Pregnancy & Birth

Real life: We never thought miscarriage would happen to us

Felicity Frankish shares the heartbreaking story of her first pregnancy and the loss of baby 'Wally'.

"Your baby is now the size of a peanut," I read from the pregnancy book resting on my lap in front of me. "I think I prefer walnuts to peanuts. We have a little walnut growing inside me."

"Wally!" Chris chimed in. Our baby's in-utero name was born.

We had only started trying for our first baby a few short months ago, and were delighted to know we were expecting!

I couldn't wait to see Wally for the first time. I was struggling to get my head around the fact that there was a tiny human growing inside me. My symptoms had been coming and going for the past few weeks, the most persistent being my frequent trips to the bathroom.

I think my all-time record was leaving three times during a yoga class – it's when I realised I should probably switch to a prenatal class, so I didn't get as many stares.

My first OB appointment started off with the formalities. I asked a barrage of questions as my obstetrician went through my blood test results. Then it was time for the ultrasound. I lay down and there was a sense of déjà vu as the screen appeared black.

This time it was explained that I had a retroverted uterus, which meant it tilted backwards rather than forwards, making it hard to see the baby. After a bit of prodding, pushing and zooming in, a tiny heartbeat flickered into view. Everything looks perfect," he said.

At nine weeks and one day, Wally was a healthy little bub. My fears of miscarriage were beginning to ease off, and I put the question to my obstetrician, asking what my odds were of this pregnancy not working out. "Less than one percent," he responded. I let out a sigh of relief – the odds were definitely in our favour.

"Oh, you're only nine weeks? Are you planning to wait until 12 weeks before announcing?" This underlying hint of nervousness came through every time we shared the news with someone. It was starting to have an effect on me. Yet with the reassurance from our obstetrician, I pushed their fears to the back of my mind.

Chris and I decided it was time to start telling more people.

Felicity wondered if nine weeks was too early to be telling friends and family.
Felicity wondered if nine weeks was too early to be telling friends and family.

It was one brunch when I was busy sharing the news again, and mid conversation I shuffled off on one of my many frequent bathroom trips. I thought nothing of it, until I saw the hint of pink on the toilet paper.

It was only very, very light – barely even noticeable. This attempt at self-reassurance didn't stop my anxiety taking over. In my 10-and-a-half weeks of pregnancy, there hadn't been any sight of blood. It was truly frightening. From the bathroom, I messaged Chris and asked him to speak to his mum (a midwife) and ask for her advice.

I went back out and sat with my friends, but my head was in a haze of fog. I couldn't concentrate on anything and struggled to offer the required smiles and laughter as the conversation continued on around me. My phone was sitting on my lap and I kept glancing down at it as I willed it to buzz with news. It finally did. Chris's mum suggested we go to the hospital emergency department. The brunch finished up and I made a hasty exit.

When we arrived at the hospital, the nurse did her best to reassure us; "It's just spotting and you aren't experiencing cramping, so it's probably nothing". Her face told a different story. We sat down to wait. I couldn't sit still. I kept getting up to walk to the bathroom, watching the red streaks of blood that came with every wipe – I fixated on it, willing it to disappear. I was finally called to have a blood test, then it was back to waiting.

" I messaged Chris and asked him to speak to his mum (a midwife) and ask for her advice,"
" I messaged Chris and asked him to speak to his mum (a midwife) and ask for her advice,"

It was another three hours before we were called in to see the doctor on duty. Three hours to be told there was nothing she could tell us. The blood test showed my HCG levels were still high, but as it was a Saturday afternoon they were too busy to do an ultrasound. Before sending me on my way, she called my obstetrician who offered to see us the next morning for a scan.

The tears started as soon as we reached the car and they didn't stop. Chris held me through it all, while trying to reassure me that we didn't know anything yet, everything could still be alright. I appreciated his optimism, but deep down I knew something wasn't right.

By morning the red blood had changed to brown – Google told me this was better than red, so I held onto a small glimmer of hope. The rain bucketed down as we made the frantic dash from the car park to our obstetrician's office. I was a nervous wreck by the time I was lying waiting for the ultrasound machine to start up. All the excitement from the previous visit was long forgotten, overshadowed by our worries.

My heart sank when I heard the words, "Sorry, give me a minute". Chris and I exchanged a glance, we both knew. There was our beautiful baby on the screen … but no heartbeat.

"I'm so sorry," we were told, "I can't see a heartbeat". I just felt numb.

"There was our beautiful baby on the screen … but no heartbeat,"
"There was our beautiful baby on the screen … but no heartbeat,"

We were told to come back the next day for a confirmation ultrasound, done internally to get a better picture, then we would have to make a decision about miscarrying naturally or having a D&C (dilation and curette).

It was only a week ago we had seen a heartbeat and were told our chances of miscarriage were less than one percent, and now suddenly it was all over. I felt like my body had let me down. Why didn't I just know something had happened? Where was I the exact moment when my baby's heart had just…stopped? All these questions plagued me as I finally broke down into tears in the car.

The ultrasound to confirm our miscarriage was one of the hardest parts. We were told to wait in a room full of pregnant women and their partners, while the tears silently slid down my face. I had barely stopped crying since we found out the news two days earlier.

We were called in, and a very lovely, caring nurse comforted us as we went through the process. There on the screen in front of us was our perfectly formed bub – my heart skipped a beat. They were so so beautiful, but so so still. This was the moment Chris came to terms with the loss and I will never forget it. His tears of grief resounded the room as I clung to his hand, trying to hold it together – to let him have his moment.

We had been dreaming about this little person since the day we found out we were pregnant. These dreams were now shattering down around us. None of that was meant to be.
We stopped at a jewellery store on our way home. I wanted something to remember our baby by, although we would never get to hold them, they held such a special place in our hearts that couldn't be replaced. I picked out a ring with the March birthstone (aquamarine) the month our lost bub was due. I felt like I would never forget them now, and could begin the process of letting go.

Felicity Frankish is married and a mum-of-two. Having worked with children all her life and also having a great a love for writing, Felicity set up her own parenting blog: The Baby Vine.

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