The problem with early miscarriage

The problem with early miscarriage

I wasn’t going to write this post. At times I thought this issue was too much of a personal one to publish on here. But I realise that early miscarriage isn’t personal to me at all- one in four pregnancies ends in miscarriage and 75% of those occur within the first 12 weeks.

Out of the three times I’ve been pregnant, two have ended in early miscarriage (one at six weeks, the second at ten weeks). The October baby wasn’t meant to be, neither was the April baby.

The problem with early miscarriage

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I’m not after sympathy here – I have a beautiful daughter who is perfect in every way and if anything, my two ‘failed pregnancies’ mean that I cherish her all the more (she came in between the two). I’m only too aware that women (and men) go through far worse. I can’t begin to imagine the heartache that comes with a miscarriage late on in pregnancy, or the tragic loss of a baby soon after birth. Cases of early miscarriage do not even compare.

I simply want to share my experience here, as I feel it’s probably typical of the experience thousands of women go through every day – and perhaps things need to change.

My experience of early miscarriage

The first time it happened I hadn’t even registered the pregnancy with my GP, it was that early on. The second time I had – and we were looking forward to the 12 week dating scan in two weeks’ time. Both times I went to the doctor when I started to bleed. Both times I was told it was probably nothing. Both times I called back when the bleeding got worse. Both times I was told to go to A&E.

The first time I did go to A&E. I can’t remember the process exactly but at some point I was sent to the Early Pregnancy Assessment ward, where I was questioned by a bored nurse about how many pads I’d filled (one?) and told (again) that it was probably nothing. I knew it really wasn’t nothing and when I told her that I just didn’t feel pregnant, as I hadn’t felt any different, her response was that I was ‘probably just one of the lucky ones’…

I asked if I could have a scan and she told me she would book one in and I would have to return three days later. Three days (and much more bleeding) later, I was told by the sonographer that sadly there was no evidence of an amniotic sac.

The second time it happened, I didn’t even bother going to A&E. After being told by my GP that the bleeding was probably nothing and to wait until after the weekend (it was Thursday) I booked myself an appointment at a private clinic Saturday morning for £60. I just needed to know, I couldn’t stand the emotional torment that came with waiting.

They confirmed that the fetus had no heartbeat and at ten weeks I’d likely had what is known as a ‘missed miscarriage’ – my body still thought it was pregnant and hadn’t started the process of miscarriage even though the fetal pole had probably stopped growing a few weeks ago. Their advice was to go back to my doctor to get a referral for an NHS scan and discuss my options. By the time of my NHS scan three days later, my body had naturally miscarried and there was no amniotic sac to discuss.pregnancy and miscarriage

Feeling like a fraud

The problem with early miscarriage is that you feel like a bit of a fraud. The health service doesn’t really want to know. After all there’s really nothing that can be done to stop an early miscarriage and it just has to run its course. I can’t speak for others, but I certainly felt like a bit of an inconvenience and I should just go home and accept whatever is to come – and quietly.

You’re not registered with a midwife until 12 weeks in, and the only confirmation that you’re even pregnant at all is your own home test – since your GP just takes your word for it when you make that first appointment. And the black fuzzy mass on the monitor when you do finally go for that scan…there’s no sign of pregnancy at all. Perhaps you imagined that small bump? You feel a little bit silly for even getting excited about a baby – you got carried away, you took it for granted.

Hardly anybody knew that you were pregnant. You didn’t want to tell anyone too early ‘in case something happens.’ Now that something has happened, there’s a part of you that wants everyone to know anyway. You want to talk about it, to tell them that you’re not feeling okay right now.

Are you or aren’t you?

The problem with early miscarriage is the not knowing. Being pregnant – at any stage – is so much more than a physical state. It’s a complete state of mind. Your whole world shifts from the minute you get that positive result and you start to envisage the pitter patter of tiny feet in eight month’s time. You’ve worked out your due date, downloaded a pregnancy app and you’re checking baby’s growth, you’re taking folic acid and you haven’t had a drink for weeks. Your whole purpose is geared towards growing a healthy baby…and then with that first glimpse of blood your heart sinks and you think the worse.

But the hope continues.

You turn to Google who reassures you that bleeding can happen in successful pregnancies, you convince yourself that there’s a perfectly normal explanation. Every time you go to the toilet and the blood seems less you convince yourself that you’ve overreacted and it was just a blip.

But really you know. Don’t you?

