Home Lifestyle I didn’t realise my miscarriage would almost cost me my life

I didn’t realise my miscarriage would almost cost me my life

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Joanne had suffered from a silent miscarriage (Picture: Joanne Kohonen)

Lifting myself off the toilet, I felt a sudden heavy and painful sensation in my head.

I screamed to my husband that I needed help and the last thing I remember clearly is him running up the stairs before I passed out

After that, it all comes back in dribs and drabs.

The paramedics checking my blood pressure and oxygen levels. Being rushed to the emergency ward. Hearing doctors, nurses and numerous other staff members buzzing around me, talking about ordering blood.

But one thing remains crystal clear to me: The thought I had as they desperately tried to transfuse me – I was bleeding to death.

This all started in February 2024 when I realised I’d missed a period. We’d been trying for another baby and it happened quickly – it was a very happy surprise.

And after waiting three days to take a test, we were delighted to see that it was positive. Welcoming a second child would complete our family.

The early days of my pregnancy were similar to what I’d had the first time around, with morning sickness. There was no reason to suspect that anything was wrong.

With my last pregnancy, I waited until the 12th week to get a scan, but this time I had an abdominal scan scheduled in February for a fibroid – a non-cancerous growth in my womb – which I was made aware of in my previous pregnancy and needed investigating.

Joanne was excited to welcome a second child into her family (Picture: Joanne Kohonen)

At the fibroid appointment, I told the doctor that I was around seven weeks pregnant, and they advised me to attend the Early Pregnancy Unit (EPU).

I was told by the doctor at the fibroid appointment that the fibroid was nothing to be concerned about but that it looked like my pregnancy may not be progressing as it should, as there appeared to be no heartbeat.

It was the worst possible outcome that I could have expected that day. I had attended the appointment by myself and I was inconsolable in the car afterwards.

I wasted no time and attended the EPU the following day where another doctor confirmed that my pregnancy was not appearing on the scan as it should at seven weeks.

I wasn’t given much information, even though I had asked questions, and I was utterly unclear about what was happening, just being told to wait for a further scan. 

However, they didn’t want to assume anything and told me to return in two weeks’ time to confirm the status of the pregnancy.

Joanne was told her pregnancy may not be progressing as it should (Picture: Joanne Kohonen)

The only thing that comforted me for the next fortnight was the thought that maybe it was too early for them to see anything. So I clung to the hope that things would be ok. 

Sadly though, when I returned to the EPU at nine weeks pregnant, there was no change.

The lady performing the scan was very sympathetic and I knew by her expression that it was not good news.

She then confirmed that I had suffered a silent miscarriage. 

Unlike typical miscarriages, where there are signs such as bleeding and cramping, a silent miscarriage occurs when a baby has died or not developed, but has not been physically miscarried.

With tissues already in hand I cried for what this news meant. First, that all our hopes and dreams of a healthy second baby had vanished, but also knowing that I’d still have to induce a miscarriage.

In this instance, I was offered three options. One: conservative management, which is basically waiting it out for the miscarriage to occur naturally. Two: surgery to remove the pregnancy. Or three: medication to bring on the miscarriage. 

Joanne was given two litres of oxygen and put on an IV drip (Picture: Joanne Kohonen)

It was a heartbreaking and distressing decision to make, but I ultimately opted for the first natural method.

My expectation was that it would occur like a heavy period because not once was I warned about the risk of haemorrhage. 

No one in the talk I had with the EPU mentioned it, nor did any of the leaflets I was given, nor any of the NHS literature I had read online. 

At most, there was one sentence that said: ‘If the bleeding becomes unmanageable, you should attend the Accident and Emergency department.’ 

However, as it also stated that bleeding may be ‘heavy’ and that ‘some people pass larger clots’, it was difficult for me to know what should be in the range of ‘normal’.  

So when I started bleeding at 13 weeks pregnant on the evening of April 3 2024, and noticed that it was indeed heavy with large clots, I didn’t think anything of it. I had no idea I was suffering a massive haemorrhage.

And then I’d collapsed.

At the hospital, I deteriorated rapidly. Swift action was taken to replace the blood I was losing – I was given two litres of oxygen and put on an IV drip.

I remember feeling exceptionally faint and the blood thinning medication that was injected into my arm made me nauseous. 

She had two blood transfusions through the night (Picture: Joanne Kohonen)

Eventually it was decided that I required surgery to remove the pregnancy, which should stop the bleeding. But as I had lost so much blood, it was not clinically safe to proceed without two blood transfusions.

Over the course of many hours, I had the first two blood transfusions through the night and then the surgery in the morning.

Afterwards, I required a third pint of blood and was told the surgery had been successful and that the pregnancy was removed.

It was the next day before I spoke to a doctor again but I was then told that the bleeding should be stopping very soon.

It is now six weeks since that day and thinking about it still fills me with shock and horror.

My recovery was very difficult with extreme exhaustion, aches and pains, headaches and eye pains.

I have had several check-ups that indicate that I am still severely anaemic but, thanks to the blood thinning injections and iron tablets I was discharged with, my blood levels are slowly improving.

I am taking care of my physical health, trying to rest and eat iron-rich foods. I have an appointment in the coming weeks for counselling, which I was offered at the hospital – I feel it is as important to take care of the mental trauma as it is to regain my physical strength.

Joanne wants women to know about the risk of massive haemorrhage in pregnancy (Picture: Joanne Kohonen)

I was also advised by the doctor that there is nothing to indicate that I won’t be able to conceive again, so that was reassuring. 

Now all I want is to raise awareness.

I almost died from a miscarriage – something that an estimated 1 in 5 pregnancies will end in – and while I don’t want women to be frightened, I do want them to be aware of the risks.

Severity of blood loss is difficult to assess on your own at home without a medical professional. There needs to be more knowledge and education around the risk of massive haemorrhage in pregnancy.

All official leaflets and the NHS website need to be explicit about what can happen.

Simply stating that women should ‘contact the hospital immediately if the bleeding becomes particularly heavy, develop a high temperature (fever) or experience severe pain’ is not enough. 

The word ‘haemorrhage’ needs to be included. It’s a difficult issue but one that should not be ignored.   

I’m grateful every day to be alive, but I want women and their partners to know the risk of massive haemorrhage in pregnancy – because it is a life-threatening condition.

When I collapsed that first time, I said to my husband, ‘Maybe I should just go to sleep and I will be better in the morning’.

Thank goodness he knew better.

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