CW – miscarriage talk
It’s 3am and the light of my phone is bathing my face in the otherwise dark room. My partner rolls over to look at me, bleary eyed and probably half asleep.
“Babe. You need to sleep.”
“I’m just looking up the chances of miscarriage at 11 weeks. After a clear Harmony test.” I say this tongue in cheek because I know it will annoy him, but every word of it is true.
“Oh. That’s great.” These words are breathed out in a kind of sigh, and they are blanketed so heavily in sarcasm, I know he is quite awake.
My husband thinks I have a morbid obsession with miscarriages. He’s right. He also thinks that using Google to self-diagnose, and trawling though countless forums about miscarriage experiences is basically the worst thing I could do. He’s probably right about that too. He’d be shocked if he realised the extent to which I have self-diagnosed and trawled though! Whilst I am no member of any forum, such as babycenter.com, I have – no joke – spent hours and hours reading thread after thread of the angst, fear, hope and joy that comes with trying to conceive, failing to conceive, conceiving but losing, and birthing. You should see my Google history.
I started experiencing anxiety after the birth of daughter a year ago. It has waxed and waned, but at the moment is hanging around 24/7. It doesn’t bring panic attacks and it doesn’t stop me from doing things. It could, but I don’t let it. It just physically annoys me and mentally drags me down, like the rock that’s sitting in my chest right now.
I know everyone thinks I should loosen up and stop worrying about miscarriage. But all those people that think that have never experienced what I, and so so many women have experienced. Ours came before our daughter, it was our first pregnancy that we lost. So our daughter is our little rainbow pocket rocket. Getting pregnant again though, now, is an anxious experience of course, but it is somewhat buffered by the existence of our sweet little girl running around me all the time. However, I just assumed that I would miscarry again. I don’t know why, I just did. I told a friend in Mother’s Group, “I just feel like miscarriage is part of my story.” What a terribly pessimistic thing for me to think! But I know I think it for the same reason that women who have lost, fight the urge to get attached to the attachment inside them. Why women don’t announce until they feel sure, so sure, that maybe this one will stick for good. For self-preservation. The friend in my Mother’s Group said that maybe it will always be a part of my story because of the effect it has had on my life, but it doesn’t necessarily leave me doomed to have more.
Stories of miscarriage can trigger a reliving of my own experience that throws me off for days. When someone close to me lost a pregnancy a year after my own miscarriage, and when I was close to popping out our rainbow, I was sucked into the black hole of grief that had taken me some time to escape. When a pregnant friend had some bleeding and messaged me, concerned, I was of course so worried about her. She was given the all clear, after a doctor offered her an ultra sound to check out what was happening. This threw me into a bizarre emotional rage that my doctor, when I had seen her about my own bleeding and cramping, did not offer me this. She did not even use a foetal doppler to check for the heartbeat… and I know there is one at the clinic! I cried at home, so full of rage and resentment at the realisation that perhaps if my doctor had have performed this simple check, I could have been made horrifically but at least immediately aware that my baby was gone. I could have had the warning. I could have had an operation. I could have avoided losing my baby in the toilet of my workplace, Friday night, sometime between 3 and 4 o’clock when most staff and thankfully all students had gone home.
This fit of regretful, sad rage only lasted twenty minutes or so. I even vowed that next time I saw my doctor I would ask her why she didn’t check my baby’s heartbeat. Did she follow protocol? Why did she just let me go home with basically a “well there’s nothing we can do, except wait and see” prognosis? There is clearly no point – no point – in pursuing this, but for those twenty minutes or so I was completely irrational and angry – I was a different person to who I actually am.
Because we lost our first baby at 10 weeks, getting to this magic number was an all consuming task for me. I counted down, day by day. I waited impatiently for the scan and DNA test we would be doing. My partner came with me on the day, with our one year old. We started the scan, and straight away were presented with a little blob on the screen, heart beating away inside. One sac, not twins, and a good looking little blob.
Then my worst nightmare, the words “Hmmm, this doesn’t look like a ten week old foetus though”. My heart dropped, I stopped breathing. And the voice in my head was saying “It’s dead. It’s gone. You’re gonna miscarry again.” Then another voice, “Stop it Jacqui – YOU CAN SEE IT ON THE SCREEN. There’s a heartbeat.”
It was 8 and a half weeks. But it was fine. My dates were wrong, with an incredibly long cycle and an astoundingly late ovulation. The receptionist cracked what she thought was a joke, “A week a half early!? Whose fault was that?” I think I muttered something like, “Um, my body’s?”.
We discussed what date to return for the blood test, as we couldn’t do it until I was actually 10 weeks. I stared at the calendar on my phone but didn’t really see it. Tears welled up and my partner whispered to me, “Hey – it’s okay, we just wait a little longer.” I looked him in the eyes which made me tear up even more, “It just took so much for me to get to this week, and now we are being rewound…”
I realised that my entire being of energy had gone into making it to the day we would see our little bean on the screen, see the heartbeat, and see that everything was looking okay. My whole mental and physical capacity had been used up, to get to this moment, and now I was deflated and forlorn.
But everything was fine, I had to keep telling myself, so there really wasn’t anything to be upset about.
And so we went back to 8 and half weeks. I let the weeks pass trying not to dwell too much on the time frame involved. I continued to feel my anxiety constantly, with no let up. All the time. I mentioned to my partner that maybe I should go to the doc, and see if I needed to take something. He pointed out that maybe it would disappear after the 12 scan, that my body was subconsciously on edge, even if I felt like I wasn’t stressing. I went for the 10 week blood test, and had a very, very anxious wait until the results came back a week later regarding Chromosome issues – all clear. Then there was just a week left until the 12 week scan, right in the midst of my family’s December Christmas celebrations. We told everyone that we were expecting, always with the caveat of “So far all looks good, but we are just waiting to see the baby again at the scan in a few days.”
Before the scan, my partner asked if I was nervous. I don’t know why, but I wasn’t. Maybe because I had had shocking nausea for weeks, and so I was pretty reassured that the hormones were still kicking around, and so was baby. I also think that with the extra week and a half, I had fallen into a sort of resignation. Whatever would happen, would happen, and I’d find out very soon.
The doc silently scanned away, checking the screen and taking screen shots and measurements. Just as I was about to ask (probably with some frustration) how everything was looking, she said all the things you want to hear. “Great measurements, looks perfectly normal, healthy looking baby” etc, etc.
And so here we are. We have made it to 14 weeks today. And my anxiety did peel away with the celebrations with family, and a slow and relaxing post-Christmas break of doing not much, and being away from home.
And today is therefore the beginning of the second trimester, and the end of the longest pregnancy third I’ve ever experienced. I’m still scared, but I’m feeling good. How lucky are we to have another little human on the way? So, so lucky.
Why did I write this blog? Not really sure, just a shout out to those who endure a tough time when pregnancy comes around again but you have lost before. I am fully aware that I wrote a very similar story last time, with my rainbow pregnancy, but I guess this is a pain that doesn’t really ever fix itself.