We're no strangers to loss. We lost our first born to SUDC when he was only 22 months old. We were lucky enough to have our second a mere 9 months after that horrific day. He brightens our darker moments, he lights up our lives and he sometimes drives us to insanity and back but we will be eternally grateful to have him.
In November 2014 we were delighted to find out we were expecting again, a little brother or sister for our second born, a living sibling. I was confident and happy, ready to tell the world...Sure, what could possibly go wrong? We'd done this before.
Then, at 8 weeks, Thursday before Christmas 2014 and a week after seeing a tiny heart beating, I began to experience spotting while home minding our Chickenpox-y 3 year old. Concerned, I went to our GP who tried to reassure me that spotting can be very normal in a pregnancy. She nonetheless called the EPU at UMHL for a scan. The first available appointment was Tuesday afternoon - pretty much 5 days later. I went home and continued to keep an eye on things.
Unfortunately, by Friday afternoon it had gotten worse and I called Admissions at UMHL. They were very kind and told me to try and hurry in before everyone in the scan department would be gone home for the weekend so I called my husband, we bundled our son into the car and drove over as fast as we could. My husband dropped me off and went back to home to wait for a friend to mind our son before coming in again.
Meanwhile, I was in Admissions and was asked to provide a urine sample before being taken down to the scan department. The lady scanning me was incredibly kind but told me what I knew in my gut...I could see the little bean but whereas the week prior there was the distinct flicker of a teeny heart, the screen was still.
In a daze I went back up to Admissions and waited for my husband - bawling my eyes out. Why? Why us? Had we not had enough heartache already? But I guess, why not us?
My husband was allowed to come into Admissions with me and we were led into one of the rooms just in Admissions to have some privacy while waiting for the doctor. Our chart had the picture of a snowdrop stuck to it.
The doctor came and he was very kind, offering his condolences. He said we would need to come back Monday for another scan to confirm...just in case...but told me to come in fasting in preparation for possible medical intervention. He explained what to expect, in what event to call and we were sent home with a pamphlet for information.
The weekend came and went with cramping and bleeding. The small hot water bottle a friend had given me as a Secret Santa gift came in very handy those few days. I felt sad, in shock, gutted.
Monday morning another friend came over early to mind our son whilst we headed in. Our experience that morning was quite different:
In Admissions they were puzzled as to why I would be coming in fasting even though the doctor Friday eve had told us to do so. My husband was not allowed into Admissions with me but accompanied me down for the confirmation scan. There was nobody in the scan waiting area and nobody behind the hatch. Confused we thought perhaps we had to go via the Ante-natal clinic to get some attention. As I walked in, I spotted someone we knew and backed out as fast as I could.
Running into someone we knew was the last thing I wanted at that time.
We went back to the scan waiting area and eventually got someone's attention and a second scan. The lady scanning me said it looked like I had miscarried completely myself already and there probably would not be any need for medical intervention.
I had watched everything like a hawk the entire weekend and it felt a bit like a blow that I should have missed my baby miscarrying! I know I was only 8 weeks but it still felt so wrong.
We went back up to Admissions and were told to wait in the main waiting area outside until the doctor could see us.
And we waited...and we watched the telly with infomercial about UMHL with smiling couples and tiny babies...and we waited...and we watched people leave with the newborns....and we waited....and we watched women in labour coming in....and we waited...and we watched women with big bumps heading out for a smoke...and we waited some more...all the while trying to keep our heads down in case there was someone we knew.
Eventually, I went back into Admissions to see if the doctor would see us soon just to be told that he had just gotten there and to hop onto one of the beds so he could have a word with me. There was no time to get my husband. I felt vulnerable and alone there without him. The doctor came in, not too much in terms compassion as I can recall, perhaps a little unsure how to deal with a totally emotional woman who had just lost her baby. He explained how long I could expect to bleeding for and said I could go home alright when I asked him. Then he looked over my chart and became very interested in my blood pressure readings. I get extremely anxious at the best of times, so those were never going to be great at that particular time. At that point he said I would have to stay in hospital for as long as I was bleeding.
What now? Had he not just told me that I could go home as there was no need for me to stay? Tired of having to explain myself all over again, I asked him to ring my consultant who could confirm my story re the BP. I overheard the midwife outside telling him too that she had seen my home readings (because of what BP is capable of in doctors offices and hospital surroundings, I always come prepared!). I do understand that he wanted to cover himself but it really felt, at that moment, that my loss and total heartache was completely secondary to a number on a chart.
In any event, he spoke to my consultant and said I could go home. Home is where I wanted and needed to be - especially in light of not needing any medical intervention.
I went back out to a husband who had wondered where I had disappeared to for that long as after all I had just gone in to get an idea of when we would be seen. He told me the person we knew had left with her mum and not seen him...for which we are glad.
We left UMHL sad, grieving and without much information regarding aftercare or contact information for someone to talk to.
I guess I did not know how to deal with this type of loss for a long time. Society deals with it so differently than the previous type of loss we had. The support is not the same. There is a reluctance to talk and listen.
My way of dealing with it all was to put all my effort into trying again. 2015 went in a bit of a blur of cycle after cycle...without success to date.
As much as we wish for a living sibling for our second born, we do not want to put all our lives on hold in pursuit of something that may or may not happen. I am not trying to be negative or give the impression that I am giving up. I simply need to get to a point where I am at peace with either possibility because life is too short and precious to not be lived to its fullest
Over a year later I am now seeing a counselor and joined Pauline Gannon's Facebook Group of ladies who have gone through pregnancy and baby loss also. Counseling will help me deal with the unresolved grief surrounding this little bean. I am hoping that it will also help me make my peace with our current issues conceiving again and both possible outcomes of that.
Pauline has done amazing work in getting this campaign off the ground. UMHL desperately needs a separate unit/rooms for baby loss/scares. Whilst ours was not one of the worse experiences in UMHL, I fully support this campaign for separate facilities:
You do not want to sit in the main waiting area of the maternity when you are experiencing a scare or pregnancy loss.
You do not want to see the hospital ad playing on the TV in that waiting area showing off newborns and happy parents whilst trying to hide in case anyone walks in whom you might know.
You most certainly do not want to lie in the admissions room listening to the sound of other babies hearts beating away when you know or suspect your baby's has stopped.
You do need your husband/partner with you at all times. In fact, he will want to be there and not be left out!
You do need privacy.
You do need compassion and acknowledgment of your loss.
Common it may be for those who work there but for you and the dad common it is not.
Baby and pregnancy loss is a sad and traumatic experience for both (!) parents and deserves to be treated with the utmost compassion and care.
Please show your support for a separate baby loss facility at our local maternity hospital.