The Second Time Around

I will preface this article by saying that I am now the mother of the most beautiful, determined little 8 month old boy, whose presence has changed my life in the most magical way. But getting to this point was not easy.

I’ve been asked a few times what it’s like to be pregnant after having a miscarriage, but while I was pregnant I felt that I didn’t have the ability to fully articulate what it feels like. I hope that this post answers some of those questions for those who asked, or were curious; and sheds some light for those who were otherwise none the wiser.

If you’re familiar with my previous post, you’ll know that in May 2016, my husband and I miscarried twins. For us, that was a life shattering event. After the miscarriage, we stopped focusing on conceiving. We put our house up for sale, and toward the end of 2016, we booked a holiday to Norway and Poland, ending with a visit to the UK to see my Dad. Our departure was early February 2017.

It was during a routine doctors appointment that my GP asked me if I was still taking the folic acid supplement, to which I replied casually, “Nah, we’ve stopped trying, and booked a European holiday instead”. My GP responded with a quip about how I’d probably fall pregnant now, and we laughed.

Well, low and behold, one and a half weeks before our departure, I was sitting on the couch at home feeling absolutely exhausted, when it suddenly dawned on me that the last time I’d felt that exhausted was when I was pregnant. An entire box of pregnancy tests confirmed my suspicion: I was pregnant.

“Shit”, was my first thought. “Right”, was my husbands reaction when I showed him the positive pregnancy tests.

Not the joyous moment you imagine when you discover you’re expecting. You see, it’s incredibly hard to be excited about this when you’ve had a miscarriage. We were terrified, of not only another miscarriage, but of it happening overseas.

I made an appointment to see the GP a few days before our departure, and we came up with a plan in the event that I miscarried overseas, which consisted of taking paracetamol and codeine tablets with me, and to not get on a plane if I am bleeding. We made a follow up appointment for when we returned home to see if I was still pregnant. Right from the beginning, I was convinced this pregnancy was doomed.

To our genuine surprise, the pregnancy survived our overseas trip, and was confirmed as healthy and viable through an ultrasound shortly after we returned home. We took our house off the market, thinking the timing wouldn’t be great if we were moving while pregnant or with a newborn. But I was still convinced it would end in a miscarriage.

I lived from ultrasound to ultrasound, telling myself that if this scan was ok, I’d only have to make it another so many weeks for the next one to see if the baby had survived. I became incredibly strict with food, avoiding those banned foods during pregnancy like the plague.

I became incredibly superstitious and anxious, and did not want any negativity or stress in my life. Neurotic would be a fairly honest self assessment of my thoughts and behaviour. I didn’t want to tell people, and in fact, other than telling my immediate bosses at 10 weeks (just in case I miscarried and needed time off), I didn’t announce it at work until the 20 week mark, because I feared I’d only have to tell them I’d miscarried later.

There were two major stresses that occurred in my life during the first pregnancy. One was an investigation that I was conducting at work; and the other was a particularly upsetting and worrying phone call from a long time friend, who was having relationship problems. Both of those situations cropped up during this pregnancy, and I could not handle them.

I wormed my way out of conducting a similar investigation, because I was convinced it would lead to a miscarriage. When the same friend phoned and told me they were having relationship problems again (and that I’d been a terrible friend), I couldn’t handle it. I felt like I was living in the past, and the past resulted in a miscarriage. My work suffered, and my friendship was over (although I didn’t realise this until much later).

I was living in a protective bubble, shutting myself off from every possible physical and emotional thing that I felt could negatively impact on the pregnancy.

By the time I’d reached the 30 week mark, my husband and I came around to the idea that we may actually become parents. Even with an obvious bump, knowing the baby’s gender, and feeling him move, I was still thinking, “hmm, we’ll see how this turns out”.

If the baby didn’t move enough for me, I’d panic. We spent one morning at the hospital because I was panicking. The doppler scan confirmed that all was well, and my mind was at ease, but only for a few more days. The last 8 weeks of pregnancy, I was living from one checkup to the next. The only way I survived was to keep my mind busy. If I felt anxious, I’d reorganise the cupboards, and clean.

I was finally free from all of my anxieties on September 15, 2017. Although my pregnancy was normal and healthy, our son was born via emergency cesarean section after my waters broke almost 58 hours prior. It was then two more days before labour actually started, and after all of that, he got his shoulder stuck.

It wasn’t an easy journey for us to become parents, but we’d finally got there. Every heartbreak and anxious moment was worth it.

It hasn’t been easy since then either. In our sons first three months, along with recovering from major surgery, I had breast feeding issues, which resulted in using formula instead, and the guilt and grief that comes along for ride with that decision. We’ve dealt with colic, reflux, an undiagnosed tongue tie and the medical and emotional battle that comes with that, suspected pyloric stenosis, and a Hospital stint over Christmas for a viral illness that left him unable to feed from a bottle… on top of the expected sleep deprivation and general life changes.

So, in a nutshell, what is it like being pregnant after having a miscarriage, you ask? It’s terrifying. Absolutely terrifying. But to hold your child in your arms, makes it all worth it.

xx

Miscarriage.

If there was one group that I never thought I would be a member of, it’s this one. In fact, I’d never even thought about this group before, let alone being, or not being, a member of it.

Did you know that one in four pregnancies end in miscarriage?

That is the statistic – one in every four couples to fall pregnant, never get to meet the tiny soul they’ve created.

My husband, Michael, and I are one of those couples.

