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Home  »   Member NetworksLGBT+Member Voice   »   “It doesn’t make it any easier” – A queer pharmacist’s account of miscarriage

“It doesn’t make it any easier” – A queer pharmacist’s account of miscarriage

In this latest member voice, a PDA LGBT+ Network member shares her story of IVF and miscarriage.

Wed 24th May 2023 The PDA

Originally I wanted to write a diarised account of my IVF process – I never thought I would end up writing about my miscarriage.

My wife and I are both healthcare professionals and I went in knowing the statistics. Miscarriages occur in around a quarter of all known pregnancies. It’s so common, it’s ordinary.

But knowing that and working at an obstetrics hospital and having a partner who’s held the hands of countless patients going through the same ordeal did not soften the blow in any way.

“Then I burst into tears.”

If anything, I was harder on myself. I knew it could happen. I tried not to get invested in the pregnancy (it was only the first IVF cycle after all). I tried to temper my excitement about everything pregnancy and baby-related. Because I knew the reality. It was early days. I was only around seven weeks into my pregnancy.

But laying in that scanning room and being told that the foetus no longer had a heartbeat, absolutely broke me. I felt the absence of my partner so acutely at that moment (she had a clinic full of patients to oversee and there are less accommodations from organisations if you are not the employee carrying the pregnancy). The ultrasound technician was upset herself. She comforted me.

I then had a ‘breaking bad’ discussion about the options available for a silent miscarriage. I had no bleeding, no signs. Nothing. It was unexpected.

I had been quiet and contemplative until this moment. Then I burst into tears.

The nursing staff were amazing, comforting, and just the right amount of empathetic. No doubt – given the statistics – many of them may have experienced a miscarriage themselves and knew the grief that accompanies it.

The doctor came across smug. It was definitely not his intention. He had been dragged away from something else to go through the pregnancy loss documents with me. A person he had never met before. That’s a hard moment to try and build a rapport with your patient. I directed my questions to the nurse. She was empathetic, doting, and gave me the right amount of information that I could handle.

I sobbed whilst driving home.

My wife left work early and I called in sick that afternoon. We sobbed together at home. She apologised profusely. It was not her fault.

I decided to go ahead with an MTOP (medical termination of pregnancy). I didn’t want to wait, possibly weeks, for the pregnancy to pass and I didn’t want the surgical option (although all of them have similar rates of success/failure).

Back at the hospital, I was counselled on taking two medications. The first – mifeprestone – is taken under supervision. The second – misoprostol – can be taken at home 48 hours later.

Mifeprestone softens the cervix and misoprostol induces the expulsion of the products of pregnancy. All very sterile words for one of the most awful experiences of my life. My advice for anyone reading this: make sure to take your painkillers before you take your misoprostol, you’ll need it. After the awful cramps and vomiting and multiple trips to the bathroom, the cramping settled and I passed out on my living room floor in the fetal position clutching a hot water bottle.

That afternoon I dozed and ate and cried.

“Refuge in my sea of grief.”

What I wasn’t prepared for was the grief that hit me like a freight train. I took to my bed for over a week and was signed off from work.

The nurses checked up on me. I sent them cards.

The hospital offered a counselling service, although if you’re a private patient – which most LGBTQ+ patients are – you only get 2 free sessions per cycle, then you have to pay for further sessions. The counsellor has been great so far. I am thankful for her providing me with comfort and refuge in my sea of grief. And solace from the unthoughtful things people say when they find out you’ve had a miscarriage. She has been personable and mindful of barriers faced by LGBTQ+ patients like myself.

I am healing now, and considering another round of IVF. But I am still fearful of what that will bring.

I was completely unprepared for the anger and sadness of my grief. But, to paraphrase a close friend, “At this point in life you’ve had many experiences and developed many tools for dealing with them. But some events you will never be able to prepare for because your prior experiences don’t apply. Death of a parent or partner, a terminal illness, a miscarriage, or the death of a child. You can’t apply logical steps to a wholly emotional process.”

And she’s right. I need to give my grief its space and time. And in doing so, be kinder to myself.


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