A Mother's Tale of Miscarriage: 'My Body Couldn't Even Lose Her Properly'
"As soon as my GP called us in his face said it all. 'There was no heartbeat, I am so sorry,' he told us. The rest of what he said to me that day is a blur."
Little Olive was only eight weeks old when my baby’s heart stopped beating in my womb.
‘Olive’ because that was the size she had grown to, the biggest she would ever be.
I made an appointment to see my GP. He told me that “it was most likely nothing,” that “spotting can happen in early pregnancy and it’s usually nothing to worry about.” Although he wasn’t concerned he sensed my worry and requested an ultrasound to be performed that day.
My baby’s heart stopped beating in my womb: ‘It was more of a feeling’
My husband came home and drove me to the clinic. We sat in the waiting room in absolute silence, his hand on mine, although he pretended to be optimistic, he knew too.
Outside I was still, inside my stomach turned, over and over, I felt sick to the deepest pit of my soul because I knew, I knew Olive was gone.
“Shona,” the technician called, we stood up and entered the room that only last week I had been in receiving the best news I could hope for, the one now I was awaiting the worst.
I put on the gown and I lay down on the table. The technician told me that he would conduct an internal vaginal ultrasound because of the early stage of the pregnancy, this, he assured me would provide the most accurate results in finding the heartbeat.
He told me to try and “relax.” How could I though? How do you relax when you know that in the matter of mere seconds your worst worries will be confirmed?
‘A poignant reminder of what could have been’
So, it began, what felt like an eternity of searching for the heartbeat, taking images that showed none, followed by silence from this man who was so visibly desperate to find something reassuring but who simply couldn’t.
“I’ll just need to get the ultrasound technician in charge,” he told me.
I waited, cold on the table, my gown providing no warmth, my body feeling exposed and broken. The last image of Olive was still on the screen, a poignant reminder of what could have been and what had already transpired.
Minutes later the head technician came and repeated the scan. At the end he told me he would send the results directly to my GP and that I needed to return there to receive them. I knew what this meant, I knew the outcome of this deliberate silence. I began to cry.
As soon as my GP called us in his face said it all. “There was no heartbeat, I am so sorry,” he told us. The rest of what he said to me that day is a blur.
When we went home, I curled up into a ball in my bed and sobbed, the sort of uncontrollable, hysterical, gut wrenching sobbing saved only for life’s most heartbreaking moments. I stayed this way for hours until exhaustion overwhelmed the devastation and I fell asleep.
After seeing my obstetrician, the next day, I was told that because Olive had not been “expelled naturally” that I would need to have a procedure to have her removed, a Dilatation and Curettage (D&C) and that I would need to wait until the next week to have it done.
‘My body couldn’t even lose her properly’
The feeling of absolute failure consumed me. Not only had Olive stopped growing, and not only had her heart stopped beating but my body couldn’t even lose her properly.
Instead I was left to walk around with my baby inside me for a week, just like I had the eight weeks before but now knowing instead of getting stronger and developing she was just there, lifeless, a foetus waiting to be removed.
For the next week I sat on my couch, with my cat on my lap trying to forget what was happening. I watched day time television, drank too much wine, I cried, and I slept. It was one of the hardest weeks of my life.
The procedure happened over the course of a day. I walked in with baby Olive still in my womb – the place where she should have been protected and nourished, the womb that failed to do so – and I left without her.
My first child was gone. I would never see her, never touch her and never hold her.
And while I would go on to have two beautiful, healthy daughters who I am so grateful for, I will always remember my little Olive.