Our first pregnancy experience with a subchorionic haematoma

First of all, I’m no wordsmith so I apologise that this is long and rambly and may not be that interesting to a lot of people. Also, please bear in mind when you’re reading that there will be many TMI moments. Pregnancy is the definition of TMI, you have been warned.

Also there is a tl;dr at the bottom as this got wildly out of control.

Today is the 5th day of the 9th week that I’ve been pregnant. I’ve always loved children and have always wanted them since I can remember. Whether it was my own or wishing that my parents would have another baby when I was growing up. It was never the right time as we were either moving to London, preparing for our wedding or on honeymoon in Zika prevalent areas.

We thought we’d start trying a few months after our honeymoon to Thailand in January 2017 but shortly after returning we both got the itch to travel and set off for almost 6 months around Southeast Asia in October last year. Again once we returned we had to wait 2 months as recommended by the NHS as we’d been in a Zika zone.

Then Finally on the 29th May we decided it was time and I went to the Family Planning Clinic to have my coil removed. It was time to say goodbye to 6 years of no periods. It had been bliss.

We pretty much started trying straight away. Neither of us had ever tried to have a baby before so we knew it could potentially take years and we may not be able to conceive at all. I had heard about those apps where you track your temperature, or pee on a stick so that it told you when you were ovulating or not so that you could try when you are fertile but the doctor at the Family Planning Clinic told me not to bother with any of that and just to try every 2 to 3 days. So we did.

Well it definitely worked as on the 30th July I got my first positive test. Well I thought it was positive anyway. Kieron didn’t believe me.

I’d decided to take the test because it was the morning of my work Summer Party and I wanted to know whether I would be able to get away with having a few drinks. I had reduced/stopped drinking because we were trying anyway but it was a party! It was 6am and holding the test up under the light I could swear that there was the faintest of lines. The Faintest! I wasn’t even sure if It was my eyes tricking me or not.

Now, i’d always imagined finding out about being pregnant and doing something cute to break the news to Kieron and he’d be shocked and it would be amazing and blah blah blah. That didn’t happen. I ran to our bedroom and shook him awake dragging him to look at the test to tell me I wasn’t going crazy. He told me he didn’t see anything at all, but he was barely awake. I was convinced.

I hadn’t had any symptoms really by then. The only weird thing was that i’d started burping randomly. I don’t burp unless i drink fizzy drinks which i do so rarely. I’d been tired and feeling sick but I’d put the sick feeling down to the antenatal tablets I was taking.

Anyway, I took photos of the test and tried playing with the saturation/colours, anything to get Kieron to see what I was seeing. It didn’t work.

We went to the Summer Party but I started getting tired quite early and wasn’t really in the mood especially as I couldn’t drink so we headed back to our hotel….. Via Tesco so I could buy another test. We took the test again the next day to have Kieron tell me the same thing. He couldn’t see it. It was so obvious to me even if it was faint, it was there! On the Sunday I went to the Pharmacist and he recommended I get one of those no-bullshit tests. It either says “pregnant” or “not pregnant”. Well this is what we needed. It finally gave us the answer we were hoping for (and the one I already knew: “Pregnant”!!

We were aware from the start that being pregnant doesn’t mean you get a baby at the end of the 9 months. We have friends who have gone through their own troubles trying to get pregnant or sadly losing their baby in pregnancy. Knowing that something can happen doesn’t make it any easier.

Early on, we’re talking when I was about 4 weeks (i’d known for only a week), i told myself if something happened it wasn’t meant to be and there was probably something wrong with the baby. I’d convinced myself I wouldn’t mind if that happened because I’d understand that this is nature’s way of making sure that unhealthy babies aren’t born. When you actually go through a miscarriage or even a threatened miscarriage, trust me you don’t feel the same way.


First Heavy Bleed

I was 6 weeks pregnant when I suddenly started bleeding heavily on the 17th July. I was at my personal training class and had just stopped early because I didn’t feel very well so I was talking to my trainer when I just felt what was like a huge gush of blood down there.

I ran to the toilet and there was blood everywhere. I didn’t know what to do, I couldn’t think straight. My trainer gave me a heavy flow sanitary pad and I ran out the door calling Kieron on the way to let him know. The 25 minute drive home was one of the worst in my life. I couldn’t stop crying, couldn’t stop thinking that this was it. People don’t just bleed in pregnancy, this was a miscarriage, what else could it be.

I remember burping on the way home and thinking, pleasee oh pleaaase let that be a “mummy, i’m still here!” kind of burp.

When I got home I told Kieron he needed to drive me to A&E. I went to the toilet to survey the damage and while I was in there I passed a clot the size of a 20p coin. That was the point I was sure it was over.

