Rianna shares her story of having a miscarriage as a teenager and compares the difference in care that she received with her second pregnancy as a married woman in her late 20s.
From when my period first came, aged 13, it was always very regular. So when it was four days late - combined with the fact that I had lost my virginity three weeks prior - I instantly knew I was pregnant. I had just turned 18 and was supposed to start university in a couple of months. Despite my age, I wasn’t scared or ashamed, I was excited and already loved what was growing inside of me.
When I was eight weeks pregnant, I noticed a tiny amount of bright red blood on the tissue after I had used the bathroom. My heart stopped. I knew it wasn’t a good sign but I wasn’t sure what to do. I hadn’t told my parents that I was pregnant yet so I couldn’t tell them - even though I was desperate for a hug from my mum. The next day, instead of going to college, I went to A&E. I had to wait two hours to see a triage nurse. I told her I was nearly 9 weeks pregnant and had seen some blood. She asked if it was a planned pregnancy and if I had considered an abortion. What the...? Were these routine questions for all expectant mothers? After a few more condescending questions, I was sent to the other side of the hospital to finally get a scan.
The sonographer called me into the room and told me to take my trousers and underwear off. He didn’t introduce himself or ask how I was. As I sat in silence, holding my breath, he performed a trans-vaginal (internal) scan. I asked if the baby was okay but he ignored me. Minutes later, while typing something on the computer, he said my pregnancy was no longer viable. Viable? What did that mean? He didn’t even look at me, just continued typing his notes. I was devastated, but before even allowing me to gather myself, I was being told that I was to have an operation (D&C) the next day to remove the pregnancy tissue. I was given a leaflet with information about what the procedure would involve and then I was sent on my way.
I walked out of that hospital feeling ashamed, heartbroken and utterly alone.
Fast forward more than a decade later, and I was pregnant again. The same partner as before, but now married and living together. I was so very excited but everyday I feared for the safety of my baby. If I could have one miscarriage, I could have another, right?
Once again, I was 8 weeks pregnant. My morning sickness was dreadful but I was doing okay. Then one morning, while I was getting ready for work, a sharp pain shot through me and I started cramping. No, please no. Was my nightmare becoming a reality? I bit my lip to hold back my tears while I fumbled around looking for the midwife helpline. A calm woman told me to take some deep breaths to help me relax and then told me to go into the hospital as soon as possible to get checked out. When I arrived at the antenatal department, I told the receptionist what was wrong, she squeezed my hand through the glass barrier and told me someone would be out to see me soon. Less than 15 minutes later, I was with a nurse, Sandra, who offered me a glass of water before I lay down. She got her equipment ready and told me that she was going to try and have a listen to the baby’s heartbeat. She moved the Doppler from left to right trying to find the perfect position. I could feel my heart pounding through my chest. Could I handle another loss? And then, the most beautiful sound in the world. There was still a heartbeat, beating as fast as galloping horses. I hadn’t realised I was holding my breath until I released a large gasp and burst out into tears of relief. The midwife held my hand until I calmed down.
It wasn’t until I fell pregnant that second time that I realised just how insensitive and patronising all the medical staff were when I miscarried. They treated me like a child. No one said they were sorry for my loss, no one told me about the support services available. Most of all, no one told me that I had other treatment options. I was just told that I had to have the D&C procedure. I was never told that I could take a pill or wait and see if things would pass naturally. Looking back, I know that I was unfairly judged and treated because of my age. But a miscarriage is devastating for a woman - no matter their age age. Women should feel listened to, respected and comforted when experiencing the loss of a baby. I didn't feel any of those things.