The past six weeks….
Have been a mix of pure elation and extreme anxiety. I have kept my head down on social media for fear of blurting out something that we had to keep to ourselves for as long as possible. On the 19th October something happened that I had convinced myself wouldn’t, for whatever reason (negativity, trying to be realistic, protection, I dunno).
We discovered we were expecting a beautiful little baby again.
I say ‘expecting’. If it is one thing repeat miscarriage teaches you, it’s that nothing should be expected. But you know, sometimes, you think “This cannot possibly happen to us again”, not unless someone out there has voodoo dolls in the shape of Molly and Stuart ( I am starting to wonder…).
So we took everyday as it came. In the beginning it was every hour as it came. I was shit scared to move a muscle. I rested as much as I could possibly manage to. Stuart refused to allow me anywhere near the cat food and litter, nor the drive out front as it is consistently covered in fox shit – even sweeping up the leaves was a massive no-no. He didn’t even like me cleaning the house. I wasn’t to move a muscle while Stuart was around. I don’t’ know how he managed to do literally everything and still go to work full-time, but he did.
I avoided anyone with a cigarette in their hand, covering my face with my coat or scarf when walking out and about when I saw/smelt someone puffing away in front of me.
Recurrent MC turns you into a paranoid bunch of nerves. I avoided tuna fish for the fear of mercury poisoning, I avoided shell fish and soft cheese. I even avoided any level of exercise (apart from walking, which you cannot avoid) and alcohol right from the moment I new I had ovulated (just in case…).
From the moment I saw those beautiful lines on that test stick and the words ‘pregnant 1-2 weeks’ on the digital test, I got myself dressed and (with trepidation, for fear of our baby falling out!), drove to the pharmacy to pick up some progesterone and low dose aspirin. I started taking them immediately.
Nothing was going to get in the way of us meeting our little one this time. Our Rainbow was here at long last. After two years and six months of wishing so hard for a miracle.
Like with Emily (we didn’t get a chance with Bean), I became immersed in the pregnancy and baby world. Signing up to all the baby clubs, installing a pregnancy app. Then another… then another… then another. I wanted to see every single stage of our baby’s development. I started writing a daily diary to our baby, willing him to hang on, telling him we will meet him and how much love he already has. I did this right up until That Day.
Optimism seemed a good idea at the time. I figured the more positive I was, the more chance our baby had. Stuart even ordered me the Rainbow baby pack from Kicks Count. It included a lovely little bracelet with a rainbow link attached to it. I called this my ‘lucky charm’ and often found myself rubbing it between my fingers, thinking that would bring me more luck.
Our sweet little bundle of love. As twee as it sounds, we named him Popsy because he was the size of a poppy seed when we discovered our good news. I say ‘he’… one day, quite soon after we found out, I had an overwhelming feeling that Popsy was a boy, and I couldn’t shake it. Just like the feeling I had with Emily being a girl. I had the same feeling with the boys, both of which I had predicted correctly. Stuart called him ‘Dirk’ which I found quite funny, but sweet at the same time.
My tummy grew every day. I think, being my fifth pregnancy, my tummy muscles had given up the moment those lines appeared on the test. Plus the progesterone supplements caused bloating. I had to wear an elastic band on my trousers by the 6th week and maternity wear was well and truly established by 8 weeks. I started a ‘bump picture journey’. I was going to take a photo every two weeks and string them together.
Those early scans – reassuring? I’m not so sure
We booked an early private scan, just to put our minds at rest. At 6 weeks +6 days we trotted along to our first scan. Only our baby’s measurements were off by four days and no heartbeat was detected. “It’s too early” the Sonographer told us. Confusion set in as I know when I ovulated, despite the Sonographer telling me otherwise. After lots of Googling I discovered early scans are unreliable forms of dating pregnancies, especially before 12 weeks. And maybe, my egg took a few days to travel down the tube.
I was offered a ‘Dating scan’ on the NHS at 8 weeks. We went along at 7 weeks + 6 days. I expected to see a lot of growth by then (they grow 1mm a day from 6 weeks) and a heartbeat. But anxiety had really taken over by that point. Breathing slowly and deeply, I entered the room. To my surprise we saw a flicker of a heartbeat! But baby was measuring over two weeks too small. Well, I fell apart. I was convinced it was all over. The Sonographer was quite surprised by my reaction I think, and so was Stuart. We’d seen a heartbeat, what was my problem? But once again, I knew when I ovulated, a woman knows these things despite what anyone tells her. Call it intuition, or call it Ovusense (a device which detects ovulation through temperature with 99% accuracy – developed specifically for women with PCOS but used by many women). I felt this sense of doom, measurements cannot be that wrong. But I went away and googled and asked for advice online and time and time again, I was told that these early scans are inaccurate and we’d seen a heartbeat. That in itself dramatically reduces the risk of miscarriage by a huge percentage.
The miscarriage odds reassurance tool – I’m not sure if this was a help or a hindrance. I checked into this tool every single day just to see the chances of MC reduce and give me that hope. By the time we reached 9 weeks + 3 days on Thursday 28th November (LMP/ovulation, not scan measurements) our chances of MC had dropped to just 3.1%. That was 31.2 times more likely to result in a baby than end in a miscarriage, probability was 11.2 times smaller then than when I first became pregnant, since becoming pregnant, my probability of miscarriage had decreased 91.1%, from 35% to 3.1%. I was reassured. Things were looking good, despite the huge measurement discrepancy. It was going to be okay….
