Trigger Warning – miscarriage, emergency surgery
I go into quite a lot of detail on this post so please don’t read on if you are triggered by this topic or unless you have good support ❤️
08/03/22 – International Women’s Day 2022 was the day our baby Bear decided it was time to go at 12 weeks + 6 days. Although we knew already from our first scan at 10 weeks that Bear was no longer there physically, we still decided to wait until my body was ready to let go. Although, it resulted in quite a dramatic day with an ambulance transfer and emergency surgery (ERPC – emergency removal of the products of conception) we are both really glad that we initially opted for conservative management, i.e. wait and see.
Sunday night I had a small bit of spotting but I could sense that more was coming. Monday morning brought slightly heavier bleeding and very mild cramps, nothing too severe. It also brought stormy weather and strong winds. We were meant to have our third scan the same day but they had to cancel some appointments due to the sudden death of one of the sonographer’s family members. I messaged to cancel our Jack and Jill nurse who was scheduled to look after Evie that day. Monday was uneventful but the cramps were getting stronger and I had my white sparkly unicorn hot water bottle (the only one we could find to buy) stuck to my tummy for the whole evening. We watched a movie on the couch but I went to bed before it ended as I had a feeling I’d be up in the night.
As luck would have it, I managed to get a full night’s sleep and it wasn’t until around 08:30 on Tuesday, the cramps started to intensify – they felt like early labour contractions only much more erratic. At 9am heavy bleeding and clots started, I used a plastic bowl as I wanted to keep the pregnancy sac in order for us to plant a tree with it, along with the rose petals I had kept from the pregnancy yoga class I attended a few days after we found out about the miscarriage. It was a purely symbolic idea as we would still plant the tree anyway but I felt like I didn’t want Bear’s home to slip down the toilet either.
For anyone who hasn’t experienced a miscarriage at home, I think the amount of blood that comes would be quite terrifying. Having worked as a nurse on a gynae ward, I was well prepared for this, although when it is happening to your own body it is still quite shocking. Evie was her placid, happy little self all morning which gave me and Ross great comfort. Ross was amazing and managed to put on the bravest face considering how traumatic it must have been for him. At 11am the bleeding and clots had not eased and I was feeling light headed at times so we decided to call an ambulance. We had discussed Ross driving in with me but bringing Evie would have been too much for all of us. While we waited for the ambulance to arrive Evie, Ross and I all cuddled on our bed with a towel under me and honestly it was the most wonderful feeling, a moment I’ll always look back on fondly.
When the paramedics arrived I was feeling pretty okay, but with no let up on the bleeding. I was using Evie’s nappies at this stage to control it, my giant night time pads weren’t cut out for the job. I said goodbye to Ross and Evie and went downstairs with the paramedics. In the ambulance my vital signs were stable, blood pressure a small bit on the low side and it continued that way until we arrived to the gynae ward. I was wheeled up, greeted by my former colleagues and assisted to the bathroom; after sitting on the stretcher for 40 mins, there were a lot more clots that had to come out. Afterwards I was then taken into the gynae assessment room, such a familiar place in my memory, only now I was the patient being looked after.
I can remember so well the silent panic of taking care of a woman experiencing the same thing as me, maintaining composure as her blood pressure dropped dramatically, tears filling her eyes as she began to realise how scary this situation actually was – often without her partner due to covid restrictions, making sure we had the correct contact details of her next of kin in case things took a turn for the worse, the rush to call the doctors to review her ASAP, chaperoning and comforting while they carry out an invasive internal examination, checking any clots that come out for evidence of fetal or placental tissue, the knowledge that emergency surgery was imminent and the urgency of having everything ready to go: IV access, vital signs monitored, IV fluids pushed, pain killers charted and given, bloods sent and printed, paperwork and checklist complete, gown, disposable underwear and anti embolic stockings on, jewellery off, piercings out, rings taped, calling porters, rushing to theatre and handing her over to the theatre staff, all while trying to support this woman who is potentially experiencing one of the most heart wrenching and terrifying moments of her life. And then suddenly back on the ward, tending to other patients until the phone call to say it’s time to collect your patient from theatre recovery. Only this time, it was me – I was the one waking up in recovery.
