Rachel Connors was 37 when she miscarried. She was ten weeks into her second pregnancy. She said, “If I had known I was bleeding I would never have been leaping around at the park like a lunatic that afternoon, but Laura, my fourteen month old and I, were having so much fun. There was so much to be happy about. It was only when I got home a couple of hours later, that I saw the blood in my underwear. I was mortified.‘I text my husband to ask him if he was on his way home from work and then put Cbeebies on and my feet up. I thought if it was a placental bleed then some rest could make all the difference and it would all go away.
‘I had a midwife’s appointment the next morning so I wasn’t about to call them in a panic. I was strangely calm. Probably because I already knew that there was nothing I could do and it wasn’t a placental bleed at all. It was a miscarriage and it was already underway. How could I know?
‘My hair was the biggest give away. Most pregnant women find that their hair is beautiful when they are expecting. Not me. My hair goes brittle and dry and quite literally stands up. And as I looked in the mirror that morning, I thought, my hair looks nice today. Sure enough, it was soft and glossy, back to normal.’ She added, ‘Come to think of it, all my nails had broken a few days before as well.’
Rachel told us that throughout the ten weeks she had not suffered with any obvious pregnancy symptoms at all. She said, ‘With Laura, nausea had crippled me in the first trimester so I hung on to a comment a friend had made, how in her pregnancy she hadn’t felt anything. After all, every pregnancy was different. But lying on the sofa that late afternoon, I remember thinking my bump ought to be rock hard; not spongy.’
Miscarriage is far more common than we realise. Charlotte Forder, the founder of Babyloss, a charity offering forums for mums to share and remember, says, ‘It’s shocking but 1 in 4 pregnancies miscarry, although it’s more like 1 in 3 with all the miscarriages that go unreported’.
The facts don’t make it any easier. Rachel’s midwife had made an appointment for an emergency scan at the Royal Surrey Hospital and Rachel and her husband Marc waited nervously.
Rachel said, ‘The sonographer asked me some questions about the bleeding. She was softly spoken and gentle and I remember thinking she was the perfect person to do that job.
“I remember looking at the tissues on the coffee table and wondering of the countless others that had gone in to this room before.”
She couldn’t see anything at all and needed to do an internal scan. I squeezed my husband Marc’s hand as a blob appeared on the screen. “Is that the baby?” I asked. I answered the question for myself saying, “I know that’s the baby.” The sonographer gently hushed me, telling me that she was going to take some measurements and when she had finished she would explain everything to me. I knew this meant it was hopeless.
‘The baby was measuring the size of a five or six week pregnancy and they were unable to pick up a heartbeat, this meant they could not tell if it was a viable pregnancy, just in case I had got my dates wrong. Legally they could not do anything at this point other than make another appointment for a scan the following week.
‘There was no way my dates were wrong and I knew the baby had not developed beyond the five or six week mark. My tears began to fall as Marc and I were led in to a quiet side room. I remember looking at the tissues on the coffee table and wondering of the countless others that had gone in to this room before. Another nurse came to talk to us. She explained it was likely that I would miscarry before I came back in a week as I was already bleeding, but that if I didn’t then I would be offered surgery.
‘We made a few phone calls to the close family we had told and then went home and packed up all my maternity clothes. For some reason it was essential that we do all of the practical things right away. The next thing was to eat. And as I sat down to my sandwich, grief overcame me. I began to sob and shake as the shock sunk in.
‘We went to pick up our daughter from a friend who was looking after her. I couldn’t get to her quick enough. Laura toddled towards us saying, “Mummy, Daddy”’. Rachel added, ‘I held her so tightly. I can’t begin to explain how I suddenly loved her more intensely than ever. She had always been loved 100% but now there was an extra 10% from out of nowhere.
‘The three of us went for a long walk in the woods. It was a beautiful Autumnal day. Clear and crisp. I marched on, feeling no pain, just wondering when it would all happen. When I would lose our baby.
‘That was weird, waiting for it. Laura was a Godsend; she was such a great distraction. We had a good afternoon and then that evening, the pain started. I was on the loo for a couple of hours as the blood trailed out of me. Afterwards, Marc and I sat on the sofa together, numb.
‘My mum was coming up the following day to have Laura and to give Marc and I some time to reflect. It was all such a shock. In my first pregnancy I had told everyone by six weeks, not bothering to really take care of myself, having a few glasses of wine. This time everything was different, ironically I’d done everything by the book.
‘Marc and I went out for a few hours. Physically, I had been feeling well, but as we came back in the car a sudden backache started up. I assumed it was normal. Marc went to get a haircut and I went in to a gift shop to browse. And this is where I was when without warning, the contractions started. Marc appeared and led me to the car and home.
‘Laura was so happy to see us come through the door and cruelly I had to say hi and disappear straight upstairs to the bathroom. There was so much blood. And the contractions were coming non-stop. This was a shocker. I had thought it had all happened the night before and was done with. But in actual fact, the night before had been nothing in comparison to what the next three hours were to bring. The pain was intense. And sadly, it was like giving birth with nothing to hold at the end of it.
‘The following day Marc was back at work and I, though exhausted was thrown back in to the deep end with a toddler. That evening when Laura was in bed, we both sat and cried, grieving for what could and should have been.’
It is three weeks since Rachel miscarried and I ask her how she is coping now. She says, ‘Actually, really well. You know it’s a strange thing but you have to trust Mother Nature’s judgment. I feel that there had to be something not right with the pregnancy, and I’m lucky the miscarriage happened when it did. It could have been so much worse in many ways. And when I think that some women never carry a baby, but suffer miscarriage after miscarriage again and again, I honestly don’t think I can feel sorry for myself. After all, I have Laura, what a consolation prize.