You just need it to be confirmed. The ‘not knowing’ is torture. The hope is torture. I can honestly say that when the sonographer in both of those cases confirmed the worst, what I felt was relief. A sad type of relief of course, but relief that I could now move on from the constant worries in my head and that pesky glimmer of hope. And to be honest, if there was in fact nothing wrong and I was still pregnant, surely all of that worrying and anxiety is no good for a pregnant woman?

A lack of follow-up

The problem with early miscarriage is the lack of follow-up support. I wasn’t offered any the first time. The second time I got to speak to a lovely nurse who talked me through the facts, answered any of my concerns and sent me on my way with some leaflets. To be honest, I wouldn’t have wanted much more than that. But people cope differently and that’s not to say that someone else shouldn’t be offered a little more follow up support.

I know personally that both of my early miscarriages affected me in different ways. The first one, although it occurred earlier on, affected me so much more. Partly because it was the first time I’d been pregnant and we’d allowed ourselves to feel the sheer joy and take having a baby as a given. Mostly because I already had Taylor at the time of the second one, and I found it impossible to stay angry/bitter/upset when I had her little face smiling back at me – if anything, it made me feel all the more blessed.

There’s also no testing offered until you have three consecutive miscarriages. Again, I get the stats – most women will go on to have children. However, I think if you’ve had more than one miscarriage, simple testing wouldn’t go amiss. Especially since the cause of repeated miscarriage can often be something treatable, such as a thyroid problem.

Pregnancy after early miscarriage

Anxiety throughout future pregnancies

But the real problem with early miscarriage (and miscarriage in general) is the joy it takes away from you and the anxiety it causes for any future pregnancies. I’ve never since had that same elation at the sight of a positive pregnancy test as I did on that first occasion (the joy that was abruptly cut short two weeks later).

Throughout the majority of my pregnancy with Taylor I was ‘on pins’, willing the weeks to pass by quicker, dreading those scans and a repeat of those words from the sonographer. The days couldn’t go by quick enough and every milestone we reached felt like a huge relief, rather than joyful anticipation. Having a baby wasn’t a guaranteed end of my pregnancy – at least not until we were on the home straight.

Pregnancies (the two we’ve had since that first one) aren’t big announcements for us, but come with the caveat of “it’s early days” and “fingers crossed!” Even uttering the words “I’m pregnant” feels like a bit of a jinx.

Unfortunately, early miscarriage is just something that happens, all too often. We just have to hope that in the end we will succeed and find some comfort in the statistics – most women who miscarry go on to have successful pregnancies and healthy babies. Like I did.

I can only speak from my experience, but personally, I think cases of early miscarriage should be treated with a little understanding of the emotional side effects.

Have you had an early miscarriage? What was your experience?


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13 Comment

  1. Helen
    November 12, 2016 at 3:49 pm

    It’s so true. I was told I’d had an early miscarriage, a week later my test was still positive, I was scanned again and this time I was pregnant but they couldn’t find the baby, it was ‘pregnancy of unknown location’ later diagnosed as ectopic and terminated. The whole experience does make you feel like a fraud, like you really shouldn’t have been getting ahead of yourself planning and feeling excited. I think there’s a limbo, you think it could have been worse, if it had happened later, but then what could feel worse? Both my sisters announced their pregnancies within 6 months of mine ending, I couldn’t even bring myself to talk to them. Unless you’ve been there I really don’t think you can understand the complexities of early miscarriage. Thank you for writing this, I couldn’t have done it X

    1. Natalie Mudd
      November 18, 2016 at 3:03 pm

      I definitely agree that there’s a bit of a limbo – you feel grateful that it didn’t happen later on, but yet you still feel awful at the same time. It messes with your head. An ectopic pregnancy must’ve been pretty scary for you as well as sad, thank you for sharing your thoughts xx

  2. Amy Fox
    November 12, 2016 at 4:01 pm

    I whole heartedly agree. I felt like I was wasting their time. I felt like I shouldn’t have got excited. I felt relief when we knew for sure. I felt like we weren’t supported after and I now feel like I shouldn’t grieve about it because it wasn’t recognised properly!
    Thank you for writing this, it’s helped me x

    1. Natalie Mudd
      November 18, 2016 at 3:01 pm

      Thank you, hopefully things will change one day in terms of how early miscarriage is treated x

