Miscarriage after neonatal death
Updated: May 19, 2021
This isn’t the blog I ever thought I would be writing, I was planning on writing a ‘first trimester pregnancy after loss’ blog over the festive period, but that blog never came to fruition as I miscarried on 15th December. I never thought I was immune from miscarriage because Clay died but I think I just clung onto every inch of hope that the odds would be in our favour and we would be one of the 3 in 4 instead of one of the 1 in 4, unfortunately that wasn’t the case. A close friend miscarriage the week before me, I was so heartbroken for her as our due dates were only weeks apart and a part of me felt guilty that I was still pregnant, but in the back of my head I also thought that if I knew somebody who had miscarried, that ‘1 in 4’ statistic, then did that mean I was in the ‘all clear’? just 4 days later my passing thought/hope was broken as we became 2 in 4.
I was just over 3 weeks pregnant when we found out we were expecting again. After Clay died I became a bit obsessed with getting pregnant again, I had given myself a time line. First I wanted to be pregnant by Christmas, that would mean that our next baby would be only one year group below Clay, which for some reason was very important to me, maybe because one year group doesn’t sound too far away and babies born in September 2020 would have been in the same year group as our next baby and they were already here so if our baby was in the same year group as them that felt more real, more tangible.
So after I was over 3 months postpartum we stopped being so careful and decided to see how things went. We obviously hadn’t had Clay’s results at this point but we just felt in our gut that it wasn’t anything genetic and if it was we would cross that bridge when we came to it, in December we found out that it was an unnatural cause, which was completely heartbreaking to hear but also meant that the risks to any future babies were a lot lower. I must add in here that the medical recommendation for pregnancy after a C-Section is at least 6 months, but I just thought it might take us a few months to get caught and by then I would be near, or at the golden 6 month mark. I started tracking my BBT (basal body temperature), taking all my prenatal vitamins (to be honest I never came off them, I didn’t see the point when we knew we wanted to have another baby soon), I started acupuncture with a fertility specialist, reflexology to try and regulate my cycles and I was even monitoring my cervical fluid (yum).
One of my biggest personality flaws (well sometimes a flaw) is that I like to meticulously plan things, I’m not great at waiting and I like to know what’s happening when and be organised. So after 4 weeks of my cycle, there had been no obvious signs of ovulation (‘most’ people ovulate between day 14-16 of their cycle) I started to spiral into a google search hole of why I wasn’t ovulating and before I knew it I had booked myself in for a fertility assessment (see point above about not being great about waiting). Once the fertility assessment was booked I did feel slightly more relaxed, I like to know I’m being pro-active about things where I can be. The week before the assessment I noticed a small spike in my BBT (which can indicate that ovulation has occurred), it was only a small spike and I didn’t really think anything of it until the day before our fertility assessment. I had a weird feeling that I needed to take a pregnancy test, as I was getting in the car I had a momentarily feeling of sickness, lasting all of about 10 seconds. But it was the same sickness I had felt with Clay and I just thought I would check. 10 minutes later the faintest line on the pregnancy test appeared, so faint I didn’t know if my eyes were playing a trick on me and it wasn’t really there. I booked in with my doctor for my bloods doing the next day, knowing that was faster than waiting until the weekend to take another test. The day after that we received a phone call from my Dr to say, yes, you are definitely pregnant.
Finding out I was pregnant was a whirlwind of emotions, its hard to be truly and naively excited about a positive pregnancy test when you know that doesn’t necessarily mean that you get to take your baby home at the end of it. How I wished we all lived in a world where it did. We, of course, were excited and tried to be as optimistic as possible. We went for a scan at what we thought was around 6 weeks, based on when I thought I had ovulated. I was so anxious leading up to the scan, convinced it would be an ectopic pregnancy, that to see the little bean in the right place with a heartbeat was just indescribable, we came out of that scan feeling more positive, from one my many google searches I knew the risk of miscarriage reduced once you had heard a heartbeat.
