I had wanted another child for ages, but the time never seemed right. After Joshua’s birth in 1989, I chose to study and establish my career in midwifery. By the time we decided that we should try for another child, Joshua was nine years old. I was so excited and expected that I would fall pregnant easily. You can imagine the disappointment when month after month my periods occurred.
Positive pregnancy test
Ten months later the line on the pregnancy test window appeared. I did not believe it at first. I had to do the test three times before I would allow the positive result to sink in. I was bursting to tell everyone immediately, but being a whole four weeks pregnant, I tried to refrain. This lasted until I was six weeks pregnant – when I could wait no longer.
I approached my chosen midwives (and good friends) to check their availability – their excitement mirrored my own. However I had this feeling that I was not really pregnant – it was odd as I had all the symptoms, but this feeling persisted. By the time I was 12 weeks pregnant, I chided myself for being silly and started to relax. Two days later when I went to the toilet there was a honey-coloured discharge on the toilet paper. This sinking, devastating feeling descended. I tried to rationalise what I saw, but I knew something was wrong. I went to bed trying to dismiss it. I did not sleep a wink.
No heartbeat found
The next day I went to work in a daze. I saw one of my midwives and explained what had happened. She offered to try to find the baby’s heartbeat with a doppler. She tried and tried but to no avail. I justified to myself that she couldn’t find the heartbeat because it was so early in the pregnancy. I took her advice and went home and rested.
The discharge continued, I knew in my heart that the pregnancy was not to be. On the fifth day, I decided to have an ultrasound – I had to know for sure what was happening. I bumped into a fabulous obstetrician as I was waiting for the ultrasound. She said if there was any problem getting the ultrasonographer to call her. I can still remember the heightened anxiety I felt as I waited my turn for the ultrasound. The ultrasonographer took 30 seconds to do the ultrasound and she looked at me and confirmed my worse fears. She explained that there was only a gestational sac and no baby present (known as a blighted ovum).
I was numb. The obstetrician took me aside and told Frank and me our options. I could have a curette or wait for the pregnancy to end naturally. I chose the latter. The obstetrician gave me her personal contact numbers and instructed me to call if I needed to. I informed my midwives I felt supported and safe.
I was now 13 and half weeks pregnant. I went to bed that night and said to myself okay it is time to end this. I woke in the wee hours to find the bed soaked with blood and fluid. I was experiencing abdominal cramping. I got up several times through the night and passed large blood clots in the toilet. I sent Frank to work – I needed to be alone. The bleeding continued and became heavier. I started to estimate the blood loss as it seemed excessive. I was in floods of tears.
One of my midwives telephoned to see how I was – we discussed what was happening. On her advice, I contacted the obstetrician. The obstetrician confirmed that my blood loss seemed excessive and that a curette was advisable. The obstetrician organised my admission to the hospital (without going through emergency), the theatre time and a private room on a ward where I knew the midwives. I couldn’t have asked for better care. I went to the hospital around lunchtime and was home in the early evening.
After the miscarriage
The next day I felt empty. I have never cried so much in my life. Flowers arrived from my midwives – bright and cheery. I looked at them every day and drew some support. The midwives called every day to see how I was going. It was tough going but I got through it. The hardest part being when I returned to work and had to care for pregnant women and women with their babies.
We had a follow-up appointment with the obstetrician. The obstetrician debriefed us on our experience, on what she found, the impact on future pregnancies and explained that we could try for another baby when we felt we wanted to. We did not have to wait. As it had taken a while to fall pregnant, I wanted to try again as soon as possible. I took vitamins and herbal preparations and tried to prepare myself emotionally for another pregnancy.
Pregnant soon after