Filter (noun): a screen or layer which selectively absorbs some of its components
We did toy with nicknaming my second bump “Boccy 2”, but I didn’t like the number element. It felt like a replacement or made me think of a version 2 upgrade, or something like that. Neither of which I liked, so it didn’t stick. Unable to settle on a name, I kept referring to him/her as “My Baby”. James didn’t like this much, he’d remind me that it was his baby too. I was never stressing the MY part though, it just had a nice ring to it, if you said it out loud – “hello, my baby” – try it.
Our experience with My Baby was a perfect example of how you never really know what’s going on behind closed doors. How what social media depicts can be a world away from reality. Even me writing this blog, it can seem upbeat, right? But that doesn’t mean I don’t have tears streaming down my face. I do, by the way. This is the blog I’m most afraid of. This is the blog where I intend to give you an unfiltered view of miscarriage.
Sometimes people bleed during pregnancy. “It’s not normal, but it is common”- that’s what I’ve been told. But of course, when pregnant, absolutely any bleeding is terrifying. And although you spend all your time worrying about miscarriage, convinced it’s going to happen and trying to steel yourself for that eventuality, there’s still that niggling thing in the background. That thing which you never quite register the size of: that thing called hope.
When hope goes though. Woah. Boy do you know it. You never even knew it was there. It’s like falling through a trap door – that sudden whoosh sensation – and in that instant, you just know. It’s all over. Hope is gone.
I’d had a scare that weekend. I’d been bleeding and I had cramps which were getting worse. Classic textbook signs. We’d ended up in A&E on Sunday morning, it was Mothers’ Day. Despite all the symptoms, everything seemed fine. There she was (I always think of this one as a girl), heart beating and super active, twirling all over the place. My little dancer, with James’ cheesy moves. The sonographer identified an explanation for the bleeding and we went on to have the most perfect scan. The baby had grown right on schedule and we were shown the heart, the brain, the bladder, the stomach – we were absolutely stunned. Neither of us knew it would be possible to see such detail, especially not at 11 weeks. We went home immeasurably calmer and in complete awe.
Due to the stressful weekend, I decided to take it easy and took the next day off work. Of all the decisions I’ve ever made, this one was up there. I am so grateful I didn’t go to work that day.
I ran a few errands in the village where we live, but when I got home I felt that I was bleeding and I rushed upstairs to the bathroom. The day before, the Early Pregnancy Unit had told me to collect any tissue which passed and not to come in again unless the bleeding escalated to four or more sanitary pads an hour.
I suddenly felt a big gush, something more than just blood. Oh God, oh God, what was THAT?! I shoved my hand into the toilet, pulled out a large clot and put it on a sanitary towel. Shaking, I called James “this isn’t normal, this has escalated, come home”. The bleeding continued, but I kept saying “it’s ok, it’s ok, 4 pads an hour”. I was reciting a mantra. I was on complete autopilot.
There was just so much blood, it kept coming, and then I felt a further huge something pass. This time I felt a big whoosh and I just knew. I thrust my hand into the toilet bowl, feeling around in all the blood and found something. It was so big, fleshy and big, like a chicken breast. And just like that, all hope was gone.
I was so scared. Home alone, knowing I had just held my baby in my hands. That’s been the most traumatising bit, I just couldn’t get over that. I moved to the bathtub, wailing, hyperventilating. And that’s how James found me. Blood absolutely everywhere, all over the bathroom and me in the bathtub, howling.
I don’t know why, but it didn’t occur to me to call anyone. I could have called a taxi or an ambulance, or my mum, who was only 15 minutes away that day. Instead I just stayed at home and waited for my husband. It must have been horrific for him.
A few days later we flew to China. Despite posting lots of pictures on social media, I was crying every single day. I received a message from a stranger on Instagram, commenting on my travel photos. She said “Looks like you’ve had a fabulous time travelling. Dream life!” Not quite.