I’m writing this blog currently around 17 weeks pregnant with baby number 2, so there’s probably a little bit of catching up to do!
I thought I’d use this post to talk about my previous pregnancy and the journey we had getting there.
JUST A BIT OF A WARNING – there is possible a bit of overshare, and if the word “period” or talk of vaginas are likely to make you uncomfortable, you’re probably in the wrong place! 🙂 also a bit of a trigger warning as I do discuss infertility and miscarriage.
So my husband and I were married in June 2014, and it felt as though the ink was still wet on our marriage certificate when people started quizzing us about when we’d be starting a family. This was never on our agenda immediately after we got married; we had our dream honeymoon booked a few months after the wedding. Unfortunately a trip that included a tour of South Africa’s wine region didn’t quite have the same appeal if having to remain t-total was part of it!
The comments at first just kind of made us laugh slightly consciously and say “oh there’s plenty of time for that”. But eventually they began to wear a bit thin, and start to feel somewhat intrusive. I mean, maybe I’m wrong but it’s quite a personal decision to start a family, and as we were about to find out, not always as straightforward as deciding you’re ‘ready’. I even remember someone saying to me “oh that’s a shame we thought you’d come back from honeymoon pregnant”! What kind of comment, or assumption is that? We’d never even expressed this as remotely being our intention, so to have someone consider our dream trip as “a shame” because I didn’t return with a bun in the oven, seemed utterly bizarre, and if i’m being honest a bit rude.
Fast forward a few months, and after the realisation that no one is ever ‘ready’ and there really is never the ‘ideal’ time to start a family, we decided that we’d “give it a go”!. After years on the contraceptive pill I had no idea what my natural cycle would be like and expected a bit of time for the synthetic hormones to leave my body. So the first few months that passed we just accepted it as my body finding a natural cycle, and hopefully waited for the next month.
After about a year the monthly “oh wells” began to fill with a bit more disappointment and disheartenment so we decided to go and see the doctor and ask for some advice. Long story short I was diagnosed with PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome). This came as a big surprise as I didn’t have any of what are considered the usual symptoms of PCOS – except not getting pregnant! But at least it gave an explanation as to why it wasn’t happening.
We were referred to a fertility specialist and underwent further blood tests, scans and a Hysterosalpingogram (x-ray of fallopian tubes); which if anyone has had done will probably verify is a really unpleasant procedure :-(. It was decided that ovulation stimulation would be a good first course of action. I was prescribed Clomid and booked in for regular ovulation screening scans. The consultant had a high success rate with this treatment and was really hopeful that this would work for us. However 3 months went by and still no positive pregnancy test. Frankly with the horrendous mood swings and teenager like acne this drug kindly imparts on you, i’m amazed anyone feels even remotely like actually fulfilling the physical act of trying to make a baby! Let’s be honest there is nothing even slightly romantic or sexy about trying to conceive with fertility treatment.
At this months appointment with the specialist I still remember her words ” I just don’t understand, I thought you’d be pregnant by now; we have such high success rates with this”. There’s nothing quite like having the bewilderment and disappointment of the person that’s expert in this field, added to your own! It was at this point it was decided that we would start the IVF ball rolling and the specialist had all of the paperwork arranged. I was given one more months prescription for the Clomid and sent away with strict instructions about the dates on which Jamie was absolutely not allowed to be away for work – we genuinely had a TTC calendar in our phones! Oh the romance!
That month we had a holiday booked to Dubai and it was while we were away that my period was due, so I consoled myself with the fact that there’s worse places to discover your not pregnant again; 30 degree heat, at a beach side, luxury hotel and amazing all you can eat food and drink (I did pack a pregnancy test though – just incase!). However about 3 days in and I was getting all the usual monthly symptoms – sore boobs, cramping tummy and generally feeling a bit emotional.
I remember being sat on the balcony of our room and crying, just feeling like such a failure as a woman; as the specialist said, I should be pregnant by now. I mean, in terms of planning I’m actually quite good at this shit – i’ve been a wedding planner, I work as an operations manager – my planning skills are very good even if I do say so myself, so why is it family planning is just something I’m not getting right?
As always Jamie picked me up, physically and emotionally and I tried to just forget about it all (as though falling pregnant hadn’t been my every waking thought for the last year!) and carried on enjoying our time away together.
