This morning when I woke up I felt fine, but several minutes after getting dressed I noticed the blood was bright red and more than just spotting. My heart raced as I took to the Internet to diagnose my own symptoms and the only words that filled my computer screen were MISCARRIAGE and DOCTOR. Being a Sunday morning I called my local GP and was put through to the out of hour’s service. Giving them my details and telling them of my symptoms I apologised for seeming over protective but needed the peace of mind to be sure the baby was OK. In my mind I knew it was routine and when they said a doctor would return my call I got ready to go shopping and planned the rest of the day in my head until the doctor would call. But the phone rang sooner than expected, and the doctor’s questions were a little more urgent than I hoped they would be. They advised of an appointment locally at lunchtime but told me it would be quicker to go straight to the hospital, and for some strange reason I was very relieved to be told that, because I thought the doctor had my interests in mind for wanting reassurance, not that the baby might actually need immediate medical attention. And at the hospital when I checked in I was preparing for a long tiresome wait, but almost immediately before I’d had the chance to settle in the stiff waiting room chair my name was called and a nurse greeted me eagerly.
At the time I felt very special and smiled pleasantly as I told her I was sure I was just being silly but its best to check these things to be sure. I took a urine test for them to confirm my pregnancy but it had filled with blood and I worried it would give a wrong reading because of it. But within minutes they called me back and confirmed I was pregnant and I was relieved that nothing had gone wrong. They prepared me to have my bloods taken and as a precaution I thought, they asked me to lie on a bed while they got the needles ready. I looked the other way as I felt them tugging around with my arm and expecting to sit up and leave when they said it was done, I was taken aback to see a valve fitted to my vein as another nurse brought in a bag of liquid and a stand. I’d convinced myself I’d be kept waiting all day, the doctors would treat me as any other patient in a long boring queue as I watched the clock ticking, and that I’d be home this afternoon cooking Sunday dinner and feeling silly for wasting the morning going to the hospital. But as I watched them feeding the liquid into my arm my head started to spin as I realised this wasn’t a routine check at the hospital. The nurse urged me to take some pain relief which she had already in her hand in a little paper pot with tablets and a glass of water, at first I declined as I didn’t want to cause any unnecessary medication for the baby, but she insisted I should take it so I did.
Time passed in the tiny cubicle as I laid on the bed staring at the decorative curtain that separated me from the rest of the normal patients passing in and out, and for once I wished they could have seen me and sent me home by now and not given me as much fuss and attention as what I was having. When the nurse returned she was holding a gown and asked if they could do a few more tests, I swallowed hard as I realised I’d never had to wear a hospital gown before, let alone with a drip in my arm. I limbered into the gown as the nurse reconnected my wire, before she led me down the corridor into a private room where another nurse greeted me. Nervously I cracked a joke about hospital fashion and the three of us laughed like workmates on a coffee break and it really lightened the mood enough to calm my thoughts again. After the internal examination I returned to the little curtained cubicle and expected to have the drip removed and to get dressed but I was told to wait on the bed as I was until the results came back. I patiently waited until the nurse returned and smiled to see her pull the curtain back to come in, but she didn’t meet me with a smile she just looked down at the paperwork in her hand quietly as she sat down at my feet as if preparing to read me a bedtime story. I watched like a child as her eyes looked up to meet mine, and she placed a reassuring hand on my arm but I was too scared to move to acknowledge her comforting gesture as the wire was laid uncomfortably across the bed at an angle I thought might tear my arm. So I sat frozen like a rabbit in headlights for every sound she was about to make.
