A physiological miscarriage at 16 weeks
NB. This is very very long. I appreciate with all my heart those of you who can take the time to read this.
I’ve already begun to think of this miscarriage as my first home birth, which gives me some comfort. Because birth it was, though so different to my boys and with no baby in my arms today.
I want to start at the beginning.
I ‘knew’ the day after boxing day, while visiting family for Xmas on Norfolk Island, bang on 15 weeks. I couldn’t fall asleep that night, tossing and turning for hours. Suddenly in the wee hrs my heart started pounding, and a sick feeling gripped me in the pit of my stomach…my body is not acting pregnant. I am not growing a baby anymore. I woke my husband and asked if we could make love. I wanted to feel my uterus contract firm with an orgasm, and feel it’s growing shape in my belly. Afterwards, I just didn’t feel confident that my uterus was feeling as firm, high up and obvious as it had just days before. My body did not feel swollen, my breasts were not so tender.
On Sunday, new years day, we returned home, the whole trip my mind was pre-occupied with my baby’s well being but knowing that nothing can be done for miscarriage anyway. I was counting down until my next midwife visit (16 weeks) in a few days but I just knew we would not be able to find a heartbeat. Mentally I began surrendering to the fact that I had lost my baby and it was not a matter of time until the physical process began.
On Tuesday 3rd of Jan I woke up feeling like my body was gearing up for a period. I had a loose bowel movement, normal for me on the first day of my period. My body felt crampy. I was not surprised when I wiped after a pee to see a small amount of mucusy blood. I rang my beautiful midwife, my voice was cracking as I told here I’d had a small bleed but more than that- my body felt un-pregnant and like it was getting ready to bleed.
For the next 24 hours or so I was filled with fear. Not for my dead baby. But for what might lay ahead for my miscarriage. I was so terrified that it would hurt too much, that I wouldn’t cope with the pain. I cried as I went to sleep that night and kept saying to my husband that I was so scared. This fear, at this stage, overpowered the sadness I felt at losing my baby.
The next morning, after a surprisingly good sleep, I woke up and with dread went to the toilet. Still just some bloody mucus, a bit more than the day before. However as I crawled back into bed, not ready to face what the day might bring…a pop. My waters broke. I rushed back to the toilet to avoid messing up my bed and sat there with my waters pouring out of me. It struck me with full force then- my instincts were right, all was not well with my body, my baby and I was beginning to birth my baby. Far too soon.
I had mild cramping exactly like period pain. My waters stopped after a very short time just as one of the kids walked into the ensuite. In an effort to shut the door and ask my 3 yr old to leave me alone for a minute, I stood up from the toilet and took a step towards the door. My baby just fell out of me. Hugo didn’t seem to notice and off he wandered back to whatever it was he was doing beforehand ( Lego or drawing or helping himself to breakfast).
I phoned DH and asked him to come home immediately. As I was waiting for him I rang my midwife and told her I had passed my baby, it didn’t hurt, he/ she was hanging by their cord between my legs. She told me she was on her way. I sat on the toilet, with my baby laying on a towel stretched across the bowl . I didn’t want to lose him/ her in the toilet.
I began passing clots and blood, not a crazy amount but constant. The cramping was coming and going, rhythmic like in labour. It wasn’t anything I couldn’t cope with and I was so so relieved that it didn’t hurt too much physically. On my iPhone I wrote a pm to my local JB women asking them to think of me. I really needed to feel like a circle of women were surrounding me at this point. The fear left me completely then. I felt so sad. Complete sadness, no fear, hardly any actual pain. Just sadness and surrender for the birth process that had started. The messages that began trickling in that morning from my JB women, that have not stopped since, have given me so much comfort, I can not describe it.
DH was everything I needed him to be. He asked his mum to come and take our boys for the day which she did promptly. He got me a cushion to lean back on between surges. A footstool for my short-arse legs which don’t reach the ground comfortably on a toilet and it really relieved the pressure on my thighs. On another little stool he kept a glass of water full for me, my mobile phone. At one point I asked him for some vegemite toast! He brought a bowl for the baby if he/ she ever finished coming out. He kept helping me to change the towel I was sitting on as it became wet with blood and wee. Often the surges were accompanied by peeing. We didn’t talk much but he would regularly squeeze my shoulder or hand and we would share eye contact for a moment. Much of the time though I wanted to be alone.