Fast forward 4 days and I noticed I had some very light bleeding, I spoke to my Dr and consultant and both reassured me whilst bleeding in pregnancy is never normal it is common, to be on the safe side I booked in for another scan for a few days later. Leading up to this scan I was a wreck, I cried nearly every time I went to the toilet, every night when I go into Clay’s nursery to say goodnight to him, I would whisper a little prayer to keep this little bean with us too. The day before the scan the bleeding was a little bit heavier, still light but heavier than it had been so I was convinced I’d had a miscarriage and the scan was going to confirm it. We went for the scan and he told us that baby was still there with a strong heartbeat growing as they would expect, as soon as he told us tears flooded down my face, I honestly couldn’t believe it. He told us everything looked good but we weren’t ‘out of the woods’ and he obviously couldn’t guarantee everything would be ok. 4 days after this scan, on Monday 14th (when Clay would have been 5 months old) the bleeding changed from brown to red, I had to put a pad on as it was now heavier and the hope and positivity from a few days before swiftly left the building, by Tuesday morning my bleeding was very heavy, and on late Tuesday morning I stood up and felt something come away, we knew once we looked that it was the baby in the sac, and I knew it was all over.
I felt such a mixture of emotions, I had hoped and begged for the bleeding to stop and the pregnancy to continue, but I had also known in my head I needed there to be an outcome, if I was going to miscarry, I needed it to happen as for me, the bleeding for 10 days and the unknown was more draining than dealing with the horrendous outcome that we lost the baby. The constant checking of the toilet paper (which for some reason I still do now), wondering if every cramp was mild or severe, broken sleep and crying a LOT, on top of dealing with the grief of losing Clay just felt like too much at times. Miscarriage after baby loss is weird, I have never had a miscarriage before so I can’t and won’t comment on what I imagine that to feel like, but having a miscarriage after losing Clay felt like being punched when you are already down. It felt like another thing to add to the list of ‘shit we have to deal with’, and we so so wanted to finish the year on a slightly positive note. Our life has felt like it has been put on pause, our house is full of baby stuff with no baby to be in them, our minds and my body yearn to have a baby here to nourish and love, so for it to be taken away from us for a second time, albeit in difference circumstances, felt like a firm punch in the stomach. However, I do think because Clay died it has helped us both with grieving over this miscarriage, Dan and I felt very similar in the thoughts that we managed to ‘carry on’ when Clay died (you don’t have much choice the world carries on and so must we) so we knew that we could carry on and move forward from this miscarriage.
A friend said to me “Clay will choose his sibling and send them to you when you and Dan are ready” (this was from a fellow loss mum and I honestly think I wouldn’t have appreciated it as much if it had come from somebody else), now I’m not overly religious but I think this is such a beautiful way to look at it. I will never say ‘everything happens for a reason’ again after Clay died, but I do like to think that Clay is the one choosing his sibling and for whatever reason maybe that just wasn’t the right time, emotionally or physically for us. December had been so stressful finding out Clay’s post mortem results which set the ball rolling on a coroners inquest and deciding if we wanted legal representation, not to mention trying to navigate our first Christmas without Clay, early pregnancy hormones and a global pandemic. I am also the result of a miscarriage, my mum had a miscarriage and then went on to get pregnant with me even before having another period, so I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for that. I keep trying to remind myself that, as much as we will never get to meet the little bean we have just lost and we will never know what he or she would look like, we also wouldn’t know what our next one will be like if it wasn’t for the miscarriage. Of course we wanted that baby, and getting pregnant again will never replace the feelings of never being able to know or hold the little bean we have lost. Having a take home baby will never replace any child we lose, in time all our children will know about our babies that didn’t make it home, whether that was Clay at full term or tiny little bean at just over 7 and a half weeks.
We are still hoping for a take home baby one day, we have so much love to give and empty arms to fill. For me, having a miscarriage has made me reflect even more so on what my body has been through this past year; from growing and delivery Clay, recovering from a C-section, getting pregnant again and now a miscarriage, I am proud of my body, I know in my heart one day we will have a take home baby. I can feel it, see it and I’m sure along the journey we will have good times, bad times and as always, laughter. We will keep hope in our hearts, but Clay, if you are up their choosing your sibling to send to us, could I kindly ask you get a move on? Love you always, Mummy x