Before I start my miscarriage story I want to make it clear that:
- Generally (and particularly after living abroad) I believe the NHS to be a wonderful service. I still do.
- How aware I am that the NHS is abused left, right and centre.
- Also, that this post is LONG. If you don’t want to read it all, then please jump straight to My Concerns section at the end to get the highlights.
My husband and I didn’t start trying for a baby until I was 38.5 and I got pregnant straight away.
At 6 weeks, I was rushed to the Early Pregnancy Unit for suspected Ectopic Pregnancy.
I was examined (it wasn’t Ectopic) and told to come back in one week.
A week later I was told I would be examined by two doctors: an English Qualified Gynaecologist and a Syrian Consultant (who was going through the process of being certified in this country).
Firstly: Both Doctors were arguing over the handling of the probe whilst carrying out an internal examination. Literally like a pair of kids arguing over a toy. Pulling it back and forth between themselves and having a disagreement in front of my husband and I. It was unbelievable.
Secondly: We were then bluntly told there were two babies but they didn’t believe the pregnancies were viable. We were dismissed and told to come back a week to 10 days later.
This was my first experience of the clinical (I call it rude) attitude from most of the health professionals I would unfortunately encounter in the Gynaecological arena.
Miscarriage 1 October 2015
I started to miscarry the following week whilst on holiday.
I went back for a scan the day after we got home and was told by the nurse that the pregnancy wasn’t viable.
I then saw the Doctor.
Said Doctor was very kind up until I asked if she could arrange for a D&C asap because I wanted the whole thing over and done with.
I was told bluntly no. I had to come back in another week.
So, I was sent home to miscarry.
Now every miscarriage is different, but for me the whole experience was distressing.
Mainly because I wasn’t warned about what to expect. No explanation.
So, after bleeding lightly for another few days, I woke up one morning to experience immense pain, so much so, I collapsed on the floor.
Not understanding that this was normal, I phoned 111.
After going through a number of questions, I was told to phone my early pregnancy unit to ask for advice.
So, I dutifully phoned and was told by a rude nurse, that unless I was soaking through a thick sanitary towel within half an hour, it wasn’t necessary to come in and to take come pain killers and rest up.
My husband took me home and we arranged for my file to be moved to another hospital.
I continued to bleed heavily for another week and was then asked to go the hospital (the new one) for a scan to check everything “had come out”.
So, I went for the scan.
I was first called to have a chat with a nurse. She said “I can see you are 8 weeks pregnant and are having tummy pains.”
“No. I’ve had a miscarriage.”
I was sent back to take a seat
I was then called by a rude rude rude nurse who charged off down the corridor with my husband and I literally chasing after her.
I was brusquely told to lay on the bed with my tummy exposed.
She slapped gel onto my belly and started to roughly move the thingy around.
“How many weeks are you?”
My husband and I looked at each other in disbelief
“I’m not, I’ve had a miscarriage.”
To be fair she looked mortified and started to apologise.
We were told to go and wait (again) to be seen by the Doctor.
The Doctor came and got us.
Unfortunately, we had problems understanding her English, but from what we understood, I had miscarried naturally and there was no need for a D&C (not that they call it that anymore) and that I could go home.
We were dismissed.
No aftercare. No recommendation to check my iron levels. No mental support.
After Miscarriage 1
The miscarriage hit me very hard.
Physically because I lost a lot of blood and also because I put on so much weight so quickly.
Mentally, I was trying to compute what I had been through: a mixture of devastation (loss of my babies and dreams), anger (rubbish treatment from two hospitals) and panic (will I ever get pregnant and what’s wrong with me??).
My hormones were raging out of control lending me to have emotional outbursts literally out of nowhere.
Looking back, I was definitely depressed for a good six months afterwards.
But nobody warned me about this.
After one month of the miscarriage my period returned and we started to try again.
But nothing happened after 6 months.
So, I went to see my GP.
He was absolutely great and sent me for tests, but warned me:
“I can send you for the tests, but you are unfortunately not eligible for any fertility treatment on the NHS. In Berkshire, the cut off is 35.”
How could this be when so many women are having kids later because of career paths?
My tests came back with an FSH of 15 which was considered too high for my age.
I was referred to a Fertility Clinic for further tests and to see a Consultant.
I couldn’t have access to a Consultant immediately and regrettably had to wait nearly 4 months to even see a Fertility Nurse. The Consultant appointment comes later.
I found this hard to swallow in a system where they place so much emphasis on your age and obviously being “past it” once over 35.
Surely at 39 I should have been fast tracked if that was the case?
What I also found hard to swallow were the number senior lesbian / gay couples passing through the doors of the NHS Fertility Clinic I assume to receive free treatments.
Nothing against this at all, but it was clear that if I was homosexual I would be getting more support than I was as a 39-year-old woman.
Anyway, armed with an FSH level of 15, I was helpfully told by the fertility nurse that my age was against me and we would probably need to try egg donars. Plus, did I realise there was little more her team could do “treatment wise” because I was over 35?
She did arrange for further tests to be carried out, but my husband and I both felt we were an inconvenience to her.
So, I had various tests carried out; most showed I was perfect health except for the main test for AMH which regretfully came back at 7.
The nurse said that my AMH was extremely low (you want high AMH) and it was likely due to my age and again I should consider IVF and/or egg donars.
Now, I had already research AMH going into this appointment and knew that this was absolute BS. Yes, my AMH could have been higher, but there are women out there with AMH of 1 that have gone on to conceive naturally.
It only takes one good egg to be fertilised.
If I wasn’t so strong of mind, I truly believe by this point she would have mentally messed me over.
Didn’t she realise how damaging saying these things were additional to my physical issues of getting pregnant?