My midwife arrived and I was so sick of being perched on the toilet she helped me move to my bed. I lay back to rest and tried to see my baby, still between my legs, attached to his/ her cord but it was tricky. My cramps were slowing down until eventually they stopped altogether. I consciously tried to centre myself and be patient and present but it was hard. It is not the most comfortable thing to have a small baby between ones legs, trying not to damage him or her for hours on end. But I really wanted to give him/ her a chance to stay connected to his/ her placenta.
Around 4 pm, with no cramping or passing of blood/ clots, 8 hours after I birthed my baby we decided to cut the cord. I finally got a good look. It was a girl. I am sobbing to write that last sentence. A baby girl. We have two beautiful boys and had very consciously tried for a girl this time ( Shettles method)…
My midwife made sure I was comfortable in bed, barely bleeding wearing a normal pad. She was so respectful and present with me all day. She placed my baby in a bowl I’d given her and we looked at her together for a long time. DH was busying himself with washing towels etc at this point as he wasn’t ready to see our baby. After a time my midwife left with the promise of returning the next day.
I felt fairly rested. Drained but certainly not weak. Looking back I can see I was actually quite numb at this point. DH and I decided to bury our baby. He dug a hole in our garden. I chose a small piece of cloth from my fabric stash that felt suitable. A piece of an old pillowcase that was mine when I was a child. (Casso has some of the same fabric in a bag that I made her last year). DH asked if I had a crystal or something to bury with her. I hadn’t even thought about it until he said something but it was so obvious. Of course! I picked up the piece of kyanite that has lived on my bedside table since we began TTC. I had worn a piece of kyanite on a necklace everyday for the entire TTC period as well as the first few weeks of the pregnancy as a kind of private conception wish.
We each took a moment to hold her. I was surprised when DH gently unwrapped the cloth to look at our baby in his hand as he had been uneasy about doing so before this point. I explained to him that she had changed throughout the day and was less beautiful now than earlier as fluid had drained and she had become a little knocked about between my legs in bed.
A storm was brewing, one of those late afternoon summer storms. It was about 8 pm, we placed her in the hole with the kyanite and filled in the hole. Expecting rain and lightening and drama in the sky. But it fizzled out. We both felt frustrated by the storm that never broke but our kids were returned to us ready for bed. DH went through the motions of bedtime stuff with the boys while I lay in bed wondering what the next day/ days would bring.
The next couple of days are a blur. Not a whole lot of bleeding took place and when it did it was always at night. My body was quiet and at rest during the day. My midwife came and went several times. During the day and again at night on Thursday I think and during the day in Saturday. We talked about about what to expect with a miscarriage at 16 weeks. Each big bleed, always at night, my midwife gave me a herbal tincture of angelica to help my uterus contract and do its work to empty itself.
We waited, at times impatiently for me, for my placenta to pass. My parents came and stayed with relos nearby. Visiting each day and cooking, shopping, entertaining the kids for 3 days until they left, thinking in themselves that my miscarriage was complete. I knew otherwise but I wanted them to leave, I needed the space in my head and heart to complete the birth process. I also needed them gone so I could begin to grieve.
On Saturday evening, 4 days after birthing my baby, I felt my body gearing up for more cramping/ bleeding but this felt different. My parents had come for dinner, Indian takeaway that DH had picked up. I became increasingly uncomfortable, cramps far more painful than anything previous. Mum commented that I was looking pale. I replied that they needed to go. Now. We said goodbye and I could not even stand up as I knew a massive clot was about to fall out of me.
