Nothing can prepare you for the devastation of being told that your pregnancy hasn’t made it, it’s just not something that is ever anticipated.
Many women don’t know who to turn to for help or are too ashamed to ask. Often friends and family don’t know what to say or how to act and become distant as a result.
Sue hopes that by talking about her experience with miscarriage she will be able to dissolve some of the myths and taboo surrounding the subject and help other families that are forced to go through the same terrible times.
Happiness and heart break
When Sue first found out she was pregnant with her second child she was completely overjoyed.
“We fell pregnant soon after we decided to start trying again and were so happy the way it worked out.”
Unbeknown to Sue and her husband, the elation they felt for their new baby was about to be cruelly taken away from them as they attended a routine ten week scan.
“We went for an ultrasound, it was the dating scan. I was getting excited trying to work out the dates and the thought of a miscarriage hadn’t even occurred to me.
“They started the scan and couldn’t pick up a heartbeat, they asked if I might have misjudged the dates but of course I knew exactly when it was that we conceived so I knew the baby had to be ten weeks old.
“When they still couldn’t find a heartbeat they sent me to empty my bladder so I could have an internal ultrasound which is more accurate.”
By this stage Sue was already starting to worry because she knew there should be a definite heartbeat by now.
“They came back and said sorry, this pregnancy hasn’t made it,” she said.
“I was absolutely devastated, my husband and I just sat there in shock.
“We had our son with us and he was running around trashing the place, we were in so much shock that we didn’t even notice. One of the staff asked us to pick him up.”
Sue was told by the staff that the baby was the size equivalent to 8 weeks.
“I knew it should be ten weeks so the heart had stopped beating two weeks earlier, all the while I was feeling like I was enjoying this early pregnancy.” she said.
The sad reality
“It’s so easy to blame yourself and make yourself crazy trying to work out what you did wrong but it is important to remember that it’s not your fault,” she said.
“That’s easy to say now but I know it is hard to take in at the time.”
Before Sue left the clinic they told her that she needed to make an appointment with her GP and they would help her to organise the necessary course of action.
“The GP gave me a couple of options, either wait naturally and see what happens or you can have a D&C,” she said.
“I had the ultrasound on Friday and started bleeding the following Monday as my body tried to naturally expel it.
“I was going to try and do it naturally and wait it out but after only light bleeding for five days I was getting worried. I called my GP and she told me I could continue to wait or book in for a D&C.
Sue thought she would talk it over with some close friends before she made her decision.
“It wasn’t until I spoke to some girlfriends about my situation that I found out a couple of them had been through the same thing,” she said.
“It seems like it’s a bit of a ‘hush hush’ topic that people don’t really want to talk about.
“But my friends were great; they really helped me through my decision.”
There were many factors that helped Sue decide to have a D&C.
“I don’t think I could cope with waiting any longer and it’s much safer than waiting,” she said.
“I booked in an appointment for the following Monday and went in to day surgery to have the procedure done.
“Before I went in for the D&C I asked them to do another ultrasound just so I was completely sure I was doing the right thing.
Sue said she thinks she may have been suffering with some denial about the whole situation.
“I was told there was still no heartbeat and the baby was actually shrinking in size.
“So it was definitely no longer alive.” She said.
“I then went through with the D&C.”
The benefit of good support
“It was an emotional rollercoaster, not only for me but for my husband and mum and I think we all reacted and coped in different ways,” said Sue.
“My husband got really angry and was on edge all the time for a couple of weeks.
“I just cried all the time.” she said.
During this time Sue felt it was vital that she was surrounded by good support.
“I had really good family and friends that were supporting me,” said Sue.
“I didn’t tell everyone – only the people who are very close to me and who I knew would be very supportive.
“One of my girlfriends is a nurse and she brought over an information pack as soon as she heard and just left it at my door,” said Sue.
“It might sound silly but that information pack meant the world to me, I read everything in it while bawling my eyes out and that was really good for me.”
While Sue was very lucky that she was surrounded by friends and family that loved and supported her through those very difficult times she was also very smart in the way she managed her support.
Sue always made sure it worked for her and she has some advice for anyone who may face a similar situation.
“While you’re rawest only tell people you know will come next to you and offer good support,” she said.
“A close family friend of mine felt really judged after her miscarriage and still has issues with it 30 years later.”
“Whenever she talks about it she still cries because she felt very judged, even by her own mother,” said Sue.
“So I think it’s very important that you find people you know are going to be on your side and just let you cry or laugh or whatever it is that you need to do.”
Sue also shared what she learnt about coping with the grief of losing a baby.
“I felt so much emotion even though I was only pregnant for 10 weeks.
“I can’t imagine what it would be like for people who lose the baby further along down the track,” she said.
“I think it is important to name the baby or in some way acknowledge it was around.”
“Any sort of ceremony that helps you to grieve for the baby will benefit you long term,” she said.
“I was given an information pack from the hospital that contained a little heart soft-toy and for me that was a huge thing.”
“I keep that around with me still as a reminder of the life that wasn’t meant to be.” Sue said.
Sue says it’s important not to be rushed, by your partner or anyone else, into falling pregnant again.
“Allow your self sufficient time to grieve, you have to take your time and try again when you are properly ready.
Before too long, Sue decided she was ready to try again for another baby.
“We soon fell pregnant again and this time it went to full-term. Our beautiful daughter is now seven and a half months old and we couldn’t be happier to have her in our lives.”