April 9th, 2011 or Kate’s Story

It’s time to write about Saturday the 9th of April. In all the words, I’ve never really talked about that day. I can’t say it was the worst day of my life, but only because I think the next day was even harder.

It was a sublime day. One of those clear, bright days when you just feel connected to everything- you are happy, your heart is open, your mind is free. And I had you. I felt like the Universe was smiling upon me. This is not a rose-coloured retrospect. This is truly how I felt at the time. I just feel like I get it sometimes, and this was one of those days. Only the night before we had gone out to dinner and I had brought along the baby name book (a constant companion). It was the first time that your Daddy was interested in talking about names and having him connecting to the idea of our future with you made me feel like everything was coming together.

I don’t know now how I could have felt so safe. I had begun spotting at 6 weeks and started to panic. Apart from being a nurse, I was well read and knew the risks and the awful statistics. The statistics people still insist on telling me when they hear I lost you. I had started in on the pregnancy books as soon as we started trying for a baby. But the doctor sent me for an urgent scan and your heart was beating! A beautiful, strong 111 beats per minute. And you were nestled in safely to your sac, measuring a divine 5mm long. I think I might remember your numbers forever. Now, my reading had also told me that having seen your heart beating above the magical 100 beats per minute my chance of miscarriage had plummeted- to below 10% at the most pessimistic, and about 3% as per the optimists. I had also read and been told by friends and doctors that many women bleed all through pregnancy without anything being wrong, and that as long as it wasn’t clots or fresh blood and I didn’t have pain we should be okay. So I left that ultrasound cubby on cloud nine with orders to rest and floated off to your buy your first and only onesie in celebration of we two together.

Jake and I were home together that Saturday. I don’t remember what we were doing. Pottering around the house and garden I think, as I like to do. Just being home and happy in each other’s company. My all-day morning sickness had evaporated a week earlier, worrying me a little, but not too much as I know everyone’s different and thought that maybe since it had started so soon I had done my time and earned myself an early graduation. So I was feeling wonderful in every way and wanted to be out in the world and under the sun. I hadn’t done any exercise since I’d known I was pregnant. Every time I even thought about it I seemed to start spotting, as I was that day, but since I’m not an exercise enthusiast I worried that I was putting it off for my sake, not yours, and that my pregnancy would suffer for my poor fitness. I’m always suspicious of my own motives when circumstance seems to be leading me in the direction I want to go. So I told myself off for being overly concerned and lazy and talked Jake into a walk around the lake with me. I didn’t tell him I was bleeding. I wish I had.

We walked and talked about people and work and life and you. I couldn’t talk about life without talking about you. I was considering the big pregnancy reveal in only a week or two, just so I could talk freely about how much I loved you and how excited I was. We didn’t walk too hard or fast; even keeping up with your Daddy’s long legs (which I hoped you’d have) I always had enough breath for conversation. Just as I’d read I should. I noticed nothing during our walk and returned home happy that I’d done it.

It was only when I undressed for the shower that I saw I was bleeding. Clots. And fresh blood. Fuck. Don’t panic. Still no pain. I showered, speed-washed my hair and gathered everything I might need for an overnight in hospital. Only once I was done did I tell Jake. Only then did I cry.

He took me to the Royal Brisbane. Not our closest hospital, but I was already booked there antenatally and waiting to try to get into the birth centre there. I went through triage sober and dry-eyed and was seated next to a woman who looked about 7 months pregnant. She was alone. I wanted to ask her if she was okay, if she needed anything, but I didn’t know if she’d want me to and I didn’t know if I had anything to give her. The male nurse who took my history insisted on being chirpy. When I told him my morning sickness had stopped a week ago he said, “Wow, isn’t that great”. I looked at him like he had three heads, but it wasn’t until I mentioned that I thought perhaps it might not be such a great thing considering my presentation that he realized he’d said something stupid. I suppose we all say stupid things, but I hope I don’t say things that ignorant to my terrified patients. (He’s coughing up blood? Awesome. Better out than in.)

