Empty Handed (by )

TMI and Miscarraige trigger warning.

Note: post was written over several days and is not completely chronological in order - started on Thursday 9th Nov.

Yesterday Morning the NHS gynae team at Gloucester Royal Hospital saved my life - it was impossible to save my kinder surprise, though the sorrow of which is I hadn't known I was pregnant for very long before the problems started. It's amazing how joy can evaporate leaving a pit of despair that seems bottomless.

We already knew the baby was probably dead but there was still some hope and we were awaiting the scan. I don't know if I had a temperature with the cough or whether the damage was actually done at the end of September when I did have a fevery chest infection but did not know I was pregnant. That in same ways would fit too but then it could be my irregular periods or the endometriosis or maybe incompitable blood groups. Or maybe there was just something wrong with it in the first place. We can't really know.

Everything I can control and do right I do do right - no smoking, no drinking, eating healthily and exercise. And though I know people stressed that I was continuing to run workshops and act and go on field trips and hike even after knowing I was pregnant - the Drs assure me that a healthy pregnancy would be fine with those things - something else was wrong - something out of my control.

This leaves me with a hatred; I kind of had this hate anyway - I know they are suffering in their own ways but the rage I had with mothers who smoke and drink during known pregnancies has intensified. This has been there since I was being wheeled passed such a person whilst pregnant with Jean. To see them there on tottering heels with a cig in one hand and a bottle of booze in the other sporting the bump between boob tube and mini skirt whilst I had followed all the advice and was crippled and unsure whether I'd ever see my baby... after the scan on Sunday I found it hard to even look at one of my best friends because of this, she'd been unable to give up smoking and was in my house at my request and I found it so hard talking to her and I don't want to feel this rage.

I was continuing to do all the things because I thought remaining active was the best way to prevent the separated pelvis from becoming too bad. As soon as problems presented themselves I began to cancel the more physically demanding stuff. Ironically this means I have just stepped back from some amazing opportunities to try and save a baby that I have now lost.

Yesterday morning I was in a lot of pain, I'd started loosing clots but it wasn't bad enough to be seen again. I sat and did some colouring in and tried to sort out ballet classes for Mary and do adminy things. I had what I term a "period poo" and went and moaned about this to Al as that was all I needed on top of everything and I was worried I might have now picked up a stomach bug.

Then we had lunch and I sat and sorted the craft supplies for the workshop with the Scouts I was supposed to be running the next day - I was sorting stickers, pompoms and goggle eyes into various tubs. I wasn't lifting crates and wasn't even sure at this point whether I was physically going or sending Al with instruction sheets for the various things I'd gotten ready.

I felt sick and saw my bleeding had increased slightly so I went to see Al who said we'd phone the hospital again after his next meeting which was in 15 mins. I came back in and changed my pad but before I could sit down I felt a rush of blood. And went back to the bathroom - I'd drenched the pad and it was running down my legs. I phoned Al and said we need to phone now and go to the hospital.

I changed pad again and then again whilst he was phoning - the emergency number we'd been given told us it was daytime so to phone and leave a message with the early pregnancy unit and they would phone back. This is what we did but I'd had to change my pad again and knew this was bad from previous bleeding issues after having had Mary so we bundled me into the car and went to A&E. On the walk from the car park to the department I felt something come out of me, I felt like I'd given birth to something, I knew the pregnancy was smaller - much smaller than it should have been so I flipped out screaming "somethings come out" I thought my womb had prolapsed with the accompanying pain and the size of what came out.

At the desk whilst Al checked me in all I could do was cling to the side and whimper due to the contractions I was having - these were not full on all stomach like I had during Jean's birth but they were worse than the womb flush cramps I had after Mary. The whole thing was somewhere pain wise between the births of my two girls, except I knew there would be no little baby to take home.

They put me in a wheel chair and put me in the waiting area and we waited. At some point there was another pad change whilst being seen by a nurse - Al had to wheel me into the loos and help me. I was loosing handfuls of black/brown jelly clots like I did after I had Jean except these were much bigger.

Mainly with miscarriages nature knows how to take care of things, I could still feel the thing filling my vagina and I was still petrified about what it was. Selfishly I was now worried about whether this baby was going to take my womb with it, I didn't think my life was in danger at that point - I know my body can take far more of a beating than this before things got bad. The pain was different from the suspected ectopic I had which was a searing pain down my left hand side followed by cramps of a bad period variety (I have bad periods so probably a very bad period to others).