So, next we saw the Consultant.
The consultant was like a breath of fresh air.
I stormed into his office with my sleeves rolled up ready to challenge him with all the research I had done.
I didn’t need too.
Within the first 5 minutes he said I would get pregnant it was just a case of time and to not go down the expensive route of fertility treatment at this stage.
I saw him once more a few months later, but realised soon after the appointment that I was pregnant again.
Sounds strange but it was a shock. I wasn’t expecting it.
We were delighted.
This this time I reached 11 weeks but literally on the 11-week anniversary I started to spot blood.
It was Friday 23rd December.
I went to the emergency Doctor on Christmas Eve and was told that unfortunately they didn’t do emergency scans on weekend (?????????) and I had to go home and wait until the hospital reopened the following week.
Embarrassed, she said unfortunately there was nothing more she could do for me.
So, we left and frantically tried to sort out a private scan.
Closed for Christmas.
Miscarriage 2 December 2016
So, I spent the period of the 24th December to 27th December bleeding in a twilight zone of not knowing what the hell was going on.
I attended a scan on the 28th December where I was bluntly told that the embryo’s size was 6 weeks (I was 11 weeks) plus there was no heartbeat so it wasn’t looking good.
I then saw the Doctor.
This was the same foreign Doctor I couldn’t understand from my previous visit.
This time she totally avoided eye contact with us and proceeded to talk to her leaflet about the fact I would have to come back a week later for another scan and possible D&C procedure.
She then said (without having access to any of my hormone data) that “you probably miscarried because your age”.
She actually said that.
I gave her a slight laugh in disbelief. Had she actually said that?
I then asked for a D&C asap based on my last miscarriage. I didn’t want to wait a week.
She garbled a reply without answering my question.
So, I asked again.
Again, she failed to answer the question and looked very uncomfortable.
So, my husband waded in, who by this time was getting seriously annoyed and asked her the same question.
She didn’t answer the question.
My husband and I both looked at each other in amazement. If it wasn’t so upsetting I think I would have laughed.
So, I took a different tact.
“In that case, please can you arrange for an abortion, I will pay for it if you can arrange quickly.”
She laughed uncomfortably, left the room, came back with the nurse (as support not sure?) and told me I was booked in for a scan and possible D&C procedure a week later.
We were dismissed.
Now, I’m good at being assertive.
But I also know which battles to fight and this wasn’t one of them.
There was no point.
The Doctor was like a Droid to be blunt.
I continued to bleed for a few more days and then on New Year’s Day I began to feel unwell.
Then the cramps started.
Then the blood came.
I mean gushing blood like a tap and also huge blood clots the size of large dinner plates.
It was honestly like the scene from a movie. A total blood bath.
111 advised my husband to take me to A&E immediately.
I was whisked into the ward by the A&E staff despite patients over flowing into the corridors (they were that busy). I was immediately seen by a lovely A&E Doctor who proclaimed it was worst miscarriage he had seen and luckily two gynaecologists were in A&E and would come and see me.
I was eventually seen by two Gynaecologists who unfortunately didn’t have one personality between them. My memory is blurred from the pain from constant contractions, but I don’t think they really spoke to us at all.
After a fairly unpleasant examination involving the biggest handheld torch I’ve ever seen, I was told I could go home.
I asked for pain killers to help me get through the night and was unhelpfully given a prescription that I couldn’t dispense until the next day because the pharmacies were closed because it was New Year’s Day.
I was then discharged.
I continued to bleed extremely heavily that night until the early hours.
I was also in a lot of pain because I had NO PAIN KILLERS.
Anyway, the bleeding kept going for a few more days.
It was a truly horrible experience. Not only for me but for my husband.
I attended a scan a few days later where I was told I had successfully miscarried myself.
After Miscarriage 2 (now)
I promise this is not a case of me throwing my toys out the pram because things haven’t gone my way.
I accept the fact that I am older (not the NHS problem) and some of test results are worrying (not the NHS problem).
But this doesn’t excuse the poor attitudes and the poor management of my two miscarriages to date.
More importantly, why was I left to go through the distressing act of miscarrying when it was obvious I was going to miscarry? They claim it’s because there may be a chance of a successful pregnancy but I don’t believe that. In fact I don’t care what the reason is, I’m assuming a rule put into place by someone who hasn’t gone through a miscarriage because trust me it’s a horrible painful process that nobody should have to endure.
Also, luckily, I’m fairly knowledgeable and have a good mental attitude, otherwise I truly believe I could have spent a fortune on egg donars or IVF treatment by now.
I’m still on my fertility journey and who knows how it will end?
But I’m as hopeful as ever that at the grand old age of 40 I will conceive naturally.
Keep you posted
My Concerns with the NHS System
- Emergency scans not being available on a weekend. Ridiculous.
- Generally being dismissed as too old throughout the fertility journey.
- Drastic solution of egg donars being recommended at such an early stage despite having a realistic chance of conceiving naturally.
- The rude manner of the NHS staff I encountered. I appreciate the system is over run. I appreciate the staff are busy. But I am a PERSON deeply attached to wanting a baby. Treat me kindly.
- The “Miscarriage” Doctor’s lack of interpersonal skills.
- If a pregnancy is more than likely Non-Viable and the mother wants to terminate the pregnancy NOW (to avoid the excruciating pain and upset whilst naturally miscarrying) it should be a case of making it happen.
- How fertility treatment appears to be offered on plate to various categories of people EXCEPT if you are over 35
- No warning as to what to expect when you have a miscarriage. None.
- No after care following a miscarriage
- General lack of support and compassion during the miscarriage process.
If you are going through a miscarriage or have had a miscarriage a good website for information to help you is http://www.miscarriageassociation.org.uk/