13 weeks + 4 days pregnant
So I’m now in the second trimester. How on Earth did that happen? It hasn’t been an easy road so far but it hasn’t been as bad as I imagined either. I imagined pregnancy after loss to be a constant state of heightened anxiety, but for me there have been more peaks and troughs than that.
This month I am preparing to return to work which feels like such a daunting prospect. After we lost Nieve last September I decided that I would take time off to be with my family. Matthew is on an apprentiship course which means he is based away from home during the week and It just so happens that his training course is located in the hometown of my family. I’ve been living in a safe, sheltered little bubble for the last six months, no responsibilities, no accountability to anything or anyone. But now it feels like time to return to the real world, even though this means leaving Matt during the week until he finishes his course in June.
A part of me feels ready to return to work, to embrace a life that has more purpose again, but I’m also scared. I’m scared of the level of accountability that comes with being a teacher, of straining under the weight of the responsibility. I’m scared of facing a mass of people who know my story and I wonder how they will respond to me and to what’s happened. I’m scared that people won’t acknowledge Nieve and my loss and that I’ll feel isolated by that. Likewise, I’m scared that they will acknowledge her and I might become overwhelmed whilst I’m supposed to be in a professional environment. I’m scared that some of the children and parents might remember that I was pregnant and ask about the baby and I’ll be lost for what to say. I’m scared that those little girls who used to bounce up to me daily in the playground to ask when the baby was coming will do so again. I’m also scared about seeing or hearing about the colleagues who were pregnant whilst I was due with Nieve. We used to sit and chat about scans and baby clothes, baby monitors and birth plans. It used to feel like a very special club to be in and I feel like I don’t belong in it any more. Their conversations will advance to sleepless nights, breastfeeding and baby firsts and I’ll be thinking of all the things I should be doing with Nieve.
It seems surreal that I last saw my colleagues when I was seven months pregnant and when I return to work I’ll be almost four months pregnant again. I left with a bump and I’ll return with a bump, like time has stood still, although over the last six months I’ve been totally broken apart and put back together again (almost). I’m like a China teacup which has been pieced back together, but it’ll never be quite the same and the cracks that remain are prominent. Who am I now? Will I operate differently at work? With the children? Will it be like the holidays where after a day back on the premises it’ll feel like I’ve never been away? Will the management make allowances for me? Should they?
I am totally changed by the circumstances of the last six months and I need to rediscover how to operate on a professional level. I’ve spent the last half a year concentrating on me- my needs, my health, my emotions. Now it’s time to take more on my shoulders, to carry responsibility again. The fact that I feel (almost) ready to try to do that shows me just how far I’ve come.
I’m not sure how open to be about my new pregnancy with my work colleagues. It’s a school tradition to celebrate pregnancy with an announcement and cake for all, but that feels like it would be a betrayal to Nieve. I feel like it would be saying “Yes I lost my baby, but look! It’s ok because I’m pregnant again now and everything is good again.” It feels like another pregnancy steals the significance of what I’ve lost and I fear being misunderstood to be ‘all better now’. Cured.
I’ll be spending the next two months living with friends during the week. I contemplated staying on my own but I’m not always good at being left in my own company- it gives me too much time to start swimming (and then drowning) in my own thoughts. I lived with my friends Jess and Marion in the years before I met Matthew so we’re pretty used to each each other’s company.
Now that I’m returning to my home town I also need to consider switching my antenatal care. This leaves me in a predicament as I will automatically be assigned to the same midwife I had in my last pregnancy as its allocated through my doctor’s surgery. After we lost Nieve last year my midwife was really supportive at first. She visited us at home and assisted me with postnatal care and was able to answer some of the thousands of questions we were left with after losing our daughter. She assured us that she would be available to support us for as long as we needed, but then mysteriously vanished off the radar after the second visit. I called, sent text messages and left voicemails but never heard anything again. When I received a confusing and worrying letter from the hospital regarding Nieve’s Post Mortem results, I tried once again to contact her to gain some insight, but she didn’t respond. And when I experienced heavy bleeding three weeks after the birth I was hysterical and tried desperately to reach her, leaving a voicemail and text message but to no avail. I felt totally let down and abandoned and for these reasons I really want to be allocated to a different midwife this time. I’m hoping that the switch won’t be a battle but I’m ready to fight to get the care that I want and need if necessary.
And so begins the second trimester and the next chapter on this journey. I feel quite daunted by the changes ahead but if there’s one thing I’m learning from my experiences over the last six months, it’s that I am more resilient now than ever before. I’m ready to stick on my walking boots, to face forwards and continue climbing.