Voices: I had a ‘missed miscarriage’ during lockdown – and was completely alone when I found out the bad news

In films, the intense silence that descends as the sonographer rolls her scanner across the belly of a pregnant woman is eventually broken by the echoey thump of a heartbeat, heard in the world for the very first time.

On November 17, 2020, three days before my scheduled twelve-week scan, I was woken in the small hours by a rippling pain across my lower abdomen.

A few hours later, I was staring at the ceiling of a room in Wythenshawe hospital, clutching fistfuls of my dress, as the sonographers tried – first externally, and then internally – to locate my baby’s heartbeat. I have never been so quiet in my life, nor so desperate for a silence to be broken.

“Is he okay?” I asked eventually, in a voice I did not recognise as my own, and the sonographer shook her head. What she could see on the screen was not the tiny human shape of a foetus at twelve-weeks.

Instead, there was a very small pregnancy sac; a little white bean-shape floating in the blackness. I’d had, she explained gently, a missed miscarriage.

Under the latest Covid-19 restrictions, my partner, Gary, had been asked to wait in the corridor and while one of the nurses went to get him, I dressed myself, put my face into my hands, and howled. My baby had died six weeks ago. How had I not noticed?

Missed miscarriage, also known as silent miscarriage, is defined as a pregnancy in which the foetus ceases to develop during the early stages of pregnancy – but the mother’s body does not recognise the pregnancy loss right away. Whilst it is estimated that between 20-25 per cent of pregnancies end in miscarriage, only 1-5 per cent are missed miscarriages.

Covid-19 has impacted severely on the experiences of expectant mothers. During my pregnancy, I never actually met my assigned midwife. The routine checks and tests were carried out at various locations across Manchester as clinics battled against mounting delays and abrupt closures, due to confirmed or suspected cases of Covid-19 amongst patients and staff.

I cannot fault the NHS staff who cared for me, either during my pregnancy or during my miscarriage; but their resources were stretched so thinly that there was simply no capacity to investigate issues such as my PCOS or low progesterone, despite me flagging it as something I might require support for. I will never know how things might have turned out under different circumstances.

My memory of the 48 hours following diagnosis is patchy. It was as though my body had been waiting for my mind to catch up to the reality of the situation; and with my mind temporarily out of action, my body took over and did what it needed to do.

The physical pain was not ‘like a period’, as the literature I had been given at the hospital advised; it was a raw, twisting, restless form of agony that reduced me to a shivering primal creature, unable to stand fully upright.

But, the human body is a miraculous thing. Within 72 hours, the worst was over. I was able to shower and dress myself, walk up and down stairs without help, and Gary, who had not left my side, was able to go back into the office.

In the days that followed, I called my mother. I called my best friend. I lit a yahrzeit candle and spoke to my grandmother. Anything to stave off the bleakness tugging at the frayed edges of my sanity.

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It was the not-knowing that I kept coming back to, over and over again. How could I have been looking up modern variants on Jewish names, and watching swaddling tutorials on YouTube, and not had any sort of inkling?

In the early days, I veered wildly from being grateful for the restrictions of Tier 3, that meant I could hide away in my home; to being utterly desperate to get back into the world and get out of my own headspace for a while.

Grief is a slippery, treacherous thing, and it twisted the privilege I had felt being able to do my job at home into a barbed isolation.

I turned to the online community of women with whom I now shared experience. Websites such as Miscarriage Association and Mumsnet offered us safe spaces to discuss our experience of pregnancy loss without encountering well-meaning, but deeply problematic, “toxic positivity”; or the lingering sense of taboo that still persists around miscarriage.

The solidarity and support of strangers sharing their stories reminded me that the world was still turning, and that I was still a part of it; only now I was part of a conversation about loss and survival that has existed between women since the beginning of time – and there is no need for any of us to be silent.

Douglas Mateo

Douglas holds a position as a content writer at Neptune Pine. His academic qualifications in journalism and home science have offered her a wide base from which to line various topics. He has a proficiency in scripting articles related to the Health industry, including new findings, disease-related, or epidemic-related news. Apart from this, Douglas writes an independent blog and assists people in living healthy life.

Source Link Voices: I had a ‘missed miscarriage’ during lockdown – and was completely alone when I found out the bad news