Scanxiety, Screening Tests, Sickness and Spotting

13 weeks+ 1 day pregnant

This week has been a crazy roller coaster of emotions. On Friday we had our first big scan, otherwise known as the 12 week scan or dating scan- otherwise known as the ‘magical safety check point’ in which we are supposedly given the green light to announce the pregnancy to the world, confident in the knowledge that there will be a baby at the end of it. I sense the ‘sigh of relief’ from the other mums who’ve reached the 12 week mark, the shift from nerves to assurance, unease to celebration. The odds of losing this baby may have dropped incredibly, but my growing attachment to my baby seems to make the risk feel greater with every passing day. 

There will be no great announcements for me this time, no Facebook broadcasts or big publications of the news. I feel a need to protect myself from having to ‘undo’ all of that if anything were to go wrong again. Pregnancy announcements seem almost naive to me now as I’ve been robbed of that kind of innocence. People say, “We’re having a baby!” and I can’t help but wonder ‘Are you though?’  the awful cynic in me feels like adding “…You hope”. That wide-eyed innocence wrapped up in fluffy pregnancy announcements- cute big brother or sister t-shirts or images of buns in the oven, 1+1=3; that’s the magical naive side of pregnancy that’s not accessible to me anymore. However, that doesn’t mean I’m not celebrating my pregnancy, I’m just choosing to celebrate it with my close friends and family, and in some ways that feels all the more special. 

It was so special to see little one moving around on the ultrasound scan on Friday. These moments are so precious to me now because I know how fragile that beautiful little life is. It’s a fact that’s hit me even harder this month as a disporoportional amount of mums from my online pregnancy group have endured the heartbreak of early miscarriage. So sad. 

The sonographer was lovely, I found myself choking out the words to explain that I’d had a stillbirth last year as I have found myself doing with every medical professional I’ve met in this pregnancy. It doesn’t get any easier to say. I say it to explain my nerves, to excuse my tears. I say it with the hope that it’ll somehow protect me from being delivered any other bad news. To remind destiny that I’m owed a happy ending this time. Baby appeared to be doing well, two arms, two legs, a button nose and measuring perfectly. I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen. I wanted to absorb the beautiful image, to cherish every second of watching my perfect little baby, of witnessing this new life that I’ve been blessed with. 

We opted for the combined screening test for fetal abnormalities but I’m left petrified waiting for the results. The midwife said that if my results are high risk I would get a phone call in the next 14 days and I find myself anxiously watching the phone, breathing a little easier with each passing day. These concerns were not even on my radar until I lost Nieve and entered a world where these ‘small odds’ of baby having a defect were a heartbreaking reality for so many of the mums I met. 

This weekend I became very sick. I’m not sure if it was a bug or just a part of the ‘joys of pregnancy’, but either way I was feeling dreadful and incredibly worried about the implications for the baby. I reached the point where I couldn’t retain fluids and my Doctor ended up referring me to the Early Pregnancy Unit as my urine sample revealed that I was quite severely dehydrated. I was terrified that the sickness would harm the baby, or indicated that something was wrong, but the midwives reassured me that I would be the only one suffering.

I was admitted to the day ward and placed on a drip and was ‘lucky’ enough to have company in the name of Sarah, a mum from my hometown who was also suffering from severe sickness in pregnancy. She was the first stranger that I’ve openly talked about Nieve with. It reminded me of this quote; “When someone asks you how many children you have and you have to pause for a moment to decide how much of your heart you’re going to share with them.” I decided to share that part of my heart with her and was surprised to learn that her sister had been through the same experience. I’m always surprised to hear how many people’s lives have been touched by baby loss. It seems that everyone knows someone it’s happened to but yet it’s not something we as a society choose to talk about. It’s very much ‘brushed under the carpet’ along with any other talk of loss. 

The other outcome of my visit to the Early Pregnancy Unit is that I now have to have self-administered blood thinning injections on a daily basis until I’m 28 weeks pregnant. In some ways this felt like a wild over reaction to a bout of sickness, but on the other hand I’m willing to do whatever it takes to look after myself and this baby, so if the doctor says I need to stick a (inch long sinister-looking) needle into myself everyday (and cause huge bruises in the process) then I’ll do whatever it takes.

The day following my hospital admission I woke to a very light amount of brown spotting and was instantly petrified. This is something I had experienced in early pregnancy with Nieve but this time I was not able to rationalise that it could be harmless and instantly jumped to the worst-case-scenario. I called the EPU and the midwife tried to reassure me that it was totally normal and not the mark of anything sinister. It’s just so hard to be positive when you’ve lived through the unimaginable. Luckily, the spotting totally ceased after an hour which has helped to relax me, for now. 

This last week has been tough. My counsellor said something to me a while ago that’s got me thinking. She said “why not choose to be positive, to not worry?” It is true, I have a choice. I panic about all these things- the scan, the screening tests, the sickness, the spotting. I take these issues and I twist and turn them to try to solve them, yet they are not things that can be solved by ‘thinking’. I cannot formulate a plan to stop bad things happening to me, I cannot control the uncontrollable and while I’m stressing about ‘what ifs’ and ‘maybes’, I’m stealing the beauty of this pregnancy. Today I am pregnant. Today I am blessed. Today I choose positive thoughts. 

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