Within minutes of them leaving I was having back to back very painful contractions ( in my mind I called my cramps contractions, as that is what they were). I was trying to catch the big clots/ pieces of membrane and placenta into a bowl so my midwife could examine them. I tried to lay down in bed between contractions and foolishly attempted using my normal homemade cloth pads but even when experiencing no cramping the blood was pouring out of me. I soaked through 6 or 7 pads in minutes and when I switched to folded cloth terry nappies between my legs they were only lasting 10 mins or so each. DH, after getting the kids to sleep, was running off his feet finding more towels/ nappies as I soaked them with my blood. In between I was filling the toilet bowl with blood that seemed to trickle and pour out of me at the same rate as urine. I was squatting over a bowl each time I felt something chunky coming. Sometimes as I felt the urge to bear down and pass a chunk I would also need to wee, so was holding a cloth or toilet paper beneath my vagina to catch whatever it was- all while pissing over my hand. The hand basin was within reach without me needing to get off toilet ( benefit of a small bathroom) so I was washing my hands in between. Glamorous stuff!
While waiting for my midwife to arrive I experienced what I later came to know as cervical shock. At the time I didn’t know what was wrong, though I would later become far too familiar with the sensation. It scared the shit out of me. I suddenly felt extremely hot and nauseous. I broke out in a cold sweat, my skin prickled all over, I felt like I would throw up and/ or have diarrhoea. I got DH to help me to the toilet, could not open my eyes or sit up properly. My body was suddenly freezing and my cold sweat made it worse. DH covered me in a towel.
In the moments that followed I had DH phone my midwife, who was still en route and then I asked him to phone Janet as I knew she could be here soon and I wanted someone in the know about all things birth related while waiting for my midwife. DH had been trying his hardest but I needed a women with me at this stage.
After speaking to my midwife DH moved me back to bed, lay me down, raised my feet onto pillows, covered me in blankets and talked to me so gently and lovingly trying to sooth/reassure me. He took my pulse. My heart was racing but I slowly began to feel a bit better. I realised I’d experienced some kind of shock and wasn’t about to die from blood loss. Yay, it’s just shock I actually joked to DH!
The night continued. I was taking a foul tasting herbal tincture of angelica and each dose surged through my body in a way which reminded me of how a party drug like ecstasy first enters your bloodstream…kind of creeping up the back of my neck and a pooling heat in my stomach. I was so tired but found comfort in having my midwife and Janet with me as my body did its best to pass the placenta. Not long after the shock feeling passed I passed a very big piece of membranes.
DH ran about cleaning up, making me herbal tea with honey. At one stage I passed something big, but it would not come out all the way. I had this huge chunk of membranes and placenta hanging between my legs while I sat on the toilet. I tried giving it a gentle tug but it felt wrong/ weird so I left it. After a while a piece fell off and I got back into bed exhausted, once again with something protruding between my legs. Membranes not a baby this time. A freaky feeling and one I get shudders remembering now. The cramps all but stopped once again as the sun came up. Within minutes of my midwife leaving me tucked up resting in bed ( as much as one can w membranes sticking out of her vagina) my 3 yr old was up and chirpy as usual, completely unawares of the night we had just had.
DH, who’d had no sleep himself, got up and took the boys out to a cafe for breakfast so I could sleep. I had a few hrs of restless sleep and the second time I got up to pee that morning, Sunday by this stage, I felt the membranes slip back up inside my vagina. When I examined myself in the shower later that day, I could not feel anything.
I called Casso to be with me that day and she was an angel. We had our staff Xmas party ( yes, in the new yr, a tradition for our company as everyone is too busy for a work do before Xmas) and I didn’t want DH to miss out, nor could we change it as a venue was booked and paid for months ago. I was actually really sad to miss it, I love our staff and to this day, 6 yrs since I worked with any of them, I still miss working in our business and the great people we have working for us.
Anyway Casso dove straight in and cleaned the pile of bloody towels, tidied my entire house, make me tea and food and was a very caring ear as I retold the events of the night before. She picked up the boys when they grew sick of hanging w daddy at the staff party. I rested all day, snoozing a little but not a decent sleep.
