A few months after we got married we decided it might be a good time to start trying for a baby. We knew nothing of ovulation dates, menstrual cycle lengths or any of that so I started using a menstrual tracking app and on the first cycle we tried during the fertile window (as prescribed by the app) and astonishingly I fell pregnant with our first child. This pregnancy was textbook perfect and resulted in the happy and healthy arrival of our little boy.
A year later we decided to start trying again for baby number two. Within two weeks I knew I was pregnant before I even did a test, the familiar tiredness and slight nausea had already set in, I did a test 4 days before my period was due and yes I was pregnant, 1 - 2 weeks the test said. I couldn't believe we were so lucky to be pregnant straight away again, just like the last time. Excitement set in and we secretly told our little boy he was going to be a big brother. At 6 weeks pregnant the nausea and tiredness increased with a bang, I remember it so well because it was Christmas and we had all my family for a few days to stay. Due to excitement and naivety we announced our pregnancy on chrismtas day, I was 6 weeks and 3 days pregnant feeling sick, feeling tired and it was a relief for me to tell everyone so I didn't have to hide my symptoms. Christmas came and went and we settled back into work. I had been to my gp around the 5 week mark and booked an appointment with a consultant for a private scan.
On the 25th of January I went to work feeling nauseous and tired but excited for our scan that evening. I was starting to feel a little better. I was 11 weeks along at this stage and had been reading that things start to get a little easier around the 12 week mark. I was delighted because on my first pregnancy I was nauseous and tired for about 5 months. I was thrilled to be getting an easier journey this time.
The first time I felt nervous about this pregnancy was when we were waiting in the waiting room at the consultants rooms. There was a delay because a couple had got bad news earlier in the evening and the consultant had spent time with them. Something began to turn in the pit of my stomach, something just didn't feel right, I had never been nervous in this pregnancy or my last. Looking back now it was probably my instinct kicking in. We waited about 2 hours that evening to see the consultant and by the time we got into the room it was dark. I remember the consultant asking me how I was feeling and I responded explaining that I was nauseous and tired but not as badly as my first pregnancy. At that moment something clicked and my heart began to pound, it is pounding now just writing this. The ultrasound began and I remember looking at the screen and it was blank, just a big black circlular outline, then suddenly I could see a little dot. Immediately I thought oh I must have got the dates wrong, on our first scan with my first pregnancy I could see great movement and little arms and legs. There was no talking for a minute and then the consultant held my hand and told me that growth had stopped at approximately 6 weeks 3 days and that there was no heartbeat, however my womb was still growing and was measuring at 11 weeks as it should have been, hence my little baby bump and continued symptoms.
We were in utter shock, the next hour was a blur discussing surgery, a hospital appointment and sick leave from work. It wasn't until we got back to the car that I realised what was happening to us, what we had to face, how were we going to face our families, our little boy.
It was decided the best course of action was to have a D&C to remove the pregnancy, to remove what we had known as our baby, a little sibling for our son, already a member of our family. The scan was on a Thursday and the procedure was scheduled for Monday. It was the longest most hellish weekend of our lives. I was wearing pads incase I spontaneously miscarried. They told me this might happen after the shock, it didn't. But each time I went to the bathroom I was checking to see. It was horrific carrying your dead baby knowing it was going to be removed after the weekend.
Quite traumatically in my part of the country the D&C procedures for this reason take place in the maternity hospital. So on the Monday morning we set off for the maternity hospital last visited when we brought home our beautiful baby the year before, this morning knowing that we were going to the maternity but would not be returning home with a baby. We spent most of the day waiting for tests, waiting to be checked in and then waiting to be scanned one last time. The hospital tried their best to be discreet and respectful of our situation. A snowdrop was placed on my file so other staff would know why we were there and to lead us into private rooms where possible rather than waiting alongside couples who were happily pregnant. The last scan was very difficult. It was an internal scan which was able to show in more detail the little bud we didn't see so well the previous week. During this scan we could see little legs and tiny little arms starting to bud, the poor little thing was all curled up, I could barely look, it broke my heart, still no heartbeat, it was confirmed.
Later that day I was admitted to the antenatal ward and in a cruel twist of fate it was the same room that I was in with our first little boy. Everything on that day was hard, the similarities making it harder. A special gel was applied to my cervix to soften and open it, I cried at how unnatural this was. This should be happening in 6 months time not today. I was given medication for the cramps that followed and soon it was time to go to theatre. Again in a cruel twist of fate the midwife who brought me to the Labour ward had been with me on my first labour. She this time walked me to theatre which unfortunately is at the end of the labour ward corridor. I said goodbye to my husband and the midwife held my hand as I cried walking down the labour ward and past the room that I had given birth to our healthy baby in the year before.
The theatre staff were very considerate and gentle. The procedure itself was over very quickly and the general anaesthetic had given me brief relief and escape from the mental torture of the situation.
The weeks that followed were a mixture of sadness and hope. Surely we would conceive straight away again, we had before. We were reassured by staff that we could try again when we were ready and there was no evidence that there would be further issues. It took 6 agonising cycles of ovulation tests, late periods and perceived pregnancy symptoms. This stretch of time was the worst part of it all in my opinion. Wondering would we ever have another baby, would our child be left alone without a sibling, would we have to go for IVF.
After 6 months we had given up on the horrific roller-coaster of trying to conceive after a loss. We had decided to give it one more month and after that we would go for tests. By some miracle that was the month I became pregnant. The anxious wait began. We had decided to go for an early scan at 7 weeks to see if the pregnancy was growing past the last one, we needed to hear that heartbeat and we did.
We were scanned every two weeks until 16 weeks and we did the suite of harmony tests at 10 weeks to check for chromosomal abnormalities, these came back clear. We didn't relax for this whole pregnancy, I was waiting for it to be snatched away at any moment and couldn't depend on this pregnancy to result in a baby. Around 20 weeks I settled a little after the anomaly scan, which was perfect. Everything was going well until 35 weeks when I was diagnosed with obstetric cholestasis, I had never even heard of it. My only complaint was itchy legs and feet. Due to the extent of the condition the baby was born by emergency section a couple of days later. A perfect little boy but born too early. He spent 2 weeks in intensive care on oxygen support, on IV fluids and was fed via a tube for 10 days. My anxiety was through the roof, after the missed miscarriage I still wouldn't believe that we would be taking him home. He was born and was going to be fine but I wasn't able to believe it until he left intensive care. After 2 weeks he came home with us and our lives began again.
I think the anxiety and shock around a miscarriage never leaves you or maybe it will over time but it does haunt and stay with you. I still find the due date hard, the date we went for that scan and of course the date of the procedure. They are little milestones I have to get through.
I am so happy to be able to write though that we did go on to have a healthy baby after it and he is now 9 months old cooing away beside me as I write this. We feel so blessed to have our two little boys. I am so thankful for them everyday.