We waited in A&E until we were called in to get triaged, the lady was really friendly and took my temperature, blood pressure and told me to provide a urine sample. Ten minutes later a nurse took blood and left a catheter in so he could take more samples if needed.

We had to wait a while after that and I was so paranoid that I was going to bleed through this pad onto the chair. Fortunately I didn’t.

Eventually I was seen by the gynaecologist on call. She used speculum to take a swab of my cervix and also to see whether it was closed or not. Fortunately it was. I was still so upset and she couldn’t tell me anything without a scan which I would have to come back for the next day. She was pretty sure I’d miscarried because of the blood and the clots also.

I was called in the morning by the Early Pregnancy Unit (EPU). I had been hoping that my scan would be in the morning so I wouldn’t have to wait the entire day without knowing. They booked me in for 3pm.

I felt like absolute crap the entire day. I couldn’t focus on anything and just wanted it to be 3pm already. I was still bleeding a lot. I knew I was going to have to have a scan so started drinking loads of water, probably about 2.5l in an hour. Ohhhh what a mistake.

We arrived at 2.50 but they kept us waiting an extra 40 minutes. By the time we got to be seen my bladder was excruciatingly painful. We got in the room and the sonographer said my bladder was “too” full as she would have to put pressure on my abdomen so I was sent off to the toilet (to my greatest relief).

Because I no longer had a full bladder I was told I’d have to have a transvaginal scan (TV). This is where they insert a long rod like thing into your vagina so that can get a view from the inside. It’s quite common when you’re this early on in pregnancy anyway because it’s usually too small to see much with the transabdominal scan.

The sonographer and her assistant told me they’d talk to me afterwards so they started checking my ovaries and uterus. It took so long i was sure it was because they couldn’t see the baby because it wasn’t there. Then they got a third person in as they weren’t sure about something. I was so nervous. I wasn’t sure whether that was a good or a bad thing and I couldn’t see the screen.

Finally they spoke. They could see a gestational sac and yolk sac and what looked like a teeny tiny foetal pole!!! I can’t describe how relieved we both were. I was so pleased. However they couldn't tell me if the baby was ok or even alive. It was far too tiny to see a heartbeat and I was measuring only 5 weeks 5 days. I didn’t care though, it was a tiny bit of hope.

We had to wait another hour to see the doctor who would go through the report with us. He told us that there was a lot of bleeding around the gestational sac and that it was effectively 50/50 whether the pregnancy would be ok or not at this point. He booked us in for 2 weeks time by which point I would be around 8 weeks so they’d be able to tell me more.

We both went home happy that there was still hope. We knew it wouldn’t necessarily work out, but at least there was a chance.

Second Heavy Bleed

The next few days passed really slowly. I was supposed to go to a wedding the next day so I’d booked 2 days off work. This allowed me to rest. I didn’t have the energy to do anything else, not even to watch TV. I had cramping in my lower abdomen and just felt generally horrific.

I went back to work on the Monday. I didn’t bleed at all in the morning which was really great. As lunchtime approached it started again. I tried to ignore it whilst also trying to keep track of it. At 2pm It was my performance review. I decided I had to tell my manager what was going on and that I was thinking I might need to call NHS direct because i was starting to bleed really heavily again. He told me not to worry about work and to call them to make sure everything was ok.

By the end of the meeting the bleeding had been ramping up. I walked out of the office down the road so no one could hear me. They asked me so many questions and then eventually told me to go and check if I was still bleeding. I’d filled a quarter pad in the time I was talking to them (10 min) so the lady told me that I need to go to A&E within the hour, not to go alone and not to walk which really freaked me out.

St Mary’s is the nearest hospital to my work so i quickly filled in one of my team at work and asked her if she’d come with me. We had to take a taxi which probably took longer than walking because the lady on the phone had scared me so much about walking.

When I finally talked to the nurse after being triaged she asked me about my pregnancy so far and if it was ectopic. I told her no it wasn’t, they would have told me a week ago if it was. She didn’t believe me so she started calling the EPU in the hospital to find out more. She couldn’t get through. I pointed out I’d been to a different hospital previously and she actually got annoyed with me because I hadn’t told her! Here was me assuming that my records would be ON THE INTERNET and accessible to the NHS anywhere.

She told me there was nothing they’d be able to do for me and said to go to the hospital I’d been to near my house. I’d taken the dog to work so I had to pick him up and then do the hour commute on the hottest train while trying to co-ordinate meeting Kieron who had already left his work early to come and meet me at the hospital. I was convinced yet again that the baby was gone.

I called the EPU on the way back when I finally got signal and they said if i was worried about bleeding to go to A&E but that they wouldn’t be able to scan be as it hadn’t been a week since I’d been there last. The bleeding was slowing down so I went to my parents instead.

