There’s no heartbeat,” I heard the doctor who was performing my scan say after about 40 minutes of examination.
I didn’t understand what that meant. I had gone in for my eight-week scan for my first pregnancy. He did a usual scan and then asked me to empty my bladder so he could do a TVS – a trans-vaginal scan – something that allows the doctors to examine the foetus better. “By eight weeks the heartbeat should be very visible and in your case it is not. I am sorry, this pregnancy is not viable.”
I turned to my husband Raj for comfort. He immediately responded as a loving husband should, grabbing my hand and showing his support. As I got dressed, he got on the phone and spoke to my gynaecologist who asked us to go see her.
I cannot even begin to describe what happened in the weeks that followed. I was asked to wait it out 10 days and go for another scan because perhaps it was too early to see the heartbeat. Every night I prayed and spoke to this little baby, begging its little heart to pump. I felt every bit pregnant but on a daily basis the symptoms would fade a little, something
I refused to accept. After the 10th day I went in for another scan and, as the doctor expected, the foetus had not grown and there was no heartbeat. “His machine is spoilt,” I consoled myself, and went to another doctor for another scan. He told me the exact same thing: “This pregnancy is not viable.”
Coming to terms with a loss of any kind is confusing. Coming to terms with the death of a baby who hasn’t fully developed is very traumatic. First of all, you don’t know how to mourn. You speak to doctors and they treat it very matter of fact.
So much so that they tell you that 70% of women have Early Pregnancy Waste – EPW. I hate that term. You speak to other women, most of whom have gone through similar or worse experiences, and you wonder why people do not talk about it more.
Society tends to regard women who have had miscarriages or who are unable to carry a pregnancy to term as failures, so women tend to keep quiet about what has befallen them. However, I have never hesitated to tell people about, what happened to me. It was my way of accepting what had happened, a way of grieving.
And then there are the things people say in an effort to be comforting. Someone once told me, “I guess if it was full-term and you lost the child it would have been harder to cope.” I disagree. When a mother loses a child, no matter what stage in their life, it hurts. As a mother you blame yourself first, then you fight with God and then you question everything about yourself and your entire being. It pushes you to soul search.
After my miscarriage, I set out to conceive again. I did the monthly blood tests, checked my ovulation dates, did everything I could, and behold, a year later I was pregnant again. It was a long year, a frustrating year. But I suffered another miscarriage.
I hated seeing my period. I would cry, sometimes thinking of myself as a failure. I read up on everything to do with babies and conception. Then one day I got a positive pregnancy test. I called up my doctor who immediately sent me for a scan. I was so excited – and ready to make this third pregnancy work.
I got to the doctor for a scan and he was happy. He smiled, but when he started his examination his face fell. There was a pregnancy, just no foetus. I had read about this, it was called a blighted ovum. I was angry. Very angry. I could not believe that this was happening. For the life of me I did not want to go for another D&C. I met my gynaecologist who treated this like an opportunity to make some extra cash – he said he could operate that very afternoon.
I was disgusted and walked out. I decided again to wait. I was only five weeks and perhaps my uterus was lopsided or inverted and the foetus was hiding and they didn’t catch it on the scan. I went for plenty more scans and begged the doctors to find something. I kept getting the same result. It was heartbreaking.
Then I met a doctor who offered me some hope. He listed my available options before adding, “Pinky, you will have a baby, this I promise.” He took me through a laparoscopy and cleared ‘ my ovaries of cysts. Unlike any doctor I had met to date, he texted me after being discharged to check on my recovery process. He was available to me for all my questions, even when he was out of the country.
When I was ready to fall pregnant again, he took me through the whole process. He says that he does things in quarters: every three months we would try a different method of getting pregnant. He knew ovulation was not the problem
but he wanted to be sure. So fair enough, here I was three years later and still trying. After six months I was pregnant.
I was filled with doubt. Because of my previous miscarriages, he sent me for an early scan. As soon as I missed a period, I went to see the same doctor who did all my scans. He gave me his comforting smile and ushered me into the room. I had my mum, brother and husband with me. My fingers were crossed and my tummy was doing somersaults.
He started his examination and I turned away from the monitor. “Okaaaay,” he said. I swallowed hard. “There’s the heartbeat and there’s the foetus.” You could hear the relief in his voice. “Heartbeat!” I screamed, “we have a heartbeat!” We all cried a little and said a prayer.
The pregnancy was normal. I took it very easy, carrying this little one like she was an egg on a spoon. I went for every scan and took every medicine to ensure that I did not lose the baby. Forty weeks later, my precious little daughter was born and I heard her cry. My doctor said to me, “Isn’t that just the best sound in the world?” All I could do was nod because at that moment I was just too overcome
with emotion to speak. I was filled with gratitude for my little blessing. Today my daughter is a happy and healthy two-year-old.
I have spoken to several mothers who have lost their unborn babies. S.ome lost them while they were just a few weeks’ pregnant; others lost them at six months. Like me, they all grieved over their unborn children. My advice to mothers who have miscarried is mourn. It is important. Be angry, it is normal. Question, as you need to know the answer. Accept, this will allow you to move on. And pray, this will allow you to understand God’s will.
Miscarriages and Mourning
A miscarriage or stillbirth (when the foetus is 20 weeks or older) can have a devastating effect on a mother emotionally, physically and psychologically.
Emotionally – because she has started bonding with the unborn baby and has started planning a future. She may even have chosen a name.
Physically- because her hormones have kicked in, making her breasts bigger in preparation for lactation. If she had a stillbirth, she may also still be recovering from an operation.
Psychologically – as she has no real closure as one does with a normal death, with a body to bury, a funeral to attend and loving friends and family to help ease one through the mourning process. Often, a mother won’t tell anyone she’s had a miscarriage. Add to this feelings of guilt if the mother had mixed feelings about having the baby in the first place. It’s normal to have feelings of grief, anger, anxiety, guilt and depression after a miscarriage.
The solution is not to try and “get over it” – you have to work through your grief, say the experts. DO NOT try and forget your baby. He may never have been born, but he was a life, nevertheless, and you had hopes and dreams for him.
Cry, grieve, talk about him. Imagine him in a happy place. DO NOT try and suppress your grief with drugs or alcohol. The mourning process is a natural part of being human and we all have to go through it sooner or later.
Fortunately, time really does heal. DO invest your time and energy into existing and new relationships. Focus on your spouse, your family, even other mothers who have had miscarriages. Helping others will help ease your suffering. DO see your doctor if, after a month, you are still feeling anxious, depressed or suicidal. While mourning is natural, ongoing mourning can be a sign of post traumatic stress disorder, which needs professional help. – Helene Lee
Courtesy: True Love Magazine May 2012