I was taken to a side room off of A&E which was busy with stressed looking Drs in it - I think the wait times and capacities are worse than when we first moved here - I believe there has been at least one A&E closed in the area in that time and this makes me furious as I watch the paramedics having to fill the gaps with patients whilst waiting for the Drs - everyone was maxed out.

By the time the Dr came to see me I had soaked through my pad, uber fluffy pyjamas and made a considerable mess of the wheel chair, my legs, socks, shoes and even the floor.

Up on the trolly the nurse helped me remove the sodden mess and something fell out, I freaked again trying to push myself away from the lump that to me did not look like a jelly clot - I had forgotten about placentas and things, I knew it was too big for the baby/fetus/blob and again that fear that it was my womb. I was in quite a lot of pain as well at the time. They assured me it was ok and placed it in a bowl for the Dr etc... to look at.

The Dr examined me, including speculums and dragging material out, he like every other Dr had trouble finding my pesky cervix; it likes to hide for my smear tests too and I have to do some fun gymnastics for them to get at it. It was decided I needed an injection to increase my blood pressure and help my body push it all through. Kind of inducing a micro labour from my understanding.

It made me feel sick but then I was feeling like I might vom anyway.

They informed me it was a miscarriage - I have a horrible feeling I actually said "duh yeah" to the Dr.

The nurse was literally scooping up handfuls of red/black gunk and shoving them into a bag, it was hanging down in boulbous strings like silly putty or play slime - a bit like some horrible monster from a horror movie. I found myself stressing out that they were going to put the baby in the bin even though I knew it was minute and possibly not there at all and already dead.

Alaric has been struggling to eat since.

He showed me stuff from his workshop book to help distract me and keep me conscious - a large old book with black binding and little embosses logo - the nurse thought he was reading the bible to me. I kept crying randomly.

I thought the Dr said his name was god - I think because I'd been reading up on Islamic stuff for my novel I heard him say Allah - I think he said Ali or something. Certainly someone was called Ali because Alaric responds to that name and kept turning around when it was called).

There was a lot of faff about chaperones and covering my dignity, which I just wanted to scream was unnecessary but understood was really there to protect the Drs as well as patients. Also I don't think I really had the energy to scream at all about anything.

The wheel chair was cleaned up (by Alaric who was in his stressed being uber helpful mode) and I was taken up to a ward to a room of my own with bathroom. As they wheeled my chair in I started to cry - it looked like the sort of room I'd had when I had Mary - the sort of room that should have one of those little hospital cots in - I was going through all this and there would be no baby to hold.

The poor girls who had to put up curtains in the room where trying to be sensitive and give me space or someone to talk to, in the end they only hung one curtain and came back later to do the bins.

I lost more clots and was wearing huge pads and hospital disposable bloomers (which are see through) by this point. No trousers, just blankets to cover me up - I told Alaric I thought it was the end of my Eeyore pyjamas.

I needed the loo - I made a huge mess and called the nurse as I physically couldn't clean it up and Alaric had had to leave to get the kids all sorted out - it was night time I'd got to the hospital at 2 pm. I don't remember all of it.

Nurse told me we had to keep all the clots and discharge etc... so put a stack of pans next to the toilet and I worried that I'd mucked things up by flushing the clots away.

Issue - I needed to pass all the bits of sac, baby etc... in order to stop bleeding and producing the clots of which there was a lot. And they needed to check all of it to see if I'd passed the "products".

Alaric thinks the actual baby bit would have been in the first chunk I lost - it looked more solid than anything else. He carried it up the stairs - this is important to him - since we'd found out I was pregnant he'd been talking to it, even when we weren't sure if it was alive or dead or a zombie baby he spoke to it and told it it was alive and to hold on and how much we loved it.

He told me and the Dr that he thought our little Rice Grain had other things to do and that he wished it well.

Up in the ward room they came to take blood and found my veins hiding due to fluid loss so then came the fun bit of finding a vein to put a cannula in - the first attempt at putting it in failed - I'd wanted it in my left hand so that I could still bend my arm (I've been cannula-ed up before, I know how it goes). It was a no go and has left a lovely bruise - it was a pink robot butterfly - for some reason I felt the need to explain to the Dr that cannulas were robot butterflies, something which harks back to me being in hospital as a four year old.

