympathetic.
I just put it down to karma, I was supposed to be booking an abortion, this was not meant to happen, suddenly I felt all out of control as MisterightMisteright and I into a room and gave me a scan, the sonographer came back with a Doctor who didn't really say much apart from if it did not pass naturally I would need an Evacuation of Retained Products of Conception. I cried when he said that. I hadn't just lost some product of conception, it was a baby, my unborn baby who I did not realise that I wanted until it was too late. Mind you I had booked an abortion when I was pregnant with K and walked out when they called my name, that probably would have happened again this time if this hadn't.
I had to stay overnight at the hospital so they could check that my hormone levels had gone down. I was lucky that they gave me a private room but no one came to check that I was OK and no one had any wise, or kind words and there was no real support. The following day when they took my bloods I was told the hormone levels had gone down and I could go home. I was told to rest and have a paracetamol or two for the pain and I suddenly felt 16 again, there were no leaflets, no "do you have any questions", no sorry for your loss, just a call to Misteright to come and take me home. Again I was not prepared for the mental anguish. I suppose I was kind of responsible for that but there was no offer of counselling or anyone to talk to, no exchange of website information or a phone number to ring. I could talk to my Misteright but he didn't understand what I was going through, he had his own feelings to deal with and a very broken and ill me. This time was a lot more painful than the last. I'm not sure why as the last time that this happened I was so much further along. It took two days of heavy bleeding and agony before it passed. I was in the bath at the time. It was not a pretty sight. I remember crying as the bath turned redder and redder. You would have thought that I had been attacked with a knife or something. After that the pain began to go and the bleeding eventually stopped. I knew I would be OK this time but it was only through experience that I knew this not from the support I SHOULD have had at the Hospital.
GPs, Early Pregnancy Assessment Unit (EPAU) and A&E staff should be trained in communication and listening skills (including things NOT to say to women who are miscarrying), and the psychological effects of miscarriage. Follow-up appointments and/or counselling for those who feel they need it should be routinely offered after miscarriage.
Access to scanning
Access to scanning facilities in the case of suspected miscarriage should be easier in cases where scanning is clinically indicated. This could mean Early Pregnancy Assessment Units (EPAUs) opening seven days a week and/or portable ultrasound and trained medical staff being available in A&E and gynaecological units. When women have miscarried at home and have experienced severe symptoms, they should be offered a scan to check that there are no ongoing complications. Where medical staff do not believe that a scan is clinically indicated, or that it would be unlikely to produce reliable results, this decision should be communicated to the patient with tact and understanding, and with a full explanation of the reasons.
Safe and appropriate places for treatment
Women undergoing miscarriage or suspected miscarriage should be separated from women having routine antenatal and postnatal care, or women terminating an unwanted pregnancy. Waiting times in confirmed as well as threatened pregnancy loss, but, in particular, for women who need surgery, should be kept to a minimum and not be spent in antenatal or labour ward settings.
Good information and effective treatment
Everyone who has a miscarriage confirmed should have the the available options explained to them. What each option involves, the amount of pain and discomfort that might be experienced, and the likely timescales for each should be explained clearly, sympathetically and honestly either by trained medical professionals or in a leaflet. Women miscarrying at home should be offered appropriate prescription pain relief. In the case of miscarriage occurring in hospital, HCPs should discuss with the parents what they wish to happen to the remains of the baby (i.e. it should not be disposed of routinely without prior consultation). Consideration should be given to renaming the surgical procedure Evacuation of Retained Products of Conception (ERPC), as many parents find this confusing and upsetting.
Community midwife teams and GPs should be informed immediately when miscarriage has occurred, and subsequent bookings and scans cancelled, to avoid women who have miscarried being chased by HCPs for 'missing' pregnancy appointments. HCPs should be mindful of a woman's previous miscarriage/s when assessing her needs during subsequent pregnancies, acknowledging any extra anxieties and dealing with them empathetically.
If you would like to help then please
- Email your MP to ask him or her to sign the Early Day Motion
- Email Andrew Lansley, secretary of state for health, to let him know that you want the government to act on miscarriage care
- Email your local paper – challenge your local hospitals and trusts to get involved
- Contact the maternity services liaison committee of your NHS Primary Care Trust
- Share this on your Facebook page, if you have one, and tweet about our campaign with hashtag #miscarriagecare
- Or if you write a blog and feel able to share your experiences then write your post and join in with the bloghop.