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2 missed miscarriages and 2 rainbow babes

2 missed miscarriages and 2 rainbow babes

I am so grateful that we have been able to have our two rainbow babies - they have no doubt healed my heart.

My first miscarriage 

I had been on a working holiday with my husband overseas and we had been talking about trying to start a family. I, being the planner that I am, went ahead and worked out when we could start trying to have a baby taking into account our return to Australia on my fertility app. I had the Implanon contraception removed before we set off on the last travelling section of our trip prior to flying home. People often talk about how long it can take to fall pregnant after being on contraception for so long. Around the time that my period was due for the second month that we tried to fall pregnant, we had been driving around Norway together in a hire car. Due to wanting to make our money stretch long enough for us to make it to our flight date home + Norway NOT being cheap, we were often sleeping in the car as well. I remember some mornings when I woke, I was feeling short of breath and the windows were quite foggy. First Pregnancy Test 27 August, 2017 - I had managed to hold out until the day my period was due to do a test. I didn’t want to spend money unnecessarily and didn’t have any spotting so thought it was worthwhile. We had a quiet morning and visited the Lofotr Viking Museum where we were subjected to very strong winds. We drove onto Henningsvær and wandered around where we were able to track down the last pregnancy test in the shop - yay! It wasn’t something that I wanted to go asking the shop assistants for - and reminded me of awkward condom shopping from years ago. We went to the nearby cafe where I used google to translate the instructions as I didn’t want to do it wrong. I felt hot and nervous! As I washed my hands, it seemed that a second line was coming up but it was really faint. I walked out to show my husband - it had only been one minute but it did seem to get mildly darker as I held the test under the table. I googled images but they showed only same colour lines. My husband suggested contacting my friend who was already a mama. She wrote back ‘Congrats’. I didn’t know if it was relief that flooded my body or I just wanted to cry. This test had made it more real and that it wasn’t just me counting days and hoping. 

We headed back to the car where we hugged and cried happy tears. My husband said ‘We’re going to be a family’ We were excited and our conversations changed dramatically into a lot of hypotheticals. I was glad that I had already booked a GP appointment for when we returned home and decided that we could tell our family at lunch after we arrived back in Australia. It was strange news to sink in that night. I started looking up when babies start to kick and updated my app to a positive pregnancy test. We made our way back down to the Norwegian capital over the next week or so and managed to not tell friends that we stayed with despite being excited. It did cross my mind during this time that there was a chance of miscarriage, so I googled the odds - not great. Let’s hope it doesn’t happen. 

It was a few days out from our international flight that spotting had begun. I did some more googling and decided to take it a little easier as we made our way around Berlin. It was on the plane home when I had the most bleeding and heck, there isn’t much that you can do in economy on a 12 hour flight. So I did the only thing I could - immersed myself in back-to-back movies until I grew tired enough to sleep. My husband was supportive but there wasn’t anything that he could really do either. We had a stop over in Hong Kong where I only remember lying on the seats with our bags while he went off to find us some food. I don’t remember the next flight at all. 

Our reunion with our family was lovely of course - it had been 18 months since we had seen anyone and we all enjoyed the planned lunch together. We had been looking forward to telling them at that lunch that we were going to have a baby, but decided not to until we knew what was going on. I had organised to go and stay with friends the following week, which allowed me to take my mind off what was or wasn’t happening. A missed miscarriage confirmed I can’t be sure of the order that things happened, but we did go along to the scan together.There wasn’t a heartbeat but we were told that it doesn’t necessarily mean that it wasn’t viable as it was early on in the pregnancy. We were staying with family at the time, and we hadn’t said anything to them so we sat down the road from the hospital in the car and I cried like a baby {ironic}. I may have had bloods done to measure hcg after the scan with my mum’s male doctor. I didn’t have my own at that stage as we had been away and changed locations since we were last in Australia. He talked through the options - d and c, tablet to assist with removal or let it happen naturally. I chose the latter. So off we went, and waited...with a night pad everyday for the miscarriage to begin. It was weeks before any blood loss. 

We were house-sitting and with no job we immersed ourselves in the novelty of Netflix - Narcos to be exact. I was visiting my Nan one day when I checked my emails and an email from Babycentre had come through ‘You’re 8 weeks pregnant’. I didn’t want to bother her with it, so I made an excuse and went outside to sob and unsubscribe from the emails. We managed to get jobs and tell our parents - it was a little hard to hide this from them. I rejoiced when I had the first sign of blood loss and even announced it to my parents-in-law when I arrived home from work that day. I bled for 5 weeks straight and assumed that it was finished with. I remember one morning before work, I lay on our bed with my husband and had my ear to his chest and heard his heart beating - I lost it. Inconsolable. It’s the sound that I desperately wanted to hear when they had done the scan. Grief - you can’t pick when it will get you. 