Before the surgery, I remember being wheeled down to the operating room, the nurses and anaesthesiologist asking me the same questions over and over – making sure everything was ready for putting me to sleep. The obstetrician, Heather Langan with her lilting Scottish accent, holding my hand and telling me everything was going to be okay – “imagine you’re lying on a warm, sunny beach waiting for your cocktail to be brought down to you, a slight breeze on your skin, keep breathing and try to relax, you’re in good hands and all of this will be over soon”. I was crying thinking if I don’t wake up, how will Ross manage with Evie by himself – a highly unlikely scenario but one that I couldn’t shake from my mind.
When I first woke up after the operation, in my daze I tried to leap off the trolley but after realising where I was, I felt a wave of peace wash over me – the worst of that traumatic situation was over and I had made it through to the other side. The recovery nurse who was a student I had briefly mentored the last time I saw her remembered me straight away. In my drug induced haze, I told her how pretty she was and asked her if many people tried to jump off the trolley after coming out of a general anaesthetic. This had happened to me before, a few years ago when I had my wisdom teeth removed, when I woke up I had visualised my ex-boyfriend and my friend’s dog waiting for me so I tried to jump off the trolley to run to them, with 3 nurses pinning me down reminding me where I was.
While still in the recovery room, I had a really meaningful conversation with one of the theatre porters about Evie and her diagnoses. He shared with me his own story about his 11 year old son, a twin born at 29 weeks due to placental abruption, who developed cerebral palsy as a result of oxygen deprivation at birth. Talking with another parent of a child with a disability in person was really nice and although him and I were very different people with different views of the world, we still had an unspoken connection.
Back on the ward after being checked over, I got a message from a close friend of mine from college who happens to work as an occupational therapist in the same hospital, saying she couldn’t get any more *insert particular brand name* adhesive removal wipes to send to me for Evie. I sent her back a photo of me in my theatre gown and coincidentally, she was actually on the gynae ward at that time. We spent the next three hours chatting and laughing and honestly I could never thank her enough for keeping me company and lifting my spirits, as well as helping me to the toilet and getting dressed again. Being looked after by nurses that I used to work with was also a huge comfort, even though I was probably at my most exposed and vulnerable. In order to be allowed home that evening, my blood pressure had to return to acceptable levels, which took some time but eventually we got there and my lovely friend drove me home. I was beyond grateful to be able to get back to Ross, Evie and my own bed.
Today, Wednesday, has been full of rest for me. Ross made me stay in bed all morning with Evie while he fed and watered me. We then ventured out in the afternoon to buy a cherry blossom tree for Bear. Evie decided that it needed to be more about her and had a massive poop-splosion in the car that required a swift turnaround back to the house for a clean up and change of clothes. She also managed to squeeze in a nap while we drank our coffees. After getting the cherry blossom tree and some little colourful primulas, we had a beautiful sunset ceremony for Bear. I had requested to bring home the clots/tissue that I’d passed the day before so we could plant them with the tree. It was the most beautiful evening after the stormy day we’d had before. The birds were singing, the half moon was bright against the setting sun, our dogs were happy that we were hanging with them outside, Evie was chilling out in her pram and everything felt peaceful and calm. I think that every year when Bear’s tree flowers in the spring, we will be reminded of this time and the journey we’ve all been on together. We might be sad at times but overall we will be happy that Bear joined us for those few short weeks and gave us the comfort that no one else could when we felt at our lowest with Evie being so sick.
I know they say that the rainbow comes after the storm and that a baby born after a miscarriage or loss is known as a rainbow baby, but I honestly think we already have our rainbow baby. Evie brings so much joy, colour and light to our lives, I could not imagine having gone through this without her. I think maybe her and Bear had an agreement and she said to him “it’s okay little brother – I’ve got this”. 🕊️🌈🐻