The cramping began again like clockwork, in the evening. Again they were very painful. DH was taking his time getting home and I sent a few stern messages telling him to get his arse home, now! He was so overtired from not having slept the night before ( or for nights before that plus the beer he consumed at our staff party would not have helped) and he just wasn’t thinking straight about the fact that we probably had another similar bloody/ crampy/passing of membranes night ahead and I needed him home and fully present. He got home and sucked up and apologised for being late then did the bedtime stuff with the boys while I phoned my midwife and told her it was starting all over again.
After about 4 hours of painful cramps, passing of membranes and big clots everything once again died down, this time a little earlier. By midnight, my body once again still, barely bleeding- I was back in bed and my midwife left for the night. Overall there’d been less blood than Sat night/ early Sunday and I felt so relieved.
Around lunchtime the next day, Monday, my midwife visited. We both felt that my miscarriage was coming to an end. I had no cramps, minimal bleeding. I’d passed some membranes and placenta the night before and we both felt that that was the last of it. I felt tired but at peace, believing that my birth process had reached completion. Warm Amber came for the day and took care of my boys, cooked dinner, cleaned my house while I lay around on the lounge resting. It was so lovely to have some company and also to see my children enjoying their friends (WA’s beautiful children), as they’d been missing out on their normal social interactions for days by this stage.
I approached the evening with some fear, wondering if it would all start up again. But it didn’t. I experienced a little increase in mild cramping, not much increase in blood loss, only enough to feel like a heavy period. After a few hours, well before midnight, the cramping stopped and I was left with a slightly uncomfortable feeling of pressure in my anal area. I tossed and turned, it came and went and finally I fell asleep due to pure exhaustion. I woke up around 2 am feeling rather woozy and like my body felt before I experienced cervical shock the other night. With no further cramping or bleeding and after convincing myself that it was probably just my body getting ready to poo ( I’d been feeling constipated for a couple of days) I lay still, put my feet up on some pillows, concentrated on my breathing to centre myself and finally fell back asleep.
The next day, Tuesday, a week since the first sign of bleeding, I had an old friend visit. Single, childless and obviously having little experience with miscarriage I think she was shocked to see how weak I was and to hear some details of what I’d been through. I was talking to her very much as though it was over. Casso came over for a couple of hours and did some laundry and cleaned my house again. I really believed that my birth was finished now and that I just needed to rest, bleed a bit like a normal period for a few days and begin to slowly get back to normal life.
My body knew otherwise. Around 5pm, very suddenly and with a force and pain that left the previous big bleeds for dead my contractions started up again. My head was swimming. It was hurting so much more. And came on so hard and fast. I was in shock as I had spent the day convincing myself that all was finishing. I was really scared by the amount of blood pouring out of me. Emotionally I didn’t know how much I had left in me…I was sick of being mindful and present and trusting in my body; this birth process. I was running out of Brave. I was running on empty.
My midwife came and supported me through the next few hours. I passed some significant lumps of membrane and many smaller dense lumps and so much free running blood into a bowl, into the toilet, into towels. I had incredible pain with these cramps and that feeling of pressure in my cervix and anal area. The shock- y feeling swept over me a couple of times. Such a gross feeling, I can’t describe it.
Before my wonderful midwife left we talked about the fact that I had bled so much my body couldn’t take much more. We decided I would see my GP the next day-well, later that day as it was 5 am Wednesday by this point – and get a referral for an ultrasound to see if there was something left in my uterus that was causing the continued bleeding and discomfort in my anal area.
All came to a stop around 4 or 5 am and I tried to get some rest, but I barely dozed. I was so thoroughly exhausted that my body had forgotten how to sleep. I was shaken by how intense the bleeding had been, my mind was racing and I couldn’t form proper thoughts. What day was it…when had it all begun? How many days had this been going on? And when in the fuck is this going to stop so I can step out of my physical self and get my head and heart around the fact that my baby girl is dead? I just wanted it to be over so I could grieve.
I think I managed to sleep for an hour or two. The kids were up and DH was taking care of them but sleep just wasn’t going to happen that morning, I gave up. Once again my beautiful JB women came to help. Starzia and Mud came to my house to look after all the kids while Casso took me to my appointments. DH was supposed to be going to Brisbane for a directors meeting – which he’ d already rescheduled from last week and he simply couldn’t change it- and not due back until 10pm which was making me uneasy. But having my friends around and my midwife a phone call away helped relax me. I looked like a ghost. I was very short of breath, could not walk further than a few meters, emotionally and physically I was simply spent….empty. I cried on and off all day.
