Wednesday, 30 June 2010
Sunday, 27 June 2010
I'm in the library as I write. I used to come here a lot on my Wednesday afternoons, but then I discovered Starbucks' free wifi and decided that coffee won over frugality.
And the corner I usually sit in is next to the Health section. Just one of those things. But every time I'm here, I look over and see what pregnancy books I can see.
(It's only occurring to me now that maybe it would be more sensible to sit somewhere else.)
And today, I saw one I hadn't seen before. Pregnancy for Modern Girls. The tagline: 'The naked truth about being pregnant.' According to the back, this is 'the only guide to tell it like it really is'.
So, as I do these days, I checked the index for mention of 'miscarriage' and 'stillbirth'. And I was gratified to see that miscarriage is actually mentioned on 14 different pages! 14! Compared to many of the books I'd seen, that's pretty amazing.
Optimistically I flicked to each page. And my optimism died a death. Because yes, sure, it mentions miscarriage on 14 different pages. But nearly every single one is a mention of a risk factor that might cause miscarriage. (Oh except for page 67, which states 'Usually, there's no reason – in the vast majority of cases, it's simply nature's way of dispelling a foetus that has a problem', in a manner that's a) contradictory, b) breathtakingly unhelpful, and c) uses a word that means 'To drive away by scattering, or so to cause to vanish; to clear away; to banish; to dissipate; as, to dispel a cloud, vapors, cares, doubts, illusions' (according to dict.org) which is NOT what you want to think your body is doing to your much-loved, much-wanted baby.)
There's also a mention that miscarriage risk falls massively by 13 weeks (but no real mention of the fact that it can still happen after this point, for no reason or with no symptoms) and contact details for the Miscarriage Association (too little too late; by the time you need them this is the last thing you'll think of).
There's no mention of missed miscarriage at all. No mention of coping with the aftermath of a miscarriage. No mention of pregnancy following miscarriage.
Not a single mention of stillbirth or neonatal death.
Now, that's interesting. Because last time I checked the SANDS website it told me that seventeen babies are stillborn or die shortly after birth every single day in the UK.
That's 6205 babies a year. 6222 in a Leap Year.
That's an awful lot of women.
And what do those mothers need? It's not to be ignored. It's not to be marginalised. It's not to have to pretend that what happened to them wasn't anything, really. But when the only books out there don't mention the real emotional aftermath of miscarriage – let alone stillbirth or the death of a new born baby – or when they don't acknowledge how traumatic pregnancy after (any kind of) loss can be, they do women no favours.
One of the reasons people don't know what to say, one of the reasons they say hurtful tactless things is that this loss is marginalised. It's hidden. It's swept under the carpet. And that does noone any favours. Not the women who suffer it, but neither does it help their friends or family who want to help, who want to say the right things but don't have a clue what that is. So say the wrong things, or – worse – say nothing at all.
I've mentioned this before. But the more I think about it the more I realise that it's needed.
I'm going to write that book.
Maybe even more than one. I can think of others that are needed.
I will need your help with this.
Thank you so much for encouraging me.
Saturday, 26 June 2010
and she wrote back. and because i asked, and because her baby is due in only three weeks and it's what her brain is full of, she told me what's going on. how they have finally been preparing for the baby. she has been more realistic than some.
more realistic about the possibility of not taking home a living child than i was.
and it was nice to hear. and she understands, i don't know how but she understands, so it doesn't hurt from her.
well, only a little sting. easy to ignore when this may well be her only chance of mothering a living baby.
(i nearly said 'motherhood'. like her chance would be over if (please god forbid) this baby died. goddammit, i know better than that. she's 37 weeks pregnant. she's already a mother.)
anyway. i'd been thinking of asking her if she would be ok with me coming to visit her in the hospital once the baby is born. and it would need to be 'ask'. i haven't been able to see her in person since february. because it's too hard to see her pregnant when i'm supposed to be going through it with her. even way before we were pregnant she always said she wanted us to go through it together. she wanted me to compare notes with.
so i didn't want to assume she would want me there. she might need bracing time too. it's only fair.
but now i found out she's booked into a different hospital.
yep. the hospital i was booked into.
the one where i had that scan.
a little part of me thinks i should try. that it would be good to have a positive association, of my friend's living (pleasegod) baby. to think about if i ever go back there, to balance out the terror and the fear.
but i don't know if i could do it. and the last thing i would want to risk doing is bring my own grief to my best friend's birth.
she doesn't need that. it feels like a poor way to repay her for being there for me in any way she could.
i've said it before; i'll say it again.
this just isn't fair.
Friday, 25 June 2010
right now it gets bright very early. i wake up around 5am, take my temperature, and go back to sleep until my alarm goes off.
it's harder getting back to sleep when it's already sunny outside.
on thursday morning, i dreamed in that gap.
not a nice dream.
i hope not a prophetic dream.
for reasons that will become clear.
i dreamed i was pregnant.
i was at a hospital. no hospital i know.
i was in a lab, with D. it was crowded with equipment. brightly lit. off to one side, a woman was giving me an ultrasound scan. the baby was moving around. it was twelve weeks. but it had no heartbeat.
she finished the scan. she left D alone with me and a Doppler. (i don't even really know what one looks like, but i knew what it was. i knew what we needed to do.)
she told us to find the heartbeat, and left us alone.
and we tried.
we were calm, kind of rational. not upset. just curious. where was the heartbeat. wherewherewhere.
we knew it wasn't there to be found.
i don't know what it meant.
i've never dreamed of being pregnant.
i never dreamed while pregnant.