The Worst News

When i got to my parents my mum called my aunt who has sadly been through a few miscarriages herself and she set up an appointment with her obstetrician for that evening. I really wanted answers so i didn’t care that I’d have to pay for it privately.

We went that evening and I explained what had been happening. He said that he’d scan me to see what was going on.

He used a TV scan and showed me the gestational sac. He then told me that the baby hadn’t grown for 8-10 days and that i would be miscarrying. I was in shock. I didn’t know what to say and i couldn’t think of any questions to ask. He told me I should go home and that they recommend I miscarry naturally but that there was nothing i could do and he “prescribes a glass of wine”.

It was that final comment that caught me hard. So stupid. Just the fact i didn’t have to care about whether I drank alcohol or not or eat certain foods. I started crying outside his office, i couldn’t believe it was really over.

Having not had any questions to mind I had no idea what happened next. My first pregnancy, my first miscarriage. I read all I could after that. All of the posts and articles I’d been avoiding. “It won’t happen if I don’t read about it...”.

Suddenly I had a ton of questions

  • What does miscarrying naturally entail? Is it painful?
  • How long will it take?
  • I read it can take weeks to happen, how can i speed it up
  • What if it’s incomplete and there’s stuff left, I could get an infection, why wasn’t i given or recommended a follow up appointment?
  • When will the symptoms go?
  • Why didn’t he talk to me about other options such as the pill or D&C?
  • When can we try again?
  • Why has this happened? How can we avoid it next time?

I had to make do with Google for my answers. My work were very understanding during this time. My manager said not to worry about work and to look after myself.

I took the next day off thinking i’d get back on it the next day. When i was just sitting on the sofa i suddenly felt myself pass something huge. My immediate feeling was relief. I’d read about ladies taking 8 weeks to miscarry naturally and I really did not want to have to be waiting that long never knowing when it would happen.

I’d caught it in my pad so I examined it (as you do). It was HUGE, about the size of my palm. Red, thick, squidgy, Kieron described it as looking like liver. I didn’t know what to do, this was my baby, do I bury it? Throwing it down the toilet seemed so wrong. But that’s what we did in the end.

Things changed in me after that. I didn’t really care about myself. I felt like I’d lost all meaning. We’d been so happy and excited and I felt broken. I didn’t have to care about looking after myself. I was so sad. I’d wanted this more than anything, and granted it happened so quickly and we were so lucky, but that doesn’t mean we deserved to lose it like that.

We went out with a friend a couple of nights later and I sat looking at the menu thinking I don’t have to second guess anymore. I got a starter with Goat’s cheese and a wine spritzer thing followed by more red wine from a bottle we all shared.

I wanted to feel better but I didn’t. I was still having symptoms which felt cruel after the loss. I was still burping, had nausea and my boobs were hurting now which they hadn’t before. Kieron told me my boobs had grown previously and looked huge, but after our loss he said they were shrinking which made sense.

I still had my EPU appointment booked for the following Monday (30th July) so I decided to keep it as I thought it would be good to make sure there was nothing left and also to ask the questions we couldn’t before.

A Miracle!

By the time Monday came around I had a weird nervous excitement. I think it was because I was still in denial and had been over the weekend. Part of me wanted to believe there was still a possibility the baby was there. The other part of me kept (physically) punching myself in the shoulder so i’d quit my stupid bullshit. I’d passed the baby, what else could that have been?!

Either way I just wanted the finality of this scan. It’s over… Or (super unlikely) it’s not.

I’d drunk less water this time (never too late to learn). So the sonographer did an transabdominal scan. Within a few seconds after she’d had a look she told me she saw a live pregnancy… And that there was a heartbeat!! Also the baby had grown the right amount since the last scan.

I immediately burst into tears. Not small tears, huge sobs. She couldn’t even scan me my stomach was moving so much. I couldn’t believe it. There was our little baby on the screen, heart hammering away. She showed me a big area of bleeding which was still there but also said it didn’t seem to be affecting the baby, that it is beside it.

When I got my report later I found out this is a “sub/retro-chorionic haematoma (SCH)”. Mine was quite big for the time of gestation at 51 x 35 x 43mm however they also told me it looked like it was receding. It’s like a giant bruise in my uterus so my uterus was beginning to reabsorb the blood there. This was so reassuring.

I couldn’t believe the turn of events. Just the night before I’d been crying because I was crazily thinking that in an alternate parallel universe I would have still been pregnant…. We were in that parallel universe all along.

To go from believing in such a loss to the complete opposite is insane. I was so happy it was unbelievable. Even though anything is still possible, it was so much better than what we’d believed for a whole week.

The sonographer had printed off a photo for me. Our baby was 7 weeks and 6 days.

