I am sure we have all done it…start trying for a baby and spend your afternoons leisurely fantasising about the events you have coming up in the future and how you would look in that situation with a bump. Me and my husband came off contraception in December 2016 and I had a big conference I was speaking at in the June and I kept thinking about getting up on the stage and having a gorgeous, plump bump. Well that date came and went and alas…no bump… just a slightly disgruntled Meghan. I found myself going from hopeful to feeling like it was happening for everyone but me and I would be lying if I said there wasn’t more than one occasion I cried at a friend’s baby announcement – why was it so easy for them? How are they on number two and I am still here no further forward?
Then 8 months later… BAM. A Big Fat Positive and I am not sure I have ever been a mixture of pure joy and relief! We were told that we couldn’t get any sort of screening (which is common in the UK) until you had been trying a year, but I always had an underlying fear that there was something wrong with me. I thought that was it – I could tick off the life checklist item titled ‘start family’ and I started fantasising about life with our baby and everything that it entailed. It also happened to coincide with being made redundant at work, so I’d get all my maternity pay and have an extended maternity leave – it literally couldn’t have worked out better! I walked around for the next 9 weeks or so in a happy bubble with a few symptoms (super tired and sore boobs but no sickness…!) and before I knew it we were at the 12 week scan point. We had planned the order we were going to call people and I’d already had a think about the super cute social media post to announce it, I felt so excited and not at all nervous.
We go into the room and it was just like I expected and the sonographer pointed out this little blob and my husband joked ‘oh you haven’t been making it up’ – I honestly felt elated in that moment and so close to my husband. Then the words that I wasn’t expecting…
“Your baby has no heartbeat. I am sorry”.
5 small words which single handily broke me. I don’t really remember much after that, I remember they had to have a secondary person check me and her name was Meghan, like mine. I remember the little yellow room they put you in to wait and then being asked to go into a ward to speak with a midwife. All I could think to ask was ‘why has this happened? What did I do?” and apologise to my husband – I felt like I had let everyone down. Our baby had died around 9 weeks which is a little later than normal (6/7 weeks is apparently a bit more common when implementation happens) but there was no reason why it had happened. The midwife explained that 1 in 4 women experience this – and my jaw dropped. But nobody talks about it? Where are all these women?! I had naively gone into pregnancy assuming that the getting pregnant bit was the hard part! I asked about testing and again was told that you had to have 3 miscarriages in a row before they would consider testing you.
Because my body had decided to not do it naturally, I had to go for a medical intervention miscarriage – where you are given tablets and you have to pass the foetus - but the process takes a few days of medication on the lead up – so we were sent home to wait. I was warned that sometimes when your brain catches up with your body it may happen naturally at home – which terrified me. I didn’t sleep for days and when I did I wouldn’t sleep in our bed, I didn’t want our marital bed marred with that memory.
Sure enough nothing happened, I often think my body was so desperate to hold onto that little baby it didn’t want to give it up. We went into the hospital ward and was given the tablets. For around 7 hours I was in agony, so much so I was physically sick. You also had to pass everything naturally into cardboard bowls and pass it to the midwives to check what was happening, which does mean that you see everything – including the foetus when it passes. I can’t explain to you how harrowing that was and is a sight that I think will be burned into my retinas for the rest of time.
After heading home I didn’t cry – in a way I was relieved (there is nothing worse than walking around feeling like your carrying something not alive inside of you) but I was emotionally broken. I spent the next two weeks just staring into space and continuing to wonder why… was it the trip to Budapest we had been on, the plane? Walking around? Had I eaten something? Sadly I’ll never have those questions answered and at times I wish I could – of everything I think that is the hardest thing to get your head around and deal with.
But my tale isn’t all one of heartache I am glad to say, as I type this I am now 19 weeks with baby number two (I won’t ever forget baby number one, I bought a ring to remind me of them every day) a little girl. This journey hasn’t been the smoothest either, we had high risk results in screenings which may have ended potentially in a medical termination – but luckily everything is fine! Phew!