I knew she was hesitating, trying desperately to find the right words, and as she frowned and the words fell out I could feel the wetness of the tears splashing onto my arm, I didn’t want to move or make a sound in case it stopped her from delivering the information I so desperately needed to, but didn’t want to hear. She told me all of the tests had come back fine, that they were confident I wasn’t having an ectopic pregnancy, and if I felt OK in myself I could return home. I told her I was fine even though my heart was pounding and my head felt on fire, I thought my throat would close up and stop me from breathing if I had to endure any more sadness. But she delivered the news I didn’t want to hear, the news that the bleeding was down to my body adjusting to a failing pregnancy, a miscarriage. She said how sorry she was, she looked at me like a mother would a sick child wanting to take the pain away and suffer on their behalf, and sadly I felt so connected to her, believing she would make it all better for me but she couldn’t. All she could tell me was my hormone levels weren’t raising, as they should at this stage, and it was a defence mechanism that the body has in order to end a pregnancy that would not have started out properly. She told me to come back in as soon as I felt any more pain or if I needed any more help, but as it was there was nothing anybody could do for me and I knew then that regardless of what pain I had to go through I wouldn’t ever want to be in that room again, even if it meant being alone through it all. And with that she removed the tube from my arm and left me to get dressed. I sat for a moment on the bed alone, looking at the bandage on my arm, the last thing that had connected me to my baby, as if my cord had been cut and now I was alone. When I arrived I was pregnant, and hours later I am now tired, sore and alone. It was the hardest thing for me to take off my gown and change back into my clothes, I sobbed uncontrollably as I pulled on my jeans, knowing that I had to face the world on the other side of the curtain. I’d have given anything to undo the whole day, a part of me wished I’d never called for advice, and a part of me wanted it all to be over as quickly and as painlessly as possible. Knowing I still had my baby inside me but being powerless to do anything to change its fate I walked mindlessly through the rain to the car, I’d never seen such a dark and miserable day and it seemed so planned and deliberate for what had just happened. I cried until the late evening and realised I hadn’t eaten all day, but the thought of food made me feel sick. I turned on the television and tried to watch a film, but I just found myself staring straight through the screen and it was impossible for my mind to settle or concentrate on anything other than my heartache. Eventually I ran out of tears, my eyes puffed up so badly they stung, my nose felt raw from the amount I had blown it, and my throat felt heavy with snot. I just ached, I hungered for hope, I felt sick with worry, and void of emotion, like somebody had taken my soul and left me as an empty discarded shell.
Hours later I tried so hard to think back to what the nurse had told me had gone wrong, my hormone levels were too low to sustain a normal pregnancy, but there must still be something I could do to save the baby, because it was still there inside me trying to live and it would only be a matter of time until it will no longer be there. I sat all night at the computer searching for answers, and was shocked and saddened to discover an entire secret world of mothers silently suffering in the same way. I discovered numbers and targets and deadlines ruled this world. Hormones had to rise overnight to allow the pregnancy to continue, each week that passed during pregnancy held a minimum target amount and if it wasn’t met or the numbers began to fall it meant the baby would die for no given reason at all. Nothing anyone had done or could do would make a difference; it was just nature’s way. I remembered the nurse saying a reading of 25 would give a positive pregnancy test, and my test had proved positive only days ago, and at the hospital they told me it was low but at the same time the results said I was pregnant, so surely I was past the first target. I typed in my symptoms into search engines, stomach cramps, bleeding red blood but not from the baby as my cervix was still closed, no lumps or tissue or darkness, back ache and the feeling to pass a stool… and a low pregnancy hormone.
I wanted to find somebody who matched me exactly and had been ok. I wanted the doctors to be wrong. I found people with my symptoms from all over the world who had been told they would now miscarry but they didn’t give up and refused any medical intervention to remove the failed pregnancy and now they have a healthy happy child who is as normal as any other. But they have no mention of hormone levels, only my symptoms. And others were convinced they still had regular periods throughout their entire pregnancy and nothing at all went wrong and their babies were fine. Others told of how they had twins and one didn’t make it, but then the levels started to rise and the one left became stronger. And others tell of how they had such low levels within days they had been in tremendous pain, and bled so heavily and delivered their babies, but my symptoms weren’t as severe, and I tried to convince myself I wasn’t and wouldn’t get to that stage. I busied myself with tactics to make the bleeding stop and spent my evening laid in bed early. Every time I wiped and saw the bright red blood my heart sank, but it made me more determined to rest up and keep the baby safe.