I conceived just before lockdown started, and discovered I was pregnant a few weeks into working from home.
I thought this must be a godsend in case I experience morning sickness, I’ll be in the comfort of my own space. But I thankfully had very few symptoms of early pregnancy.
Life went on as normal. I continued my new routine of running before work in an effort to stay active and counterbalance my new found interest in baking, and maintained the working from home period with enthusiasm. Shared care with my doctor and the hospital midwives was to be done via video chat in between working hours, it was all very convenient!
A few months in, the day began like any other. I was making tea and getting ready for a busy day of work. But I started to bleed and immediately panicked.
I rushed to the nearest hospital, where I spent the next few hours in the ER, having had a few blood tests that came back as “still pregnant” though showing signs of a threatened miscarriage. I was told I’d have to wait untill the next day to get into another hospital’s Early Pregnancy Assessment Service clinic.
This next hospital obviously had COVID-19 preventions, including temperature tests at the door. But then when we arrived at the EPAS, we discovered their COVID-19 rules were that no support partners were allowed into the clinic. As a patient, you’re on your own.
My partner was not allowed to be with me to receive the update on our baby, despite the fact we’d both been tested and live together.
So then alone, in a darkened room, I saw the foetus on the big screen, no longer pumping his little heart away like we had seen a few weeks earlier. The space was now silent and dark.
I was then sent back to the waiting room in the EPAS clinic to sit on my own for an hour and a half, after being told my baby had died.
I was to see yet another person but, in the midst of my overwhelming grief and confusion, I had no idea who. It just reiterated to me the loneliness and emptiness of my situation. I had already felt very alone in my miscarriage, but this enforced it.
The worst part was that while waiting I kept seeing other couples in the same waiting room together, but I wasn’t allowed to be with my partner? It made no sense. I asked my partner to come back to the waiting room to at least sit with me while I waited, and as he entered the receptionist caused a big fuss, saying he wasn’t allowed to be there due to the protocol. I burst into tears. Turns out those other couples were there for fertility testing in the same clinic, but that wasn’t explained to me. Because I was crying, we were temporarily ushered into an office together while I waited to see the doctor.
We left soon after seeing the doctor and I put the experience down to the bad luck of having a miscarriage during COVID19. However, after sharing my story with someone else, they prompted me to give feedback to the hospital. I decided to write an email expressing my disappointment at the lack of compassion I felt from their staff, having to receive the confirmation of my miscarriage alone. My key concern, I wrote, was for anyone else to have to go through what I did.
It made a difference.
I was promptly contacted by two senior staff members from the hospital expressing their remorse at the situation. They told me that after an investigation, I hadn’t been the only one who had gone through this. Why hadn’t any of the staff said or changed anything?
The small act of writing an email resulted in a major hospital changing their COVID-19 protocols for their EPAS clinic, I even received a letter from the general manager to confirm it. They told me women are now welcome to have their support partners with them for appointments during the pandemic and made sure I had my partner with me during my subsequent visit.