10 weeks+ 6 days pregnant
Today I attended my booking-in appointment with the midwife. Coincidentally it was held at the birth centre where I had intended to birth Nieve. Returning there was a little surreal, there were pregnant women taking a tour of the grounds as I had done just eight months previously. I was a different person then. I’d turned up with my notepad full of questions and a head full of ideas about what my birth would look like. I’d read dozens of pregnancy books and felt empowered and equipped to get the birthing experience I wanted. I was intent that I would have as natural experience as possible, unmedicalised. Those ideas seem so far away from me now, in my new sense of ‘normal’. That innnocent person with the confidence in the simplicity of pregnancy and childbirth as a ‘natural process’ is gone. Everything about pregnancy this time feels very ‘medical’ ratter than natural. Medical intervention feels like an imperative requirement for the success of this pregnancy.
This pregnancy experience is completely wrapped up in the last. At every appointment I’ve attended, I’ve had to relive my stillbirth experience. I sense a level of caution from the midwives who tend to me. My urine samples are checked and rechecked and the sonographers seem to deliberate for a painstakingly long time before giving a verdict on the baby. Maybe it’s my paranoia but it sometimes feels like they looking for problems. In some ways it’s reassuring that they are ‘double checking’ but in many ways it feels unnerving. I literally stop breathing from the moment they place the Doppler on my stomach to the moment the sonographer begins to speak. It can feel like a lifetime and the space is flooded with haunting memories of the day we lost Nieve.
A loss-mum friend of mine, who is at a similar stage in pregnancy to me, had a scan last week and was told “Right now everything is ok” the words ‘right now’ were repeated to her throughout the whole scan, almost like the sonographer was unwilling to commit to the idea that her baby was healthy and therefore render herself accountable for anything that may happen in future. It left my friend feeling very unnerved and unsure. The fact that the company titled it a ‘reassurance scan’ seems ironic.
Last Saturday was the one year anniversary of the day we’d found out I was pregnant with Nieve. The two pregnancies are running parallel to one another, just ten weeks apart in different years. Two pregnancy tests- one initiating sheer joy, the other initiating joy but diluted with fear, guilt and worry. Two pregnancies- one filled with anticipation, joy, hope… The other filled with trepid anticipation, trepid joy, and trepid hope. It’s so natural for me to draw comparisons between the two experiences and in many ways I’ve expected this pregnancy to be an almost exact replica of the last, although in most ways it’s been totally different. The nausea and sickness that I had in my pregnancy with Nieve has been less severe which has been a blessing. In my last pregnancy I spent seven miserable weeks in bed and barely able to function, barely able to eat anything. In this pregnancy, I’ve been sick every day since week six but it’s so much more manageable this time- I just feel so grateful to be pregnant that I will tolerate it with a smile.
However, I’ve been unnerved when this pregnancy hasn’t followed the pattern of the last. When my sickness started to ease up I was instantly alarmed that something had gone wrong. Likewise, when I experience similarities between the two pregnancies I then start to feel concerned that this baby will meet the same fate. ‘I remember an ache like this in my pregnancy with Nieve, maybe it was a sign then of something not being quite right. Maybe I’ll lose this baby too’
I’m not sure I trust myself anymore. Today the midwife drew my attention to a section of my notes which talked about monitoring babies movements in the womb. The cynical part of me wondered whether all pregnant women were referred to this section or whether this was specifically highlighted for me, based on my deemed failings of the past. A part of me worries about the day this baby starts to move. How will I know this baby is moving enough? I feel like my last experience is void because I wonder now whether Nieve was ever really moving enough. I’m insecure about my ability to ‘do pregnancy’, to remain calm and in control enough to keep this baby happy and secure, yet alert and vigilant enough to keep this baby protected and safe.
I’m trying to remember that this is a different pregnancy. Some of the variables have remained the same- I’m still the mother and my body is providing the same shelter for this second baby, but this is a different experience, a different pregnancy, a different baby, and, I hope beyond all hope, a different outcome.