When it comes up, I often laugh and light-heartedly declare “Yeah, I was basically pregnant for like a year-and-a-half!” like it’s no big thing.
But the more time goes by, the more I realise that it is a big thing. It was big thing to me then, and it is a big thing to me now. And it might be a big thing to you too, whether it be right now, some time ago, or in the future.
Obviously, I was not pregnant for a year-and-a-half, but I did have multiple miscarriages in quick succession, and an ectopic pregnancy followed by a pregnancy which reached full term. I have played down the miscarriages, and even the ectopic, like they weren’t a huge deal because I was only a few weeks pregnant with each one. In fact, I didn’t get further than 8 weeks with any of the five pregnancies before Amelia.
I first fell pregnant in November 2012. Mr C and I had only been living together for a month at this point, and needless to say we were a tad shocked. I had always said that I would adopt rather than have my own children (something I would still love to do in the future), and it wasn’t until falling pregnant and discussing it together that I realised that having a baby with the man I loved was exactly what I wanted. Immediately we let all of our friends and family know, only for me to wake in pure agony a few short weeks later and find that I was miscarrying. A scan at the EPAu (Early Pregnancy Assessment unit) confirmed this, and we were left with the ordeal of letting everyone know. I was told that I would need a minor surgical procedure to help to remove the last of the pregnancy, and I was also told some of the risks of this procedure. One of these risks was that they would not get all of it, and I would experience a second ‘miscarriage’ of sorts in a week or two. Which I did.
By now, the idea of having a baby didn’t seem so scary, and falling pregnant once had opened up this kind of bubbling well of broodiness in me that turned me into a machine intent only on baby making. As a result, I fell pregnant again in January 2013, and miscarried again just a few weeks later. This time, we had only told family. It didn’t feel like ‘only’ when we had to tell them the bad news though.
I was pregnant again in February/March 2013 – in fact I had a feeling and took a test the day before we were due to fly out for our first holiday abroad together! I took all the necessary precautions, certainly didn’t touch a drop of alcohol, and this time we didn’t tell anyone. We didn’t have a chance to. We flew out to Salou on Sunday evening, and I spent the whole of Wednesday in our hotel room in agony. I remember telling Mr C that I knew I was miscarrying, and the only way he could deal with it was to tell himself that I wasn’t, that I didn’t know for sure, that I had given up on our baby before it even had a chance. But I was, and I knew it, and I wasn’t angry with him for thinking that way. Neither of us knew how to cope.
In April I was pregnant again. I was so unsure of myself this time, that I think I must have peed on about 20 little white sticks over the course of 2 weeks. Each time I was sure that the line wasn’t as clear as last time, or questioned whether the test was accurate enough. I refused to let myself get excited. That is, until a few weeks passed by pain free, and I started to allow myself to believe that everything just might be ok. So when I woke up in the middle of the night screaming and writhing in pain, and Mr C jumped up and demanded we go to the hospital, my response through sobs was “No, I don’t want to. They’ll only tell me it’s another miscarriage.” By 7am, the pain had subsided enough for me to get up and get dressed, but I was confused because the bleeding hadn’t started, so I let Mr C persuade me to go to the hospital. I think we were both hoping that the pain was something else, something fixable. But when we arrived, I knew something wasn’t right, as once I had been scanned I was sent for a second scan with a consultant immediately. She looked at me, with a look of sheer horror on her face.
“I don’t actually know how you’re standing up and walking around. I’m afraid we need to get you into surgery now.”
She then explained that the baby was growing inside my right Fallopian tube, and that I had around 6-12 hours before the tube would rupture and probably kill me. I was taken to surgery and the tube was removed. The surgeon estimated from the size of my baby that it was around 8-10 weeks old. The doctor who came round to see me when I was brought back to the ward explained that losing a Fallopian tube could mean that falling pregnant would be harder. When your ovaries release an egg, there is no pattern as to which tube that egg travels down to get to the womb, so there was nothing to say that my eggs wouldn’t try the Fallopian tube that wasn’t there anymore for 6 months in a row or longer. They also wanted to do some further exploration to check the health of my left tube.
But they didn’t have time, because in June that year, I fell pregnant for the 6th time. I had been advised to go straight to EPAu if I found out I was pregnant because the risk of having an ectopic pregnancy is increased if you’ve already had one, so I did. I knew my dates like the back of my hand, and knew that I could only be about 5 weeks pregnant. So when the midwife said to me;
“I’m sorry, we can’t see a heartbeat. I’m going to give you these pills, one now to take and one to take tomorrow at home, because you haven’t started to miscarry yet. That will help the process.”
I lost it. I yelled, and I screamed, and I demanded to know how she could know there was anything wrong when the chance of seeing a heartbeat anything before 7 weeks is slim-to-none. I asked for my notes, and I left the hospital. I did not take her miscarriage inducing stupid pills either. Part of me wondered if I had lost the plot altogether, was I in total denial, and just couldn’t face losing another baby? But part of me just knew this time. I called another hospital, further away from us but close enough that I could get there, and explained the situation. They said they could fit me in in 10 days, and that I should probably leave it until I was 7 weeks anyway, and booked me in for an early scan.
Within seconds of looking at her monitor, the sonographer grinned at me and said;
“All fine. One healthy baby in there, heartbeat ticking away.”
When I look back on the 5 pregnancies prior to Amelia, I tell myself that they were not babies. I did not lose babies because they were not yet babies, just tiny little bean shaped embryos. But actually, they were babies. Whether in form or not, to me and to Mr C, and to our family and friends, they were all babies. They had hearts and brains, eyes, eyelids and the beginnings of tiny fingers. They were babies that we had pictured in our minds, babies that we had planned names for, babies that we had wondered “will it look like me or you?!” And I will always hold a special place in my heart for those babies of mine that just didn’t make it out here to meet me and their Dad.