The naughty monkeys in my head
Quite often, without warning, a voice in my head would bellow “This will not work out!” “They will tell you there is no heartbeat!” I tried to shout that voice down “Everything will be fine!”, “Popsy is growing and developing and is wriggling around in there, I’LL SHOW YOU!” “We deserve this, this is OUR time now!”. I battled with these monkeys right up until That Day.
I had booked a follow up scan at the Early Pregnancy Unit (or EGAU – Emergency Gynaecology Assessment Unit). That day I woke at 3:30am wracked with worry. I decided to get up as there was no point lying there trying to sleep when I was so anxious. Strange as I had actually felt quite confident up until that point. We were at 9 weeks + 3 days which is just a few days after we discovered Emily had died, so I had been having terrible flashbacks.
Finally we arrived and we sat in the waiting room. Time had never felt so long. I was visibly shaking with nerves. Trying to breath slowly and deeply. I felt sick, I felt like I was going to pass out. My whole body felt like it was out of control, like I was just an outsider. I wasn’t even sure I could stand up to walk to the room.
Eventually, after what seemed like an eternity, I was called in. We walked into that room (I still don’t know how I managed to do that – autopilot). We were met with four women (or was it three?). I’m not sure who they all were, two were professionals and one was a trainee. One of the ladies asked why I had been sent to them because a heartbeat had been seen so what was the problem? I told them about my dates being out and apologised for wasting their time. She said “well we can date your pregnancy now for you, seeing as you are here”.
I got on the couch, kind of feeling a bit silly by this point, but reassured by the sonographer’s comments. The trainee was told what to do, and in she went. Trying to locate our baby, rummaging around. I couldn’t see the screen at this point, but the looks on those three faces told me. I looked at Stuart who didn’t appear to know what they had found, or he had a very good poker face.
One of the ladies said “Molly needs to know what is happening now”. She turned the screen to face me.
“I’m so sorry Molly, your baby hasn’t made any progress and there is no heartbeat”
Our little Popsy measured just 2.8mm at 9+3 weeks gestation. Our sweet baby had fallen asleep for the last time.
The sonographer with the earlier comments apologised as she was sure everything would be okay given a heartbeat had been detected.
The rest of the morning was long and blurry. Through sobs I felt so many emotions; disbelief, anger, self loathing, uselessness, why us? How can this have happened again? What did I do wrong? We were put in a ‘quiet room’ and visited by nurses to check up on us. Stuart and I held eachother so tightly, only letting go to inform the people who needed to know, but still touching eachother. There was a decision to be made.
Contemporary management – Go home. Do nothing. Wait and see.
Medical Management – Take a tablet. Go home. Wait and see
Surgical management – Put under GA and have my baby, placenta, and everything else vacuumed out.
As this is our third loss, we are eligible for genetic testing of our baby. The easiest way to do this would be surgery, but I could go home and keep hold of our baby and bring him in. I had always said to myself that if we lose this baby, I’d have him at home – mainly due to Emily being taken away from me when I had surgery and feeling alone and scared and the process seeming so horribly clinical when my baby had died. I wasn’t there for any other reason other than I had just lost my sweet baby. I found it all quite traumatising in the long run which prompted me to put in a complaint to PALS. But resulted in discovering where Emily was laid to rest – two years later!
But this time was different. The magic number of ‘three’ had entered us the ‘VIP zone’ of babyloss. A ‘gold card’ into investigations. Our little baby will be sent off to Guys and St. Thomas’ Hospital for a post mortem.
We chose surgery. I wasn’t confident that I would be able to collect everything myself, and I need to know what happened to our little Popsy. Even if results come back clear, we are now classed as having “recurrent miscarriages”. We will be seen by a consultant who can help us on our road to having a healthy baby.
So, here I am again. From the comfort of our (currently redundant) nursing chair, writing this blog post. With our sleeping baby inside me, waiting for tomorrow morning when I will go back under GA for this procedure for the second time.
So many of you will have had no idea what we were experiencing. We didn’t tell many people. Stuart and I are, of course, devastated and broken yet again. But in between bursts of tears I, personally, feel slightly better about things than I did with Emily. I think it is because, if I am honest, it isn’t a total shock. Having had two losses, I knew deep down that this might not work out. Those naughty monkeys told me so.
I’ve spent so many weeks putting all of my hopes into this one being ‘Our Rainbow’ and ‘Our time for happiness and luck’. I mean, looking around me, so many people have had successful births and now have their baby in their arms (and at first attempt for most) – I had no reason to believe that we wouldn’t this time, apart from those naughty monkeys in my head.
Despite putting so much hope into this little rainbow and almost giving up on all hope, while I retire my ‘Baby on board’ badge for the second time, ‘de-pregnant’ the house, put away my second set of pregnancy notes, and have my first real coffee in about 6 weeks, today I have a tiny percentage of hope that we will hold our baby soon.
I’ll show you.