I saw a doctor I’d never met before. And she was simply amazing. I was so relieved as I’d been so worried that I’d be treated disrespectfully. (Horror horror, what do you mean you’ve not had a dating scan, were planning a home birth, have been miscarrying for a week instead of rocking up for a d&c… Etc). Without going into details-this is long enough!- she did a blood test and organised a scan to take place within 20 mins down the road.
I was surprised that I would need an internal ultrasound. I should have been expecting it and was cross with myself for being so taken back when the women took out the long white instrument that was to be inserted into my vagina. I took a deep breath and with the small amount of inner strength I had left I tried to relax and let go of my fear as I knew that I *needed* to know if there was something left in my uterus.
I told the ultrasonographer that I had an uncomfortable pressure in my cervix/anal area. She didn’t comment. Later that day my doctor phoned to say the scan was clear, it looked like I had nothing left in my uterus. She said to go to bed and rest and let my body recover. I spoke to my midwife and we both breathed a sigh of relief. And then in walked DH, hours earlier than his expected return. His plane never took off, they sat on the tarmac for a couple of hours and finally the flight was cancelled. What a relief!
Later that evening my doctor called back with the blood results. Suddenly she was not so relaxed. My haemoglobin was very low, 75 for those that know what it means. She gave me her mobile number and said I absolutely must not bleed anymore and to go to hospital if I started to. I spoke to my midwife who agreed that my body could not handle more bleeding.
Guess what? Cramping started up again. This time without a break. Just a sustained intense cramp in my uterus without the rhythm of my previous contractions. My body was clamping down and the pressure in my cervix was increasing. I felt like I was going to pass something big and then the floodgates would open.
For the 10th (11th ?) time in just over a week my midwife told me over the phone she was on her way to me. This amazing women who had spent more time in my house than her own for the past 8 days, and most of that during the night time, was coming to continue her care of me. This time though we would go to the hospital together.
It was about 10pm I think when we arrived in emergency at RPA. I was shivering uncontrollably as it was a surprisingly cool night and my blood loss made me feel the cold even more. The triage nurse was lovely and no time was wasted in getting me through to the sub-acute unit…via wheelchair which felt very strange. Another nurse took over my care and thankfully she too was respectful and compassionate towards me. Into a hospital gown and onto the hard narrow bed immediately…in my mind this symbolised the moment I stopped being human and became instead a ‘patient’.
There was a lot of fussing and my body was hooked up to beeping, blinking machines. I had a canular put in my arm. A test of my heart which required wires hooked up all over my body attached to sticker things on my bare skin. Machines were beeping behind my head measuring my blood pressure and heart rate. Blood taken to measure my haemoglobin. Something attached to my finger. Told I couldn’t have anything to drink (or eat) even though I was dying of thirst. After a while an IV drip was hooked up to the canular, but it did nothing for my dry mouth and cracking lips. The uncontrollable shivering continued on and off even though I’d asked for 2 blankets. I was feeling so scared. My midwife observed and pointed out to me that every time a nurse or doctor came near me my heart rate and blood pressure would jump up. I tried to remain calm, but this reaction was so involuntary. I fucking hate hospitals.
And so many questions. I kept repeating myself to the triage nurse, the sub acute nurse, the registrar when he finally came to see me- it was so exhausting. Over and over I explained I’d been having a miscarriage with my midwife providing my care in my home since the Wed before, had bled a lot, had a scan and blood test earlier that day and with a hemoglobin of 75 could not bleed anymore. My body had started cramping again and so here I was, pain and pressure in my anal area, feeling like I was about to bleed. Please help me! Please investigate this pressure in my cervix.
It is so cliche how the rest of my hospital stay unfolded. I went in with a low expectation and fear about judgement being passed and the medical ‘professionals’ managed to tick every single box. It’s almost funny how well they lived up to and excelled my low expectation.