It was Christmas Day 2016 when I got my period back, which only lasted 2 days and didn’t seem right. Perhaps it wasn’t done. In January 2017 one morning at work, I had immense pain and went to the toilet. I passed what I can only assume was a tiny placenta. Given the time of day, the workplace, the position of the toilet - I stood there wondering what I should do. I didn’t have my phone with me, so I couldn’t take a photo to ask anyone later on. I did what I guess most people would do - flush it and try to put it out of my mind and get on with the day. I decided to follow up with the GP to get another scan to make sure that there was no more tissue remaining so that we could get on with starting a family. They did an internal scan and although my mind is a bit fuzzy on it - I feel that that may have dislodged the last piece of tissue. It was a weekend, I had made butter chicken in the thermomix for the first time but not long after dinner I had massive pains. 

I was sweaty, on the toilet and my husband wasn’t far off taking me to the hospital. Again I will never know, but I can only assume that was the last piece to leave my body. A February 2017 scan confirmed a vacant uterus. Yay! 5 months down the track from finding out that we weren’t to ever meet this baby! I had started regular acupuncture sessions in the hope that it would assist with the miscarriage beginning. After the first session, I left with salt taped into my belly button! I continued going monthly whilst we tried to start a family. Life after miscarriage I got on with life. Work was hard in that I was constantly looking forward in the calendar for customers to rebook them for six or twelve months' time. Each time I wondered what I would be doing then and if pregnancy would happen for us. In mid-April we went to 1770 for Easter to visit friends. It was nice to get out of our walls and escape our frustration. According to the fertility app, my ‘green days’ ie fertile days were just after we returned. 

As I got closer to pregnancy test time, I remember balling my eyes out to a friend over the phone sitting in a beanbag that it hasn’t happened yet. I felt that my body was letting me down and I was so very frustrated. April 27 - Mum bought a bakery treat to work for me for my birthday and I couldn’t finish it. It was out of the ordinary for me but it was too sweet. Falling pregnant again May 4 - After work I went to the shop to buy red wine, oranges and a pregnancy test. I was due to visit friends the next day and I didn’t want to be drinking sangria if I happened to be pregnant. So I took the test after I returned home and had a quick look - I couldn’t believe it. It was positive! 

I got my husband to check, he asked some questions and got me to recheck. We hugged and soon got back to what we were doing prior - watching MasterChef and packing for the weekend. We knew not to get our hopes up. Relief and anxiety had already crept in. This also meant that I wouldn’t be as sad about my original pregnancy due date coming up in the next week, as I had this one to focus on. May 14 - I had told Mum through the toilet door a few days earlier that I wasn’t so worried about navigating Mother’s Day this year anymore. She was excited for me of course. I had signed up with her to do the Mother’s Day walk and arrived at her house early to go together. Quick toilet stop before we headed off - blood. You’ve got to be kidding me! My plans changed and I lay on the couch for most of the day and worried instead. I decided later to go to lunch with her and my Nan. To be on the safe side, I decided to take the next day off work to lay on the couch and watched reruns of Full House for most of the day. 

The following day I went into work but felt light-headed so left before lunch and booked a GP appointment. I managed to take the same day off that my husband had off word and organised the dating scan. We spent a very low key day together - went for breaky and drank 1L of water prior to the afternoon scan. I was a jumble of nerves prior to it and they did an internal scan as well. It was all worth it when they located the fetus hiding away with a strong heartbeat. We drove to tell my parents who were out on an afternoon walk. We found them, they congratulated us and we drove them the rest of the way home to chat. The following day was my husband's birthday and we had already arranged to go to dinner together with his parents. They had tears of joy after he finally told them an hour after sitting down with them. I only wish that he had told them earlier - talk about building suspense! I felt anxious every time that I went to the toilet, hoping against hopes that I wouldn’t be met with the sight of blood. I managed to get onto the Midwifery Group Program at our public hospital and got a wonderfully experienced midwife. We did the Calmbirth program in the leadup to the birth and believe that it assisted me in birthing our daughter naturally and drug-free in January 2018. We had our rainbow baby and we felt so lucky. 

My second miscarriage 

I was eagerly awaiting my period to return after the arrival of our daughter. We were keen to start trying for our next baby. We loved her so very much and we felt lucky that we had a pretty easy baby that slept well. I got my period back 11.5months after her birth. We started trying and fell pregnant in the second month after a strange period that had lasted 13 days. Nevertheless, it was a positive home pregnancy test and I decided to wait until around 9 weeks for the scan as our previous miscarriage measured 7w4d. I was anxious leading up the the scan, and when a family friend that was due after me had her scan - I was even moreso. I moved the scan forward. March 15 - It was bucketing down with rain. The three of us went in and it took a long time for the sonographer to find the fetus. In the meantime of course, I feared the worst. She did an internal and managed to find it. There was a flicker for the heartbeat and measured 6w3d. 

