With today being the three year anniversary of our early miscarriage coinciding with baby loss awareness week I wanted to share the actual story of Stork, our miscarriage. I find it’s always a tricky topic speaking about early miscarriages. Some people find it quite easy to move forward as they might have only just found out and not had the chance to give it too much thought, other people are deeply broken by this tragic loss. I have mentioned Stork many times on Instagram but never really shared her story in detail before now. I am using the pronoun her just for ease of writing and fluency however we don’t feel tied to a specific gender with her.
Let me begin. we had just celebrated our one year wedding anniversary in the September of 2015. We had been trying to conceive for five months when I got the positive test on the 13th October that next month. Okay that’s a lie, it was probably just past midnight on the 14th. I knew I was, my breasts had changed and I just had a feeling. Its funny because part of me thought for sure no way I could be pregnant because that month I’d had the worst PMS ever! But my body felt different. I was super angry all the time with no known reason but I was still hopeful at the same time. It was actually mid argument with Fabian I randomly decided to take a test. I know you’re meant to take it on a morning normally but hey ho. I still to this day have no idea what gave me the urge to take that test at the moment, but I am so thankful I did. It was a first response test which claimed to show results within 1 minute. That second line showed up within about 30 seconds! It was faint but it was definitely there. Still sat on the toilet I burst into tears with happiness, Fabian came and we both hugged, the argument soon forgotten.
I couldn’t believe it was real! In them days it was nothing out of the ordinary to go food shopping late at night, it was our way of getting out of the house and yet avoiding the hustle and bustle of daytime shopping. We drove 45 minutes to the 24-hour supermarket to buy another test, or several should I say. I needed to test again to know I wasn’t imagining things and we were both too excited to sleep. There was road works galore and it felt like a lifetime travelling to the shop, buying the test and coming home. We got home and went to bed and I took a test the next day. A second test with two lines, I was pregnant! I was already so excited after five months of trying every different wives’ tale and myth to get pregnant – I was starting to go a little crazy you could say. Fabian went to work that day whilst I went shopping with my parents. I was so desperate to share my secret but wanted to do a special announcement. I remember being on Pinterest on my phone searching announcements and generally getting carried away already. I had been so happy that day. I still remember going to B&Q and for the first time that year there was Christmas decorations in the shops, everything felt positive.
That night Fabian had started to cook a lovely meal. It was a new Christmas nut roast that we had wanted to try which I had purchased earlier in the day. That’s when I noticed I felt moisture. I was stood half way up the stairs and awkwardly checked. Sure enough I was bleeding. Not even 24 hours after my first positive test. Then the cramping hit me. It hurt so bad and was intense. I was hoping it was just spotting but no, I was properly bleeding. Easy enough to mistake for a period if I hadn’t done the test, only I don’t cramp when its my period. I panicked and told Fabian before I sat and cried on the stairs. At the time I was only 20 and had no idea what to do. I phoned my mum and said I urgently needed to see her. She was eating her tea so I had to wait before going to her house around the corner.
We sat trying to eat tea but I couldn’t stop crying and neither of us had an appetite now, I hate remembering that meal and how heartbroken we felt. It’s a meal that since the miscarriage I have refused to eat, out of painful memories and also superstition too. Eventually we couldn’t wait any longer and rushed to my mums. I didn’t know what to say so I simply showed her the tests, broke down crying and said “I’m bleeding”. I could see from the sad look in my sister in laws (to be) eyes, who is a midwife that she knew it wasn’t good. We phoned the non-emergency line and were told to come in to hospital for an appointment. My mum drove us there, still getting stuck in the same road works from the night before. It was an agonizing journey.
As we sat there in the waiting room I desperately tried to google and convince myself everything would be okay, reading of people who bled through their whole first tri and went on to have healthy babies. I eventually got called in and what can I say, I have never seen such an incompetent and insensitive doctor and been so let down by the NHS. Not only did she say I was too early to scan, because she couldn’t count and work out that I was exactly six weeks! But she also didn’t even understand what cycle days were and how that meant days since the 1st day of my last period… So, I was technically 6 weeks on the dot and because she said I wasn’t I didn’t get scanned. Her advice was “yes its probably a miscarriage, go home and see what happens”. It was only when I left that appointment did I realise she had miscalculated and ideally, I should have been scanned.