The hostility began almost immediately from the young male registrar. One thing after another lead to him becoming more and more hostile- I did not have a dating or 12 week scan. Crazy women. I had an independent midwife. Complete horror and dismissing of what she had to contribute in terms of answering his questions about what had taken place all week. He asked to see my bleeding and god forbid, I had a homemade cloth pad on. He asked how I even knew I was 16 weeks pregnant if I hadn’t had the pregnancy confirmed by a blood test or ultrasound. He dismissed over and over the constant cramp I was experiencing and the pressure in my cervix by holding up my scan from earlier that day saying repeatedly that it was clear, I couldn’t possibly have something stuck in my cervix. All of my symptoms were ONLY due to blood loss according to him and seeing as I was ‘stabilising’ and not bleeding significantly he wanted to send me home. I cried when he said this and begged to please have a speculum done to check if something could be seen in my cervix. I also asked if I could please see an Ob.
After he went away to phone an Ob down in the labour ward my lovely nurse came over to me and I asked her if I could please request a different doctor to perform the speculum. I did not want this registrar anywhere near my vagina. Better yet I wanted an Ob to do it. I clearly stated that I wanted someone used to looking at cervix’s to perform the speculum, not this young doctor who was not listening to me or hearing my distress.
After a while the registrar came back and said I could go home. The Ob he spoke to felt as I wasn’t bleeding there was no need for me to be there. There would be no further investigation of the pain and pressure in my cervix. He was basically acting like his ego had been hurt, poor man, a patient didn’t want him near her vagina and he was taking it personally.
My brain nearly imploded when he said I should go home, not to mention my emotional state. I started to cry again. For fuck sake people- I’m here because I need help. Somehow I found it within me, laying there as vulnerable, weak, terrified, in pain and exhausted as I was to say no to him. I was not going home. I was there because my body was gearing up to bleed/ pass something. My cervix felt blocked but eventually it would clear and I would bleed. I insisted that he get back on the phone and tell that Ob to come and see me.
More time passed. I became more and more exhausted. If it hadn’t been for my midwife who sat beside me, talked each time we were left alone, explained the medical jargon/ procedures and encouraged me to trust my instincts about this blockage in my cervix…I simply would not have kept it together. I felt so sad for the hostile way she was being treated. Even when I directly said to the registrar that I felt my midwife could more thoroughly answer his question(s) as I was so tired, the events of the week were jumbled up and my brain was mush, he would barely look at her and certainly not actually listen to her.
Eventually a female Ob walked in. At first I felt relief. A women! But very quickly saw that she was not on my team anymore than the the registrar. I’d felt sure that an Ob would be able to see clear as day that my symptoms were consistent with cervical shock, but no. The amount of faith these people put in an ultrasound image is mind boggling. I’m laying there going further and further into shock, more pale by the minute if that’s possible, heart rate all over the shop, in a cold sweat, shallow breathing, and complaining of pain and immense pressure in my cervix and anal area….but no, the image is clear, why listen to the actual patient?
At one point, I can’t remember when, the nurse or registrar commented that for someone with such a low haemoglobin I didn’t act like it. I’d gotten up twice to pee. And horror of horrors I walked to the bathroom with my midwife assisting me. Walking apparently isn’t what someone with such a low haemoglobin does. It was more a criticism than a compliment.
Another conversation I remember clearly though I’m it sure when it took place was the registrar telling me that I needn’t be in hospital and to go home though if I started to bleed that I should immediately call an ambulance as having someone drive me to emergency wouldn’t be fast enough. Yeah, cheers dickhead. I’m well enough to go home, but any bleeding whatsoever was life threatening enough to warrant an ambulance. He really honestly did not believe that I would bleed again. He simply could not hear what I, the human being, was saying above what a medical image was saying to him.