A few days later and all of the symptoms were still there but still no sign of my period, which would usually have arrived by now. So early one morning I decided to get up before Jamie and do the pregnancy test – expecting it to be the same as every month but holding just the faintest glimmer of hope. Well that glimmer of hope was right and for the 1st time I actually got to see what a positive pregnancy test looks like!
I genuinely couldn’t believe it and sat there for ages just staring at it, questioning if that 2nd line was going to disappear again. After some time I crept back into the bedroom to wake Jamie up. Tearing open the blackout blinds didn’t exactly wake him up subtly and didn’t leave him in the best mood, but the look on his face when I told him will stay with me forever. His shock and excitement, was quickly replaced with practicality and reasoning, quizzing me with “so how accurate are these tests, what percentage are we looking at”. After some reassurance that i’d bought a well known brand from a reputable store, and not a knock off from Poundland, he was reassured and was back on the happy wagon!
We carried on the rest of our holiday in excited bliss, excitedly downloading pregnancy apps and tracking what size the little bean was at this stage and what we could expect from the next few weeks of pregnancy. Shortly after we returned from holiday we had another appointment with the fertility specialist booked, so was really excited to go along and share our good news. Because the pregnancy was the result of ovulation stimulation we had to attend the Early Pregnancy Unit for scans to ensure that the pregnancy was not ectopic (outside of the uterus) and to see if it was a multiple pregnancy, as with this treatment there is an increased chance of multiples. I think at the point we attended this 1st appointment at the EPU I would have been around 7 weeks pregnant.
We sat in the waiting room really excited to be seeing our little bean on the screen for the first time, and finally felt like we were part of this special club at last, and not just the ones sat there trying to find out what was broken or going wrong. Because of all of the ovulation tracking scans i’d had I was quite used to the scanning procedure (internal ultrasound rather than transabdominally) however this scan didn’t quite go as the others had and the sonographer was either not paying attention or was simply a bit stupid – but either way I found myself shooting off of the bed as she tried to insert the scanning probe, shall we say – in the wrong bloody hole! Like seriously, is this actually happening!
I remember her tutting at me as though I was silly or something, and rather stroppily asked if i’d like to do it myself?! Well yes, actually lady I think I will as you seem unable to differentiate between a vagina and an anus! Anyway, violation narrowly escaped and we could see the fuzzy images appear in the screen. The sonographer started to name the parts that could be seen; the yolk sac, fetal pole, but then she just stopped and continued looking and moving the image around. Then came the words that you never want to hear “I’m sorry but I can’t see any heartbeat”. I just lay there repeating her words over in my head but not really taking it in and certainly not giving it any logical thought – there was no heart beat so there was no pregnancy or baby.
She said she was sorry and handed us her print out and sent us back round to the EPU midwife, who was very conciliatory and kind, but not really giving us any further information other than the statistic that 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage. We were told it would just be a ‘waiting game’ to see what happened but they booked me in for a follow up scan around 10 days later. These were the longest, most painful days ever. Jamie was being very optimistic and factual about things and kept saying that it was just because it was too early, and not because anything was wrong, but because none of the professionals had said this to me, all I could remember was their sorries and mentions of miscarriage. After finally ‘getting it right’ my body had obviously failed again!
We returned for the follow up scan and I sat in the waiting room looking around at all the pregnant women just feeling a massive sense of hurt and loss; I thought that would be me in a few months, with growing belly holding a precious new life inside, but the reality of that felt so far away now and the sadness of the last time we were in that room just consumed me.
We finally got called, and to my relief it was not the bum hole poking sonographer of the last appointment, so that at least was a bonus! I lay down on the couch and just felt disconnected with the situation, I was still convinced there was no baby and just wanted to be told for definite so we could be told and plan and move on. I didn’t listen to any of the preamble and did not engage in any of the small talk, I just let Jamie do the pleasantries not really paying attention.
The only words I registered from the whole appointment were “there we are, a lovely little heart beat”, at which point I just felt all the pain and upset of the last ten days literally pour from me – mainly in the form of big, ugly snotty sobs (I am a monstrously ugly cryer!) . I didn’t register another thing that was being said me, I could see the little flicker of my baby’s heartbeat, and at that moment there was nothing else I was interested in in the slightest. The feeling of relief and joy was like nothing i’d felt before and I literally skipped out of hospital and cloud nine.
And that’s where my 1st pregnancy journey began – finally, mummy to be!