My first reaction was gratitude. I was grateful to be alive. Later, sadness crept in and curled together with gratitude inside my heart.
When I became pregnant a third time my prayers were ardent from the start. I loved the unborn speck from the beginning.
Psalm 139: 13. I prayed that God would know him and knit him in his mother’s womb (that’s mine).
Isaiah 54:1-3 I re-read the passage which I thought had been promised to me long ago about how the barren woman would rejoice and the Lord would again seek her out with his compassion.
Luke 8: 40-48 I was that lady with the haemorrhages who touched the hem of Jesus’ cloak, pleading to be healed without being noticed.
Psalm 23: Slowly and repeatedly I prayed this psalm.
I prayed too that God may take him back to Himself if that was how it was to be.
Yet not my will, but Yours be done
There were moments we both felt hopeful. As we passed week 6, 7 and then 8 we began to think this might be the child that lives. Week 9 I met the midwife and started to read the maternity book. I began to think about the birth in February and how my life would completely change. Would one year be enough time to take from work or would I want to stay with my little baby for longer?
By the beginning of week 10 I was feeling energetic, happy and positive. I’d been on the go over the week-end sorting raspberries from the garden, in addition to the usual weekly tasks.
Then Monday at work, I spotted the blood coloured discharge. It was a teaspoon full; sufficient to wipe the joy from my face. I couldn’t be sure? Is it happening again?
On Tuesday I knew it was definitely blood. I rang the midwives and the Sister gave me an appointment for an early scan on the Thursday.
It was quiet when I went for the scan. I was last to be seen. The air was palpable with the expressed feelings of relief from the other mothers-to-be.
I lay on the examination plinth being scanned first one way and then another. Over and over I repeated a prayer:
“Be still and know that I am a God.
The radiographer took a long time. She was thorough. She had sincere eyes.
Eventually she said that she had measured the foetus. It was only 6 mm; she was unable to detect a heart beat. At that size it is too little to detect the heart beat. Her recommendation was for a scan in 10 days time. She showed her sympathy and concern with her eyes.
The nurses, matter of fact, confirmed a probable miscarriage but to remain hopeful. I came home and wondered and wondered why the foetus was so small. I was clear about the dates. It could be 2 weeks out but 4? And every day I watched the bleeding and every day Kevin asked me if it was any worse.
Saturday morning, the week-end before the scan was due on the Monday, the blood seemed to recede. I felt cheerful and determined in my shopping. Unusually I was on my own as Kevin was working overtime. At the cash point I bumped into my family doctor. She had received the scan and expressed sympathy. I replied it was still hanging on in there.
Then the supermarket encounter with the discourteous young woman with her mother at the check-out. I was waiting behind her and had placed my goods at the end of the track. With no please or thank-you she told me to move my items back into the trolley as they were in her way. “Because you’ve bought half the shop up” I muttered inside my head upset with her attitude to me. No smile, no recognition that I was a fellow human and had as much right to be there. “Don’t you know I’m pregnant and need to be treated gently?” I felt like shouting.
After carrying the heavy shopping to the car parked too far away I was anxious. Later at home, I felt a sharp pain as I bent to the waste bin as I threw the wrappings away. The bleeding changed its consistency to a black sludge.
The next day, Sunday, I woke up in a low mood. All day I could not shake off this mood. I was worrying about the scan the following day. Kevin and I argued. He said: “Try to stay positive, at least”.
I lay on the settee, comfortable and relaxed, and watched “Songs of Praise”. It was evangelical in overtone. People were raising their hands, huge crowds in vast arenas, singing joyful songs. I listened to a familiar chorus. Was it “When I am weak, then I am strong” or was it “The Servant King” ”he whose hands threw stars into space, to cruel nails surrendered.?” I can’t quite remember. I do remember feeling a sudden deep spiritual longing as I watched and listened. For a few seconds I felt heartened; then the low mood hit me harder than before.
Now, in hindsight, I wonder if Someone was trying to warn me of what was about to happen.
Later we went to visit Mum and Dad. I was restless now. I felt tension in my thighs. It was a familiar feeling. I said to Mum, it was the sort of tension I feel before the start of a period.