(i probably do. i probably did. i just don't remember.)
but this one stayed with me.
right now i don't believe it will ever happen.
i don't believe i'll ever be pregnant again.
i don't believe we'll ever have children. biologically ours or not.
i just don't see how it could happen.
but i still can't imagine ever giving up.
i can only imagine pulling myself apart for ever, trying to find that elusive gap where my baby should be.
i think i miscalculated the days.
212 days, right?
how is it so long?
my little snowflake feels very far away.
Wednesday, 23 June 2010
reasons? i don't know, and i don't like not knowing. there are many possibilities - the rapid approach of the 25th of the month, signifying seven months since our world was pulled to pieces. the fact that although i usually ovulate by the 17th day of my cycle, i'm currently on day 26 and i may finally have ovulated only yesterday, meaning that this cycle will be the longest i've ever had (at least while i've been tracking cycles, but honestly, i suspect *ever*). it may be that for various reasons we're very unlikely to be pregnant this month. it may even be that i'm hoping that the fact that i think this isn't the month means that somehow it is, even though that would be extremely unlikely, but that i'm also aware that i'm setting myself up for a fall.
it may even be that i had an excellent weekend - i had an amazing night out with friends on friday; one girl asked where i got my energy from because every time she looked at the dance floor i was up there giving it everything. i saw my parents on saturday and my grandparents and others on sunday. it may even be that i had an excellent weekend and that part of my brain feels that i shouldn't be able to enjoy myself, when my baby died less than seven months ago.
i hope it's not that.
but none of the possibilities seem right. i feel that there should be some big reason, some real cause of my breakdown.
but sometimes, maybe there isn't. sometimes maybe there doesn't have to be a reason. sometimes maybe i'll just miss my baby, and cry.
thank you, thank you, thank you all so much for thinking of me and sending hugs and silent support. it helped to know that people were out there thinking of me.
Tuesday, 22 June 2010
any hugs anyone can send through the ether to me would be gratefully appreciated.
i just want a baby of my own in my arms.
right now that seems like the most ridiculously insane fantasy i ever could have imagined.
i should have a nearly-six-week-old baby here in my arms.
Saturday, 19 June 2010
'if i'm pregnant'
'when i'm pregnant'
'if' sound nebulous. like i don't really believe it's going to happen. ifs and buts and maybes.
it sounds like i don't believe it would be real. like i would be pregnant with a ghost. not a real child, but a possibility. a ghost-child, a wraith.
(and maybe that's because that's what i believe, these days.)
and it doesn't sound like a real possibility. and i want there to be a real possibility.
so, i think, i should say when! think positive. talk like it's going to happen and it'll happen. believe it, and maybe it'll come true.
(these days there's always a but.)
i can't say 'when'. not without qualifying it with 'if'. or 'maybe'. or 'hopefully'.
when sounds too confident. too positive. too knowing. it sounds like i'm tempting fate. it sounds full of hubris.
and i can't give fate a toe-hold. i can't. i can't stick my head above the parapet, letting fate know that i'm here. giving it something to aim at.
so i stick with 'if or when'.
if you're trying to conceive, what do you say?
Thursday, 17 June 2010
you know i mentioned i was thinking about going to York?
well. i'm going. (D's not, he's staying home, but that's OK.) i'm going to go out and dance and see my old friends and pretend everything's ok.
i'm staying at my friend's house, where i stayed last august, when i was pregnant but didn't yet know it.
and i discovered tonight that like that time, i'm sleeping on her sofa.
and like that, i take it as a sign. that this will be 'the month'.
i don't know why. last time didn't work out so well. i don't know why i want things to follow the same pattern.
the irony is, i'll probably ovulate this weekend. while i'm away from D. it's incredibly unlikely that this will be the month.
i call bullshit.
it's been six and a half months. 27 weeks. 195 days. (jesus, really? nearly 200 days?)
-you have my email address.
-you have my mobile number.
-you have my postal address.
one text message does not even begin to cut it.
you claim to believe that i wanted to be left alone.
seriously, you claim to believe that i wanted to be left alone for six whole months? while knowing all along that i've met up with other people? while knowing i've been back at work?
i don't believe you.
it's ok, really, if you didn't want to see me. if you didn't want my shitty luck to somehow infect your pregnancy. i don't blame you for that. i really do understand. but again.
it's been six.and.a.half.months.
-you have my email address.
-you have my mobile number.
-you have my postal address.
(stop me if you've heard this before.)
you could have sent me a text, an email, a card at any time.
to me, that pretty much proves that you don't actually care.
you know H? she had her baby the day before i discovered mine had died. she sent me a message three days after childbirth, the day she found out, knowing that i might find it hard to see her but offering me support and love anyway. she met up with me for coffee when i was ready, and she let me cry and laugh and talk.
what the fuck have you offered me?
the bugger of it is, i don't actually care about this person any more. she's proved herself not to be a friend. not to be someone i can count on. and i don't really care anymore about people i can't count on. i dropped her on facebook back in january. i didn't realise at the time it was going to be permanent. i thought i just needed a break. but i'm happier without her.
but it makes me so, so angry when i hear of her telling other people how worried she is about me.
because to my mind, all she's doing is using my name to make herself look good.
it's strange, to remember how much i appreciated all the text messages and cards we got back in november and december. i sat in starbucks one day and wrote the text messages into what had been my pregnancy journal. i wanted to keep a record.
now, i don't give a crap. words of support mean very little if they aren't backed up with something. what i want are people who are willing to listen. who don't shy away when i say out loud (or type into emails or messaging boards) variations of 'when the baby died', or when i cry. funnily enough, work colleagues are surprisingly willing to let me say those words. people who i would have called my friends before? not so much. some have been amazing. but more have been conspicuous by their absence.
i want people who will abide with me while i cry or while i drive myself insane with ifs and buts and maybes. who will sit and hold my hand, either literally or as best they can from an ocean away.
if all you can do is tell third parties that you care?
you're no use to me.
i don't think i've ever really said that i couldn't have survived without all you people in blogland. thank you all so, so much.
