I have suffered four first trimester miscarriages… Each of them heartbreaking.
As a GP I know only too well about miscarriages. As a junior doctor I used to help run early pregnancy clinics where it was part of my job to break the awful news to a woman/couple. I know only too well what the statistics are on miscarriage and have been the purveyor of the very phrase ‘around 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage’.
I just didn’t know how it felt…
I had four miscarriages in a year. In fact, three of them were missed miscarriages (MMC). This is the type of miscarriage where the baby sadly dies without and clinical features of miscarriage (no bleeding/pain). It is often identified by ultrasound scan when there is no fetal heartbeat seen.
I found out about the first miscarriage at 12 weeks. We had cautiously told our close friends and family that we were pregnant before this happened. Although we knew the statistics, they somehow did not seem relevant to us (me) and I thought it would be okay to share our news with a select few. We were after all overjoyed and so excited to become parents! Why would we want to keep that news to ourselves?
Of course our world came tumbling down when I awoke with acute abdominal pain and MMC was confirmed on ultrasound later that same day. I was devastated. It didn’t end there as you then I needed to decide how I ‘wanted’ to manage the MMC: expectant, medical,surgery? It all seemed like too much, too soon… I eventually opted for medical management (I had a strange fear of general anaesthetic back then) where you are given tablets to help your body expel the remnants of the pregnancy. I hindsight, this perhaps was not the best idea for me as the process was long and painful (though I know this is not the case for all women), I needed a repeat scan to check everything had passed and a lot of time off work.
The weeks and months passed and we were able to pick ourselves up from this. ‘Let’s try again! After all miscarriage is common, hopefully we won’t be that unlucky again?’
The second miscarriage happened 5 months later (early chemical)
The third miscarriage (a second MMC) happened just 3 months after that… I opted for surgical management this time around and found the recovery much easier. We were officially in the realm of ‘Recurrent Miscarriage’. Something that affects around 1 in 100 women, an uncommon event. I vaguely recall a few of my thoughts at this sad time…
‘At least we can be investigated and something can be done to help‘
‘What if there is something wrong with one/both of us?‘
‘What if we can never have children?‘
We were referred to a specialist locally and initial investigations were all normal. We thought it really must have been just bad luck and started trying again. But just like the first and third pregnancies we were struck with a third MMC (fourth miscarriage in total).
That was it. We knew something was not quite right. There was an obvious pattern to three of those losses – MMCs at the same developmental stage. We just needed the right expertise to help us figure it out. I really started to do my own research and was shocked to find out how little medical professionals (myself included) actually knew about recurrent miscarriage. There are only a handful of research centres across the country doing some great work into this area and rather confusingly they each seem to take a different approach to it.
For me, I asked to be referred to the hospital I felt could help with my miscarriages and thankfully they were able to identify a possible cause.
Of course we will never know for certain why all of those miscarriages happened – but I am happy to be where I am today. 3rd trimester and counting the days until we meet our little rainbow.