We were settled into a bed to wait for the doctor. Bizarrely enough, I immersed myself in minesweeper on my phone. I can play through it fast enough that there’s no room for any other thought. The doctor came by, tall, dark and unshaven, and told me right off the bat that, chances were, I was miscarrying. I crumpled over, holding my belly and wailing softly. He started to talk over my crying about curettes and natural miscarriage before he even mentioned an ultrasound. Part of me was still holding out hope. I was fantasizing about near misses and drug therapies and six months of enforced bed rest before an eventual caesarean. Anything to keep you. The doctor said I’d need an Anti-D injection regardless as I’m a negative blood group, and the bleeding could have exposed me to a positive blood group. I had to drink till I was bursting for the ultrasound and lie back and try not to “get upset”.  I lay back upset at myself and them that they hadn’t hydrated me for the ultrasound and then worried about getting the urine sample which had been sitting, ignored, on the bench beside me for more than an hour. I didn’t tell the doctor I was bleeding before our walk. I didn’t want him to think I was stupid, even though he said that level of exercise wouldn’t be responsible for this, and I was worried that Jake would blame me. I’d hurt his baby too.

I hadn’t brought my previous scan. I felt so dumb. I knew better than that. The sonographer who came to see me explained that without any earlier pictures, she likely wouldn’t be able to tell me what was definitely happening, just what she saw now. So as I sat there with my ever-expanding bladder, I prayed. Not to god, but to you Peanut. Please be okay. Please be there. Please have a heart beat. Please be the right size. Please don’t leave me.

The sonographer was wonderful. She is my best memory of that night. They’re not usually my favourite people but she was the only one that night to give me genuine compassion. It bothers me that I can’t remember her face. She spoke with me throughout the scan as to a colleague, and it was only accessing that part of my brain that let me keep it together. After verifying that you were there and she could see you she warned me that she wouldn’t tell me anything till it was done. Finally she stopped, and as soon as her eyes were on me, I knew.

Before she could say anything, I doubled over and screamed, high and loud, till my lungs were empty and my stomach muscles cramping. I kept howling, with Jake trying to hold onto me and me burying my face in my pillow, biting, and my fists tearing at the blankets. Some part of my mind which stayed distant and remote could hear her say “I’m sorry, there’s no heartbeat and the baby is only measuring at 3mm”, and was thankful for the warm hand squeezing my shoulder before she left us alone, telling us to take all the time we needed. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t speak. I don’t know what Jake was doing because there was no room in my consciousness for him. I was full with horror, and the inability to understand how everything that was going to be, now wasn’t. I don’t know how long I stayed like that, but it was only when Jake said he was going to ask the doctors to sedate me that I started to come back into myself. I cried and he held me. I still don’t know if he cried that night. I think he was probably too scared about me to be able to cry then.

I sobbed on my bed as they wheeled me back out of radiology. I remember the sick, sad, scared faces of a Saturday night E.R. watching my procession. Back at the bedside, the nurse saw me crying. “Do you have pain? No? You’re just upset? Okay then”. And on he walked. Leaving my curtains wide open and me exposed. Eventually, Jake got up to close them. The doctor came to confirm for me, very unnecessarily, that my baby was dead, probably had been for some time, and to tell me that if I was sure I didn’t want a D&C my miscarriage would probably progress naturally at home over the next few days. He understood I wanted to go home, but I needed to have my Anti-D injection. And he left us. For a long time.

At some stage I ran out of tears. I was so hurt and so lost; I just kept lapsing off into vacant staring. No thought that I can remember. Absent except for the pain.  I asked Jake to call my mother and tell her what happened. I needed for her to know, but I couldn’t tell her. I barely even noticed his absence. I was absent myself. I came to briefly and texted two friends, the biggest supporters of my pregnancy, and simply said, “my baby’s gone”.

I decided I needed to leave, as soon as possible. Jake buzzed for a nurse and we sat and waited. It was nearly half an hour before someone came, and Jake explained all I was waiting on was my Anti-D. More waiting as it was chased up with the doctor. I understand hospitals and waiting. I just don’t want to be left waiting endlessly with no information about why I’m waiting. When the doctor showed up and admitted the injection hadn’t been ordered yet from the blood bank, despite him telling me I needed it about 4 hours earlier, I told him we were leaving and I’d see my GP Monday. He grudgingly gave in and we were discharged. It was a sad and silent journey home.

I called my mother, waking her, to tell her I was okay for now and that we were home. I think I slept.