We left feeling a bit unsure. We told our parents but also not to get excited. I was still breastfeeding my daughter and it had become quite uncomfortable. I decided that nearly 15 months was a good amount of time {I had aimed for 12 months initially}. Also, if I was going to have another baby soon I wasn’t keen to be tandem feeding. So on April 5, 2019 she had her pre-bed feed and only for a few days at pre-bedtime did she seem to miss it. Another missed miscarriage confirmed April 7 - I was feeling really anxious about the pregnancy and managed to get into someone for a scan. I went along by myself and they found an empty sac. She had to do some more measurements and had asked if I wanted the screen turned off - it’s ok. But there’s only so much seeing no hope staring at me on the screen that I could take. I asked her to turn the screen off and she got tissues for me. That’s when it really set in what was happening. Another missed miscarriage. I hadn’t bled at all this time and was probably in shock. She was lovely and escorted me to the emergency waiting room so that I could be processed. I called my husband to please join me and he arranged for our daughter to be looked after at home. I had gone through to the first contact and the same options were given again.

After my previous experience of waiting for it to happen, I honestly couldn’t put myself through that again. I assumed if I chose a dandc this time that it could happen relatively quickly. I was given a referral to the clinic to come back in a day or two’s time. I found the first miscarriage hard questioning ‘will a successful pregnancy happen for us?’ but I was able to cry and zone out as I wished. With a one year old, it was hard because ‘will a successful pregnancy happen again for us?’ still swirled around but I had to try to control my emotions and get on with looking after her. I went back to the clinic I had a lovely Canadian male clinician who seemed very understanding and made this visit easier for me. I had one Misoprostol and went home with another to encourage the tissue to leave my body. My husband’s boss was kind enough to say to go home and be with your wife. I sat around for the next couple days at home and had spotting at best. This option clearly wasn’t working. I had told a few people that I was pregnant - after all I was ‘10 weeks pregnant’. One of the hardest things to do the day that I found out was to update them. I lay on my bed, composed the text, pressed send and tears streamed down my face. That’s the thing with writing things down - it makes it more real. Some of those people were invaluable in this situation and met me exactly where I needed to be met. They didn’t shy away from the hard situation and for that I will be forever grateful. Back to the clinic and had a female clinician that talked me through the options - I mentally needed a dandc asap. She ‘kindly’ told me that there was a chance of needing a hysterectomy with a dandc. Far out! It made me question if this was the right thing to do? I was beside myself. While she made a call in the room, she asked me to wait in the waiting room. Tears streamed down my face. I sat in the hallway as I didn’t want to be in the waiting room with other people in this state. I should have made a complaint that day about her bedside manner but it wasn’t a priority at the time. Perhaps I still will, if she’s still working there. 

I was so thankful that I didn’t need to worry about going into work as it was school holidays where I was working part-time doing admin work. One day for some reason, I was sitting on the kitchen floor crying. My 15mo old daughter was at home and she came over, looked at me and gave me the biggest cuddle. That’s the thing about grief - you can keep a lid on your feelings for a while but it has to come out at some point. Choosing a DandC It was eight days after I was told that I had had a missed miscarriage that my husband took me up to the hospital early for the dandc. He waited with me for a couple of hours and then went to look after our daughter. I had to fast from the night before and heck, I am not the person to tell to fast! We had arrived at the hospital by 7am and I had bought a book and zoned out to a colour-by-numbers app {which was promptly deleted from my phone just days after this}. At lunch time, due to other patients needing to be attended to, I was still in the waiting room. I was given a small tub of liquid to drink. 

Around 2pm I was finally processed for surgery. I was in the theatre loading bay, next to go in and had been asked all of the questions. Some time later, I was told that I had to go back and wait. ARGH!!!!! A woman had presented with an ectopic pregnancy and needed surgery - fair enough. I felt grateful that that wasn’t me and I wasn’t going to be losing a fallopian tube that day. Waiting back in the intermediate room was hard. I pulled the sheet up over my face and cried. I felt so alone and just wanted this to be over. I was taken back to the first room in the bed to wait. My husband came up once my mum went to babysit around 5pm at a guess. It was nice to have company again. I think it was around 6.15pm that they were able to prep me for theatre again. Because it was so late, it meant I needed to stay in overnight though. Let’s get this done. It was the first night that I had spent away from my daughter - not the circumstances that I had hoped for. I hated that they kept having to ask what I was there for. I hated that they may not realise that this surgery was ‘my baby hasn’t developed’ instead of ‘I don’t want this baby’. The theatre staff were lovely to me and apologised for the wait. 

