I’m ashamed to say that when I saw the Mumsnet call to action for bloggers to share their miscarriage experiences for their Better Miscarriage Care Campaign, my initial reaction was along the lines of ‘Great idea – I hope someone does. I couldn’t possibly write about it, but I’ll be really interested to read what they have to say’.
The more I thought about it, though, the more I realised that this was both bizarre and a little bit selfish. What made me feel better when I miscarried? More than endless cups of tea and reassurances from that everything would be okay in the end, it was other women’s stories that rang true. They made me feel less alone and gave me hope that one miscarriage (or two, or three) does not a childless couple make.
The kind City worker who watched over me on the train when I was feeling faint and losing blood told me that he understood what I was going through as his wife had miscarried; the gentle train conductor who called my husband to tell him that I would be going into hospital said that she’d had three; even the ballsy Aussie A&E consultant squeezed my toes and said ‘This is shit, darling, I’m so sorry for you. I’ve had four’.
Three strangers and seven miscarriages between them. If there’s one thing I would tell someone who has miscarried, it’s that it’s more common than you’d think. But no-one wants to talk about it – not your friends, your colleagues or people in the public eye (unless they have to – poor Amanda Holden and Lily Allen). I’m the same: very few people know about mine. Before I had my son I miscarried twice, early on. I told a handful of family and a couple of friends, but it’s not the sort of news that you want to share. It’s certainly not one for your Facebook status update. It’s too sad and no-one really knows what to say. But when I did open up, I heard endless stories of miscarriage among my friends and theirs. It’s good to know that you’re not alone.
All the stories had one thing in common: experience of healthcare providers is patchy. While some miscarriages happen at home without the need for intervention, often this is not the case. With my first, I went to A&E and was seen by an unsympathetic female doctor. The ultrasound guy was kind, but the experience of sharing a waiting room with other pregnant women with live babies was traumatic. Second time around was a bit better, but I could have done without the gaggle of gawping medical students at my ultrasound.
Third time unlucky: I was admitted to hospital and had to have an ERPC, despite assurances from nurses and junior doctors that they would let it happen naturally in accordance with my wishes. They were overruled and I was sent down for the operation – apparently it was not a good idea for me to stay in hospital to wait for it to happen as I ‘would probably catch a hospital-related infection’, according to the consultant. That said, the nurses were generally kind and my GP has been fantastic. I know there’s very little to make someone feel better when they’ve lost a baby, but a quick ‘I’m sorry about what’s happened’ means a lot. If you feel up to sharing your own story with them, that’s even better.