She said my right hand looked a no go too - apparently I'm too delicate ie my hands are too boney and it is painful if the vein is right up against a bone - also my veins kept running away from the needle - though I think that was later on. It ended up in the crook of my right arm. More bloods where taken and a fluid sack attached to a drip. I was damn thirsty but they were already considering giving me an op so I was Nil by Mouth.

I got pain killers and then morphine, I would try not to writhe on the bed or call out in pain. Everything I passed had to be kept so they could see what products I'd passed. I felt like I was leaving a horrible mess for them each time but none as bad as the first time and the amount of clots was reducing.

They asked me on a scale of 1 to 10 where I was with pain - I said initially 5, then it went up to 7 but my pain scale I think is a bit skewed - for me 8 is unable to talk, 9 is can't open eyes but can understand what is being said and 10 is there is nothing but the pain in my existence. When the Dr came to try and manually clear me out (this was another attempt after the initial one in A&E) I reached an 8 - my damn cervix, I felt like my entire insides where being pulled out when she grabbed it with the tong things. I thought I was going to pass out or throw up as well.

I got morphine to take at this stage.

I got more fluids, I got nurses popping in for chats - I cried every time I was on my own - I read my book on terrorism - it was a Thriller easy read with both Christian and Muslim extremists as the bad guys and a brit muslim as the hero along with a US author. It was a good plot line but read like a point horror - just what I needed.

Alaric came back at some point and gave me PJ and clean underwear and the dussy cuddly toy which I had been snugging at home when in pain. The nurses loved the dussy, so did the Drs.

He'd packed my pregnancy PJs; I couldn't help but point this out, i.e. the ones my mum made me when I was having Jean and that are really thin cotton so only tend to get worn when I go into hospital. They have paddington bear on them. He's tried to get me old pjs and bought me a pair of his and his pants to wear as well so I wouldn't ruin any of my wonder women or star wars knickers etc...

I slept a bit, the pains seemed to be easing off and the clots got less and less.

They let me sip water until midnight when I had to once more be nil by mouth just incase.

I was awoken for morning obs and it all seemed fine. I felt a lot better, the Dr was sorting out a scan for me and we were hopeful that I'd avoided needing an op. I felt well enough to attempt changing into non blood stained PJ bottoms... I did this and went a loo with the idea that I could perhaps wash myself a bit. But were as the clots had been getting smaller and smaller to just little flecks during the night I now "gave birth" to several fist sized clumps - and they were not my fist size, they were quite sizeable wrestler hand size clumps. I frowned at them and walked back to the bed having noticed that my canula was letting blood up my fluids tube and I was damn thirsty, so thirsty it was all that began to occupy my mind, I felt sick - I needed to drink.

I pressed the buzzer to get my fluid bag changed and to tell them about the clots. I sat on the edge of the bed unable to get back into it - I suddenly felt weird. When the nurse came I explained and mentioned the feeling weird and suddenly sweating hot as a little side thing.

I had ringing in my ears but I often have ringing tinnitus. The world was greying. She got me in bed laid it flat, grabbed the obs kit to check my blood pressure. It was low, she checked the other arm and it was even lower - I know the second reading had a 30 in it.

Suddenly the room was full of Drs and nurses, extra canulars where put in - these were green I think, they could take faster flows, nurses where literally squeezing bags of fluid into me, they made me feel cold. I told them I thought I was going into shock but I couldn't understand their reply, I started to shiver and cough. An oxygen mask appeared. and I noticed my nails were blue tinged. I thought "that's not good" I thought "I'm not going to get to write poetry stories for this baby," then I thought "stop that! little Mary needs you, you have stories to finish for her and Jeany," the world was a swirl.

They were trying to explain things, they looked inside again, I wasn't opening up properly to let everything out - just like with Jean's labour. I thought "this is a lot of medical stuff and pain for no baby" they kept trying to draw me out with conversation - the Dussy was important for this.

It was less painful than having Jean, more painful than having Mary. I kept apologising for everything - I'm not sure why I do this - there was a nasty philosopher who said that if you truly want to see who someone is then you hang them over a cliff or make them confront their death (or something like that) and only then do you truly see who they are. Every time I get close to that cliff I start worrying I'm being a nuisance and apologising and trying to clean things up and be helpful - I am not sure what that really says about who I really am.

Alaric uses this to gauge how ill I actually am - a gritted teeth fine is much better though still not good but a sorry is a bad sign and an Ok is probably the worst.