Wednesday, 16 June 2010
i think i've worked it out so i can stop going (quite as) crazy.
see, even if-or-when (... i should blog about the if-or-when thing at some point too) i get pregnant, i'm still going to be grieving. i'm still going to miss this baby. if anything, it might be even harder if-or-when. having to grieve and be pregnant and fight the conflicting urges to go yay-i'm-pregnant and the bigger urge to go 'omgi'mpregnantit'sgoingtodiewhatthehellhaveidone' and run around in circles until my brain implodes.
(i used to be an optimist. that tendency has been crushed almost entirely.)
so thinking that a single magpie means i'm not pregnant is just.not.true.
in reality, even if-or-when i get pregnant, i won't be joyful.
and i'm already filled with sorrow. maybe not every day - but it's always there. even now.
so a single magpie might just be reflecting what's already in my head.
of course, the other day i saw three crows.
there's nothing that can protect my brain from the longing that that prophecy comes true.
i wrote this post at the weekend. now it's monday night. (more use of scheduling posts. honestly you'd all be overwhelmed otherwise.)
tonight, on my way to the supermarket, there were four magpies. two on one side of the road, two on the other.
one then took off from the right hand side of the road and aimed for the ones on the left. but then veered off. i drove past before i could see where it ended up.
so, what sign do you think that might be, my lovelies?
Of course, in Terry Pratchett's version (see version B here) three is a funeral and four a birth.
i like the four better than three. the juxtaposition terrifies me.
Tuesday, 15 June 2010
I want to be at the tenth anniversary.
sod it. i'm going.
i'm going to dance and drink a glass (just one) of wine.
i'm going to see the friends i've not seen in a while.
i'm going to pretend it's all ok.
just for one night.
Monday, 14 June 2010
(of course, i'm writing this post two days before i'm going to post it - i've been making judicious use of the 'schedule post' option this weekend so as not to overwhelm you all with posts - so there's a lot of time for things to go wrong between now and then.)
today (saturday) has actually gone quite wrong - it's 11pm and all i've eaten is a fried egg sandwich and a big bag of tortilla chips, so not quite a healthy substantial diet - but the last couple of weeks I've done really well. exercised again. got my five a day every day for about five days in a row (... obviously not today!) for the first time in forever. majorly cut down on caffeine and alcohol. been calmer. happier. more well balanced. not as obsessed with getting pregnant.
so, of course, i'm desperately fighting down the impulse to assume that because i'm doing all the right things, this will be The Month, and that in two weekends from now, i'll be doing a pregnancy test that turns out positive. because we all know it's never that simple, don't we?
and just to make it worse, i'm thinking of going to York next weekend.
the last time i went to York, i was pregnant.
i actually went two consecutive weekends. two different nights out. the first time, i didn't know i was pregnant. the wednesday in between, i discovered i was pregnant.
and i don't want to take that to be a sign.
my uterus and its contents (or its huge echoing emptiness) don't know or care where i am.
just because i do something i did back then doesn't mean i'll be pregnant this month.
and yet still i hope.
It was even weirder to think that my best (female) friend, also with a J name, was due in July. That her baby would be even younger than mine, but would still be learning the same things. Would have to keep up with kids who had almost a year's head start on him or her.
Female-J's baby is now due in less than a month.
Male-J's baby will be ten months old at that point.
Meanwhile, I'm still decidedly Not Pregnant. Even if this cycle is The One, my due date would be around the beginning of March. Right in the middle of the age ranges of that school year. Not one of the oldest ones, as I optimistically told myself when we started TTC for the second time. Knowing that it wouldn't take as long this time. I'd figured out when to optimally time sex. And everyone knows it's really easy to get pregnant immediately after a miscarriage!!!!!
Insert hollow laughter here.
If I don't get pregnant in the next six months (and my optimism about that is just about exhausted) my child will be two full school years behind those two.
That is very, very hard to accept.
Female-J's facebook is really hard to take at the minute. Full of leaving work and presents and happiness. (Well, not even really full. She's hardly talked about being pregnant there, and I don't think it's just because of me.) I don't begrudge her that at all. If it had to be one of us I'm glad it was me. (Seriously. We just have to have sex. They had to self-fund IVF.)
But it throws the difference between us into sharp relief.
Her. Pregnant. Full-bellied and happy. Surrounded by people and generous presents. Finally believing that her pregnancy will end in a beautiful living baby. And the odds are good that it will.
Me. Empty-bellied. Withdrawn. Needing antidepressants and counselling to function. And with no living baby in sight.
We were supposed to do this together.
I miss her so badly.
This isn't how it was supposed to be.
Sunday, 13 June 2010
I was thinking about what might be necessary, to be able to walk that road of living children.
And what I realised is that I want to experience pregnancy.
I want to experience carrying a child. I want to experience feeling it move inside me. I want to feel it kick. I want to look down and see a proper belly, not just the slight swelling that had more to do with too much cake and biscuits than an actual baby.
I want to actually hear a heartbeat.
Genetics? Not so important. I even started wondering if one of my sisters would donate eggs, if it came to that. I'd like it to be D's baby, but genetically mine? Nice, but not essential.
I realise that I might not get a choice in all this.
I realise that - like someone who really wants to experience natural childbirth but ends up with an emergency caesarean - the important thing is that you end up with a living child. If you get the prize, it doesn't really matter how.
So I realise that wanting this experience doesn't mean I will get it.
But I'm willing to fight for it.
I don't want my last experience, or memory, of pregnancy to be the knowledge that I had been walking round unaware with a four-weeks-dead baby inside me.
