A-Z

Vikki Z

Age at interview: 38
Brief Outline: Vikki had two sons and aged 35 was pregnant for a fourth time. At her 20 week scan she found out her daughter did not have a heartbeat and she gave birth to her two days later. Since then she has given birth to another son.
Background: Vikki is 38 and lives with her partner. She has given birth to four children and also had a miscarriage at 8 weeks. She works as a primary school teacher.

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Vikki had no problems in her first pregnancy and gave birth to her son. However, she then had an early miscarriage at 8 weeks of pregnancy followed by a third pregnancy which ended in the birth of her second son. Vikki then became pregnant for the fourth time and the pregnancy progressed well although Vikki felt very sick compared to her earlier pregnancies. At her 16 week appointment all of the checks were fine, but she felt things weren’t quite right as her baby’s movements were different to her previous pregnancies. At her 20 week scan the sonographer couldn’t find her baby’s heartbeat. The midwife told Vikki her baby had died and that she would need to give birth to her in the next few days. She had to take some tablets to start the process and go home for 48 hours. 

Vikki and her partner found it extremely hard to go home and explain to her two young sons aged 2 and 4 years what had happened. Despite the sad situation, Vikki said she really enjoyed the day of her daughter’s birth. She was named Lola and the midwives took her away to clean her. But Vikki wishes they had left her with them, and was annoyed how Lola was presented back to them lying on an absorbent pad. Vikki found it emotionally very hard to leave her baby behind at the hospital. 

Vikki took sick leave from work. She found her milk coming in after her baby’s birth one of the hardest things to cope with as breastfeeding her sons had been such a lovely experience. She was very keen to have a postmortem as she was keen to get pregnant again as soon as possible and wanted to know whether there was anything that could prevent another miscarriage. While the postmortem didn’t find anything conclusive, doctors recommended Vikki have blood thinning injections in her next pregnancy and attend the recurrent miscarriage clinic. 

Vikki suffered from anxiety and depression following her daughter’s birth and found Lola’s due date a really difficult time. Vikki felt financial pressure to return to work as she did not receive maternity leave. Going back to work within a few weeks was extremely difficult. When Vikki became pregnant with her third son six months later she left work to focus on her pregnancy. She felt she could never enjoy a pregnancy as she had done before the loss of Lola, and was very anxious throughout her pregnancy and after her son’s birth. Vikki found having counselling and talking to people at the Miscarriage Association extremely helpful.
 

Vikki Z had niggling doubts and felt something wasn’t quite right with her pregnancy. It was harder than her previous ones.

Vikki Z had niggling doubts and felt something wasn’t quite right with her pregnancy. It was harder than her previous ones.

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So, we had - we had the scan at twelve weeks as usual, and that was fine. Everything was fine, there was nothing. No problems. And then I went for my midwife appointment at sixteen weeks. And I remember being quite disappointed, because they'd changed the procedure, and they wouldn't listen to the heart, for the heartbeat. Because they say that since my last child, that's not what they do, because more often than not they can't find it, and actually it can cause more worry and concern, and - and really, you know, everything's most likely to be fine. So I remember - but I remember saying to her at the 16 week appointment, "I just don't feel like everything's right, I just feel as though - you know". I could feel the baby moving by then, I could feel the baby moving from quite early, because I'd already had two, and you know the signs. And also probably people say everything's stretched, I don't know whether that's true or not, but I could definitely feel her moving. But not as much as the others. And it seemed to be in a different type of way. And I was just really, really, really, really ill. Just felt really sick. So much so that they did suggest taking the anti-sickness medication, but I didn't really. Yeah. So there was no reason. There was no actual, you know - I'd had all my checks, the scan was fine. 

My blood pressure was fine. Everything was perfectly fine. But there was something that I just didn't feel was right. Something in the back of my mind. The midwife said "Well you're measuring fine, everything's fine. Each baby's different. The placenta could be in a different position - you know - your placenta could be at the front so you're feeling less." And all of these things sort of made me think 'right, yeah - you know - it's fine'. And it was just a niggling doubt at the back of my mind, which I just pushed to the back of my mind because you know, I was also feeling very hormonal, and, as I say, it was - it was the most difficult pregnancy of all my pregnancies. 
 

