TW: Talk of blood, medical terminology, baby loss & miscarriage
New years eve 2016, Rachel Downings Facebook Update:
“2016 has been amazing. I’m engaged & I got the keys to our new house! I got everything I wanted, and more. I can’t wait for what 2017 has to throw at me.”
I had finally got a new home after living with my Dad for a year, and I and my partner had seemingly come through all of our issues, and come out of the other side. Everything was rosy. I cryptically hid a little secret in that facebook update. ‘And more’. I had just found out I was pregnant… And I couldn’t wait to shout about it. I was the happiest I’d ever been
Little did I know that days later that bubble was going to burst.
I woke up one morning about 7 weeks pregnant noticing a very light pinkish discharge. I didn’t think too much of it. I just got ready for work. My job at the time was working in Customer Service. It wasn’t very stressful but I did spend lots of time on my feet. About an hour into my shift I noticed something off. I felt quite a huge gush. Knowing that wasn’t normal,I excused myself to the toilet. What I found when I got there made my heart sink. I was leaking puddles of blood and clots. I cleaned myself up the best I possibly could. I paid the tampon machine for a flimsy sanitary towel. I was in a bit of a daze because I don’t really remember the journey from the toilet back to my desk. I had to pull one of my supervisors aside –
“Listen, I’m 7 weeks pregnant – and I’m bleeding. Heavily.” She took one look at me and pulled me into a tight embracing hug. I welled up and fought the tears that so desperately wanted to cascade down my face. I asked if I could leave early to go to the hospital.
My partner wouldn’t answer his phone because he was busy at work . Thankfully, his place of work was only around 5 minutes walk away. I don’t remember racing there, but apparently I had. He knew as soon as he saw me something wasn’t right. I was ghost white. Before I knew it I we were racing out of the doors frantically calling family members to first break the news I was pregnant, but also that I thought I was miscarrying. I had to find somebody who’d pick up my daughter from nursery whilst I raced to A&E.
Retrospectively, A&E was a silly idea. But miscarriage and pregnancy complications are so rarely spoken about that I didn’t know what the protocol with heavy bleeding was. I didn’t have a midwife yet either. In my area, you get your first midwife appointment between 8 -10 weeks. I was only just 7 weeks. So with no guidance or knowledge, off we raced to A&E.
We waited around for around 5 hours. Eventually I was examined (not scanned properly!), and with the amount of blood and now the pain that was alongside it, a doctor called me in to a little side room. She was unapologetic and quite blunt.
“You’re miscarrying”. “There is nothing either of you could do, the pregnancy was never viable and it would have happened anyway. There’s nothing we can do to help. You’ll pass the baby over the next few weeks.”
I was astounded and astounded by how nonchalant she was. She handed me some kind of leaflet and tried to gesture me out. I was quite angry by this point… I hadn’t been scanned so there was still a slim posibility, no matter how slim that my baby was alive. I’m not known for being confrontational but it rose from me like a firework with a short fuse. “How can you say I’m miscarrying when all you’ve seen is blood? Can I not be scanned? So I know for sure?”
Reluctantly, the doctor rang the early pregnancy unit and booked me in for two days time.
Those two days were the hardest and most draining of my life. I was still losing a lot of blood and I had no idea if I was still pregnant or not. Although my head had convinced me I had miscarried. All I wanted was a glass of wine to drown my sorrows, but a little part of me reasoned that I’d had no conclusive proof either way yet – so it was best to still eat & drink as if I was pregnant.
Finally, the day of the scan rolled around. My heart was in my mouth all day, and I couldn’t sit stilll.
When I arrived at the hospital, we were put into a rather dimly lit waiting room. There were many women around sat with their partners all looking just as emotionally drained as me. I overheard a particularly chatty woman in the corner discussing why she was there on the phone to her Mum… “Mum I’ve just been for my 11-week scan… They can’t find the babies heartbeat”. With that, my heart sunk. There were a dozen women in this room waiting to hear they’d tragically lost the little fragile life they’re carrying. I felt sick and broke in a cold sweat.
Eventually, I was called into a rather intimate room where the nurse explained she was going to perform a trans-vaginal scan – this means a probe goes into the vagina in order to scan my uterus. She used a weird condom type thing on the probe and a lubricant.
I watched on the screen as she tried to find and focus on the baby. Suddenly everything was brought in to sharp vision. Nurse: “There it is.”
Me: “What is?”
Nurse:”That’s your baby”
I filled up with tears once again. I saw a little heartbeat. He was ok. I’d decided he was a he, even though I wasn’t actually sure at this point. She assured me that the baby looked absolutely fine, healthy, and I was a little further along than my dates – Due around 3rd September 2017.
I.was.elated. I couldn’t stop thanking her.
She told me my what was causing my bleeds, mentioning something about my ovaries. If i’m completely honest, at this point I didn’t care what was wrong with me, so long as he was safe.
I went back into the waiting room to wait for some paperwork from a doctor. It was then I saw a very upset looking couple come from one of the scan rooms and taken straight in to see a doctor. As soon as the door closed I heard the lady let out a very audible carnal roaring cry. I just wanted to go into her a hug her, but obviously I didn’t, couldn’t and wouldn’t.
I carried on bleeding heavily until around 12 weeks. At my 12 week scan, I was frightened that I might have lost him since that scan. But at 12 weeks it was confirmed I had a healthy baby growing.
That baby was born on 12th September 2017, and I called him Harry.
The reason behind this post is really to raise awareness of bleeding during pregnancy. 1 in 3 pregnancies end in miscarriage, and complications of early pregancy aren’t widely spoken about or are stigmatised. I just wanted to share an honest account to help any Mother going through the same.