Before long I was out to it. When I came to, I was in the recovery room and felt fully alert. I wasn’t able to talk to the surgeon’s that night about how it had gone but understood that it went well. I was wheeled back to the space where I spent most of the afternoon amongst the other recovering patients. I was given dinner - thank goodness!! I was eager to get out the next morning and downed breaky. My husband and daughter came to pick me up and it was lovely to see them. I spoke with one of the surgeons before I left and was informed that it went to plan. I had several questions for them but don’t remember them now. I remember feeling amazing leaving the hospital. I finally didn’t feel like I was carrying around a dirty secret. I text my beautiful support network to say thanks once we were home. Life after miscarriage The amazing feeling of course wore off. I just didn’t know how to get through some days. How did others deal with this? I asked google. I went back to the acupuncturist that I had gone to for pre-labour with my first baby. I went to a nutritionist and bought half a dozen types of tablets to make my body into a temple. But still I felt broken some days, like my body was letting me down. The male nutritionist suggested waiting for three months to start trying again, which pissed me off. With hindsight, this was a wonderful idea to allow me to be emotionally ready again and also give my body a break. I could recognise that my body had gone through a lot. But in my mind, falling pregnant again was the only thing that would make my world ok again. I was having regular blood tests to monitor my HCG levels since the scan had showed a missed miscarriage.

 They took a long time to come back to 0 but it was good to know where they were at and also to know when we could/should start trying again. I imagine that we tried to fall pregnant in between but it took until August. I had spent a carefree day with friends on a daytrip just prior to the fertile window and I think getting out of the everyday was really needed at that time. 

At the end of August, I didn’t think that I was pregnant so I wasn't overly concerned about eating Brie at a housewarming party. Falling pregnant again I did a home pregnancy test upon waking on September 2, it was positive. I took it into our room and threw it to my husband in shock. Then we went about our day. The following day, my Nan had a fall and went to emergency - it wasn’t looking good. For the next week we rallied around, sitting at her bedside while she barely responded. Also during this time, we had a family wedding and I had started spotting. I knew that there was little that I could do. As horrible as it was, I was almost relieved to have something to take my mind off the viability of our baby. It got to the point one night that there was enough blood to convince me that we had lost this one too. I cried in bed that night grieving another baby. I had been to the doctor in between and she had asked for initial bloods which included HCG levels. We had already discussed fortnightly bloods to keep my mind at ease until the first scan. I was sitting on the lounge when she called. I expected her to say ‘I’m sorry’ but instead ‘the HCG levels have risen’. ‘WHAT??’ I honestly couldn’t believe it! There was hope, but I knew that we weren’t in safer territory yet. The HCG levels kept rising thankfully. When it came time for the dreaded first scan around 9 weeks we all {again} had a sigh of relief when we heard the most amazing sound - our baby’s heartbeat. I kept the pregnancy test in the top bathroom drawer to remind myself daily of the miracle that had and was occurring. Again, I felt anxious every time that I went to the toilet, hoping against hopes that I wouldn’t be met with the sight of blood. I again managed to get onto the Midwifery Group Program at our public hospital and we had another midwife and managed the same student midwife which was great. 

Around 16 weeks, I took my daughter to daycare and text my boss to say that I would be a bit late to work. I called the hospital and told reception that I was really worried that something was wrong. She told me to come in and I was able to meet my new midwife, as the original one had to take extended leave. Given it was the first time that I had met her, she was very understanding, got out the doppler and assured me that my baby was doing well. I asked if I could hug her before I left {which she agreed to}, and felt so relieved that things were ok. I was able to get on with my day and glad that I trusted myself to seek that assurance when I was so in my head! I felt so lucky to be able to have the waterbirth that I had envisioned this time, and birthed our son naturally and drug-free in May 2020. I pulled him up from below the water and held him on my chest as he took his first breath. Tears of relief followed. I am so grateful that we have been able to have our two rainbow babies - they have no doubt healed my heart. 

For anyone that is pregnant after a loss, I can relate to the added anxiety and vulnerability that we show particularly during this time to achieve our dreams. My experiences have shaped who I am today and led me in the direction of developing ‘note it now’ this year with the mama-to-be pregnancy journey note cards. The aim is to allow pregnant women to reflect + connect + remember their journey in an easy and timely way. Pregnancy is so fleeting and it’s so very easy to forget all the growth that happens along the way. I believe that the mama-to-be note cards can support women {particularly pregnant after loss} with weekly bump day reminder texts and a way for you to regularly check in with yourself along the way. Although I didn’t know about Pink Elephants Support Network during my miscarriages, I can absolutely see the value in their organisation. I’m looking forward to donating to them from the proceeds through the sale of the mama-to-be note cards. Thank you PESN for all the work that you’re doing to normalise these conversations that are so important to allow us to move through these times more easily and feel supported.

By, Jodie