We returned home. I couldn’t relax in front of the television. I decided to go to bed early. I had changed into my pyjamas and was lying in bed when Kevin came upstairs.
He was in the bedroom when I felt the sudden rush of the blood flow starting. Always one to try to avoid making a mess, I leapt out of bed and dashed to the toilet. The torrent had started. Helplessly I sat on the toilet with blood, and larger bits tumbling out of me.
Now it had started I became unnaturally calm.
But I couldn’t move. The blood flow was not for stopping.
Not surprisingly Kevin was far from calm. Prior to going to bed, I had fortuitously looked out the emergency Doctors number. In the back of my mind I knew I needed a plan.
I instructed Kevin to find the leaflet and ring the number. Soon he was talking to NHS Direct. He handed me the phone to talk directly to the nurse. I felt somewhat awkward sitting there on the toilet. I kept thinking to myself that I was all right and I said so to the nurse. When she asked me if my husband would take me to the hospital, I said I would prefer that.
We phoned Mum and Dad, told them what was happening and said we were making our way to the local hospital 12 miles away.
This was easier said than done. I attempted to dress. The flow was not abating. Kevin brought my clothes to me where I sat on the toilet. Once dressed, I tried to hobble downstairs; a large clot fell in my knickers like a boulder carried in a flooding stream. Soon I was sitting on the downstairs toilet my blood saturated knickers and trousers around my ankles. It had become obvious we were going to struggle to get to the hospital by car.
I sat on the second toilet listening to Kevin speaking a second time to the NHS nurse on the telephone. His lovely Birmingham lilt came out more strongly as he attempted to stress the seriousness of the situation. From my perch on the toilet, I gave a chuckle. Even in that extreme situation, suddenly I could see the funny side. I couldn’t move from the toilet, Kevin couldn’t get the nurse to understand. We were stuck.
The ambulance lady and gentleman arrived. Fortunately the lady met me in the loo. She gave me a tiny pad to stem the flow. I knew that wouldn’t suffice and brought a hand towel. I did not bother to fully dress again but wore a large dressing gown as I walked out to the ambulance. I was still feeling all right in myself. I asked if Kevin could come in the ambulance with me rather than following on in the car.
We had gone 8 miles when I began to feel light-headed. The paramedic gave me oxygen. She was cheerful and reassuring. It didn’t have any effect and I began to feel even stranger. We were about half a mile from the hospital when again I indicated that I didn’t feel right. My head felt strange. I was fighting to stay conscious and remain aware of the reality of the inside of the ambulance. I held out my hand. The paramedic who was nearest took my hand.
Later Kevin told me that my blood pressure had dropped dramatically to 40 over 30 or some such number. The last half mile they used the blue lights to get me there quicker.
I remained aware of what was going on as if from a distance. The female paramedic asked me to squeeze her fingers. I was able to respond. Coming out into the fresh air I felt revived for a few seconds. The gentleman paramedic joked that he hoped it wasn’t his driving which made me have a funny turn.
Kevin was instructed to go to Reception to register me in. I lay on the trolley concentrating on the back of the lead paramedic and fighting to remain with it. Alone in the cubicle for a few seconds, I moved my arms and legs under the cover to prove to myself I still could. They were still under my control. Please come to me quickly, I was thinking. I need fluids.
A brusque nurse arrived to take my blood pressure. She told me off for moving about. It took her three attempts to take my blood pressure. By then Kevin had arrived. It was after the third blood pressure reading that she called for a doctor, and at the same time wheeled me in to the larger room, which later I discovered was resuscitation.
So here I am several weeks later, still glad to be alive as I recall what we all thought was my brief brush with death.
The hospital didn’t carry out any intervention as such, just let my body sort itself out. My GP prescribed iron tablets and my Mum looked after me with care and attention and food. The first week home, Kevin didn’t want me to be left on my own, so I spent my days with Mum and Dad. I felt dizzy for a week until the iron levels increased. I remained tired and vaguely depressed.After three weeks I returned to work.
We need space and time to mourn our losses. I want to look after Kevin, myself and our home, to gather ourselves up and to feel restored in God’s loving embrace. I want to connect to family and friends, the living nature around us and just “be” for a while.