Once I was more with it I could see there were 2 drs and 4 nurses all in my little room, "nothing like a bit of excitement first thing in the morning!" was one phrase that made me smile.

But that was it I was going for the op. I was now being fed fluid through pressure cuffs?

I couldn't reach my next book to read - The Book of Dust and with the canulas and fatigue I couldn't have held it up even if someone had passed it to me so it sat there with the Dussy on it and I thought of going back to South Africa and seeing the whales properly, I saw a whale give birth but I still haven't seen an orca and Lynn had told me about them at sunset and how their white turns pink as they jump out of the waves - I want to see that.

I felt a pang of guilt as I lay waiting for the op. I wanted this to all be over, but for it to be over I had to get rid of the last remnant of my baby. It was like I was wishing it away.

A lovely nurse came and changed me, managing to thread my t-shirt around all the pipes and canulars - the blood pressure tube was on my leg - I'm not sure how it got there but she explained it was so it didn't hamper the fluids going into my arms. I think I panically told the Drs about my blood group - don't give me O positive it makes me ill, I know my blood looks like O positive but I'm allergic to it!

Apparently I was down as O negative anyway.

I'm not sure I was making a lot of sense - but I know it was potentially important.

I had to do swabs for various super bugs - I think I may have done this twice at various stages. I panicked that I hadn't told them I'd had contact with MSRA before they started doing stuff because I know it can be a problem.

I explained about my c-section scar and then about cleaning mum's cancer wounds - no idea if it was relevant. Again not sure really how coherent I was.

I got stressed that I was leaving blood all over the hospital and mucking up all the white sheets. I couldn't go to the loo myself but the amount of fluids they had pumped into me meant I needed the loo a lot - I had to call for bed pans. I don't like weeing in bedpans, I never thought I'd want a catheter fitted but I found myself wistfully thinking about them.

They couldn't get hold of Alaric to tell him I was having the op - it was school run time and he'd left his phone at home because he was stressed. The headmistress apparently stopped him to ask if he was ok which quite frankly he is not. For me I was losing/had lost the baby, for him it was the baby loss and a very ill wife.

I knew he should know I was going into theatre - I got the nurse to get my phone and texted him saying I was going to theatre - I wanted to text that I loved him but knew he'd panic so didn't. When none of us had heard back from him and I was being whisked away to theatre I regretted not sending the "I love you" and couldn't remember what the last things where I'd said to him or the kids and I just wanted to get home for snugs.

I had forms to sign and a million questions to answer and both ends of my bed being wheeled around the hospital. The anaesthetic drs where really nice and in the end the bit I'd most been dreading and didn't want to happen - the op. was the least traumatic bit of the whole experience. They injected stuff into my canula, explained I'd have a breathing tube put in and gave me oxygen and talked gently to me until I went to sleep.

Part of me always worries I won't wake up - I think that is because of the almost dying during the op. as a four year old and waking up days later - that missing time is always there when I have hospital stuff - I can't help it.

There was kites and clouds on the ceiling, I held onto the fact that I have a kite picture I need to ink and turn into a colouring sheet for the girls. And drifted off and woke up and it was done - I had a bit of a sore throat and a blocked nose.

I was allowed to drink again and when I got back to the ward I was even allowed food. I thought I'd wolf it down but I didn't - Alaric turned up as I was being settled back in the room with the food. He'd gotten the message and phoned the hospital and they'd told him he didn't have to wait until visiting time (3-4:30 or something like that).

I didn't have a clue what meal it was, as in was it lunch? Dinner? It turned out to be lunch, I barely managed a 3rd of it. But I did drink the soup and my cup of tea. I was still woozy so was still bed panning it. Alaric thought I was a def. staying in for another night so went off to get the kids for a visit.

But my bloods had come back fine and I was starting to feel a lot better the Dr asked me if I wanted to go home - I was now feeling narky and fed up with being in the room - I knew Al was getting pizza for dinner - I wanted pizza and a film with my family.

I was using the loo again and there was little blood and only minute specs of clots etc... I drank all the water, I wanted to rip the canulas out. They came and took them out for me and I got myself dressed though it was a confused getting dressed and I think I put back on dirty cloths - certainly Alaric helped me rechange when I got home.

Al turned up as they served me dinner - you could tell I was feeling better as I was cross and snappy. I struggled my way through most of the main course and left the soup, roll and stashed the pudding for Jeany, much to Alaric's bemusement.

