Tag Archives: Mumsnet

My Miscarriage Story: why miscarriage care needs to improve.

Friday 15th October is Baby Loss Awareness Day.  1 in 4 women suffer miscarriage, so there is no doubt that the majority of you know someone who has been through this painful experience.  I am one of those women.  This is my experience.

In 2004 I gave birth to a beautiful, healthy baby girl, I had conceived easily and had an uncomplicated pregnancy.  Naturally when we decided to try for our 2nd child we expected the same pattern to follow. At first it all seemed to be going to plan, I conceived quickly and easily as before and we began to get excited about a new addition to the family.  At 13 weeks I had a small bleed.  I was worried, so called the midwife who assured me that it was fairly common but that she would book me in for a scan at the early pregnancy unit.  This was on a Saturday and as they didn’t perform scans at the weekend she booked me in for Monday morning.

Monday morning at the early pregnancy unit is not a very reassuring place.  It was full to the rafters with all the weekend referrals and we had to wait hours before we could be seen.  When we were ushered to the waiting area for the scan, I was shocked and upset to see most of the women coming out in tears, some sobbing uncontrollably. We thought we were only there for a routine scan.

When we were finally seen, the radiographer announced that she could see nothing there.  This was very confusing – was I still pregnant or not? The radiographer said that there was something showing on the scan but that it wasn’t a foetus and they were unsure what it was.   We were then taken into a room to see a nurse who was very sympathetic and took some details.  We were then taken into another room to wait for the consultant to talk to us.  We were in there for some time without really knowing what was going on.  I had gone in as a pregnant woman and now I was being told that I wasn’t pregnant anymore.

Eventually someone came and got us.  It appeared that they had forgotten that we were there and everyone else had gone.  We were ushered apologetically into another room to see a junior doctor.  She took blood and measured my hormone levels and said that they would need to test again in a few days to see whether the hormones were dropping. She explained that it might be a molar pregnancy but I wasn’t given any further information on this.

I went home thoroughly confused and devastated.  I looked up molar pregnancy on the internet and was shocked to find that if this were the case I wouldn’t be able to try for another baby for a year. I had to return to hospital again and go through the whole waiting process to have my 2nd blood sample taken.  The consultant rang me the following evening to say that the hormone levels were dropping but that they would need to book me in for an evacuation of retained products.  From this they would be able to determine whether or not it was a molar pregnancy.  He was the first person I had spoken to who I felt spoke with  any authority on the subject.

I was booked in for the operation, I can’t remember how long I waited but I think it was about a week.  I was in a ward with lots of other people and had the feeling that some of these were having terminations.  It felt a bit like a factory conveyor belt.  I stayed in hospital for a few hours and then was allowed to go home.  They told me that if I didn’t receive any results then it wasn’t a molar pregnancy.  I wasn’t  offered  follow-up care , support or counselling.

My memory of those first few days post miscarriage is of lying in bed feeling like I couldn’t bring myself to face the world. Hugging my little girl and husband, crying a lot and struggling to move. 2 days post operation, I started to experience an intense shooting pain like someone was stabbing me with a piece of glass.  I went to my GP who said that I had an infection and gave me antibiotics and painkillers. That night I went to the theatre with my husband.  I could barely walk from the car park to the theatre and had to lean on my husband’s shoulder and shuffle like an old woman.  After a few days the pain eased but still hadn’t gone, I saw a different GP who gave me a different set of antibiotics. It took weeks for the pain and bleeding to go and subsequent trips back to the GP.

The molar pregnancy went unconfirmed and when I  finally healed we started to try again for a baby.  It didn’t happen as quickly this time and as each month went by the hurt deepened. After 7 months I finally had a positive pregnancy test. However, at 10 weeks I started to bleed.  This time the sheer volume of blood and the cramping reminiscent of labour pain meant I was certain I was miscarrying. I rang the midwife who said to get to my GP.  The GP I saw was fantastic.  She was worried because my pain was more concentrated on one side so sent me straight to hospital with a possible ectopic.  We weren’t really prepared and I had nothing with me so my husband went out and bought me pyjamas and slippers.  I was given a private room and the staff were really helpful and friendly.  I had to stay overnight as the radiographers had gone home for the day so I had to wait until the following morning for my scan.  I remember being quite relaxed, this time there was no confusion, I knew what was happening and I had my own space to gather my thoughts and emotions.

My husband returned the following morning and we had our scan which confirmed what we already knew. It wasn’t an ectopic but I had miscarried. This time it was a private scan with no wailing people in the corridors, it felt very different to the first time.  A week after coming home I answered the door to find the community midwife on the doorstep.  ‘I’ve come to do your home visit ‘ she said.  Nobody had passed on the information about the miscarriage.  Thankfully I knew the midwife quite well by this point and I knew the remorse that she showed was genuine.

For the next 10 months the urge to have a healthy pregnancy consumed me.  I would watch pregnant women when I was at the park with my daughter and be overcome with jealousy. Each month was like a torture until eventually I resigned myself to the likelihood of us only ever having one child.  Soon after I fell pregnant.  I was so desperately worried for the first trimester and couldn’t relax until I had passed the 13 week stage.  Every little pain sent me into a frenzy and when my husband went abroad for a week I was so worried that I would lose the baby while he was away. My midwives understood my concerns and gave me early scans which were reassuring.  I was lucky, this was a healthy pregnancy and I went on to have another.  I  am now blessed with 3 beautiful girls.