Finally the Ob agreed to do a speculum. She was such a ***** about it, huffing and puffing as she got stuff ready, like she was placating me with this unnecessary procedure just to shut me up and send me home. Within moments of inserting the speculum – this terrifying large cold metal thing that she turned a screw and expanded once inside my vagina- she said she could see a ‘clot’ or something and was going to give it a little tug. Out came a long metal hook, another heart stopping moment for me. Well the tug turned into serious pulling and I saw her face change as she realised that this crazy women did indeed have something stuck inside her. She had to use considerable strength to remove it, a huge compacted piece of placenta about the size and shape as an erect penis. The feeling as she pulled it is one I’ll never forget. My skin had broken out all over again in a cold sweat. My heart was pounding in my ears and I heard a loud swooshing sound in my head that made all real sounds dim and retract to the background. I could feel this hard mass moving through my tight cervix, stretching it as she pulled. It felt unnatural. I was whimpering with pain, I whispered out loud that it hurt as tears filled my eyes. I felt like I might pass out. Again, like an angel in my ear, my midwife stood by my head, with her hand on my shoulder, and said soothingly a couple of times ‘remember to breath’.
The Ob said afterwards in a very scolding voice that I wasn’t exhibiting enough symptoms for someone with something that size in my cervix such as vomiting and dizziness, as if it were my fault for not being in worse shape/ passing out etc. She didn’t say much else as she put the ‘products of pregnancy’ into a specimen jar to be sent to the lab (for no apparent reason that I could see). She did not in any way acknowledge that I had been correct in thinking something was in there, that she was sorry for not believing me. Nothing of the sort. In fact she was out of there so quickly, it left my head swimming.
Meanwhile I was bleeding all over the bed, my heart still pounding and feeling incredibly shaken. Warm blood was pouring out of my uterus which had been completely full but unable to escape until now. Inexplicably, it was at this time that the registrar came back, spoke to my nurse and said as if I weren’t there ‘what is she still doing in sub acute? Get her out of here’. Seriously! I was unhooked from the various machines monitoring me and quickly wheeled, flat on my back on the narrow bed, to a different section of the emergency ward. Pushed into a cubical with a little curtain drawn across like a dressing room in a shop. A new nurse abruptly pointed to the call button which was completely out of my reach on the wall behind me and went to leave when I asked for clean sheets please. She came back a few minutes later, cleaned my bed, new sheets and once again left me. Not once did anyone investigate my bleeding – apart from my awesome midwife of course who was keeping track of my loss and basically doing all the things the hospital staff should have been doing.
Hours passed and my bleeding slowed right down. The IV fluids had long ago finished but no one had come to replace the bag or unhook me. I decided to screw their nil by mouth and had a drink of water from my drink bottle which felt great. I tried to doze a little but the bed was so uncomfortable it was impossible. I was essentially ignored until the time I left some hours later around 4am.
My body felt so different. Even as soon as the piece of placenta was removed colour returned to my lips. Within a few hours I felt entirely different and realised just how fucking awful I had been feeling with my cervix blocked up. Basically I came out of shock and my so called symptoms of blood loss began to ease off. So much for them being so concerned about my blood loss earlier in the night when they so abruptly quit monitoring me as soon as the bleeding began again. I’m so angry that no acknowledgment of what had actually been going on with my body was ever made. Nobody came to talk to me about how they were surprised to find something in me when the scan hadn’t picked it up. Nothing resembling an apology what so ever. Not once did anyone other than my midwife and I even use the term cervical shock. It’s like the condition was unheard of though my midwife assures me it is a very well known condition. I simply can’t believe that they had been 100% confident that I should just go home a few hours before, based entirely on a dodgy scan. I’m amazed at how prepared they were to simply ignore ME, the human on the bed and take an image from a machine as gospel above all other evidence.
When I asked to go home the head nurse on the ward smiled and said of course, off you go to your own bed, you’ll be so much more comfortable there than here. She removed my canular and got the doctors approval who said to follow up my care with my GP in the next few days, no need to return to the hospital. See you later, done and dusted.
So, so tired and relieved to get out of there my midwife drove me home. She cranked up the heater in her car as I was shivering uncontrollably again with the cool early morning air. After giving a quick run down of events to my sleepy husband she drove home to get some much needed sleep. I was so overtired that I could barely sleep but eventually I nodded off and began the deepest sleep I’d had in over a week. I had been asleep only 2 hrs or so when my phone woke me at 8am.
