The pain of miscarriage
"Accepting that loss is a forever process, losing a child is not something that a woman who truly wants to be a mother forgets. You will always hurt, initially, it is a sudden sharp unbearable pain that you don't think you will make it through. Then it becomes like a chronic illness that you always feel but live with," Lydia Graham* explain the pains of her miscarriage.
Graham had uterine fibroids so in March 2015, when she missed her period, she did not overthink it, she just thought it was her fibroids, but on a whim bought two pregnancy tests. She got the shock of her life - positive. The surprises kept coming when the doctor confirmed telling her she was nine to 10 weeks pregnant.
Despite having no symptoms, her history with fibroids was a looming dark cloud over her pregnancy as her doctor immediately told her that he would try to make this a full-term pregnancy. As it went along, she started to feel immense pain due to her fibroids and she went to the United States of America for high-risk care and received medical coverage.
She was admitted to the hospital twice due to pain and Braxton-Hicks contractions. Her bundle was always low and she had to wear a maternity belt to keep him up. As for morning sickness or nausea, this never affected her. She was looking forward to having her son whom she had named Shiloh. Her hospital was picked out and she was assigned a clinic. The doctors told her that due to her complications they would allow her to have him at seven months. Everything was set.
Just over six months in, Graham started to feel pain after a family get together.
"I did not rush to the doctor because this is the pain that I had grown accustomed to feeling," she told Flair but it was not. After a couple of days of pain, she decided to go to the doctor and planned to ask if it was possible for her to give birth at this stage because the pain was unbearable.
Upon reaching the clinic, they hooked her up to the ultrasound machine. The first doctor took some time just looking at the ultrasound and said nothing to her except that she was leaving for a minute. She returned with a second doctor, but it was when the third doctor came in that she got the news. The one that ultimately broke her, the news that sent a pain through her body and straight to her heart, a pain that she cannot ever imagine healing from.
"Your baby has passed."
Everything from that moment became a blur. She left the clinic and was transported in an ambulance and in her mind, she still held onto hope that when the hospital did these tests again, something would change. It did not. Her sister called the father of her child upon her request but she could not bear to speak to him.
"The rooms were connected by speakers and every time someone gave birth they played Hush, Little Baby - I think it was. That was the hardest part of my night. I cried that entire night," she explained the painful ordeal.
But it did not end there. Graham spent four days in the hospital trying to deliver Shiloh.
"They told me if by the third day they could not get him naturally, then they would have to do surgery. It was my first child, but would have been my second major surgery as I removed fibroids in 2011, the doctors did not want to do that. So I had to push him out, look at him - but I could not touch him. That is a decision I had to make to cope. I know that I could not hold him that was not something that I could have mentally handled," she admitted.
Graham's difficult pregnancy is not something strange for women with fibroids. Dr Giselle Harrison, consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist noted that there are a number of ways that fibroids can affect pregnancy.
"Pain from degeneration is a very common occurrence and often requires painkillers and even hospital admission. Dependent on the timing either miscarriages or preterm labour may follow," were just a few that she named.
Harrison emphasised that the "relationship between fibroids and miscarriages is more of an association than a causal one. When fibroid location was excluded, studies found no association between the two."
She does state that the placement of the fibroids does increase the risk of miscarriages.
Graham noted that she is not deterred and while terrified, motherhood is definitely something she is going to attempt again, but she is taking her time to heal.
Dr Giselle Harrison
Consultant Obstetrician and
Harbour View Medical Center
*name changed upon request.