Naturally we were devastated and heartbroken. The bleeding and painful cramps continued so I tried my best to rest whilst simultaneously bursting into tears often. The next day (15th October) was Fabian’s birthday and we decided since this had happened, we would go pick up a kitten we had already reserved earlier in the week as a way of distraction. I rested in bed most of the day whilst enjoying this new kitten, keeping the cats separate at first. Since it was Fabians birthday I said it was still okay for him to go out to kickboxing and enjoy himself whilst I rested. My mum had come to see the new kitten, who we now call Little Man, only I was laid in bed and had three very sharp intense pains. After calling the non-emergency line again we were told to go back to hospital. This time to a more local hospital which happened to be where Fabian was kickboxing. So unfortunately, once he finished his class he got a call to come meet us at the hospital.
Its funny how they treat you so differently in A&E if it’s a physical complaint and not a mental health matter. I was put on a bed and I broke down crying. I was scared of the physical aspects and emotionally broken. They wanted to take blood and put a cannula in just in case they needed to do anything in an emergency. Wow they hurt so bad! I am scared of needles but seriously a cannula is on a different level, especially with no numbing cream. It was all in all a traumatic experience. They said my blood was fine and HCG levels were already quite low but they made an appointment for me to go the next day to the early pregnancy unit.
Here’s where it all gets very confusing and it’s one of the hardest parts I find to deal with in terms of grief. I took my positive tests to the early pregnancy unit and they performed an internal scan which showed nothing in my womb. No doubt because it had been left so long before they did anything. The consultant I saw said he didn’t believe it to be a miscarriage based on my positive tests and what my levels were when the blood test was taken. The problem with this is he thought the tests I had used were ones which detect at 50mIU/ml whereas I believe first response tests can detect from around 20mIU/ml. Baring in mind they were faint positive lines, I believe I was actually only about 4 weeks pregnant based on the cycle before being quite irregular. With these tests being more sensitive I believe it was completely possible within that time frame for my level to then go down to the number that had come back in my blood results. I hope that makes sense.
But either way I know I miscarried. My body was different, I had three positive tests and I had intense pain like I’ve never experienced for a period. The thing I find hardest to cope with is that this life was not acknowledged by that doctor. It also means when I have got pregnant afterwards with Beau, Silver and Leilani I always have to justify and explain why I’ve had 4 pregnancies now. I hate the feeling that Stork doesn’t exist in some people’s eyes. We know Stork existed though and grieved very much in the days and weeks following the loss. I guess it was slightly easier trying to conceive again afterwards compared to the loss of Silver because Stork was not someone we had had the pleasure of getting to know, nor had we had much opportunity to even bond or enjoy any part of the pregnancy. We had less than twenty-four hours.
It’s only a most recent thing that we actually decided to give Stork her name. We would always say “the miscarriage” and we were okay with that. That was until we lost Silver. I suddenly realised how uncomfortable I was talking about my children, all having a name except “the miscarriage”. After speaking with Fabian, we both agreed and took our time to gather some name suggestions. It took a couple of weeks but eventually we both decided the name Stork was perfect. We wanted something gender neutral but also love that this tied in with the idea of a stork delivering babies. It feels so much better knowing all my children are equally loved and are still to this day involved in our lives. I feel so proud to be able to talk about Stork and although this isn’t the way I wish I was sharing her story I also know if we had Stork we never would have had Beau. I am forever grateful for the little brother she sent down for us that we are blessed to wake up to every day.
As this loss was experienced in the run up to Christmas we bought some special little bootie ornaments in memory and display this each and every year. You may have also seen these in our most recent gender reveal announcement where we wanted to include all of our babies. I can imagine this year Christmas will be a very difficult time as we remember Stork and Silver whilst approaching our due date and Silver’s birthday. I am currently trying to work out how I can make this Christmas special, involving all my babies and how I can honour them all individually.
