First Trimester (medicine): The first trimester begins on the first day of your last period and lasts until the end of week 12 of pregnancy.
This is an email I sent to one of my close friends, two weeks after my first miscarriage. I’ve always been able to talk to M, he and I are very similar, and it was my attempt to process what had happened. He replied afterwards to say that he completely agreed with the parallel universe part.
I’ve made a few tiny edits to maintain privacy, but otherwise it’s all there. I think it gives a good glimpse of the whirlwind of emotions that come with having a miscarriage. If you’re like me, you might not get “it”. I certainly didn’t know what it was like, until it happened to me. To this day, I’m ashamed of the lack of empathy I’d shown to people who’d experienced baby loss before me. I’m sharing this in the hope that it gives you some insight. No matter how long babies live, that’s what they are: babies, someone’s child. To assume or to talk of them as otherwise may inflict unintended hurt – trust me, I know.
Thursday 30th November 2018
I’ve been wanting to FaceTime you guys for ages, but to be honest, yesterday I just felt too sad. Don’t worry, most days I’m ok. But sometimes it does hit me like a tonne of bricks; I think it’s just hormones as everything gets back to normal. But we’re also approaching ‘milestones’ that I’d been looking forward to (this weekend we’re seeing C&N and we would have been telling them happy news), like what would have been the 12 week scan on Thursday. I just can’t help but think there’s a parallel universe where things turned out differently, and wanting to be in THAT reality. Since we found out our sad news, I’ve had two very close friends announce their pregnancies (I’ll tell you who when they reach 12 weeks). It’s just all so bittersweet when I start to think about due dates and what could have been.
Anyway, I wanted to email, as I really want to update you guys. But unless I email, I don’t know when I’ll be able to bring myself to say all this. Plus we’ll hardly be around at Christmas, but hopefully catch you on the 26th. So where to start? As you know, it took us a while to conceive. We had genuinely given up all hope that anything would happen naturally. Not only was I failing pregnancy tests, I was failing ovulation tests too (not great for someone whose ‘thing’ it is to pass tests – ha!) Anyway, I went to my GP to start all the medical stuff and they called me to say that I had abnormal blood results. Which was just cr4pness piled onto cr4pness. Meanwhile I was (again) late for my period (sorry if this is all too much info!), but I didn’t want to take a test, as hope is the worst. I’d been there before and failed too many pregnancy tests for my liking. So I waited until the last possible moment. I was due to donate blood on the Wednesday, but you obviously can’t do that if you’re preggo. So at 11pm on Tuesday night, I got back from dinner with a friend… and took the test. It was positive and I was 5 weeks pregnant. I walked into the bedroom and told James. We were shocked. Initial reaction “oh sh1t!” next I think I said “oh my gosh, my mouth’s gone dry, I miss alcohol already!” then I went over to my wardrobe and stroked my nice clothes to say goodbye to my lovely fitted outfits. Haha! I said to James “we’re parents, we made a baby!” (ever since what happened with C&R, I always think of people as parents straight away now. To my mind, you don’t have to have been fortunate enough to deliver a healthy baby to be a mum/dad). Well, you know what James is like and his ‘humour’, he said, “it’s not a viable baby Anj, it’s a Bunch of Cells”. We both laughed, and nicknamed the baby BoC. “Can you believe that BoC? How clinical is HE?” . James replied “Boc doesn’t have ears yet” and I just said “What does he know, you can totally hear me, can’t you BoC!”
Over the next few days, I did three more tests, to be sure. The thing is, we had no signs. I was having the best pregnancy. No tiredness, sickness, increased hunger etc. Aside from a bit of definite bloating, it was a dream. I was still managing to go to the gym 3-4 times a week, no problem. (I’d convinced myself it was a boy. No girl of mine could be THAT chilled, definitely a little baby James!). But because of the lack of symptoms, I was nervous. So we decided we would do an early scan at some point, rather than wait until the 12 weeks, just for peace of mind. We booked a private scan for around the 9.5 week mark. We were then going to head north to tell everyone. Before that scan we’d FaceTimed you and R. Gargh, we were desperate to say something!
The evening of the scan came, and I was nervous. A couple of days preceding it, I was feeling completely… normal. Which made me realise that I HAD been having symptoms. Pretty soon during the scan, we knew something was wrong. Poor James, it was probably worse for him in that moment, as he would have known a bit before me what had happened. The fact they weren’t doing the Doppler scan, that we couldn’t hear anything or see any movement. Long story short, BoC had stopped growing at 7 weeks and 2 days. The clinic were lovely, but the dream was over.
I know it didn’t last long, but it’s difficult not to get carried away, isn’t it? It’s not just the 4 weeks you thought you were pregnant, it’s the lifetime of plans you’d made. And as if it’s not emotionally draining enough, you then physically have to go through with a miscarriage. I opted for the non-surgical option, which was quite painful physically, but I wanted to FEEL what had happened. I didn’t want to go into a hospital pregnant, and walk out not. We wanted one more weekend with BoC, silly as that sounds. It’s been a long process, and I think as of yesterday, it’s probably all done now. Although we have a follow up scan on Tuesday to check that all’s ‘clear’.
Thanks for listening – it’s been quite cathartic. I just think I needed to get some of this out. The guys at work know that something’s been up, but no one’s asked why I’ve been away. Which is a good thing mostly. But at the same time, it’s hard just knowing that the world keeps on turning as normal, when it actually feels quite different for me. That’s what “trauma” does, I guess. That’s what James said to me last night “you’ve been through a trauma” – and yeah, I guess that’s what this is. Despite how this all sounds though, we really are doing ok. We have so much to be grateful and thankful for. And it’s not the end. It was a lovely time for a while, and I’m glad we had the experience (as strange as that sounds). We are so blessed with the people and opportunities we have in life and won’t lose sight of that. So don’t feel sorry for us, it’s better to have loved and lost, after all.