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After that the reasons why i’d still felt my symptoms made sense. And so did something else. When i’d been at the scan at the private doctor appointment I thought I’d seen a heartbeat on his screen. When he told me I was miscarrying I didn’t even ask him about it. I’m not a doctor and also it was the first scan I’d seen so I didn’t really know what I was looking at. Apparently that was it though because it looked exactly the same as the heartbeat the sonographer showed me on her screen.

The Third Heavy Bleed

Unfortunately it hasn’t been clear sailing since then. On the 6th August I went to the GP because I was still bleeding so much and because I was struggling with my commute so she signed me off work for a week to rest so that it might help stop that. She also told me I should have a follow up appointment with the EPU and that they’d call me the next day.

The GP called me on the Tuesday with the news that the EPU wouldn’t scan me again because they’d already done so. I really needed some reassurance after all the bleeding and all the misinformation i’d been given so I booked a private scan on the Wednesday.

It was expensive £79 but worth every penny as I got to see my baby again and even see him/her move and dance around! The sonographer also told me my SCH had gotten smaller and was 2 x 3cm. I was ecstatic. This was such good news. I felt like the next 3-4 weeks to my next scan would be no problem now, i’d have no problem believing everything would be ok.

Things changed once again on the Thursday, the next day. I was at home and hadn’t bled for over 24 hours. I had been to Tesco earlier to buy some food. It’s only a short walk and a friend was borrowing our van so I thought it might actually be good for me to do a bit of walking.

An hour after I got back i felt the gush again. It happened so fast it completely filled my pad and went through it onto my trousers and down my legs.

I cried so much, my heart was breaking even more than before. How stupid I’d been to think it was ok to go to Tesco. What an idiot, losing my baby wasn’t worth the cost of going to Tesco to buy dinner. Everything had been fine and i’d screwed it up.

I called my mum who rushed over and took me to A&E again. The process was pretty much identical except for this time they had a portable scanner in A&E. I realised this must be because I was further along and didn’t need the TV scan.

It took the doctor a while to find the pregnancy. At first he told me nothing was there. After a few excruciating minutes he finally found it tucked away. I was told by the private doctor that I have a tipped uterus (it folds backwards instead of forwards) so that may be the reason why he struggled to find it. I had no idea how long I was going to be waiting for this scan so I’d just gone to the toilet. That also didn’t help and the visibility was really bad. But it doesn’t matter. Still beating strong was the baby’s little heart.

It’s been 4 days since then and i’m still scared things have changed and I just don’t know about it but I can’t do anything about it except hope for the best. The doctor told me the fact I’d gotten past 9 weeks was a good sign because each week the baby will be getting stronger. I’m supposed to have another scan 7 to 10 days from the A&E scare last Thursday so I’m hoping they’ll contact me about that. Otherwise it’ll be my midwife appointment and then the 12 week scan before we’ll know more.

I can’t believe I’ve been through all of this in 6 weeks. I never expected pregnancy to be easy but I didn’t think that things might be ok after bleeding that heavily or having clots that big.

I’m so excited for the future and keep getting carried away with myself only to be brought back to the reality that anything could happen any day and it could all be over, for real this time.

I hope my story helps even one person to be informed, or be able to keep a little hope.

A Little Update..

We went for our 12 week scan today and they dated me at 11w 6d so even though I thought I was 12 weeks on Monday I'm actually not 12 weeks until tomorrow. Anyway we had the scan and everything looked perfect, they checked that there was a stomach, bladder, brain, 2 arms, 2 legs and he or she seems to have inherited an Italian nose (poor thing).

I had my follow up EPU scan 2 weeks ago and they told me my SCH actually grew by a couple of centimetres. This was disappointing but at the same time as long as it's not bothering the baby then I can live with that.

I've been spotting brown blood about a week now but before that I managed to have 10 days of no bleeding at all. I put this solely down to not doing much walking, no lifting, pretty much being as sedentary as I could be, which really isn't fun, especially for someone like me who's always on the go. However it will all be worth it!

The midwife and my sonographers don't seem to be too concerned about my SCH now but the one today wouldn't measure it for me so I don't know if it has grown or not. Anyway tomorrow I take the scary step of commuting to work. It's time. I'm so bored and I think we're in a much stronger place right now.

TL;DR

I started bleeding heavily at 6 weeks pregnant, they scanned me but I was told to come back 2 weeks later as the baby was too small. I bled badly the week after that, went to see a private doctor and was told I was miscarrying. I passed a huge blood clot the next day and believed I had miscarried for a week. Two weeks after the first bleed I had another scan and was told the baby was there and there was a heartbeat (YAY!!) and that I have a Subchorionic Haematoma. The week after I had to go back to A&E because of more bleeding but baby was still there looking strong and healthy with heartbeat.

We've now had the 12 week scan and everything looks good for now!!

We Don’t know what the future holds but I’m really hoping everything carries on well from now with the pregnancy.

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