‘How is the new Mummy this morning then?’.
The words could not have hurt more. I turned my head away from the breakfast bearing hospital auxiliary. She had obviously not been informed that I was on the labour ward for a D&C, not to give birth.
Was it not enough that I had to see heavily pregnant women waddle down the corridor ahead of me, hear their puffing and groaning, and later hear the cries of their newborn babies in neighbouring rooms? On leaving the ward later that morning, I looked at my feet rather than into the excited eyes of flower laden fathers, on their way to visit their new families.
The nightmare had begun just 24 hours earlier. ‘Oh, dear. It looks like the baby has stopped developing about a week ago. Never mind. Nothing can be done. Just one of those things. Have you had much for breakfast?… No? Good, we shall have you into the hospital this afternoon for a D&C. Speak to the girl at the reception desk, she will tell you all the details. I will see you later”.
With these words, I was ushered out of the gynaecologist’s office. I stood in the hall of the practice, my face white and covered in tears. The women waiting in the reception room averted their gaze, desperate not to be in my shoes, even in their imagination. With a flurry of movement, the receptionist took charge, taking me into a small room, handing me tissues and a glass of water. Showing compassion and empathy where her boss had shown none.
Later that day, once Nurse Hatchet had tried and failed several times to take blood, leaving my arm looking like a pin cushion, I was left a pair of surgical stockings and pretty much forgotten about. My husband and I sat in a silent room, holding hands as he tried to comfort me. When they came to take me to theatre, they realised that no one had given me the promised sedative but it was too late, and I was already upset. So upset that the anaesthetist had to give me a higher than usual dose to put me under.
I awoke as I had gone under. Sobbing. This time in a lift with two nurses. “It is what she wanted” – I misheard, they were commenting on the fact that I had so wanted the baby, but in my addled state, I understood that they were judging me for having a termination. I tried to say that I had wanted my baby, but they pushed me onward through the corridors to my room.
Miscarriage is a loss. A loss of a baby, of the future that the parents were already planning, of the hopes and dreams for the baby’s future. Of a whole life.
It is also something that happens to more women than you might think. But no one talks about it. And few complain about the treatment that they received.
My story happened in Germany almost 10 years ago, but it could have taken place last week in a hospital in UK.
The parenting website Mumsnet recently conducted a survey and found:
- Nearly two thirds (63%) of women who miscarried at home following a hospital scan said they weren’t offered adequate pain relief
- Over a fifth of women referred for a scan (21%) had to wait three or more days
- Of those Mumsnetters treated in hospital, nearly half (48%) were treated alongside pregnant women
- Over a third (35%) of those who required a surgical procedure following miscarriage had to wait four or more days
- 15% of Mumsnetters who were treated in hospital rated their consultant’s sympathy and compassionÂ as ‘awful’
- A fifth (19%) of respondents dealt with their miscarriage at home, only alerting medical staff after the event
- Over a quarter of those who had information from healthcare staff (29%) rated the information they received as ‘poor’ or ‘inadequate’
- More than one in 10 (11%) women didn’t tell family and friends about their miscarriage
I went on to have a second miscarriage, but in a different hospital. The care was so much better, the staff empathetic and warm. I recall the anaesthetist fetching a blanket when he realised that I was shivering. He patted my hand as I fell asleep.
The difference in recovery time was no surprise.
Women I have talked to have made it clear – no miscarriage is a walk in the park, but if it is sensitively handled then the emotional scars are easier to bear. It is enough that we have lost our babies, why should we be further traumatised by the treatment by medical staff?
This week I will join other Mumsnet Bloggers to help raise awareness of the campaign. We will post our own experiences, and those of others. Please join us in passing this on to as many people as you can think of. Help us make it better for future pregnant women.
Broadly, we would like you to:
- Email your MP to ask him or her to sign the Early Day Motion
- Email Andrew Lansley, secretary of state for health, to let him know that you want the government to act on miscarriage care
- Email your local paper – challenge your local hospitals and trusts to get involved
- Contact the maternity services liaison committee of your NHS Primary Care Trust
- Share this on your Facebook page, if you have one, and tweet about our campaign with hashtag #miscarriagecare
ADD LINK TO YOUR BLOG AND FIND OTHER BLOGGERS WHO ARE TAKING PART IN THE CAMPAIGN, BY CLICKING ON THE LINK :
Bloggers: add your blog post to the link list then grab the code and post it on your blog.
If you are in need of advice on miscarriage of baby loss, these organisations may be a help to you:
SANDS – Still birth and neo-natal death