The Totally Unexpected Trauma of a Missed Miscarriage

Read Time
March 28, 2022

I have been afraid of something not going “to plan” during pregnancy throughout the whole of my adult life.  A friend lost her baby during labour, friends experienced early miscarriages, and all those articles, and TV and radio programmes involving miscarriage over my lifetime seem to have been vividly absorbed and concentrated into the single thought that to lose a baby at any stage in the process would be too much to bear.

Sally, Tim and Henry the dog.

2 years ago, I met Tim, and 6 months ago, we decided to try for a baby, having already discussed for a long time, possible names, the design of their room…

Nothing could ever have prepared us for the anguish that followed.  Three weeks of losing blood, fishing out unidentified tissue from the toilet, bleeding through layers of clothes on my night shifts…  Turns out I did not know anything about what a miscarriage involved.


We found out we were over 5 weeks pregnant on 10th January.  The feeling was totally surreal, especially as it was the evening before I was due to embark on a new version of my job as a veterinary nurse - working night shifts.  Irrational downplaying of any sort of positive outcome until I had had a definitive scan muddled my mind and happiness.  All the while, Tim kept asking what was wrong, possibly scared that maybe I had somehow changed my mind, trying to cut through my fear.


Over the coming days as I registered as pregnant, I became more and more excited, but still frightened.  We found ourselves looking at outfits, prams, cots, but I would save an item on an app and then un-save it, worrying that our baby dream would be jinxed.  


On 28th January 2021 when I was 8 + 6 weeks, I had my booking appointment.  The Student Midwife seemed confused at me not giving a definite “yes!” when she asked whether I felt excited.  She asked if this was my first pregnancy – presumably to determine if I was this scared because I had previously had a miscarriage.  I tried to explain my fears.  I left with future appointments booked, scans requested, a “baby on board” badge, no mention of that not going to plan.

On 1st February 2021 at 9 weeks I noticed peachy coloured discharge and this is when things started to go downhill.  On 3rd February I finished my nightshift and Tim drove me to A&E as the bleeding was heavy and blood red.  I had my first internal ultrasound.  The sonographer uttered words about how they could see my “pregnancy” but did not refer to it as anything further.  They could see my distress and comforted me, but I did not know why – they confusingly confirmed that “it” only looked 5-6weeks developed. The ultrasound probe was covered in bloody clots afterwards.   I had to wait for another scan to check for development.

On 8th February at 10 weeks, I was sitting on the sofa when warm blood started gushing out of me through layers of clothes – I straddled upstairs to the bathroom. I fished things out of the toilet, trawling through Google to find out what miscarriage tissue looks like at 5-6 weeks.  Then it happened again, so Tim drove me to A&E.  A gynaecologist could not internally examine me as there was so much blood.  I had to wait for my next scan.

On 10th February, I had my 2nd scan and a sonographer announced she would ask a second person into the room for verification. Verification for what?  She briefed him that I was supposed to be 10 weeks pregnant, and he turned to me to say, “sorry but there is no heartbeat”.  What could they see?  What was happening?  Through my tears I was silently furious.  Afterwards, the EarlyPregnancy Nurse discussed passing what remained.  I was stunned again – I had not thought about needing to remove what was there.  I chose Surgical Management (SMM) as the process was crushing me.

On 13th February at 11 weeks we had had our first official scan booked in and I sat and cried at the time it should have happened.  We were not going to be announcing our good news today – we had not made it to that point.

On 15th February I spent 4 hours in the early hours of the morning in agony, having to control my breathing and feeling my body push with contractions, just passing vast quantities of blood and clots.  Tim sat helplessly outside the bathroom, talking to me, and feeding me a spoonful of honey at my weakest point.  All of that pushing and nothing to show for it.


On 17th February I had my 3rd scan and by this time I had had enough of sitting in waiting rooms surround by baby bumps, purple folders and the sound of a baby’s heartbeat through a doppler in a room.  “Can you see anything?” I asked, after some time had passed during the scan.  “No” was the single word response from my ultrasonographer.   There were “Retained Products of Conception” including now a fetal pole according to the report, and SMM was booked for that Friday.


On 18th February I passed something big at home –about 12cm long and 5cm wide.  

I scooped it out of the toilet - it felt so warm and I felt so petrified.  It was solid tissue and I desperately tried to see an identifiable shape.  I felt so sad that I could not, crying hysterically in confusion on the bathroom floor.  

I assumed this was the fetal pole.  I packed “it” up to take to hospital with me the next day.


On 19th February I arrived at hospital at 7am and had my 4th and final scan to check that after passing something the day before, the SMM was still necessary – it was. To my relief, the ultrasonographer actually talked me through what she could see.  The procedure and time pre- and post- in a hospital room were a peaceful end to the physical side of this trauma.  


3 weeks on and I am still crying every day.  I have called various helplines, started counselling, am working my way through jealous and angry thoughts towards anything or any scans, and the inappropriate places I was expected to wait in.  I feel traumatised by the weeks of constant bleeding and the episodes of acute bleeds, as well as not being able to get the sight of the fetal pole I passed out of my head.


I return to work in a couple of days, feeling anxious and sad about having to concentrate on something other than this experience.  Never could I have imagined all this – I had not heard of a missed miscarriage.  I wrote this to process what happened, and to help those who may be going through a missed miscarriage to be more informed about the scope of the process – not often discussed in detail.  There is a lot of support out there and I could not be more grateful for that at least.  

Sally x

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Bex Gunn & Laura Buckingham

The Worst Girl Gang Ever