What do you do when you go to your 12-week scan and find out your baby died three weeks ago?
I hope you never, ever have to experience what we went through yesterday.
The pause when the sonographer sees the foetus. The pressing down harder.
The questions: have you had any cramping or bleeding? Where did you have your eight-week scan?
The look on my husband’s face, getting more and more fearful.
At first, when the sonographer found the baby, it looked fine. It was much bigger on the screen than when we had our eight-week scan, so at first glance I was relieved.
But you could see there was no heartbeat within seconds. I kept looking at it, willing it, hoping it was just a funny angle or a dodgy probe.
“I’m so sorry, Caroline…,” she said.
I could feel my heart beating out of my chest as the sonographer went to get a second opinion. My husband was crumbling next to me. And I just thought: of course this is happening to us.
At 12 weeks, you have about a 98% chance of everything being OK at your scan. That means, somehow, we managed to beat all the odds and be one of those 2% where it isn’t.
What are the chances of that? We have three IVFs, five fresh transfers, one finally takes, and then – just when you are about to breathe a heavy sigh of relief, which you really deserve because you’ve already been to hell and back – your whole world crumbles.
We got the second opinion. No heartbeat confirmed. “I’ll get the doctor to discuss next steps,” she said as she left us alone.
I still hadn’t cried at this point. My poor husband was in bits. It took me maybe 10 minutes, and then I joined in.
We waited almost half an hour for the doctor, who explained these next steps:
- let the miscarriage happen naturally
- take some tablets and let the miscarriage happen
- have an operation to ‘evacuate’ the pregnancy.
‘Miscarriage’. I remember looking at the leaflets he’d brought with him and thinking: half an hour ago I was about to see my 12-week old baby for the first time. Now I’m looking at a leaflet on f**king miscarriage.
It was clear that 3) was the preferred option as apparently I was too far gone for them to be comfortable with me doing option 2) at home; and option 1) had clearly not happened.
So this is what a missed miscarriage is, then?
With option 3) chosen (it seemed the only option, to be honest) off the doctor went to find me the next available ‘slot’.
We waited another half an hour until my husband got up and went to find a nurse to say we weren’t prepared to wait any longer.
We’d been waiting in the room over an hour at this point, the empty black image on the scanning monitor staring blankly at us. And all I kept visualising was that image of my still, silent, sleeping baby. That impression in my mind’s eye will never leave me.
Finally the doctor came back. We had to come the next day at 12 noon to fill in paperwork and have a blood test. The actual procedure was booked for Monday morning.
A whole new reality
And then we left, wet faced, shocked, ashen, numb, broken, both of us. I can’t remember the journey home, except that it seemed much longer on the way back as it had going, when I was filled with anticipation, nerves and excitement.
What did we do for the rest of the day? Sat in bed and cried – both of us. I texted my mom – I couldn’t speak to her – and my husband called his. I texted some friends who knew about the scan. And I worked – I actually did some work while my husband spent three hours googling about miscarriage.
My mom called me about 5pm, having just seen my text. What an awful text to receive, I know. She was really upset, and my mom doesn’t really do upset, so that was doubly sad. She said she was in shock and never in a million years did she expect this to happen. Me neither, I said.
And honestly, I never did. Once the eight-week scan confirmed the baby was the right size and had a strong heartbeat, I relaxed. Sure, my symptoms seemed to start disappearing at 10-weeks, but I’d googled it and loads of people said the same.
It’s just the placenta taking over, I said to myself. There’s no way we’d be unlucky at this point. I mean, I’d started telling people, I was that confident.
Ugh, I just keep thinking of all the bloody people I’ve told, and it breaks my heart. How arrogant for me to think this was our time to be happy.
That evening we spent about an hour trying to decide what to eat. In the end we went to Tesco, bought pizza and salad, a bottle of wine for me and a few beers for him.
I’ve not really drunk since February, and here I was, getting pissed on Sauvignon Blanc while watching crap Friday-night TV like the good old days. The alcohol was medicinal, and I felt calm and numb, which was just what I needed.
I finally got to bed about 11pm. Bearing in mind I’ve been in bed asleep most nights at 9:30pm, it’s like a switch has gone in my head. I’m no longer tired, I’m not even that bloated (although I’ve definitely got a fat belly) and I’m no longer pregnant.
What a waste and energy the last three months have been.
And then what?
So what next, eh? Back to square one for us we go, all the way down the snakes and ladders.
Prague for our remaining four embryos? Not only is a managed miscarriage completely new to me, but so is FET – looks like I’m getting the full IVF/infertility gamut of experiences after all!
Or what about a fresh cycle again, bank some embryos while I’m 37 and relatively young? Because the doctor did say yesterday that, when you’re ‘of advanced maternal years, the chances of chromosomal abnormalities increases’…
Basically saying that it’s my eggs that are to blame for this.
Well, thanks a lot doc, but what about my husband’s shite sperm?
Anyway, it doesn’t matter whose ‘fault’ it is. It just is what it is. Beyond unfair, and ‘bad luck’.
But first we need to get through Monday.
Today, Saturday, we went to the hospital for my blood test and consent forms. It was like deja vu, being back there again, not even 24-hours having passed.
We’ve both said if I ever get pregnant again, we’ll go to a different hospital. What awful memories we now have of Frimley Park, and the worst memories are still yet to come.
The calm before the storm
So now we just have Saturday night and Sunday to get through, before I have yet another ‘procedure’ and yet another sodding general anaesthetic. I thought I’d done with those for a while!
What a load of f**king b*llocks this IVF/infertility nightmare is. It is literally scooping out my soul and squeezing out every last drop of my essence until all that’s left is an empty shell of the person I used to be.
I wouldn’t wish what I’m going through on my worst energy.