15 October 2011

Mumsnet Miscarriage Care Campaign

I’ve seen mention of Mumsnet’s Better Miscarriage Care Campaign for a few days now, but I’ve been scared of investigating more.  For me October 15 isn’t just Baby Loss Awareness Day – it was also my due date.  I wasn’t sure how I’d feel, but I’m actually okay.  It doesn’t hurt nearly as much as I expected, but I’ve been wary of torturing myself unduly by reading blogs about other miscarriages when mine is still fresh in my mind.  It was only after I stumbled across VBinCatalunya’s post that I felt maybe I should add my voice.

Overall I feel a great debt to the NHS for saving my life that day.  The emergency room and critical care teams were completely and utterly brilliant.  I did have problems on the ward, but I know they were stretched and understaffed.  In general I felt most of the nurses were trying to help as best they could, and at least I wasn’t surrounded by newborns.  So all in all I’m very grateful, but there was just one episode I found very upsetting.

A day or so after the operation for my ruptured ectopic pregnancy the junior doctor came around with a form.  Because we’d lost the pregnancy so early, at just 8½ weeks, they needed to check and make sure it definitely was a pregnancy and not some type of tumour.  They needed my written consent for this because it was ‘Reproductive Material’.  I understand all this and didn’t have trouble signing the form, but the second part stopped me in my tracks.

They wanted to know if they could dispose of the material as they were finished with it, or did we want it held until all the material could be disposed of together.  Apparently a few of the tests would need slides which would take a few weeks to come back.

I had no idea how to answer this. You’ll notice that till now I’ve never mentioned the word baby.  In the aftermath of the surgery we didn’t quite feel like we’d lost a baby, as we knew it had never been viable in the first place – but this form suddenly made me question that assumption.  Should I be mourning the death of our baby?  I had images of this tiny baby that was nearly impossible to see being cut up into slides...surely there wouldn’t be much left to keep?  And how are they going to dispose of it? If it’s going to be thrown in an incinerator with other biological matter does it matter if it’s kept all together?  I assume they ask because people feel it’s a life or a child, but if you think that way wouldn’t you want to bury it, not just let some stranger dispose of it?  But that wasn’t an option I was given. 

I felt like I was being faced with a huge decision I might regret forever. Not to mention it wasn’t just my baby, it was our baby.  I was being asked to make a decision that was obviously desperately important to some people - without my husband’s input.  I suspected he’d take a scientific rather than spiritual approach to things and say they could throw bits out as they were finished rather than spend extra effort trying to keep it all together...but I didn’t know that for certain. 

By this point I’d started thinking out loud a bit to buy myself some time.  Logically I didn’t see how keeping our ‘reproductive material’ together was going to make a difference, but I wasn’t being asked for a logical answer. I was being asked to make an emotional decision I was completely unprepared for.

As I stared at the form the doctor said ‘Just pick which you prefer, it doesn’t matter which.’  And I thought...If it doesn’t matter why are you asking me?  If it makes no difference couldn’t you keep all ‘reproductive material’ together till disposal rather than blindside women who’ve already had a traumatic experience?  In the end I decided to have the material kept together.  I felt like I might be being silly, but at least I couldn’t regret my decision. 

While I’m sure they were trying to be helpful with these forms, I felt like I’d had an emotional rug pulled from underneath me.  I don’t understand why I needed to make an immediate decision, why I couldn’t have my husband’s support in making this choice, and why they needed to ask these questions in the first place if it ‘doesn’t matter’.  Instead they set off an emotional upheaval where I had to question my own feelings and wonder if I was a bad person for not mourning a child we'd never had.

I don't think I'm ready to read other people's stories yet, but @mmelindor is hosting a blog hop over at Salt & Caramel and I'm sure she'd love your support.