Our worst fear happened. As has so often been the case in this fertility journey.
After a confirmation of the pregnancy on Monday last week, I was very anxious to get past Wednesday without any further drama. It was the equivalent time when I miscarried during our last cycle, and so it was a huge milestone for me.
Wednesday morning at 11am – the exact same time and day as my previous miscarriage, I started spotting ever so lightly. Obviously this freaked me out a lot. Luckily I was surrounded by understanding and supportive friends who calmed me and sent me home to rest, and a husband who dropped everything to look after Toby for the rest of the day.
The spotting stopped, and I went to see the fertility counsellor that evening – something I’d prebooked for that day, knowing it was going to be a tough day emotionally whatever happened, because of our previous cycle. That was a wise decision. Well done me.
Thursday, Friday and Saturday each saw an increase in the spotting, but still not enough to wear a pad. And still with no accompanying pain. So at that point I was holding out some hope that this was just the regular kind of spotting 60% of women experience during early pregnancy. But by Sunday I was in considerable discomfort and the not-knowing was driving us both insane. We were stressed, snappy, upset, and generally not in a good place to look after our son. So we booked an emergency scan at a private clinic in Bristol for Sunday afternoon. This cost £85, and I’d have paid double that for peace of mind about what was going on, one way or the other.
We got through to our scan appointment by some miracle, having tried and failed to force the passage of time with our minds. Sat in the tiny waiting room in the middle of a Mothercare store, surrounded by baby clothes and paraphernalia, I sobbed because I knew it was already gone. And because I just wanted an answer. Our worst-case scenario was to be told they couldn’t get a clear picture. We would have been 6 weeks exactly, which is the very earliest they can see anything. Perhaps I’d need to wait till I was 6 weeks and 3 days? Torture.
An external ultrasound (on my belly) didn’t show anything, as expected. Early pregnancy scans are usually always internal. But I’m well acquainted with the probes.
I went to empty my bladder in preparation and bled more than previously. My body’s way of putting the final nail in the coffin for me – perhaps trying to save me £85, a bit too late? The scan showed “no sign of early pregnancy”. No yolk sac, no ball of cells, certainly no heartbeat – nothing to contain a heart. All that was seen was a blood clot floating around, that I was told I’d expel soon enough.
It was over.
I felt relieved.
This might seem a strange response. But consider it – for 9 days I’d lived in a state of alert reserved for the worst kind of news – the news of death. Death of a hope, death of a dream, death of a future, death of a potential, death of a happiness. Death of a ball of cells that could have been our second child. Ever since that ambiguous Friday morning this had been my reality. And with each toilet trip and physical symptom, with each spot of blood and cramp, that state of alert got even more tense. Even more real. This was not a drill.
This certainty of death allowed me to breathe again.
We cried. In the Mothercare cafe which was blissfully empty. We hugged and told each other how much we loved each other and how much we loved Toby and how totally and all-consumingly grateful we were for him, for our little family as it is. It is enough. Grief will focus your blessings like a finely tuned laser.
I’m so glad we got that scan. I now know to expect more bleeding – I know the clot is on its way at some point, and that knowledge is far better than it just happening while I’m still hoping, which is what happened last time. I feel a bit more in control (a bit). I have spoken to our clinic and filled them in on the scan results. I have decided to stop taking the drugs, and I explained I felt they exasperated the miscarriage last time, prolonging it and increasing the physical pain. They agreed I knew my body best, and despite the lack of a negative pregnancy test, the evidence strongly pointed to this cycle being over. I declined to take a confirmation pregnancy test just yet, as I know from last time it took a while for the hormones to leave my system, and seeing a “pregnant” result when I knew I wasn’t was very painful. So this time I will wait a bit longer.
We’re meeting our consultant on 17th July to discuss things. I will be asking if this is normal. I will be asking if there is anything we can do differently to support the pregnancies after implantation (aspirin or steroids are sometimes used to this end, but I’m not sure if I qualify for this treatment). I will be asking if there is a chance something else is wrong with me. Though I don’t think there is. I think this is just a matter of statistics and we are well within the realm of normal. This is the reality of IVF, and I want as many people to know that as possible.
We have put things in place to cope with this, this time around. I have a WhatsApp group of friends who have signed up for being on call as I go through the miscarriage this coming week or so. We have a few fun events planned as a family and as a couple over the coming months, things to look forward to. I think there is probably going to be a seperate post – advice for how to cope with the IVF roller-coaster short and long term, but suffice to say I will be drinking wine, going kayaking, mowing the lawn, and doing all the things I couldn’t do if pregnant.
I’ll get my body back. I’ll run.
Then we’ll start again.