It may seem odd that I would want to write about miscarriage when I'm 37 weeks pregnant, but the Mumsnet Better Miscarriage Care is campaigning for better treatment for women who are suffering miscarriages is happening right now and I wanted to lend my support.
Whilst I didn't have my miscarriages in the UK, there is clearly a worldwide, or at least Europe wide issue here that drastically needs to be addressed. I have read many heart-breaking stories from women who felt that they were severely let down by the Health Service in their hour of need, treated badly, with little or no sensitivity. In the interest of balance I would like to point out that I have read some women's tales of great treatment, of compassionate staff and real genuine emotional support that they needed, so clearly there are some hospitals and staff who are doing it right.
@mmelindor is hosting a linky in support of the Mumsnet campaign where others have told their stories, none of them have been easy to write, nor do they make easy reading. However, we need to highlight the way the women who miscarry are treated by the Health Service so that improvements can be made.
I've had two miscarriages; both in Spain. The first was a full on miscarriage that required an ambulance ride, a D & C under general anaesthetic and a shared room. Sadly in our local hospital the maternity ward and the obs/gyne ward are one and the same thing. Luckily for me I sharing my two-bed room with a woman in her 60s who I assume was in for a hysterectomy. I went in at lunchtime on the Saturday and was home for lunchtime on the Sunday. It wasn't a pleasant experience, far from it, but I was lucky in that I was treated well by the staff and managed to not see a new born baby until I was walking out of the hospital.
The second miscarriage some six months later was an entirely different tale. I discovered that I had suffered a missed miscarriage at my routine 12 week scan, the information imparted to me in a rather blasé fashion I thought. I was told to go to the hospital the following day to have the situation addressed. I had expected that I would have a D & C performed as before and be home the next day but the hospital decided that they would attempt a stage managed evacuation using pessaries first, which aside from being extremely painful did very little.
This debacle carried on over two nights where upon I was sharing another two-bed room with a woman who had obviously just given birth. Sadly for her, she was not actually with her baby, I didn't enquire as to why her baby was in the special care unit but I assumed due to the volume of visitors she had that it was nothing too serious.
My two night stay was a catalogue of insensitivity, from putting me in a room with a woman who had a constant stream of visitors until quite late at night, all full of new-born cheer whilst my body was attempting to painfully expel my own dead child, to eventually performing the inevitable D & C using a spinal block so I was awake and very aware of what was happening to me. I then had to suffer the indignity of having to recover in the room next to women who had just had c-sections performed on them, a thin curtain separating me from their new born babies as the mid wives duly washed, injected with Vitamin K and wrapped them for their proud waiting mothers, I think I probably heard their first cries before they did.
Other insults to my fragile stage included telling me times that I would be seen by doctors only for several hours to pass by without me being seen. Not such a big deal you'd think, unless that is you've told your husband and son not to bother coming to the hospital because you were expecting to be operated on any moment. After my first set of pessaries had been administered, I was handed a silver dish and told to try and catch the remains of my expelled foetus and save it for them, thankfully I didn't have to put myself through this and I don't honestly think I could have done.
Having a miscarriage is a horrible and frightening time for a women and none more so then when you're facing it alone due to being without the support network of having family close by—my husband had to look after our 3 year old son whilst I went through the whole sorry saga solo. To add in the mix not one but two alien languages, as despite being told that I could only speak Castilian they mostly tried to communicate with me in Catalan. None of this of course is anyone's fault, just my particularly circumstances, but a little communication would have gone a long way to making me feel less vulnerable and alone.
The thing that pisses me off the most however (even more than putting miscarrying women on maternity wards), is the terminology used. I will now forever have on my Spanish medical records that I have had two ‘avortaments’. You don't need to be a master linguist to work out that means abortion. Abortion to me is about choice, I didn't choose to lose my babies.
Please check out The Salt & Caramel blog and the Mumsnet Campaign, either lend your own story or fire off a letter to your local MP or simply share the information on your facebook page or twitter account.