Saturday, 12 June 2010
It just seems so, so far away. And like something that never really happened.
A good dream? A bad dream?
I'm not even sure.
Just a dream. And it's slipping further away from me.
I opened up the box before, and looked through everything.
It didn't mean anything. It didn't make me cry.
I wanted it to make me cry.
This afternoon I went back over my charts and wrote the ones since November out neater and looked for the patterns properly, rather than just looking for the overall pattern. (I haven't actually charted every month, although I've been taking my temperature to make sure I've been ovulating, because I was getting too obsessive and needed to step back - so I only have three complete cycles to look at and the current one. Which is really frustrating, but there's nothing I can do about it now I suppose.) Then I dug out the ones from last year and looked at them properly too.
This is what I have learned.
1) I thought I had short luteal phases that might actually cause problems in getting pregnant. Turns out I, errm, don't. My first cycle after coming off the pill isn't actually clear - the luteal phase could have been either eight or ten days as my temp did a weird drop thing - but of the other three, two were 11 days and one was ten. I was thinking it was nine or ten every time. And since the miscarriage I've had two cycles with a LP of thirteen days (THIRTEEN!!!!!) and one that might have been ten or might have been twelve as again it wasn't clear when I ovulated.
I can't believe I've been so daft as to not count properly. One less thing to worry about. Also, is it weird that my LPs have got longer since my pregnancy? Were they just artificially short before because my pill exposure was more recent? I guess I'll never know for sure.
2) I'm not surprised it took us a while to get pregnant the first time. We were timing it terribly.
3) Last cycle I had a temp that dipped way back down below the coverline at 7DPO, and there are a few where it dips back to about the coverline level. They were mainly before my pregnancy, so hopefully last cycle was just a one-off and not something to worry about - but if not I think that might be something fairly simple to treat (low progesterone levels).
4) I really wish I'd taken temps every day when we were first trying. I'm not a morning person and I'm lazy. Once my temp had jumped I just stopped taking it for a few days most cycles, so if there were more consistent drops in my temp I wouldn't know about them.
5) The cycle I got pregnant my temps were an absolute mess. Jumped around a lot before ovulation. Dropped way back down again after ovulation (not anything that looked like an implantation dip either) after a rise of only one day - I thought I was still fertile a full four days after I actually ovulated. Even knowing what I know now, I still can't make myself see a rise in my temp that matches when I actually ovulated. It's crazy. And after ovulation my temps rose for nine days and then started a decline, steadily going down for five days. On the fourth of those days, I did a positive pregnancy test. After that I had four really high days, but then they dropped from a high of 37.10 to 36.8 for another three days. I kept expecting to miscarry those days. I stopped taking my temperature at that stage because it scared me too much.
I really wish now that I'd carried on. I might have realised something was wrong a long time before I did. Ah well.
6) I think my key problem is my lack of fertile cervical mucous. Well, I'm sure of it now. I've never spotted the egg white stuff since we started TTC. I've only very rarely noticed creamy, and even then only in tiny quantities. The most fertile I usually get is sticky. And that's not good.
-(decaf) green tea (still drinking it as apparently green tea is associated with raised fertility anyway, but it doesn't make any difference to my cm)
-fresh pineapple core (trying again this cycle)
-robitussin (one cycle only, i got nervous about the abuse of behind-the-counter medication)
-evening primrose oil. One cycle of 1500/day, currently taking 3000/day; still doesn't seem to have made any difference. If it doesn't work this cycle I'll stop taking this again.
None of these have made the slightest bit of difference.
According to appendix J of TCOYF the two other things that might make a difference are potassium iodide and estrogens. I have no idea if GPs in the UK would consider either of these things. All I can do is ask I guess. Is there anything else anyone knows of that might help? I already drink lots of water.
7) A friend of mine also suggested Agnus Castus. If this isn't the month I might try that. Also considering trying soy supplements.
I think that's it. But I actually feel a bit better about it all. At least I have a couple of ideas about things to try, and some reassurance that I don't actually have a short LP.
Anyone got any other pointers?
Wednesday, 9 June 2010
so, yeah. you might want to read that one too.
Tuesday, 8 June 2010
Work have, in almost all respects, been really, really great to me since I lost the baby. They have been mega supportive. They've encouraged me to use the counselling service. They've asked what they can do to help. They've used the word bereavement in relation to my loss, which really helped.
But right now, I'm exhausted (...probably doesn't help that it's past 11pm and I'm still online). Since I went back this time I've had loads to do. It took me a good few days to feel able to really tackle anything at all. I didn't have a phased return last time. I didn't ask for one, and I hadn't quite been off long enough for them to ask if I wanted one. And even if they had I quite possibly wouldn't have said yes. (I do wish my doctor had suggested it though, seeing as she didn't want to send me back to work at that stage anyway. Ah well. Hindsight is 20:20, as ever.)
I was given a huge job, on only my second day back. Hardly any of the work that was building up was done. Part of the problem was that the girl who'd been mostly covering for me went on leave two days after I got back, so she just threw everything back to me and I was left to struggle as best I could. And I've had time off (paid) for counselling appointments and dental appointments so I've had even less time to do what needed to be done. I even took work home last Wednesday ffs. I NEVER do that.
In related news, I dug this book out the other day. I read through it again, particularly the last section, which talks about the amazing correlation between improved psychological and medical support and the success of pregnancy subsequent to miscarriage (fun fact for the day: one miscarriage makes you way more susceptible to pregnancy complications subsequently. because that will help people's sanity!). For further information on the loving care approach see here, or here or here for the medical paper behind this research - the control group had a 33% success rate for pregnancy post-miscarriage; the treatment group had 86% success rate. The numbers are small, and because of the nature of the treatment it can't be a blind trial, let alone a double blind one - but they are still staggering.