Each person deals with grief differently. Just as each person acknowledges life from different points in the pregnancy, hence the debates about abortion limits. Some pregnant women say they are going to be a mummy when the baby is born, some say they are a mummy from conception. Me and Fabian both acknowledge life from conception and saw ourselves as parents as soon as we got that positive test. I know there has been debates within the loss community and hurtful comments that some people’s loss is greater than the other persons. I can see how I have dealt differently with each of my losses and they have been very different experiences, from simply a loss after two lines on a stick to a loss of a two week old. One thing is for sure, both my angels were loved equally despite me perhaps grieving in different ways for each of them. Miscarriage is still the loss of a baby and that’s why I wanted to share Storks story this week.
I found it particularly difficult this last week that I saw several triggers I associate with the loss of Stork. Before I knew I was actually pregnant with Stork we attended a Bullet for my Valentine gig at the York Barbican. We had bought seated tickets as we knew we were trying to conceive in the months prior and wanted to be safe from the mosh pit we are usually so close to! I was so convinced I wasn’t pregnant however that I broke several years of sobriety and indulged in a Kopparberg cider. I must add here I’m not an alcoholic, I just know people with borderline personality disorder can easily get addicted so I decided a long time ago to simply abstain from alcohol. When I miscarried I blamed the music, the venue and the drink.
Bullet is officially banned in our household and car now. I have only been to the barbican once since the miscarriage – I was pregnant with Silver. So clearly I don’t have positive feelings towards the venue. I feel uneasy every time we go near that building now but this week was especially hard. Fabian has some weird and wonderful routes to get around York from place to place and sometimes he does drive past the barbican. This week had to be one of them, when I was already feeling emotionally vulnerable. It was emotionally quite hard and I had to keep myself distracted as we drove past by talking to Beau. I also have only had 1 alcoholic drink since that gig, I recently tried an old favourite of mine after the loss of Silver. I’m pleased to say alcohol is completely revolting and had no numbing effect on the pain I felt for my recent loss so I have returned to complete sobriety since that one glass.
On this particular evening last week we also attended Tesco’s as I was craving a new vegan pizza that only they retail. I left Fabian watching Beau who was pushing all the buttons on the toys while I did the small grocery shop. I went straight to the freezer free from aisle and what did I find? Literally three days before our miscarriage anniversary and I immediately saw that same nut roast we had eaten those three years ago. I welled up but decided to take a photo to show Fabian and you guys. Only I had to pick up the box to make it easily visible. It is such a shame because its clearly labelled vegan and is probably one of the best Christmas options for vegans, especially since I hate mushrooms and most other stores have nut and mushroom roasts. Perhaps next year I will be brave enough to purchase this item but not this year, not with my precious Leilani on board.
And that’s the problem. On the way home I started to worry about her movement. She had been moving most of the evening but in the last few shops and drive home she wasn’t moving. I naturally began to panic and instead of being rational my mind instantly went to “something’s happened because we drove near the barbican and I touched the nut roast box”. Fabian had to talk me through rationalising the situation and I did then calm down, knowing that actually she had been non-stop moving all day. She was bound to need a sleep at some point! And, of course, when we arrived home that night she woke up and was back to her active self for a few more hours.
It’s impossible with life after loss to avoid triggers so we simply need to learn new ways to cope with them. Sometimes it can be easy to anticipate where we know there may be a certain trigger. Other times it may sneak up and take us off guard. It’s these moments when I find it most helpful to have a trusted person such as my husband to talk to about how I feel in those moments and support me through them.
I hope this blog gives people the courage to open up more about early miscarriage and know that your loss is no less important or painful than my loss of a two week old neonate. All loss hurts and we are all grieving. It’s time to say their name and its time to support each other through whatever it may be we are experiencing.
Sending all the grieving parents out there much love this baby loss awareness week.
Until next time,