The Letter- Miscarriage Awareness Month- October

How do you spell love?

So October was Miscarriage awareness month. This post is a little late.

It was quite a tough month for me as the first week of October was when my baby was supposed to be due.
We lost a baby back in February/March of this year and it’s been really hard trying to come to terms with it.

A few people already know that we lost a baby, but I’d like to share the experience with you because as hard as it is to write about, it’s also a life event with a very positive outcome.

We decided to call our baby Blue, as it was the size of a Blueberry when it’s little tiny heart stopped beating.

The 10 days of waiting between the two scans were the worst few days of my life. They crawled by. In a way when we got the answer we were expecting at the second scan, it wasn’t so much a relief, but it was welcoming to get some final confirmation.

I had suffered what’s called a ‘Missed Miscarriage’.
In this situation what happens is that the embryo fails to develop fully and, instead of being passed out of the womb in a miscarriage situation, it is retained inside. Sometimes it can take your body 8-10 weeks to realise that something is wrong and the symptoms of pregnancy such as nausea and breast tenderness continue. A woman may not realise that anything is wrong until they attend their first scan at 12 weeks.

So after our scan, I was sent home with my options and advised to take some time to think about them and to reflect on what had happened.
I honestly just wanted to get it over and done with so that I could get some kind of closure and start to move on. I didn’t want to wait for it to happen naturally and the fact that I was still experiencing nausea was too much to bear.
In the end I opted for the D&C and they booked me in for it 24 hours later. As it was a day procedure, it meant I’d be home that evening, it also meant that I myself and Ross wouldn’t have to spend a night apart at a time when all we wanted was to be there for each other.

The morning of the surgery (after a night of very little sleep) we went to the hospital and were told to come back an hour later as there was no beds available in the Early Pregnancy Unit (EPU). The midwife was extremely apologetic and she seemed quite upset by the fact that she had to send us and another couple away.
As we only live 5 minutes down the road, it wasn’t a big deal, we got in car and headed home.
I wanted to head back early so we arrived with 15 minutes to spare and I was eventually assigned a bed that had become free.
So I got into bed and I was accompanied on one side by an elderly lady and on the other side was a lady with a hip problem, My apologies to them and their visitors for having to listen to me cry (A Lot).
The midwife gave me a couple of pills to get the labour started and some paracetamol for the pain, Ross headed away to work and I cried myself to sleep.

The events that occurred after this obviously affected me a lot more than I knew at the time.

I ended up back in the hospital a few days later and they kept me in for the weekend to be sure that there was no infection.
As I was getting ready to leave the Monday morning the same midwife that looked after me the day of my procedure approached me and apologised whole heartedly for the events that took place the Wednesday before. As a woman who’s been through the loss of a baby herself, she was deeply distressed by the situation and felt completely helpless. She seemed quite upset.
She said that no matter how many times the midwives have asked for those beds to remain free for scheduled procedures, their pleas went unanswered.

So I decided to take it upon myself to write a letter to the hospital:

For the attention of

Patient Services Department, Waterford Regional Hospital.

I am writing to inform you of a very serious problem that I encountered on my recent visit to your hospital.

This is not a complaint but it is a genuine concern and one that I recommend you look into.

I was admitted to your maternity department on Wednesday the 26th of February 2014. I was scheduled for a standard D&C surgery following the loss of my baby at 6 weeks.
I arrived at the hospital at 9.15am as instructed and was told that as there were no beds. I was free to wait or I could go home and come back at 10am/10.30am

As I lived just 2 minutes from the hospital, myself and my partner decided to drive home and go through the unbearable process of waiting.
As you can imagine we did not get much sleep the night before and we were both anxious, scared and upset and we just wanted to get the procedure over and done with so that we could go home and start healing.

We arrived back at Waterford Regional at 10.15am and I was shown to a bed at 11am. I am aware that the only reason I was lucky enough to get the bed was because there was an emergency ectopic pregnancy which had been rushed to surgery, but also because I was the first one, of two procedures scheduled, to arrive back after the hour.

Four hours later after a lot of grieving for my lost baby, excruciating cramping and a bit of sleep, I awoke to use the restroom. To my horror another woman who was scheduled for a D&C procedure also that day, was still sitting in the Early Pregnancy Unit waiting on a bed.
After 4 hours of Emotional, Mental and Physical pain, this poor woman was still sitting in those hard chairs, looking as pale as death and still waiting for a bed. 4 HOURS LATER. Waiting for a bit of privacy, comfort and reassurance and she eventually got it, but only after a 4 hour wait.

Whilst I don’t deny that the care I received was excellent, and I’m sure the midwives did everything they could to help this poor woman and comfort her at such a difficult time, I was so upset and horrified and I felt so guilty, which only added to my grief and anguish.

I am writing to you because this is a serious problem.
I can’t get my head around that fact that you don’t have at least one bed free at all times for these procedures.
I understand that 70% of the news given in the early pregnancy unit is bad news and where the odds of someone having a perfectly healthy baby well exceeds the odds of losing one, those odds of miscarriage are still 1 in 5, which is huge.

These procedures may be sporadic, but a D&C is quite common and in a lot of cases a necessary procedure. As I said before, It’s painful, not just Physically, but Emotionally and Mentally and every woman going through that pain deserves at the very least a curtain to hide behind whilst she grieves for the loss of her unborn baby.

I really hope I don’t have to go through this procedure again, but there’s always a possibility that I may have to and for every other woman who has to go through that pain, I must stress that you look into this serious issue and that you do your best to prevent this from happening again because it’s VERY REAL and sitting in a chair for 4 hours just doesn’t cut it.

Sincerely,

Amy Kirwan

A week later…
I received a phone call from the patients services department informing me that they received the letter and were doing everything in their power to rectify the situation. Unfortunately as it wasn’t my personal experience sitting in a chair for 4 hours they most likely wouldn’t be contacting me again to let me know the outcome of the situation.
So that was the end of that, or so I thought..

Last week….
On my way back from Kilmacow with my friend Paul, we decided to stop in at this little restaurant in the middle of nowhere for a coffee. A friend of ours told us that the lady who runs the place has some very interesting stories to tell about Kilmacow and the surrounding area.
The restaurant was closed but she invited us in and after a lovely chat she asked us to stay for a bit of lunch. We were escorted into her kitchen for delicious soup, homemade brown bread and fables.

Her daughter Breda was also sitting with us as she’d popped in for a quick visit.

So we got talking and it turns out that Breda is a midwife in Waterford University Hospital. I told her that I had a procedure back in February/March and that the care that I received was amazing, the midwives did everything in their power to be so supportive. I mentioned the bed situation and at that moment, she placed her hand on mine and asked “Are you the girl that wrote the letter?!”
To say I was surprised would be an understatement! It had been quite some time since I’d given that letter any thought at all. When I told her that it was indeed me, she proceeded to tell me;
“You’ll be delighted to know that the three beds in the Early Pregnancy Unit are to be kept free at all times for miscarriage sufferers, no exceptions.”
She also stated that “my letter was CC’d around to all of the midwives and they’re constantly quoting from it every time somebody attempts to take one of the beds.” She wholeheartedly thanked me and said that she “could now tell all the ladies on the ward that she met the woman who wrote the letter!”

SUCCESS!!! I can’t quite describe how it felt to hear that news. It was some of the most uplifting news one could hear. I now know that it wasn’t all for nothing, my letter had made a huge difference to the lives and experiences of countless women and the midwives who work so hard to support them.

It was the best news I could have hoped for and certainly made the month of October easier to bear.

A little letter can go a long way and boy am I glad I sent it 🙂

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