Vikki Z had an overwhelming desire to have another baby and wanted to know what plans needed to be put in place.

Vikki Z had an overwhelming desire to have another baby and wanted to know what plans needed to be put in place.

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And obviously Christmas is a happy time of year, isn't it. And everyone was busy, and getting excited, and all the rest of it. And I was doing all the things that I should be doing, but didn't feel like doing any of them. And, and I just felt terribly, terribly sad. And just - yeah, just missing - I just felt a total - a total emptiness. And it was - I wanted her. I wanted her. But I knew I couldn't have her. So immediately, as soon as she was born, the desire to have another baby was just overwhelming. It was just - It was the only thing that I could - that, that I could think about. I was obsessed with having another baby. It was just like I needed to be pregnant again. 

And that's why I sort of - almost on a mission. Right I need to know, I need to know what was wrong, so I can put that right, so that we can have another baby. So that you know, we just - it was just - yeah. I just needed to know. And I'm a very practical person, and I need a plan of action all the time. So that was my plan of action. And so that's what - that's what we did, really. 
 

Vikki Z was reassured and frustrated by the inconclusive results of the post-mortem.

Vikki Z was reassured and frustrated by the inconclusive results of the post-mortem.

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So can you take me through the meeting with the consultant about the post-mortem?

Yeah.

What did you learn from that?

So it wasn't actually very conclusive whatsoever. It was all 'maybe', and other things. So, what we did find out was that she was a girl, and she died some time in the week before she was delivered. Which made me feel less crazy, because she was quite small. She was only the size of sort of a seventeen week old baby. And what they said is that they - that she had obviously just been growing slowly. Because I was thinking 'well, if she's that size, why have I been feeling movement?' You know? And that was making me feel quite crazy. So, that reassured me, and made me feel a lot better. I don't know why, why it should, but it did. And they said that there were lots of clots in the placenta. Which had - which was - Everything was 'probably', it wasn't actually certain. So there were no genetic - there was no genetic problem, there was nothing obvious, she was a perfectly healthy baby girl, other than these clots in the placenta. Which they think may have caused her to grow slowly, and that actually - that that probably was the reason why she eventually died. Which made me so cross. Because they wouldn't say definitely. 
 

Vikki Z was offered a plan for her next pregnancy after attending the recurrent miscarriage clinic.

Vikki Z was offered a plan for her next pregnancy after attending the recurrent miscarriage clinic.

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We were - Oh, we were able to - So we were able to see the recurrent - went to the recurrent miscarriage clinic.

That's what they sent us to, because I'd had previous miscarriages, and this one was a late miscarriage. They said, "Yeah, you know, you can go there, if you do want another baby." So we went there at the same time as getting the post-mortem report. And what they actually were suggesting is that - and they'd done all blood tests and everything. They were saying that she was perfectly healthy, and that she was fine. And what they would suggest for my next pregnancy is to - that there were no reason why I shouldn't get pregnant again, and what they were suggesting was that I should take aspirin, and that I should have - maybe think about the blood thinning injections. And, but they didn't say for certain, that. And they said that I would get regular scans. And you know, that everything should be fine. But I was annoyed, because in my head - I was really cross - if I'd have taken aspirin, I'd have taken blood-thinning injections, would this have happened? Because they're saying that, you know, this baby's perfectly healthy, there's no - nothing wrong with her whatsoever, other than this placenta has got clots in, and wasn't working properly.

So, yeah. But at least that meant that there was no reason why we couldn't have another baby, I suppose. So - so yeah, we did start, start trying as soon as possible, really.
 

Vikki Z described the difficulty of being back at work as a teacher working with young children and how it led to her having a breakdown.

Vikki Z described the difficulty of being back at work as a teacher working with young children and how it led to her having a breakdown.