In mid-March of this year, we discovered we were expecting. I’m certainly never going to forget that morning, seeing those two, magical, life-changing lines appear on the test. After months of trying, we had finally done it.

Fast forward to our 10 week and one day ultrasound… another morning that I will never forget. “There are two fetal poles”, the sonographer said. “They are in the same sac. You are pregnant with identical twins”.

We were in shock and on a high, when the sonographer continued. “Their heartbeats are very low, and they are measuring at 6 weeks and five days, and 7 weeks and one day”. Our hearts sank. I was shaking uncontrollably. Michael froze. In silence, we knew.

There was no possibility that we had our dates wrong. Our babies were measuring three weeks behind, with very low heart beats. I kept thinking to myself, “This wasn’t what we planned. Surely the sonographer is wrong”. We left the medical imaging clinic in silence that morning.

The doctor confirmed our worst fears the following day: “You are pregnant with ‘MoMo’ twins. This is a high risk pregnancy… I don’t think you will give birth to two babies, or even one. You need to prepare to miscarry”. The doctor spoke the statistics: One in four pregnancies end in miscarriage… That at least we knew we could make babies… And that we could try again.

I was given a script for strong pain medication, and was told to not leave town over the upcoming long weekend, in case I required urgent medical treatment. To this day, I do not remember the drive home from the medical practice.

We cried, for three solid days. Thoughts, questions, and emotions began clouding our minds: Why us? What have we done to the universe to deserve this? What is wrong with my body? What is wrong with us? Did I do something wrong? Was it that one morning I forgot to take the pre-natal vitamin? And if one in four pregnancies ends in miscarriage, where are those people? No one that we knew had suffered this loss.

I ‘Googled’ every possible combination that I could think of, that related to miscarriage. I obsessively searched the internet, against Michael’s advice, for stories of miracle twins that survived against all odds. Of the hundreds of stories I read, only a handful ended with at least one baby born at term.

It took another nine days for our babies’ journey to end. At 11 weeks and 4 days, I miscarried naturally, at home. It was the day before Mother’s Day, and 10 days before my 30th birthday. I would have been 13 weeks pregnant on the day I turned 30.

The physical pain that morning was excruciating. The physical symptoms lasted 12 days in total. The emotional pain, however, is still there; but getting better each day.

By now you may be wondering why I am sharing this with you all, as I am a particularly private person.

Writing this is a key part of my grieving process. I started writing this article in the first two weeks after miscarrying, and finished it four months later, adding to it and changing it over this time.

The second reason that I am writing this is because while we were waiting to miscarry for those nine days, Michael and I decided that we had two options: wallow in our grief and stay miserable; or grieve, find the positive in our experience, and move on. We have chosen the latter.

As strange as it sounds, in a way, we feel blessed. We had nine days to cry, grieve, get angry, and deny that it was going to happen, before it actually did. It wasn’t a surprise. We knew it was coming. By the morning of the miscarriage, we had accepted it, and knew that, in this pregnancy, a natural, complete miscarriage was the best outcome for us.

During our nine days of waiting, we decided that we would talk about our experience with others, when the time was right.

We agreed on this, because we have never felt more alone than in the days immediately following the news we would miscarry.  All we could think about was that this happens to one in four pregnancies, and no one talks about it.

So although we can’t change what happened to us, we can share it, and help to get rid of the taboo that is miscarriage. If one person reads this, and realises that they are not alone, then we have accomplished our goal.

To anyone reading this that is experiencing, or has experienced, a miscarriage, and feels alone, then please know this:

You are not alone, not for one minute. You are loved and the fog will clear. And you will heal, with time. 

If you are reading this and know someone who has had a miscarriage, whether recently or some time ago, the best thing that you can do, is check in with them, and ask them how they are. We don’t need advice, or for you to sprout the facts. Sometimes we just need someone to listen to us. This goes for men and women. Although the physical act of miscarriage happened to me, it is my husband’s loss too. He too has lost the opportunity to be a parent, and he grieves for that in his own way.

For Michael and I, the healing process and the adventure of life continues. We won’t lie: this experience has well and truly tested our relationship. There are days where I can’t bring myself to leave the house, and moments when I just want to curl up into a ball and cry.

Although neither of us will forget what could have been, I know that it has made us both stronger, and more focused in our personal goals.

Our desire to have children hasn’t lessened; but, for now, we are very excited to see a bit more of this wonderful world, and quite happy being parents to our feline fur-baby… even if he does bite… xx

This piece wouldn’t be complete without thanking our close family and friends who have helped us through this, and still continue to. From the late night phone calls and texts, care packages (from this day onward now known as ‘a hug-in-box’), to just being there for us. You all know what part you have played, and for that, we thank you.

Please feel free to share this post.

Hannah xx

Hello.

Well, shit. That was easy. A few clicks of the mouse, and hey presto – I have a blog.

Allow me to introduce myself. I’m Hannah. A left-handed, blue eyed Taurean, more introvert than extrovert. Married to a wonderful man, with whom I share one ginger feline fur-child.

I’ve always had “words” inside my head – I’ve just never had the courage to put them down in an orderly  fashion and let other people in to my world. I’ll admit, the only reason this blog was created was because I was under the influence of a wonderful tasting Apple Cider at the time, and thought, “F-it. I’ll just do it!”.

I don’t know what I will write about, or how often – I’m just going to share my random, peculiar thoughts, and see where this takes me.

Hannah xx