On Monday 25 June 2018, a date that will be forever etched in my brain, me and my husband returned home with heavy hearts, after learning our already much-loved baby was no longer alive.
We’d had an ultrasound scan that day, as I’d had some brown spotting and minor cramping the day before. We’d both been hopeful it was nothing to worry about, but, of course, it was.
The scan confirmed baby had died around a week and a half ago, as s/he was measuring 8 weeks and 4 days and I was actually 9 weeks and 6 days pregnant. That meant I’d been carrying on with life as normal, happily assuming my pregnancy was progressing perfectly, despite the worst taking place silently inside me.
How did I not know? Why did my body not ‘tell’ me?
Getting home did nothing to ease the anguish, but I was glad to be in familiar surroundings. All we had to do was get through the week until Friday, when I would have surgery. Then we could begin the process of moving on.
A couple of hours after settling in for an afternoon of sad contemplation, things shifted. I started to experience more insistent cramps and the bleeding got heavier. I just knew that we weren’t going to make it to Friday. I’d taken painkillers, which did nothing, so my husband went to the pharmacy to get something stronger and some heavy duty incontinence pads.
While he was gone, I began to panic. This wasn’t what we chose! What if something goes wrong? I don’t want to see it when it comes out! What do I do?
Within minutes, the cramps ramped up again, it was all happening so fast. The pain got so bad it made me vomit, but I could barely keep still to be sick, as I was writhing around so much.
When my husband returned, I was on our bed and in a lot of pain. He sat behind me cradling me. It felt like we were experiencing labour, except there was no living baby to come at the end of it.
The intense periods of cramping were probably the worst pain I’ve ever experienced. I thought of the articles I’d read online saying a natural miscarriage would feel similar to a heavy period, but this was like no period I’ve known. I could feel each bout of pain building until I couldn’t stand it. How long could this go on for?
The intense pains continued for probably an hour and a half, during which I lay down, sat up, stood up, wept. Each time I went to the toilet to check the bleeding, clots were coming out. I was looking at them, examining them, wondering if my baby was amongst them.
It was only when I began to walk around the room that finally, inevitably, I felt a ‘whoosh’ and ran to the toilet. With a massive gush of blood, there followed a splash in the toilet bowl. Without thinking, I scooped our tiny child out of the toilet. A grey, gristly-looking thing. I sat on the toilet with it in my hand, wanting to keep it, but wishing I’d not had to see it. I wanted to investigate our baby, but at the same time, I couldn’t bring myself to ‘hurt’ it.
I could feel panic beginning in my chest, my heart beating too fast and the cold sense of fear travelling up and down my neck. What do I do? Nobody told me what to do if this happened! In the end, when panic took over, I placed our baby carefully back in the toilet and flushed.
This is something I have gone over in my head time and time again in the months since. How could I be so callous as to flush our child down the toilet? I still struggle with it. But I have also gradually become more at peace with it, knowing that no matter what I did, nothing would have changed. At the end of that day, we were still childless.
The day ended quietly. I was physically exhausted and Wayne emotionally so. We had got through the worst together, and for that I was grateful.