Monday, 3 December 2012

The worst kind of week

This is not a pleasant story, I'm sorry. It's long (ETA: it's really long). It's about grief and pain and I want to warn you because not everyone is in a place to read it. But it's my story and writing it down and sharing it makes it a little less scary and a little less painful. (It's also my husband's story. He's ok with me telling it. I asked, which only seemed polite.)  

We had nearly ten days to worry about it. A seven week scan was not the wonderful experience I hoped it would be. They told me I wasn't as far along as I thought I was (actually, an exceptionally rude lady said "well she's obviously not 7 weeks" without looking at me, despite having her arm half way up my lady parts. I'm in the process of complaining about her.) I knew they were wrong, but no one asked my opinion. There was a heartbeat, but it wasn't very strong or fast. I was dismissed with a 'come back next week' but no information. I googled it. This was a brutal introduction to the fact the outcome was probably going to be poor: miscarriage. My friends and family sent prayers and love and support. 

Unfortunately, the dye was cast already. I have never believed in pre-destination; but in pregnancy the future is set the millisecond it starts. I was never going to be pregnant for more than 8 weeks. The minutes, hours, days were all decided already. There was no way for us to change any of it. 

By the time we reached our second scan appointment, I was sure it was over. The scan, that ten days before had shown me a tiny blob in a black space was now a cloudy, messy grey screen. The trainee was the lovely. She calmly asked the sonographer for some help, but her face told me everything I needed to know. The sonographer tried to get a clearer picture. In the end I introduced the subject: "it's not good news, is it?" I can't remember how she answered, but she went to get the consultant. The consultant apologised: "I'm so sorry..." I've heard that a lot the last few days. We sat in the waiting room for 45 minutes, she had other patients who needed her too. We watched ladies with bumps, newborns, the happy families come and go whilst I tried not to sob out loud. I didn't want to upset them, have their happy experience tarnished by the fear my grief could cause. I engrossed myself in People magazines- the October editions with celebrity pumpkin-patch photos. 

I already knew what I wanted. My ten days of terror had given me ample time to research. I wanted the D & C. I wanted it as quickly as possible. The only way to make it happen that day was for it to be under sedation in the same ultrasound room I'd endured both scans. Fine, I said. I just wanted it over. An hour and a half later I was insuffiently drugged and lying with my husband by my side.

I don't think I'll ever be able to explain how wonderful my husband was. He sat next to me, held my hand, kept me calm. He was calm and strong and everything I was unable to muster. The procedure was the worst thing I've ever experienced. I remember every scrape, every stab, every moment. It was excrutiating. Stephen Fry gently whispered Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire in my ear as I screamed and writhed around in pain, eventually begging them to stop. Except that I didn't. Husband insists I was quiet and barely moved. It was over so quickly. I kept trying to sit up but the support worker wouldn't let me. Husband asked for a sick bowl and they handed me one so small I nearly laughed out loud. I thought of my nurse friends, how we would look at each other and snort with derision and laugh that it was useless.

They let me go home after one last blood pressure check. The department was empty. I wondered when the staff looking after me would get their lunch. It was shuttered and abandoned and silent and I was so thankful I didn't have to walk out and pass the bumps and the babies. I went home and I slept. The sedation had finally kicked in.

It's hard to explain how I feel now. Sometimes I am angry. Angry because I didn't choose this. Because I wasted $50 on pregnancy tests and didn't eat for 4 weeks due to heartburn and because we'll be brilliant parents and because it's not fucking fair. This doesn't last long. The voice in my head (who, rather strangely, sounds remarkably like Dame Maggie Smith) says "of course it's not fair, why would you expect it to be fair?!" As a nurse, you know that rather than 'why me?', life operates on a 'why not you?' basis. We are no better, no more special or important than anyone else who has been through this. The crap things in life are indiscriminate, and it is simply our turn.

Other times I am sad. Paralysingly, desperately sad where I can't move my head because it hurts too much. This rarely lasts long either. I have always tried to approach sadness using the John Grisham method. I was a teenager when I read 'The Pelican Brief', and I remember vividly that the main character accepts that she's going to go on the run, but first she has to give in to her grief for the one night she has, otherwise she will not cope. I let myself be sad when I need to, because otherwise I will never be able to cope. When the worst has passed, I get up and do something. I watch Lewis or Miss Marple on Amazon prime. I go for coffee. It works for me.

All this being said, at times we experience proper joy and happiness. This often involves wine and silly jokes. I have missed wine. We are ok. We will be ok. I know that eventually the joy and happiness will take over, become the predominant emotion again. I'll be ready for it when it comes.


  1. Oh Lorna, I'm so so sad and sorry to hear this. Know that you are not alone, others have felt exactly how you feel right now, and we are all here for you and sending you lots of love over the internets. Take care of yourself x

  2. I had really hoped that this wasn't what your tweets referred to. Life is so unfair sometimes. I am so, so sorry and I wish I had something to say to make you feel better. Take care of yourself, x

  3. Thank you so much ladies. I honestly couldn't't have got through this weekend without my internet friends. I'm so grateful for your tweets and messages.

    I also don't really remember tweeting, I'm glad I did, because everyone was marvellous, but drugs and Twitter don't mix- life lesson learnt! x

  4. Lorna, little did I know my little comment earlier in the week was left when you were in the middle of such an awful time.
    I am so sorry to have read this post, but also touched that you felt the ability to share your grief with the world. To often people shimmy around the subject, I am in awe of your bravery.
    Your baby was made with love. They were and always will be loved by beautiful parents.
    Take care and look after each other.


    p.s I know you and you know me, I just like the mystery of anon.

  5. Oh Lorna, I am so sorry and it is so hard. We went through this last year as you know. It's extra hard when you're so far away from everyone that you know and love as well. When you just need to go over to your best friend's house and have a few drinks only they are thousands of miles away. Miscarriages are so cruel. I'll be thinking of you, and hoping you get the wee one that you want very soon. xxx

  6. My heart goes to you (I came here through a comment in AOW).
    I am so sorry for your loss and hope it will all be better soon.
    We are struggling with infertility, so while it is not the same, I understand the "why us" and "it's not effing fair" feelings. I also have a medical background (in veterinary medicine) so I know this things happen, and there is no logic or morality in who gets to deal with which cards, it is just odds. (I spent a lot of time feeling "punished" by the universe or feeling I somehow deserved it (after all I did spend more than a summer inseminating cows and pumping them with hormones).
    I have found that letting things be, just going with the flow, and doing everything in our hands, while actively focusing on the little things, on the joy, on the hope, keeps me going.
    I am sending you lots of love and hope you enjoy the holidays.


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