It is one of the things as parents that we try not to think about. However, the statistics tell us that 10-25% of all pregnancies will end in a missed miscarriage. One brave mother shares her story, in the hope that it will help other parents in the same situation.
June of 2012, it is Father’s Day. Finally my suspicions have been proved correct. I am not imagining things, I am really pregnant. The test confirms it. Everything has gone according to plan. I will be able to surprise my husband with the news on Father’s Day. My children will have an age difference of around 3.5 years, just like my sister and me. I was so excited, I couldn’t wait to tell everyone. And that’s what I did. I told all my close friends, family, even my boss. They better get prepared.
My first pregnancy was really simple. I had no pregnancy symptoms except for a big belly that hurt sometimes as it was getting bigger. For the rest, nothing at all. But this time things are a bit different. I have some lower belly pain but, from what I read on the internet and from what the midwife says, it is normal. Each pregnancy is different so I guess I will feel different things to the last time. After a while, I start not to feel anything special at all, which for me is perfectly normal since this is exactly how I felt the first time too. Just like the first pregnancy, I couldn’t wait to have the first echo (ultrasound) when they will confirm that I am really pregnant and I can finally start telling everyone.
The Ultra-Sound Scan
But sometimes things don’t go as planned. I was lying on the table for my echo when I heard the news. “Hmmm, this is not good. Baby is too small. I do not see any movement. I do not see any heartbeat. Sorry, but the baby is dead”. I was speechless. The first thing that I said was, “OK and now what?” I really had no idea how to respond. I didn't feel pregnant but still I had no signs that things were wrong. How can you lose a baby and not know it? What did I miss? I wanted to know immediately what to expect next.
The woman explained to me that I had some choices. I could wait for a natural miscarriage (my baby grew until 8 weeks and I had the echo at 11 weeks), though the chances that a miscarriage would happen naturally anytime soon were now smaller. Other options were to take some pills and force the miscarriage or to go to the hospital and have a curettage with a full anesthesia. I even asked when I could start trying to get pregnant again. From the moment I heard the news, I felt that I wanted it to be over; I wanted to start my normal life again and I wanted to get pregnant again.
Adjusting to the News
The first two days were the hard ones but not as hard as you would imagine. Maybe because I was not feeling pregnant earlier, maybe deep down I knew that something was not right. I was feeling more sad for my daughter. Even though she didn’t know that I was pregnant, in my mind she already had a baby brother or sister and now she had lost them.
I immediately started sending messages to all the people I told about the pregnancy. That’s when I realized how many people I had really told. I always thought that it was not a problem to tell so many people. If something happened, I would just tell them, I thought. But when something actually happened, I realized that, even though I thought I was prepared, I had never really believed that something would happen. It was just words. But at least, the more I repeated the news, the more I realized that it was true.
Trying to Understand
I started thinking about what had happened in week 8. Had I had any symptoms? Anything that could indicate that something was wrong? Could I have prevented it or can I prevent it from happening again? Everyone was telling me the same thing, there is nothing you could have done. It is nature’s way of showing that there was something wrong with the development. If it hadn’t happened now the baby would have probably been born with some kind of problem. This helped me come to peace a bit with my body. I guess instead of thinking that my body did something wrong I should be thinking that my body did function correctly. It did realize that there was something wrong and terminated everything before it was too late. Now there was one thing left. My body needed to prove to me that it could get pregnant again, but for this to happen first everything else should finish.
Completing the Process
They told me that it would hurt. That it would be like a heavy menstruation pain or even a mini birth. Great, I will go through this again and this time I will get nothing in return. Not something I looked forward to.
I am not the kind of person that can wait. When I want something, I want it as soon as possible. So I knew that I couldn’t wait long for nature to finally end everything. But since they told me that the natural way was the safest one, I decided to wait 1.5 weeks.
Support from Other Moms
I immediately asked for help, support, and information from the one source I knew and trusted: other moms. But I didn’t even know that something like this could happen, so where would I find other moms with the same experience that would want to talk about it? So I asked Emmy from Amsterdam Mamas for help. I had seen in the past, posts from Emmy in the Facebook group asking for help for moms that were in need and wanted to be helped anonymously. This time, I was one of these moms. What a weird feeling.
As I was expecting, through the Amsterdam Mamas group, I found the support I was looking for. It turns out that these things happen more often than we think. I even found out that there is a name for it. “Missed Miscarriage”. I talked to other moms and I got information about my choices. Finally, I was feeling that I had gained some of the control back.
Acupuncture and Herbs
I was told, and I read, that acupuncture and herbs can help things happen the natural way so I decided to try this. It was the first time I did acupuncture, but it was a pleasant experience. The acupuncturist, who also happened to be a midwife, told me that the treatment works best between 11-12 weeks and it can show a result as fast as 3-4 days, and, if not, you can always repeat it. She also gave me herbs to use for some days. A week passed and nothing happened. It was strange. Before I had the echo, every time I would feel anything strange I was checking if I saw any blood and I would be relieved that I didn’t see any and now it was exactly the opposite. Not seeing any blood was a disappointment.
I went to the hospital to see a gynaecologist. I told her that I would like to have the pills at home and take them when I decided to do it. She told me that this was not a problem and explained to me how it worked. First you take a tablet to prepare for the whole procedure. Then in the next 36-48 hours you take (depending how many weeks you are) some vaginal pills. If nothing happens after some hours, you need to take some more. So you should expect that everything will be finished in 1-2 days. She explained to me that taking the pills doesn’t affect future pregnancies. The only problem with the pills is that everything is more extreme and there is 15-20% chance that not everything will come out. However, even if there is something left inside, there are other options rather than having a curettage, such as trying with pills again or just waiting for the next menstruation.
I wanted to avoid curettage, unless really necessary. I planned to take the pills some days later. I even planned it so my daughter would be at the daycare. Three hours after I took the pills, things started happening but not quite as planned. I started worrying about the amount of blood. I contacted the midwife - so strange to have a midwife when you are not really pregnant - and she made an appointment for me at the hospital. Before I got there, though, things started getting worse. They decided to keep me in the hospital to see how things were going. It was not long after that I fainted because of the amount of blood I was losing. They told me that I had to have a curettage. Exactly what I was trying to avoid but at least I knew I tried and I had no choice. Everything went fine and the next day I was back home. Tired and still weak but everything was over.
Reflections and Advice
Looking back now and knowing what I went through, I would have chosen a curettage from the beginning. I just hope I won’t have to make this choice again. Now my biggest fear is that this is the beginning of more miscarriages, that my body will fail me again and I won’t be able to do something about it. I am writing my story, not because I want to scare moms to be, I just want to inform people and make them aware of these things.
All the moms that I talked to had one thing in common with me: they all said that they didn’t know that this could happen. They didn’t know that, without any symptoms, you can be told one day that your baby is dead. Especially when you already had a healthy pregnancy and birth, without any problem.
You should enjoy the first months of your pregnancy, take care of yourself and your body. Inform the people that you really feel close to, people that will be there for you if something does go wrong. You cannot do anything to prevent something like this but, if something does happen, it is your decision as to what to do next. It is your body and you are the only one that can decide how to end things. Any way is right if it is your way.
Editor's Note: Maria has asked for her name to appear in the story because she wishes to be open about her experience. Thank you so much, Maria, for your story. If you have been affected by miscarriage you can find online support through the Miscarriage Association. As Maria mentioned, Amsterdam Mamas is always there for support and to listen. You can contact us here.