I read the book again. And today (because torturing myself is fun!) I reread my NEM form (that's the New and Expectant Mothers Risk Assessment Form for those not in the UK). It was really sad to read that form. To remember being in my line manager's office and thinking that i was pregnant with a living baby, remember the excitement i felt, not knowing that it had already died. (Why yes, I do pick at scabs. How did you know?)
And I saw all the things that a pregnant woman in the UK can ask for. And I realised that I was offered these things. And I turned them down.
I just carried on as before.
And I don't blame myself for what happened, not really.
But after reading that last chapter again - after reading about how supportive loving care can make a hell of a lot of difference in subsequent pregnancies - I realised that I have to start advocating for myself. I have to look after myself. Once I'm pregnant again (...... please .....) I have to ask for a place I can rest in private. I'm entitled to it. I need to make them provide it.
At the end of the day, they aren't going to force me to take advantage of this if I don't ask them to. So it's up to me.
So there isn't somewhere currently? That's their problem. I need to not make it mine by refusing to ask. Where there's a will there's a way.
I've mentioned this book before. It's worth mentioning again. It's very good.
It makes me feel better that I've decided all this. It makes me feel that me actually having a living baby might be possible.
Monday, 7 June 2010
What Emily says about being scared she doesn't count her son enough. And about the comparing pregnancy length and grief, and whether a halfway-through-pregnancy loss is somehow easier.
And especially this:
Sometimes I worry that I will come to view him as 'less' because he was premature. I know I've struggled with seeing my pregnancy as less 'valid' than other women's because I delivered at 23 weeks, and because I spent much of it on my couch. I never got swollen ankles from standing too long...I never got that sore achy back from running around while pregnant...never really felt Aidan move all that much because of his lack of fluid. I was pregnant...but I didn't feel I really got the 'full experience'. Kinda like saying you've been to Disneyworld, but never went on any of the rides.
I didn't take much notice of being pregnant. I didn't want stroking my belly to become some kind of affectation. So I never did.
Different reasons for a very similar feeling.
She doesn't work for the same organisation as me but for a related organisation. I used to speak to her quite a bit but then my role changed and then I was off sick for a long time anyway.
So she came into the building on Thursday and I went into reception to say hi. And the first thing she said to me?
And she gestured towards my stomach.
And I smiled, confused, wondering what she meant.
It turns out that my equivalent in another organisation is having a baby, and she had got mixed up and thought it was me.
And the thing I find weirdest about the whole incident is that it didn't bother me. It didn't bring a tear to my eye. I didn't run away sobbing. I smiled and said no, I'm not pregnant. And then we had a conversation about the miscarriage, and she told me how sorry she was, and that she hopes we have a baby who lives soon (she didn't quite phrase it like that, but she said it very nicely). And I said thank you, and I walked back to my desk, and I got on with my work.
And considering that the very last thing I'll want people to say when (hopefully not if, but when) I'm pregnant again is congratulations, I would really have expected that exchange to upset me. In the event, she was mortified, and I was OK.
I just didn't expect that.
I don't think that this will always be the case. I don't think that I'm suddenly healed. Or that I'm not going to cry again, especially if I'm not pregnant again this month.
But the fact that even this once I was OK?
It gives me hope.
Saturday, 5 June 2010
I just booked tickets for us to go and see Interpol that night.
Don't get me wrong. I think that's a pretty bizarre thing to do.
But I want to go see Interpol again, and that's the date they're playing Newcastle.
Last year, the day I went to hospital for the actual miscarriage, we were meant to be seeing White Lies. It just seemed to be adding insult to injury (or maybe prodding an open bleeding wound) that instead of sitting watching one of our favourite bands and wondering whether the baby would like the music, we were waiting to be discharged from the hospital, and then sitting at home wondering how on earth we were going to move on from this.
I just hope nothing goes wrong this time.
I've spent a long time yesterday evening and today writing about my pregnancy and miscarriage. It's been really hard, but it feels good to know that I have a record of what happened. There are still things to write, but I've got a lot of it done now.
The short version of the story is that I had a missed miscarriage at the end of last year. We found out at 17 weeks that the baby had died at 13 weeks. That was my first pregnancy, and I miss the baby more than I like to admit. Even to myself.
For the (very) long version of the story, you can start off by clicking here.
We've been trying to conceive for the second time since January. This is our sixth cycle of trying again, and I'm terrified that getting pregnant will turn out to have been a fluke. That we will never get pregnant again.
I like visitors, and I like commenters, so please do click into the comments box and say hi. I'll always respond - although sometimes it will take me a while! Tell me what you think of this site or a specific post. Don't be spam though. I hate spam comments and will delete them promptly. I don't plan to moderate comments unless I start to receive horrible ones. I don't want to stop people commenting anonymously either, so please don't abuse that.
And for anyone who is here because they have lost a baby - I am so sorry that you are on this painful road too.
And then they called us through.
The set up was the same as before. I couldn't see the screen; D could. Surely they would have moved things around if they were worried? They must think that everything is OK.
It was uncomfortable when she pressed the wand into my abdomen. I'd read that by 17 weeks the baby would try to squirm away from pressure. I felt sorry for the poor little thing. Sorry, I said to it. They just want to make sure you're OK.
I could see D's face. He looked puzzled, but not worried.
She seeemed to take a long time, but I didn't really notice.
Not until she said 'I'm going to stop there.'
I knew then that it was over.
She told me the baby didn't have a heartbeat.
I wanted to tell her to look harder.
Instead I asked how many weeks it was measuring.
She told me the measurement she had just taken was thirteen weeks.
And that was the moment that I really realised that it was gone.