We were waiting to be discharged, first clanger - the Dr who'd spoken with me earlier said I'd have pain relief to take home - by this point I hadn't had anything since the op. and was feeling it - I asked for pain relief but it didn't appear I might not have been allowed anymore and then the discharge nurse said that I couldn't take and pain relief home and that I should just take paracetamol.

"oh ok" I said whilst thinking "bloody hell paracetamol isn't going to touch this".

Second clanger which I found harder to deal with was to do with how the remains/gunk was going to be dealt with - at some point the previous day - I can't remember when exactly a nurse had sat down and gone through things with me so I'd signed a form saying I would like the remains to be cremated and scattered in the garden in Cheltenham but I knew there was a second form about being informed when it happens.

Now somehow I assumed this meant there was a little service we could go to. The poor nurse realised that this is what I thought and had to tell me that we couldn't attend it but that a chaplain would phone to say when it had happened. I was crushed by this - unbelievably crushed - more crushed than I would of thought possible.

Also I wanted to know what had caused it - the suspected ectopic between the girls had been so much easier (I was and am still really upset about it - there is a gap in my children that shouldn't be there) - but it had grown in the wrong place, end of story. But this one - this had felt like a nice pregnancy - the best and easiest I'd had, there wasn't much morning sickness, my breast hurt sure but that was nothing. It had suddenly all been blown out of the water.

The answer is they don't know - the risk factors I tick are illness - I was ill at the end of September, ill enough to not go to work I really wanted to go to. Had that done the damage? Was that why the baby was so small? Had it stopped growing properly at that point? Or was it the suddenly coming down hard with it again on the Thursday - I was ill enough that someone who knew me randomly stopped me in the street to ask if I wanted a lift home because I looked so sick. I just started sneezing and coughing hard, it was like a sledgehammer of flu. Alaric thinks this is what did it - he thinks that it must have been this because of how correlated it was with the bleeding. Cough/bleed/cough/bleed/cough/bleed. I'm sure which scenario is better. When I say cough I don't mean a little tickle - the cough was deep an hard and continuous - I could hardly talk to the Dr on Friday and there was nothing they could give me for it.

Or is it my shonky womb with it's erratic bleeding or my stupid weird can't make up it's mind blood group? I don't drink or smoke and I try and eat healthy and exercise and so on. What went wrong? They said it wont have been the work I was doing - that is fine for a healthy pregnancy - so am left wondering what happened.

Left feeling like my body just randomly poisoned our baby, or that I did something wrong but I can't really find what I should have done differently without it causing other problems like making the separated pelvis worse.

I cried in front of the girls when I got home - I couldn't help it, Jean had saved a Mrs Tiddiwinkles 50p for me and Mary dumped a confused looking cat into my lap but neither of them wanted to really look at me - they had Minecraft. Alaric got annoyed with them - they both sneaked in for cuddles a bit later on and then argued about who got to snug at me. I was still having regular waves of pain which I couldn't hide from them.

Alaric made me a bed up in the spare room so I'd be more comfy, he put the dussy and my crotchet octopus on the pillow and made sure there was a stack of books and things. The spare room has the cot in it - it is currently a children's sofa covered in cuddly toys. It burned me and I cried until I slept. When I woke up I had forgotten and then I saw the flapping dressing on my arm and the streak of blood, just one little line ending in a spot where a needle had gone in. Tears without sobs came and that was how Jean found me when she came to see me before school.

I feel I am failing them as well - our family almost grew but now I am just the cause of pain and extra work load for everyone.

This is the Facebook update I composed - I didn't really want to post anything on there are was actually more open on twitter but people were worried and needed to know - I tried to text or Al phoned and emailed people before hand but as always we missed people accidentaly.

I'm out of hospital - I once again have the NHS to thank for my life - emotionally I am not good and physically been through the mill and may not be over yet. I am hiding at home - for those who want to know more and don't already know I am writing something but it is mainly for me and will be shared when it is shared which might be never. But me and Alaric Blagrave Snell-Pym have had an emotional roller coaster the last few weeks going though surprise, fear, joy, horror, hope and now despair as we left hospital empty handed. I will be hiding for the next week recovering.

1 Comment

  • By John Cowan, Sat 11th Nov 2017 @ 8:38 pm

    The most common reason for spontaneous miscarriage is a non-viable fetus due to a mutation somewhere. In which case it is no one's fault, just literally the luck of the draw during meiosis.

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