On 19th February, I saw the two lines on the pregnancy test. It was the happiest day of my life. My boyfriend and I got a pizza takeaway to celebrate, I started looking at baby clothes. At only three weeks and five days, we started taking bump photos. We told our family, who were utterly overjoyed. I’d never been happier. A few weeks later, Dom proposed. All my dreams were coming true and I felt endlessly lucky.
The weeks progressed and I just bloody loved being pregnant. I stopped running because I have a tenancy to trip over and wanted to be on the safe side. I felt so smug about that – who wants to run anyway? We picked names, we chose our nursery furniture, my nan bought so many clothes. I’d planned my maternity leave, I’d planned a life. I remember walking into Sainsbury’s clutching my bloated tummy – the baby was the size of a blueberry but to me it was my world and I wanted everyone to know I was pregnant.
On 10th March, I started bleeding. We went to A&E, who did a pregnancy test to confirm I was still pregnant, and they booked me in for a scan at the early pregnancy unit for the next day. In the night, the bleeding got worse and by morning we felt certain it was over. We went for the scan and I had to go alone due to the hospital’s Covid rules. Partners are only allowed in for 12 and 20 week scans, not early ones. This meant I walked alone through a corridor of couples clutching bulging bellies, basking in their pregnancy glows, internally begging my baby to still be there. And it was. Though small, I saw the yolk sac. No heartbeat or embryo, but they said that was normal at 6 weeks. I was overjoyed. They booked me in for another scan in 11 days and sent me home, saying that the bleeding was nothing to worry about.
The bleeding continued and I eventually got antibiotics for a UTI. This didn’t stop the bleeding, and I was passing tissue and clots. At one point, there was a large piece of tissue which I now believe was my baby. I don’t remember what day this happened. Mum reassured me this was just the UTI. I still felt pregnant. I took selfies in the mirror clutching my tummy, and we continued talking about our plans for the baby’s nursery. I then switched antibiotics and the bleeding stopped immediately. I was so relieved – it must have just been incorrect antibiotics. It would be okay.
On 22nd March, I was eight weeks pregnant. Going to our next scan, we were so hopeful. I fake tanned my face and put nice makeup on – I wanted to look nice to see my baby, whose heartbeat would now be visible, along with all its limbs and little head. We planned to go to Sainsbury’s to buy a little yellow raincoat I’d said I’d buy when we knew it was all okay. Again, I had to go alone.
The situation felt off very quickly. Before the scan, the sonographer asked how the bleeding was going, and I proudly said it had stopped, all was good. I remember feeling like her reaction wasn’t as jubilant as I felt it should be. It was an internal scan due to the stage of the pregnancy and I knew from the moment they started that it was over. I stared at their blank faces as I waited desperately for the classic “And here’s your baby”, but it didn’t come. Instead, the first words she said were “Exactly how much bleeding was there, Molly?” It was over. I was handed a black and white leaflet entitled “Your Miscarriage”, patted on the shoulder and sent on my way, with the instructions to keep taking folic acid and try again.
In a lot of ways, I feel lucky that I didn’t know it was happening when it was. I am grateful for my own gullibility. Since it happened, I have spoken to so many women who have been through far worse. Many have to have operations or medical management. I can’t imagine that pain.
At this point I want to explain that up until now, I had been treated by Watford Hospital. My midwife was at Luton Hospital (though I was yet to meet her), but as Watford was closer, we went there for A&E and then the scans took place there. So the day after I was told I lost the baby, I had to ring Luton Hospital to ask them to cancel my further appointments because I was no longer pregnant. Watford Hospital was unable to ring them to tell them for me. That was an incredibly hard thing to do, but I did it. They thanked me for letting them know and that was that.
Five weeks later, I received a letter inviting me for my 12-week scan. Thankfully, my fiancé was with me when I opened it and was there to scoop me up off of the floor. How I would have loved to have gone to that scan. How I’d have loved to see our little Bean squirming around on the screen. But I couldn’t because our baby had died. Talk about kicking me when I’m down? I immediately submitted a complaint to Luton Hospital, and the PALs (patient advice and liaison) team there assured me that it had been forwarded to the general manager and head of midwifery. Two weeks on and I’ve heard nothing.
I moved on and for the last two weeks I’ve been doing amazing. My fiancé and I got matching Bean tattoos which really helped us both mentally, and we’ve been working on trying again – which is another story entirely! God knows you’re taught how not to have a baby at school, but very little about how to actually do it! I can’t use TikTok or my Instagram explore feature anymore, because the algorithms have filled it with baby and pregnancy content, but I’m not missing that anymore. I have a choice about what content I consume – what I don’t have a choice about is when the NHS send me letters or ring me about the pregnancy I no longer have.
It is therefore with a feeling of complete incredulity that I am sat here writing this, after receiving a phone call from Luton Hospital asking me why I didn’t attend my scan yesterday? Her words rang in my ears and I asked her if she was joking. “I lost my baby, I have told you twice now that my baby died, why are you asking why I did not attend my scan yesterday?”
At this stage, computer error is not an excuse. The pandemic is not an excuse. Being understaffed is not an excuse. I lost my baby, but they can’t cancel my appointments?
So I’m now left, fully aware I should be 14-weeks pregnant, waiting to see if I get a letter inviting me for my 20-week scan. Since this happened, I’ve spoken to so many women that this has happened to. Some even told me that they are afraid to open their post in case it’s another letter inviting them for a scan. Why, with everything else on our plates, should we be nervous to open our own post?! We are grieving for our children and the NHS is systematically failing all of us.
I can safely say that since I lost my baby, all the NHS has done for me is make my situation worse. They’ve made me cry more tears and lose more hope. But I know I am not alone. The online miscarriage community is a force of nature and I’ve connected with the most incredible and inspiring women. As odd as it seems, I am proud to have become a member of their gang (The Worst Girl Gang Ever), and won’t stop shouting about it until things change.