That whether or not there was a heartbeat, if it had stopped growing four weeks ago, at such an early stage, there really was no hope.
My first instinct was that I needed to pee.
I'm still quite surprised that they let me go into the toilet alone two minutes after finding out that the baby I was carrying was dead.
They put D into a different room while I was in the loo, a more private one.
I didn't realise I was going to cry until I got into that room with him.
I thought I was too shocked. That it wouldn't sink in until later. That I wouldn't cry until then.
But I walked into his arms and I howled.
I had never, ever realised that my hopes, my dreams could be shattered like that.
That was the end. 25 November 2009. One month before Christmas. One day after one of my friends had had her first baby.
That was the destruction of my innocence and my optimism.
Friday, 4 June 2010
I was terrified before my 12 week scan. The scan was on a Monday - 19th October. I couldn't sleep the night before. I spent hours googling, trying to work out the odds of a missed miscarriage with no symptoms. I was driving myself crazy. I was amazed I managed to sleep at all.
D picked me up from work and drove us to the hospital. We bought tokens so we could take away four pictures. We wanted plenty to show friends and family. I drank my water and waited.
The screen was turned away from me when we were finally called through. D could see it from where he was sitting; I couldn't. I remember thinking that if anything was wrong that would be bad. Thought that either we should both be able to see or neither of us should. I was so busy thinking about that that it took me by surprise when the woman said 'Well, there's only one in there!'
D was pretty relieved to hear that. Me? I was just amazed that there was a viable baby in there at all.
The baby wouldn't keep still. It was moving constantly, up and down and around and around. We joked that it was definitely my baby. I am known for my inability to keep still, for the fact that I'm always on the go, doing something. The woman (I never know what to call them) took three pictures. None of them were great; it wouldn't keep still long enough. It was strange, to see how much the baby was moving. Strange that so much was going on inside me but that I couldn't feel a thing.
(Sometimes I wonder whether it was in pain. Whether that was why it couldn't keep still. I know that babies aren't supposed to be able to feel pain that early on. But still, it haunts me.)
The heartbeat looked pretty slow to me, and I wondered whether or not I should be worried. But neither of the women in the room seemed concerned, so I assumed everything must be within its normal range. And according to my calculations I was only 11+2, but they measured the baby to be either 11+4 or 11+5, ending up on 11+4. So, I reasoned, everything must be well.
I had seen my baby alive. Everything was going to be OK!
As D drove us back to work, I asked him if it was real now. He told me that for him, it had been real all along. But not for me. For me, things had only become real just then. I had known I was pregnant, but I only became confident that everything was going to be OK while watching my little baby move and leap around on the screen.
D took one photo back to work, I took two others. I spent the afternoon walking round the building, telling people my news. I was having a baby! It was all so exciting! In my building, there had been very little other than bad news recently - death and serious illness - and I was excited to have good news to share for a change. And for some reason, hardly anyone seems to have babies there. In the nearly three years I've been there, there have only been two women off on maternity leave (although one has now had two babies during that time). I was so, so excited to be in that elite crowd.
And everyone was excited for me. It was so good to see how happy they all were.
I enjoyed telling people in person that I was pregnant. A lot of my friends shared their pregnancies by text or email or facebook; I didn't want to do that. It's one of the reasons I didn't blog about it; I didn't want people to find out from my blog. After my scan, I didn't see my biggest group of friends for three weeks, so I didn't put anything on facebook about the pregnancy. I waited until 5th November, when we all met up for tea, and told them all then. It was really nice to have them all exclaiming over me. It was good to think that there were four of us pregnant at once, that we would be all off on maternity leave together. That we could meet up with our babies and have lunch. Let them play together.
I still didn't really relax, even after the scan. I still checked for blood every time I went the loo. There never was any. But I believed. I believed my baby would be OK. I believed it was just a matter of time. I looked at my friend's baby, who had been born in September; I watched him develop and I thought how strange it was that my child would be in the same school year as him. How strange it was that he had had all this extra time to develop before my child was even born. I thought how odd it was that so many of my friends had had babies before me, when we had been together and married almost the longest of all my friends (only one couple had been together longer). I had always assumed that we would get there first.
At fifteen weeks, on a Sunday morning, I started to panic. It was a Sunday morning, I was nice and relaxed, but I didn't feel it. I could hear my pulse beating in my ears; even after I did a 30 minute relaxation CD it was still there.
I ended up phoning the maternity unit at the hospital. I'd got myself quite upset by this stage, so they told me to come along and they would take my blood pressure and make sure I was OK. I got D out of bed - he'd been having a well-deserved lie in, poor guy - and he drove us down to the hospital.
They took my blood pressure, and it was indeed high. The duty midwife told me that I looked stressed and upset, and that she thought my doctor should sign me off sick for a fortnight - at least. I nodded and told her I would go straight to the doctors the next morning, but secretly thought there was no way I needed a fortnight off. I kind of thought they would give me a scan, just to check the baby was OK, but they didn't, and we trundled off home. I took the next day off sick and went to see the doctor; I told him what the midwife had said and that I thought I might need a day, but nothing more. He checked my blood pressure. It was back to normal and he agreed that I would be OK to go back to work the following day.
I did. I told them that I had been stressed and not looking after myself. My managers - pretty high up managers - told me that I shouldn't worry too much about work. That I should take it easy and look after myself.
The next week. Wednesday. I had my second midwife's appointment. It was at 1pm, so D could take the time to come with me on his lunch hour.
I had a list of questions for my midwife. We got through them all and all the stuff she needed to go through with me. And then, time to check the baby's heartbeat. I hadn't heard it yet. We'd seen it at the first scan, but never heard the sound.
She told me before she started that sometimes it took a little while to find it. That I shouldn't panic if it took a little while. I lay down and she started moving around.
