Friday, March 22, 2019

Innocence Lost

This post is likely to sit as a draft post until I feel comfortable to share it.

This is the story of my first pregnancy.

We've talked about having children for years but haven't felt we were in the right position financially to make the leap. I know you're never really ready for such a thing, but while we were living in Melbourne with no support network and with one of us unemployed was definitely not the time.

If you've followed out story through this blog you will know that our life began changing a few years ago, we moved back to Brisbane, Stu got a job, we saved and bought our first home together. We then threw ourselves into renovating but still knew we weren't quite ready for a baby. We talked about it enough though that I knew the time was approaching, so we picked a time, seemingly in the far future (about a year away at the time) and decided we'd go for it. December 2015 we were going to start trying.

I went off the pill a year in advance, went to the GP for check ups and started prenatal vitamins a few months beforehand. Given we had a whole year to prepare for the idea mentally, I think we both felt ready by the time it came around. We got engaged in September and planned a wedding for the following March, that pushed the dates back only slightly, I was okay with being pregnant at the wedding, I just didn't want to be too pregnant.

We officially started trying while overseas but it didn't happen right away. When we got back from the trip my parents had to move in with us for a month while their house was raised, another slight delay. Things seemed to be going our way for the next cycle though, I felt ovulation and was pretty confident with all the timings. Two weeks later, I waited until my period was definitely a day late before I tested. As suspected, I was pregnant.

We were both in a little bit of shock, but to be honest, I think we both expected it, just as we both expected everything to go smoothly. This was now 2 weeks before our wedding and everything was in full swing. Ordinarily, I would have told my parents very early, we're an open family and I knew I couldn't hide it or symptoms from my mother for long. We kept our mouths shut until our wedding day, the symptoms my family noticed were passed of as pre-wedding stress and no one suspected.

We began our wedding day with a first-look photo shoot at sunrise, followed by family photos with our immediate families. This was the first time they had all met, and for Stu's family, the first time in a year they had all been together (one of his brothers and girlfriend live overseas). It was the perfect opportunity to share our secret, as we gathered for some final all in group photos, Stu loudly stated 'Ash is pregnant'. My family continued to fuss over the sick 2 year old in the group. I said louder 'Did you hear what Stu said?'. An assumption he was joking had been made but as realisation fell we were surrounded by congratulations and hugs and kisses. It was a perfect moment.

The happiest memory I have of my pregnancy, captured forever

My wedding day was perfect, Though morning sickness had begun for me a few days earlier, the emotions and adrenaline of the day kept me from feeling terrible. The next week wasn't so fun, I was overtired, stressed, emotional (a recent loss in the family didn't help) and cramping a lot. I was starting to get a bit paranoid and made a visit to the ER on Easter Saturday concerned about an ectopic pregnancy. There I discovered I was measuring right (7 weeks) and the little blob was in my uterus and had a healthy heartbeat of 156bpm. Everything was fine.

My symptoms continued for the next two weeks, nausea (no vomiting), severe fatigue, cramping. I felt pregnant and many days I wasn't particularly happy about it. We talked about the future, our plans, the possibility of miscarriage...after hearing the heartbeat I was feeling pretty confident about the pregnancy, I knew my chances of miscarriage were quite low at that point and with each passing day getting lower.

I began to plan how we would announce the pregnancy and had told a few close friends and work colleagues (I was so out of it people had noticed how tired I looked). We were due to go on our honeymoon between weeks 11 and 12 so I was really looking forward to the end of the first trimester.

My first obstetrician appointment was at 9 weeks 4 days. Everything had been normal up until that point with the exception of the evening before, I'd started to feel more normal and had commented while we were grocery shopping that I felt like I was past the worst of it. I'd read the nausea and symptoms could begin to lift around the 9-10 week mark and was excited about nearing the end of it all.

My ob performed a scan, just to check everything was going according to plan and that's when all the plans unravelled. I didn't need her to say the words, I could see it for myself, there was no heartbeat. My little blob looked very much like a little baby, measuring 9w4d, right on where it was supposed to be. But there was no movement. She switched to a trans-vaginal ultrasound to confirm, but commented that I was skinny and she had a good picture through the abdominal one. I didn't really need the confirmation, I just needed it to sink in. The baby I was carrying had died.

The next few minutes I was still in shock, she explained that the next steps should be a d&c, I was unlikely to pass it naturally without taking a long time. It could be 4-6 weeks before I saw any bleeding. My private health wasn't due to kick in until June (this was April) so I was given the full costings of the procedure in case they wouldn't cover it. Stu and I left her rooms and though I'd been crying, I finally broke down.

We walked back to my office together and I called my mum (who works in a nearby building) to meet me in her lobby. I broke the news to her then and asked her to tell my sisters and dad, I couldn't bring myself to do it just yet. I then went back to my office to explain to a colleague what had happened (she knew I was heading to an ob appointment and was 28 weeks pregnant with her second). She ushered me into a lift to send me home and took care of everything at work, for which I am incredibly grateful.

I then had to head to my private health fund to see if they would cover the procedure. They were very helpful and did, though it was surreal to be sitting crying in the office there for 20 minutes while I waited. Stu had headed back to work to finalised a few things and head home, I had short lunch with my mum before heading back myself. He spent the rest of the day working, I spent a lot of it crying and in a daze on the couch watching movies I can't even remember.

I was scheduled for my d&c the next afternoon. The procedure itself appears to have gone smoothly. I didn't get much of a chance to speak to my ob beforehand, she had been running late and I was drugged almost the second she got into the theatre.

That was last Wednesday (it's now Tuesday). It's been a rough week emotionally, physically I haven't been to bad. I didn't have much bleeding immediately after the procedure but did begin bleeding again yesterday. I've had cramps on and off, but nothing too severe, similar to what I experienced right through the pregnancy with the exception of a few piercing contraction like pains on the Thursday.

Emotionally it's been a bit of a rollercoaster. I went back to work yesterday and began a few new projects over the weekend. I have googled miscarriages and pregnancy after miscarriage too many time, I know I won't find the answers but I do feel I need to do something.

I have my follow up appointment after my honeymoon, hopefully everything is fine and we'll be pregnant again soon. I know one thing for sure, something has definitely changed for me in relation to pregnancy. I've lost my innocence, knowing that something can go wrong and I have no control or indication it will happen is going to keep me on edge right through the first trimester. I've read so many stories of loss over the last few days, I may never relax during pregnancy again.


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