There is something unmistakably humiliating about NHS nighties – even worse so when you find yourself alone at A&E, trying to tie up the strings across the back, only to discover that half of them are missing. In a desperate attempt to maintain a bit of dignity, you wrap the tent-sized gown around yourself and hop on the bed, as you have been told. The nurse comes and takes blood, leaves the cannula in (‘we might need that later’), puts a plastic band around your wrist with your name, hospital, number and date of birth and sticks some medical tape on your upper arm, on which she has written today’s date. Oh, and do you want painkillers against the cramps?
Slowly, the vibe of the distinctive scenery sinks in, and if you haven’t been a bit choked up already, this is the point where you shed a few tears, realising that none of this is a terribly good sign. You might start asking yourself if this was all your fault, if maybe you don’t deserve another baby, or if maybe you shouldn’t be so greedy but be thankful for the healthy and happy family you’ve already got.
You think about how many women you know had a miscarriage, and then you think about statistics and how the numbers don’t add up. Then you get a little angry that women are encouraged to keep quiet about pregnancy during the first 12 weeks, in case something happens. So what? What if something happens? Are you supposed to suffer in silence?
After a bit of questioning and an exam the doctor leaves and comes back after hours of waiting to tell you that your hormone levels are where they are supposed to be at this stage of pregnancy. The amount of blood you are losing is concerning, but not alarming. She can’t offer you a scan that night, but books you in first thing on Monday morning. She really tries her best to be reassuring and calming when she lists the possible reasons for all of this – an impending miscarriage or an ectopic pregnancy. But not necessarily, she hastens to add, it could also be a common side effect of the egg implanting in the womb. Maybe all of this will miraculously stop, and you will be just fine.
You smile at her, knowing that implantation has happened weeks ago, and that the on-going pain really is rather odd. There is nothing more they or you can do for today, apart maybe from breaking the silence and hopefully helping to lift the stigma of shame and taboo from miscarriage.