She could hear my heartbeat, no problem, but not the baby's. She made me get up and turn around, and tried again. No joy. No sound.
So I got back up and sat down again. She told me that she thought everything was OK, but that she knew I was a worrier, so she told us to go down to the hospital. That they would listen, and that if they still couldn't pick anything up, they would give me a quick scan. Just to make sure all was well.
I nearly told D to just drop me off and go back to work. But I decided not to. Just in case.
So we went along. A midwife tried again to get the heartbeat. Nothing. She told us she would get us in for a quick scan, to wait and for me to drink water.
I drank lots. We waited. I was dying for the loo. We waited. And waited. It was nearly 3pm. D should have been back at work. I thought about making him go back. I didn't think anything was wrong. I asked him if he thought anything was wrong. Nah, he said. We were just going to get an extra peek at the baby.
I asked how long it was going to be. They told me that we had to wait until they could make a little break. We didn't have an appointment. I shrugged. They must believe everything was OK. Surely they wouldn't leave us having around for so long if there really was a problem?
So we waited.
(for the end click here)
We kept the pregnancy a delicious secret for a week or so, telling only two people within a couple of days - our best male friend (... largely so he would stop smoking around me, which he did), and a friend of ours that D works with (largely because she had already guessed that something was up because D was distracted in work).
The next weekend, only three days after finding out I was pregnant, I'd arranged to go stay with a friend and go to ...Deviation, a goth/alternative night in York that I hadn't been to in years. And it was good - but I didn't really enjoy it. I cried on the way to the station; I didn't want to go away from D for a night. I cried on the platform. I felt hollow all the time I was away. The music was louder than loud; I was terrified that it would somehow damage the baby. (The tiny being that didn't even have ears yet.) I danced, a little, but it wasn't much fun.
I was gladder than glad to get home to D.
The weekend after, we made the trip to the north west where most of my family lives to tell my parents and sisters the news. They were thrilled. We asked them not to spread the news any further, and they respected our wishes, but for them, and for us, it was hard not to talk about it to everyone they/we saw.
I cracked a few weeks in, though, and told my best female friend. She was due to be going through IVF not long afterwards, and she had told me often that she hoped we would be pregnant together. She was thrilled for me. Selfishly, I was glad that I had got pregnant first.
(This haunts me now. Getting pregnant wasn't simple for her. Why couldn't I just have been happy for her if she'd got there first?)
At about seven weeks I went to a drop-in session at the local SureStart centre. It turned out to be telling me stuff I already knew - eat healthily, stop smoking*, don't drink, yadda yadda - but I got my first Bounty pack, and it turned out the midwife leading the session was the midwife from my doctors' surgery. I stopped at the end to say hi and to ask her a question that seems so previous now that it almost makes me cry. I was asking about finding out whether the baby was a boy or a girl. I wanted to be surprised; D wanted to know in advance. I asked whether the hospital would consider telling one of us and not the other. She told me that it was unlikely, that they would rather tell both of us or neither. She said she'd look forward to seeing me again for my first appointment.
(I wish I'd been pregnant long enough for this to have been a problem.)
*There were three girls there that smoked. Two of them were vocal about their plans not to give up, or even to cut down - to the extent that at first they wouldn't be quiet long enough for the midwife to tell the third about the pregnancy-based smoking cessation classes that run. I still can't understand how people could be so proud of such a damaging decision.
I found it really hard to believe that everything would be OK. Every single time I went to the loo while I was pregnant, I dreaded seeing blood. I was always kind of surprised when it wasn't there. I kept taking my temperature for the first few days of pregnancy, but when they fluctuated quite widely I decided it was too scary and not doing me any good, and stopped. One day at about seven weeks I sneezed and got a sharp pain in the left of my abdomen, and phoned up for an urgent doctors' appointment, suddenly convinced the pregnancy was ectopic and that I would lose one of my tubes. Then towards my twelve week scan I started to believe that I had had a missed miscarriage and that the baby was already dead.
We saw the midwife for my first appointment at about eight weeks. All was well. D and I laughed and joked and took the piss out of each other. The midwife laughed at us generally and me specifically (nicely!) for asking so many questions and asked in turn whether I had considered sitting down and watching Midsomer Murders instead of researching things on the internet. I liked her. She's irreverent and supportive. I felt she would do her best to care for us.
While we were there, I mentioned something about how hard it was not to tell everyone we knew. She told me to remember that if anything went wrong, that I would need the support of my friends. I shuddered and hoped it wouldn't come to that.
I didn't really suffer from morning sickness while I was pregnant; I felt queasy and uneasy about it. I'd read all the stats about morning sickness correlating with better pregnancy outcomes. I didn't want to feel ill, but it would have been nice to have some reassuring symptoms. My b00bs were sore and swollen, but that was about it.
It's strange now to look back and remember how pessimistic I was. Expecting blood, ectopic pregnancy, missed miscarriage. I don't remember expecting a bad outcome, expecting to lose the baby. But I don't remember expecting anything good either.
The Friday before my scan, I was chatting to my team in work. Someone brought up names, and I told the story of how D and I had both changed our surnames to a new one (to us) when we got married. The conversation went from there on to baby names. After a few minutes, I had to tune the conversation out, because I was so scared I was going to give away the fact that I was pregnant - I already suspected that they might have guessed, because I was eating more, and having lots of medical appointments.
I started a new blog at wordpress when I was about 8 weeks. I didn't want to start it on blogger, didn't want to let the cat out of the bag too soon. I started it at wordpress, tried to invite people that knew (family and a couple of friends) but I never managed to get it to work. The three posts I wrote and posted there are now posted below for the record. They break my heart now, especially the one I wrote the night before our first scan. I was so scared of a missed miscarriage.