I spent the next day in bed. I texted my closest friend to come and that I needed her. She crawled into bed with me to hold me and stroke my hair. For hours she stayed and listened to me cry and didn’t call out my dead-eyed staring. She was exactly what I needed. Jake kept himself busy doing other things. I didn’t see him much that day. I didn’t eat but I had an incredible thirst. This continued for the next few days. I lay in bed, crying or sleeping with no interest in the world. Pneumonia set in.

It was that Sunday night that I started to really bleed. I lay in a hot bath and sent a message to all those friends who knew I was pregnant. I started to write. The rest of it, you’ve already read.

It took me a long time to write this. It’s not an easy night to re-live. For the most part it has been written while I sit in your garden surrounded by colour, birdsong, spring sunshine and sweet scents. In the meantime, I’ve been through the whole gamut of emotion around miscarriage and trying to conceive our next baby. Hope one day and devastation the next. Today I feel neither hope nor dismay, just an acceptance of my life and of Peanut’s and the end of our time together.

Written over July and August, 2011 

10 Responses

  1. I lost my baby at 18 weeks. We are so heartbroken. Honestly, I don’t know how to get past the pain. Thank you for sharing your story. I’m so sorry for your loss.

    • I found help and a lot of support through groups of wonderful women I met on the internet, but my family and a few special friends really pulled me through. I hope you have people to help you through the loss of your beautiful baby and I’m honoured to think that you might have gained anything through my story x

  2. I am so sorry for your pain and loss! I too have lost two babies. The first was the worst, at 19 weeks, I gave birth to a beautiful healthy baby girl. She was too young to live, even though she lived for an hour. I went into labor because of my stupid cervix. I still haven’t “moved on”, or learned how to “be okay” with it all.

    • I think okay means different things one day to the next. I hope you find your version soon x

  3. Hi Kate, reading your story reminded me of my sister. She wanted to be a mum more then anything in the world. She also cut of friends who were having babies as it was too painful. My sister had no problems falling pregnant but something would happen around 9 weeks and she would miscarry. This happened 15 times in around 8 years. They looked into adoption but it wasn’t a viable option. As a last resort they looked into surrogacy. I would have done this for my sister but unfortunately I’d had a hysterectomy the day before my sister had her first miscarriage. They ended up going to India. They did ivf over here and then the embryos were flown to India. It took two tries but they now have a beautiful 8 month old baby boy. I suppose I just wanted to let u know that miracles do happen to give u some hope. Look after yourself not only physically but especially emotionally. Good luck. I hope with all my heart that your dreams come true. Kelly

  4. HI, finding it very hard to read your story at this time, wanted to reassure you I also lost my first and went on to have 3 healthy boys, then lost another 4 in the past 3 years. I know how you feel regarding others and being around others, out of all 5 we wer able to bury the last, had a proper little body, to plant with a tree, it was the most traumatic of all and I wish I could say it’s easier with having children it’s not. I am now 41 there will be no more. Its really, really hard nearly1 year on anniversary coming up on the 09/11/11. Although I wonder do you date from the day you know the heartbeat stopped or the day you birthed the baby? Who knows, hurts just as bad either way.

  5. Thank you for sharing Kate XXX

  6. Kate – your story is so powerful and so heart-wrenching. I feel your pain and thank you for expressing it in all its raw power. Through all my miscarriages (I’ve had five) I don’t believe I really let out my grief and gave proper voice to the pain and loss. So I thank you for doing it for me – I am finding it helpful to read other people’s stories. My miscarriages were a long time ago now (compared to yours) – the first in January 2005 and the good news is that we have been blessed with two beautiful daughters – the first a little miracle of natural conception who is now five years old, the second an IVF conception, just three weeks old.

    I hope that you will also soon have a new little life to love. You will never forget your Peanut, or the love and pain that you feel, but I wish you healthy babies to hold in your arms and love and watch grow.

    It is good that you are sharing – so many women suffer miscarriage in silence, without knowing how many other women go through it and that there is no shame in it and that it’s okay to share the pain. Statistics are no comfort, but knowing that there are other women out there who share your pain is something – however small.

    I will look forward to following your posts and especially to the day I read that you have two lines again – hopefully ones that will mean the beginning of a happier journey this time.

    Lots of love and hugs coming to you!

  7. Thank you for sharing Kate


  8. Thanks for sharing your story. I am so sorry for your pain, loss and suffering. xxx

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