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So, just carried on with life. But it was awful life [laugh]. But nobody knew how terrible it was, I don't think, until I think when I sort of had a bit of a breakdown. I didn't realise I was. But I remember finding work really, really difficult. Because obviously I'm looking after a class of thirty children, and well trying to teach a class of thirty children, young children. And I just found my patience sort of wearing thin. And I wasn't being as, yeah, as patient as I should have been, and I was snapping quite easily, and just felt like I wasn't concentrating on the job, and my mind was elsewhere. And what was really difficult is the teacher in the class next to me, she was pregnant - we were due within a few weeks of each other - and the closer she got to her due date, the harder it was. At first it was okay. But the closer - So, yeah. We were due in April. End of March, beginning of April. And the closer it got to that time, the more I couldn't deal with it. And that - I think that is actually what brought it on. And I mean, it's not her fault - it's not her fault. But if she hadn't have been there, I think maybe [laugh] I would have been able to carry on. But I couldn't. I just, I just had a bit of a breakdown, really. And [my husband] ended up ringing the hospital, and just saying "What can I do?" I didn't realise he'd even rang them. But they put him in touch with the - a counsellor called [counsellor’s name], at the hospital. Who, who actually just, that's her job, to deal with things like this. And then, so yeah. I went to see her pretty much the next day. And she said to take more time off work. So I took more time off work. And that was the process I think, then. You know, after getting to rock bottom, after carrying on like as normal for so long - because this was probably March time. 

Yeah, so carrying on - It was the due, it was that due date coming up that was really the difficult thing, really. Yeah. So the carrying on as normal, as I could do, for that time. You know [laugh], like always having no fun, but I was - I was doing everything that I would normally do in life, because that's what I to do for the kids and everything, really. Yeah. And then it just - just had a bit of a breakdown, and had to, and stopped. But that point was good really, because actually that was when I actually started getting better. But it just took me a long time to realise that that - that coping strategy was not really a good, a good strategy whatsoever.
 

Vikki Z felt that while she would always miss her child, over time she was starting to enjoy life again.

Vikki Z felt that while she would always miss her child, over time she was starting to enjoy life again.

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And I think as well, things do get better. You can't imagine it at the time. You think, you know - this is going to be it forever, it's going to be terrible forever. And it's all you can think about, the baby - constantly, all the time. And then it does get better. And you still think about them, that - you know - there's always something missing. But you're not thinking about them all the time. And you do gradually start to enjoy things again, and you do find happiness. 

And somebody said to me - it was somebody at - somebody said to me, "It's going to be two years." Somebody in a very similar situation that had lost a baby at the same time, "It's going to be two years." And I just - I remember thinking, six weeks or so after I'd lost the baby, 'two years - I can't deal with feeling like this for two years'. They were right. It does. It takes a long time. It does take a long time. And I'm not saying that those two years were all entirely bad, but it really - it really is, it's a long period of time before - It was pretty much two years to the day, almost, until I started to feel that I was getting back to myself, my old self, and really enjoying things, and. Yeah. Enjoying life. So it does take time. But it does, you know - things do get better. Yeah. Happiness does back. Because I just thought it wouldn't. I just thought there's no way I could ever be happy again. But, but yeah. You definitely can.
 

Vikki Z emphasised how important it was to talk through your loss and get help straight away.

Vikki Z emphasised how important it was to talk through your loss and get help straight away.

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I think - I think get help straight away, and don't just try to carry on. Because I just tried to carry on as usual. And that really wasn't the best thing to do. Because actually it meant that I had a total breakdown, and that was worse for the children and everything else, by trying to carry on. So I think you do need to talk about it. And you do need to find that, you know, help is available. I don't think it's advertised as much as it should be. I think you have to get to breaking point before they tell you about it. But you do need to talk it through, you do need to deal with those feelings, you can't just like push them away and hope that everything will be alright, and - and just get on with life as usual. You can't do that. Yes, you have - especially like I say, with children you have got to get on with things, but you've got to deal with the, with what's going on as well. So yeah, I would say definitely - you know - go to the Miscarriage Association, get help from the hospital, speak to a counsellor, a bereavement counsellor if they have one. Those things are really helpful. Speak to friends. Speak to your partner. Speak to - I think just speaking to people about it. 

Because after a couple of months, people thought I was fine, because I didn't speak about it. But if I had have been speaking about it, then maybe - you know - I would have worked through the issues a bit, a bit more quickly. And then people don't want to talk about it because they think it'll upset you. Not knowing that that's all you're actually thinking about. But people aren't just going to bring it up, are they, if - if you're not bringing it up, because they wouldn't want to upset you. So yeah, definitely just get help.
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