I answered in a daze. It was a doctor from RPA, someone I’d never spoken to or seen in my life. She was speaking really fast and my brain was struggling to wake up and understand. She expressed her grave concern for my well being, wanted me to come in straight away to have an ultrasound, said I needed to come immediately. I was to have nil by mouth as she expected a D & C to be on the cards. She was seriously concerned about my blood loss etc etc. I was gobsmacked. Only hours before they couldn’t wait to be rid of me and now this sudden concern. Though my thoughts were foggy from exhaustion and I could barely string a sentence together I said that the registrar in emergency last night had been happy for me to follow up with my GP but she started to argue and I didn’t have it in me to fight. I agreed that I would come in for a scan, but not until lunchtime as I had to organise childcare and a lift etc.
My beautiful friend Casso once again dropped everything for me and came to take me to the hospital. Starzia stepped up to look after Casso’s kids. I was getting over my reluctance to ask for help by this stage and arranged the whole thing without hesitation via SMS messages. Pat on the back to me!
So it was back to the hospital with my pillar of strength, no nonsense friend Casso. This time I was directed to the EPAS unit (Early Pregnancy Assessment something or other….) where I was quickly seen by Kate, the midwife in charge. She asked me to explain what had gone on with my miscarriage and I did not hold back with my anger and disgust at how I’d been treated in Emergency. She was very sympathetic, said things like ‘yeah, that is shit isn’t it?’ and ‘ isn’t it a shame when the sisterhood lets you down’ in reference to the way the female Ob had treated me. It was an entirely different experience for me than earlier that morning in emergency. She said she would give direct feedback to the registrar and Ob in emergency about how angry and upset I was. And a slap on the wrist for not listening to a patient. Yeah, like they’ll give a shit. Anyway…
I had another ultrasound and the ultrasonographer turned out to be a regular customer of ours, a caring, gentle middle aged women whom I’ve known for years. I was so relieved. The EPAS Ob saw me next and before she said anything else she sat down with her hand on my shoulder, looked me straight in the eyes and said how sorry she was for how I’d been treated in emergency. She then explained my scan was clear, I had had a very big blood loss and that now I needed to go home to total bed rest and was not to be left alone for at least 4 or 5 days. She offered me a transfusion but I declined as my haemoglobin was above 70 which is the level at which a transfusion is truly necessary.
The next couple of days are again a blur. I was so so physically and mentally exhausted. I felt worse in my body than I had on the Wed and Thur between doctor and hospital visits. I had long spells of shortness of breath, numb or tingly weak limbs and at times chest pain. The only position my body could handle when like this was flat on my back with my feet raised above my head. My breathing was so laboured, it freaked me out. One of these spells lasted 12 hours and at the lowest point I woke my husband at 3 am saying I felt like I was going to have a stroke or a heart attack. It scared my midwife enough for her to tell me to ring an ambulance if I felt worse before she arrived. Thankfully of course I didn’t – and after talking at length with my midwife I felt reassured that my symptoms were within a normal range for someone with such severe anaemia. I let got of the fear I’d been feeling as each ‘episode’ swept over me as I understood more about what my body was going through – lack of blood is the most awful feeling, I can’t describe- and I started to feel slightly better, slowly slowly.
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I started typing this 4 days ago when I couldn’t even sit up in bed for longer than half an hour without needing to lay down again. Today I have been out of bed, played in a very sedate way with my children, been out for a blood test with my wonderful midwife and I even…wait for it…went in the car with mum to the pet store around the corner and bought cat and dog food! My first out of the house experience in over 15 days apart from doctor/hospital visits. Today my haemoglobin is up to 91, impressive I reckon considering what I’ve been through. Life is looking up!
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Emotionally I am only beginning to open my heart up to the loss of my baby girl. I simply could not take my head out of the physical process any earlier – it was far too full on and it required every ounce of me to be present, in my body and fully conscious/ immersed in the the physiological process taking place. Writing this has been so healing- for want of a better word- and necessary. If you made it to the end I sincerely thank you.
Related Post: Birth Story Series: Part One – Induction