Ironically, I only settled into the pregnancy, only started to believe, after that first scan.
Just before everything started to go wrong.
(for the beginning of the end click here)
I'm B, otherwise known as Beth. I've been married for six years to a guy called D who I've known for 14 years, and been with for ten.
I have various sites around the internet, so we may already have crossed paths. I've been blogging at watching geordie life the longest, since 2007. It started as a lighthearted blog about life in Newcastle upon Tyne. In September 2008, I started posting pictures of Newcastle at Newcastle upon Tyne Daily Photo when the previous contributor, Cassandra, moved back to Michigan. Until recently, I'd never missed a day.
And in October 2008 I started a writing blog called non geordie writer.
And all was well.
D and I always wanted children. We hadn't really planned to wait before trying to get pregnant - we started talking about the possibility of children back in 2000 when we were first together. But first I lived in a different city to him. Then he was unemployed*. Then I was in a job I hated. Then he was in a job with crazy hours, and I hadn't been in my job long enough to get full maternity benefits. Then he got a job with better hours, but didn't want to be asking for time off for a new baby too soon.
And then it was last year.
*This doesn't sound like as good a reason for waiting as it used to.
In April 2009, after being married for five years, D and I started trying to conceive. I'd read Taking Control of Your Fertility and bought a basal body thermometer, and I enthusiastically started charting my cycles. I was happy to realise that even after ten years on the pill I was ovulating regularly and had a cycle length that averaged a perfect 28 days - sometimes 27, sometimes 29, but beautifully regular nonetheless. My luteal phase was a bit short at ten days, and I never noticed much cervical mucous, but I wasn't too worried yet. I was only 33. (Ha! 'Only' 33.) We were enjoying the practice. We were timing things well. I was confident that we wouldn't have to wait too long. I never bothered doing pregnancy tests; my temp always dropped after ten days. I was disappointed each month, but not devastated.
And then it was August. And for reasons that I couldn't articulate at the time, still can't articulate now - I was having no symptoms, there was no reason to think that that month was the one - I decided to do a pregnancy test on day 26 of my cycle, a mere 9 days after I'd ovulated. I expected it to be negative, and was really annoyed with myself for wasting an expensive digital test. I woke up at 6.30am as usual, went to the bathroom. Peed on a stick and sat and waited.
I nearly died of shock when the digital display changed to 'Pregnant 1-2 Weeks'.
We were going to a football match that night. D had never been to a football match before. I'd been to one once, long ago, in Germany. We went for a meal beforehand. I knocked over a glass of water - caught it just before it hit the table - and blamed being pregnant for my clumsiness. (Really, I'm just clumsy.) We were so amazed. So happy.
I went to the library and got out four books on pregnancy. I went to WHSmiths and bought a beautiful journal to write about my pregnancy.
And life went on.
(for the middle, click here)
It’s frustrating. I had finally caught up on my sleep, and now I can’t sleep. It’s 1am and I have to be up at 6.30pm.
I know why. It’s the scan tomorrow. Supposed to be 12 weeks, but it actually falls at 11+2 – that’s 11 weeks 2 days. Presuming everything is OK, we’ll be telling people from tomorrow (although I won’t be posting anything on facebook yet – there are still people I want to tell in person, and I don’t want to spoil the surprise! So those of you ‘in the know’ will have to wait a while longer before we can talk about it on there
But that’s what scares me. That ‘presuming everything’s OK’. I have no reason to think it won’t be – but -
there is such a thing as a missed miscarriage. Where the baby has died but the body hasn’t expelled what is left. I looked up the details before. They are rare -
but they exist.
I’ve been doing everything right, so my risk is low anyway. I haven’t had caffeine since the beginning of September – until one weak black cup of tea today. It tasted so good. So the chances are that everything is well.
I don’t actually feel worried. But I won’t believe everything is OK until I see it. And I can’t really believe that everything really is fine until then.
Presuming everything is – it will be such a relief to be able to talk about it.
I haven’t really had any. Not yet.
I’ve been needing to eat, though. Pretty much constantly. And the easiest things to eat have been cake. Biscuits. Ice cream. That kind of stuff. It’s not that I’ve been craving the unhealthy… I suppose it’s just that that stuff is easier to eat. And because the sickness tends to be because your blood sugar gets too low, that kind of stuff – the sugary stuff that hits your bloodstream quite fast – is also the kind of food that relieves the nausea pretty quickly.
It’s finally starting to change, though. Today I ate a nectarine mid-afternoon. And instead of wanting to eat cake, or one of the cereal bars, or a bowl of ice cream – I wanted to eat another. I’ve made carrot cake tonight (yum!), and when I went to Asda for the wholemeal flour and the carrots (yeah, the key ingredients), I picked up a melon and a papaya. And honestly, I could sit down and finish both of them. And have another nectarine for afterwards. Fruit cravings rock.
I won’t eat all the fruit tonight, though. I need to try the carrot cake. It would be rude to the cake not to eat it while it’s warm.
So I found out on 26th August 2009 at 6.30am that I’m pregnant with my first child. My due date is 8th May 2010, just a month before the tenth anniversary of the hubby and I getting together… although we fully expect the baby to be late!
I’m thrilled to be pregnant at last, but I can’t believe that I’ll be 34 before this baby puts in an appearance. When I was a teenager I assumed I’d have kids by my mid-20s. It’s hard to understand why it’s taken so long to get around to it in some ways – especially since Paul and I have been together so long – but it’s just never been the right time, until now. We’re both at a stage in our careers where we feel it’s possible to do this. And while we can’t afford it, not really – if we wait until we can afford it we’ll never do this.
So this is where I’ll talk about what’s going on and how I’m feeling. Comments always welcome, feel free to start a chat!