It’s been a very long time since I’ve posted here so let me tell you why.
At the end of November 2016, Mik and I took a trip to Munich to visit the Christmas Markets. We had an amazing time and the icing on the cake was a surprise proposal underneath the giant Christmas tree in Marienplatz!
We decided pretty much right away that we’d like a small wedding in Santorini where we had spent an idyllic week a couple of years before. In the week before Christmas, we paid a deposit to secure our venue and wedding date – May 25th 2017.
Just the very next day, we were delighted when I had a positive pregnancy test. Everything was falling into place and we’d never been happier. We spent Christmas and New Year with our families, planning the wedding and talking about our baby news. There was no way we’d be able to hide my pregnancy what with all of the soft cheese and Prosecco going around, and everyone toasting our recent engagement. Everyone was so excited.
However, on New Year’s Day, I had some stomach cramps so phoned the early pregnancy unit who booked me in for a scan later that week, just to be on the safe side. We were a bit nervous but the midwives reassured us that lots of women get cramps and go on to have a healthy baby so we tried to convince ourselves that everything would be fine. The morning of January 4th, the day I was due back in work after the holidays and the day before my scan, I woke up bleeding so phoned the EPU again in a panic. They advised that I just come in for a scan the next day as planned seeing as there wasn’t much blood. I decided to go into work to take my mind off things but when I got to the car park I couldn’t bring myself to go inside. How could I sit at my desk working on calculations and reports when I didn’t know what was happening with my baby?
The next day, Mik and I went to the early pregnancy unit where I had a scan. We were given the devastating news that there was no sign of a baby and that I had probably miscarried. They took some bloods to check my HCG level and explained that I was likely to start bleeding more heavily and have more stomach cramps over the next few days. So we went home to wait. It was awful but my mum and stepdad who had been visiting for New Year were there for extra support, cooking and making us lots of teas and hot chocolates. My mum had been through miscarriages before I came along so it was good to have her there.
Two days after my scan, we had to go back to the hospital for more blood tests to check my HCG level, During a normal pregnancy, the HCG level doubles every 48 hours but after a miscarriage it should start decreasing again. My HCG level was however going up, although it hadn’t quite doubled. We were called in the next morning and I had an internal scan but the doctor still couldn’t see anything in my uterus and told us that I must have an ectopic pregnancy. An ectopic pregnancy is one that occurs outside of the uterus, usually in the fallopian tube, although in my case the doctor couldn’t see where it was from the scan. There is no chance that the baby will survive an ectopic pregnancy and it can be dangerous for the mother. There is a chance that the growing baby will cause a rupture and internal bleeding.
So we were given some options. Option 1: To wait and see whether my HCG levels would go down by themselves. I was bleeding pretty heavily by then so it seemed like I was definitely miscarrying and there was a chance that this would work. Option 2: Have an injection of methotrexate. This is a drug which kills fast growing cells and is only available if the HCG level is below 5000mlU/ml. Option 3: Keyhole surgery to locate the ectopic pregnancy and remove it. Often the fallopian tube has to be removed as well. We were also told that if anything did rupture and I started bleeding internally then I would require emergency surgery and I would almost definitely have a tube removed.
Our first instinct was to go with Option 1. However, my HCG level was approaching the cutoff of 5000mlU/ml so we wouldn’t be able to wait for too long. The doctor told us that methotrexate was more effective if the HCG level was lower and we wanted to avoid surgery at all costs. We decided to do one more blood test before getting the methotraxate injection. Unfortunately it showed that my HCG levels were still increasing so the sensible thing was to get the injection.
For me, the hardest part of having the injection was feeling like I was killing our baby, even though I knew there was no way it could possibly survive. I felt like I was letting our baby down, not giving it a chance and I was scared that the injection would hurt him/her. I’d been reading about miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy and I knew that the baby wouldn’t have been developing the way that the app I’d downloaded had been telling me for the last few weeks, but I still felt like there was a baby inside me and I didn’t want to hurt him/her.
After I’d had the injection, I spent two weeks feeling horrible. I had stomach cramps, headaches and mild nausea but the worst thing was the exhaustion. I had no energy at all and my muscles were achy even though I’d hardly been out of the house, let alone exercised. Day 4 after the injection, my blood tests showed that my HCG level was still going up but we were told that this wasn’t unusual. I was concerned that I’d need a second shot of methotrexate but luckily on day 7, my HCG levels started dropping. I was in and out of hospital for blood tests every week for the next month or so.
I ended up having almost a month off work. I had wanted to go back sooner as I felt bad for taking so much time off and wanted to take my mind off things by having something to do. I was just too tired though and it was probably for the best as when I did go back it was really hard. My work knew why I’d been off but we didn’t really tell anyone else, just a couple of friends. Nobody outside our family knew I was pregnant so it felt weird to have to explain the ectopic pregnancy to people. I’m not very good at talking about feelings and I didn’t want to have awkward conversations explaining what had happened.
It was hard but at least we had the wedding to look forward to. As I had taken methotrexate, we were told not to try for another baby for three months as the drug can affect development so we needed to make sure there were no traces left. We decided not to try again until after the wedding as we didn’t want to risk being in the early stages of a pregnancy while we were in Greece. We knew that the minute we got pregnant again we would just worry.
The few months before the wedding were strange. We were so sad lots of the time but planning the wedding was a happy distraction. We’re at that age where lots of people we know either have small children or are announcing their own pregnancies so we had lots of reminders about what we’d lost. It felt like the while world was pregnant or had babies apart from us. The hardest bit for me was the way that other parents seem to complain so much about having children. Almost like it’s a competition about who has the hardest life and most difficult children. Whether it’s not sleeping, having to travel with them, fussy eating – it felt like most people weren’t actually happy to have children which made me angry as we would have loved so much for our baby to have survived. I was also angry at my body for failing to do something that most other women seem to be able to do so easily. I felt like I had let Mik down (although he was constantly reassuring me that none of this was my fault). Being around pregnant women or babies was awful as it just reminded me that I hadn’t been able to look after my own baby properly and I felt like a horrible person for feeling so jealous.
We made it through to May and all of a sudden we were off to Santorini. We had the most beautiful wedding with our family and a wonderful honeymoon. Although there were moments we were sad because we should have been 6-1/2 months pregnant at that point, most of the time we were smiling and laughing. It’s hard to be sad in such a stunning and friendly place. I’ll probably write another post about the wedding and how we managed to organise it if anyone is interested.
The wedding definitely lifted both of our moods and it felt like the sadness was starting to ease a bit. We weren’t constantly thinking about our baby but we obviously weren’t back to normal yet. I found myself dreading the due date but we started lots of projects in the house which helped me not dwell on it so much.
It felt like it took so long but in early December we had another positive pregnancy test. We were so happy but the worry set in immediately. It was almost exactly a year since the last time and I have to admit I was scared we’d have another miscarriage. We’ve now passed the 12 week mark and although we’ve had some scares with bleeding, everything seems to be looking good this time. I had a couple of early scans due to bleeding and we were both so nervous going in. I don’t know how we would have coped seeing another empty sac so it was the most amazing feeling to see our tiny baby and heartbeat on the screen.
It’s been a roller coaster of a year and I feel so lucky to have Mik. He’s been the most amazing husband and so supportive through everything. We can’t wait for our little one to arrive so that we can start making happy memories with him or her!