Mumsnet are currently running a Better Miscarriage Care Campaign.  This calls for a 5 point code of care.

  1. Supportive Staff – my experience would have been far more positive if staff had been trained in communication and listening skills and if I had been given a routine follow-up and offered counselling. Counselling should be for both parents as men are often forgotten in this whole process, if the care for women is shoddy then I would say that the men are given very little consideration.
  2. Access to Scanning – 7 days a week avoiding my experience of Monday morning mayhem.
  3. A Safe and Appropriate Place for Treatment – separate from women having routine antenatal care and termination of pregnancies.
  4. Good Information and Effective Treatment
  5. Joined Up Care – Community midwives are kept informed and concerns are acknowledged in later pregnancies.

I am sure that I am one of thousands of women with a story to tell about inadequate miscarriage care. Miscarriage is difficult enough without these added worries.  Please support the Mumsnet campaign so that in the future women will feel supported  and informed when going through such a difficult experience.

Where Has My Little Girl Gone? Questioning the Way We Bring Up Girls.

My eldest daughter has just turned 7 .  She will soon be going to Junior school and moving away from Early Education, my area of expertise.  I am not overly worried about her growing up too soon but  I am sure that the Junior school years will throw up new challenges.  So when the offer to review a new book ‘Where Has My Little Girl Gone?’ by Tanith Carey came my way, I thought it might be interesting to read about the challenges that might be faced along the way for all 3 of my girls.

The book ties in with a recent ‘mumsnet’ campaign ‘Let Girls Be Girls’ which campaigns to stop the sexualisation of young girls.

The book looks at the aspects of modern life that are fast-tracking our daughters through childhood. However, it is much more than a simple account of the sexualisation of young girls. It encourages parents to question the influence we have over girls growing up in this generation.  It discusses influences including body image, mobile phones and the internet.

 There are insights into the most extreme examples such as parents paying for their daughters to have plastic surgery and children pole dancing but is also full of practical tips on how to help young girls become rounded individuals, rather than focusing purely on beauty. The section on body image certainly made me question the messages I give to my daughters.  I am fortunate that I am naturally slim but I have never been completely satisfied with my body.   Though I don’t diet and try not to talk about losing weight I am sure my negative body image must have some effect on my girls.  I have hoped to have breast enlargements once my child-bearing days are over.   I hadn’t considered before now that this might make my girls view appearance as the most important factor in life, or see surgery as a quick fix.  Though I am not having second thoughts, it has made me realise that I need to approach the issue sensitively with my daughters.

 There is a particularly good section about boosting self-esteem.  It gives some lovely examples of things you can do to help girls feel unique, from simply asking their advice to building a scrap book of their artwork and writing, from the very first scribbles and sharing it together over the years.  I like the idea of this one and it’s something I can imagine doing with all of my girls.

 There is also some very practical advice on how to praise daughters and some lovely tips on how to help your daughter to understand about friendships that fall out or people being unkind.

 Another message that hit home for me was about spending quality time with your daughters, taking them for coffee and having  proper conversation. I think this was something I did a lot when my eldest was an only child but we don’t spend much time together alone anymore and I can already see her retreating into a book, game console or tv programme. The book talks about showing that you are interested in what they have to say and giving them your full attention.  I’m sure we have all glazed over when they talk about some television programme that we know nothing about, and how many times do we not really listen or give eye contact because we are too busy doing something else?

Spending time with your daughters, helping them to question things is a key message in the book. It doesn’t suggest banning commercial television, magazines, pop music or internet but to watch things with them and discuss the issues that arise.  In our house we have always been against commercial television and rarely watch adverts.  When we do we have frank discussions with our children about how advertising is often aimed at getting you to buy things you don’t really need, or promising you things that aren’t necessarily true. ‘Blah, blah, blah’ my daughter says every time an advert comes on.

There is also a lovely section for fathers and the importance of their involvement

‘a girl sees it as her mother’s natural role to care for her, she feels that time spent with her dad is his choice’

It talks about rebellious teenage girls testing their fathers to see if they would fight for them and encourages fathers to appreciate their daughters achievements instead of pushing them immediately to try the next thing.

I think that we are fortunate to have not seen too much evidence of our daughter growing up too soon.  She likes pop music and pretty clothes and sometimes wears make up, she is influenced by her older friends and occasionally speaks in an annoying american accent, but on the whole there is nothing that worries me. We may not shield the younger ones quite so well as they try to emulate their older sister. I’m sure that this book will give me many valuable tips for the things that life may throw at us as the girls grow up.  It has certainly made me think about the relationship I have with them and how I would like that to be in the future.

For anyone bringing up girls this is a really valuable read and it certainly made me stop and think about the quality of my relationships with my girls. Since reading the book I have reflected upon some of the messages I give to my girls.  Whilst my girls were watching a Disney Princess DVD, I considered that I may need to encourage my daughters to question the notion that finding your Prince Charming is the most important thing in life.  It has also made me think about the messages I give to them about the role of a mother.  I would like my daughters to grow up feeling that they can achieve anything and they do not have to give up a part of themselves to become a good mother.  Being a stay at home mum for a few years I feel that I may have reinforced the stereotype that it is a mum’s job to look after the children and house and that dad’s are the successful ones.  I hope that I can give my girls something to look up to so that they can see that women can be successful too.

This is a very practical and thought-provoking book – a worthwhile read for any parent of girls.