The following weeks after the operation are a real jumble. I had no idea who I was, what I was doing. I think I was on auto-pilot most of the time. Stuart did everything while I struggled to do basic things like getting myself dressed. He was amazing, he took the boys to school, cooked, cleaned. All the time he was grieving and he just got on with things. He was my hero.
I was surviving.
To worsen the pain, I received midwife appointment letters, phone calls reminding me I had midwife appointments, and scan reminders. I told them every single time that my baby had died but they kept coming. I’ve since heard that this is quite common, sadly.
I took two weeks off work. I don’t think it was nearly enough, but I had to try and get back to normality.
I reached the point when I desperately wanted to fill the void that our baby had left. Something that I have learnt is an extremely common reaction to baby loss. I was just so very empty. Like an old hollow tree standing alone amongst a forest of new and enthusiastic trees, so full of life. But I was standing, tired, battered, old. Waiting to fall down.
One day, as we went for a walk, I said to Stuart that I wanted to give our baby an identity. I felt so uncomfortable calling her ‘It’. ‘It’ upset me. She wasn’t an ‘It’, she was a little person. Stuart agreed, and we both just new she was a girl. We called her Emily. This made me feel a lot better, she was real and deserved to be acknowledged as real.
Stuart found a lovely page on the Miscarriage Association’s website. They had created a meadow full of Forget-me-nots allowing loss parents to write notes to their babies. What he wrote was beautiful. As if I couldn’t love him anymore. Calling himself ‘Daddy’ gave me such a warm feeling. He hadn’t really had much chance to talk to me about his feelings and this just made it for me.
I wrote a letter to Emily and chose one of my favourite poems for her, “Winkin, Blinkin , and Nod”
I really wanted to talk to Stuart about trying for a baby but I was nervous. Professionals assumed we’d try again and gave us the go ahead, some said wait for my next period, some said we were fine to try again straight away. I bit the bullet and spoke to him about it. It wasn’t a good time. Stuart was grieving too, and it was too soon to think about it. His reaction was anger and I didn’t know how to deal with it so I just cried. We had our first real argument. Both of us found it very hard.
I don’t remember much after that argument, but somewhere along the line he agreed to try again. I was over the moon! The first bit of joy I had felt since before our world fell apart. I downloaded a conception app which would give me an idea of when I was ovulating based on symptoms and my cycle. Something I was very familiar with having struggled for Charlie and Jack previously. I started taking Pregnacare for conception – making sure I had everything I needed for a healthy pregnancy and baby. I worried that my PCOS would cause us problems, but I was pretty confident that my body was doing what it should now.
We had a trip to Florence booked, something we were both very much looking forward to.
We stayed on the river and had a truly amazing time together discovering the City and going to museums and eating ice cream. On a walk, we found a wishing fountain full of coins. I sat on the edge and made my wish. I knew what I wanted, and threw a coin in. I wished hard. Very very hard.
When we got home I felt different. I was nauseous, tired, my previous cravings had returned. Surely I couldn’t be pregnant again. Already!?
I paid attention to all symptoms. I particularly remember someone at work saying I looked well, she said “You look like you have a glow”
I smiled, grinned. I couldn’t help it, I felt like the Cheshire Cat. I tried so desperately not to get my hopes up but every day brought new symptoms. Maybe I was obsessing and I was looking for symptoms that weren’t actually there.
I was desperate to do a test but had to wait at least two weeks from ovulation. Ovulation that had occurred in Florence. Timing was spot on. And what a romantic setting to create a baby! The chances for a normal person to be pregnant right now would be high, but I knew that PCOS had tricked me so many times before. I tried to stay grounded so as not to be disappointed.
One Saturday morning, two weeks later, I tested. I was so nervous. I wanted this so very much. I was scared, I didn’t want to look at the results, I did with bated breath…
It was faint but it was definitely there. My legs nearly gave way I was so excited. I ran into the bedroom to tell Stuart. It would be so different this time. No stress. We made this baby knowingly. Stuart was happy. We lay in bed together I had a massive grin on my face, almost squealing with excitement. He warned me not to get too excited, just in case. But there was no way I could contain myself. We lay there and fell asleep in eachother’s arms, smiling, laughing. This would be it, a second chance!
In my mind, Emily just wasn’t ready yet, she had been out there in some cosmic waiting room – I know, I know… I said I wasn’t into ‘woo’ shit, but I don’t know how else to describe it, thinking this way helped me make sense of everything.
And here she was, back again with us. Everything was going to be great again.
We woke up a couple of hours later. Lay there smiling and hugging. I kept staring at the test and feeling so relieved and happy. Eventually, Stuart got up to do something with the car. I pottered around for a bit, sending photos of the test to one of my best friends, who was so excited for us.
I went into the bathroom, sat on the loo and…. blood. A lot of blood. It poured out of me.
Please no. Stop. But it was too late. Too much blood, way too much.
I couldn’t move. I needed Stuart but he was outside with the car. I couldn’t shout for him. I had to get up and find my phone. I called him. No answer. Please pick up. Please, I need you here. Quick.
I tried again, he finally picked up.
“Darling, I’m bleeding. I’m bleeding a lot. It won’t stop.”
I can’t remember what happened after that but I could safely say that our second baby was gone. Why was this happening to us? Have I done something so wrong in my life that I am getting what I deserve? I wracked my brain wondering what I had done. Why did I deserve this? It must be me. I must be bad.
I went to the GP to tell them what had happened and that I was bleeding very very heavily. They wouldn’t investigate until I had had three miscarriages.
I took matters into my own hands and went through my medical insurance. The bleeding continued. I had an ultrasound at the Portland Hospital where they discovered ‘retained products of conception’ causing the bleeding but it was nearly out, nearly over. I went back again to find out why I had lost another baby.
They took 16 vials of blood from me. They tested everything. All came back clear. My only abnormality was my ovarian reserve which was the same as a 21 year old, thanks to PCOS holding back ovulation all these years – every cloud eh…
I called Stuart to tell him the good news, that there was nothing wrong, nothing wrong with me, just bad luck. We can still make a healthy baby!
“We should talk” He said…
Once again, panic set in. My chest tightened.