  3. Mrs Morgan Plus 3
    November 17, 2016 at 11:20 am

    I have had 3 early miscarriages and once you have had 3 the NHS will look into why it happens. I dont know why we have to wait that long until they care about them! All my miscarriages where at about 6 weeks. Since then it was found nothing was wrong with me or hubby to be causing them and I was put on low dose aspirin. For my first successful pregnancy I was under the consultant and had scans from 6 weeks to 12 weeks every week and then lots more. I have gone on to have another 2 successful pregnancies and both of those I was treated as if miscarriages hadn’t happened because i had had a successful pregnancy after the 3 miscarriages. I now have 3 beautiful children, 2 boys 6 and 9 months and a girl 4. I would love to add one more to our brood but always in the back of your mind there is the what if it happens again thought… #coolmumclub xx

    1. Natalie Mudd
      November 18, 2016 at 3:00 pm

      Thanks so much for sharing your experience – recurrent miscarriage can be so upsetting, especially when you think there could be something wrong. I would like to have tests, but as I had Taylor in between mine, they don’t class it as a problem – fingers crossed I guess! So glad that you have your three now, I suppose it does go to show that miscarriage is unfortunately just an awful part of reproduction. xx

  4. Helen
    November 17, 2016 at 6:12 pm

    This is a really brave and honest post to write. It entirely echoes the sentiments of those I know (too many) who have been through the same. I’ve learnt that just because they were early doesn’t mean they meant less. You still note their due date and yet have no support. I’m sure this post will help many. x #coolmumclub

    1. Natalie Mudd
      November 18, 2016 at 2:53 pm

      Thanks so much Helen xx

  5. MMT
    November 17, 2016 at 8:12 pm

    It must have been a brave step posting this Nat. Thank you so much for doing so, as I know first hand how important reading other people’s experiences of loss are to those who are there now and struggling. Whilst I’ve never had an early miscarriage, I recognised many of your points, especially the loss of joy in pregnancy and the anxiety, after we lost our second daughter at 24 weeks and went on to have another pregnancy soon after. I often wonder if it’s something I should write about, but in all honesty I just don’t feel ready. I’m so sorry that you have had to go through this suffering, and I sincerely hope that you never have to experience this again. I don’t think I ever let myself believe I was pregnant last time until the day I held teeny tiny danger mouse in my arms.
    Thank you for linking up to #coolmumclub
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    1. Natalie Mudd
      November 18, 2016 at 2:51 pm

      Ah Sarah that must have been utterly heart-breaking, so sorry you went through that. Having had a small taste of how it feels, I can only imagine how horrific it must be so far down the line. Only write about it when you feel ready to. I’ve googled and read so many miscarriage experiences myself that it felt right to share mine. I definitely felt robbed of those feelings of elation when pregnant with Taylor, but at least I could relax a little after the first trimester. You must’ve felt so anxious throughout – so glad you got your happy ending xxx

  6. Jess @ Picnics in the Rain
    November 18, 2016 at 8:19 pm

    I agree with everything you’ve written, thank you for sharing your story. I’m currently pregnant with my rainbow baby after an early miscarriage in February. I was incredibly anxious for the first trimester of this pregnancy and just wouldn’t let myself believe we’d get a baby at the end. I didn’t start enjoying this pregnancy until after the 20 week scan. I am now 30 weeks but still get anxious. With my miscarriage, the hardest thing I found to deal with was how cold and unfeeling the NHS staff were when I had blood results, was told it might be ectopic and my internal scan when I was told there was no sign of a pregnancy, and there was absolutely no follow up support. Like you say, you feel like a fraud for getting excited and a fraud for feeling upset when you were so early on. It’s tough. Jess xx

  7. Crummy Mummy
    November 24, 2016 at 11:10 am

    I have had the same experience myself – two early miscarriages, one at six weeks and a missed miscarriage at 11 weeks – between my first and second babies (I’m now expecting my third) so can really relate to this. It’s so hard, compounded by the NHS ‘system’. The pregnancy that followed my two miscarriages was such a stressful time but ended well, and now I’ve reached the third trimester of my third pregnancy I feel a lot less anxious. Hope that helps in some way! #coolmumclub
    Crummy Mummy recently posted…The only maternity items you’ll ever needMy Profile

  8. Rachel
    November 24, 2016 at 2:55 pm

    Oh so true! The emotional side effects change how you look at pregnancy for life! Some more support is definitely needed. Thanks for posting to raise awareness! #coolmumclub

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