I got pregnant straight away. My little seed grew at the same time as we seeded our lawn. I remember thinking that it was funny that I was putting in all this effort with daily watering to making sure the grass grew, when there was something infinitely more complex growing inside me that required no visible effort at all.
It’s laughable, really. As a believer in fate, I couldn’t have predicted it better.
In the days leading up to, and the early weeks of Arlo’s conception, we had Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and my birthday. I had recently moved in with three of my old school friends. It was an indulgent time. I can’t say I was treating my body like a temple.
This time, I had the benefit of forewarning. No drinking. No smoking. Clean living. I took the bloody folic acid tablets from day one.
There was a time during the early days of pregnancy with Arlo, albeit a very short time, when I used to think that a miscarriage would be a good way out of the impossible decision I would be forcing myself to make in the next few weeks. When I saw that stick, the world almost ended. When I saw this one, I smiled. I got that feeling that I felt I had missed out on with Arlo.
Then reality set in and we had a minor panic about the due date, which was the week before Christmas. The timing couldn’t have been any more inconvenient in terms of Sam’s work, and we were faced with the possibility of Sam leaving me, full term and with a toddler, for a two-week business trip. Or, if the baby came before the due date, Sam being away for the birth. I wish I had never moaned about the inconvenience now. All these small inconveniences didn’t actually matter.
I had bleeding within days of the positive pregnancy test. Not the good type of bleeding. Five days of it. The EPU tested my HCG levels. I waited anxiously all day after my second blood test for the call to tell me my results. The midwife didn’t call me back until right at the end of the working day, by which point I’d already received a junk call from my ‘healthcare provider’ asking if I felt OK when I woke up that morning and if I was sure I didn’t have any aches and pains – for a minute I thought something was seriously wrong with my test results, but no, it was just someone using scare tactics to try and get me to take part in a survey. Absolutely fuming that they cold-call people in this manner. They scared the shit out of me on a very sensitive day. Anyway, it was good news, my HCG levels were doubling within the normal range. I got given a date for an early scan in two weeks time when things would have grown big enough for them to check everything was OK.
The start to this pregnancy had set us up to be prepared for the worst. I tried not to get my hopes up in those few weeks, but it was enough time to write a ‘to buy for baby’ list and measure the doorway for a double buggy. Enough time for Sam to repeatedly warn me not to act like everything was going ahead.
And then just before I reached 7 weeks, more bleeding. And quite a bit of pain. I was out driving somewhere with Sam and remember thinking I’d have to pull over because I had these really strong pains radiating down my legs.
I knew the day before. I knew when I drove to the EPU. I knew after the midwives did my final pregnancy test and gave each other that look before leading me into a room to break the news. Yet still I entertained imagining the relief when they would find a heartbeat. That we could shrug the bleeding off as one of those random pregnancy things, designed to make you worry needlessly about every little symptom.
It is sad. In an ideal world, you want to keep all your babies and not have any ‘What if’s?’. Sam thinks you could ask ‘What If’ every time you ovulate. What baby would that bring if it hadn’t ended up with a period. I think it’s very different. I was pregnant. Now I’m not. Getting used to that absence is the difficult part. I felt it. Before I tested, I knew I was pregnant. (Just like I knew with Arlo, subconsciously). Then suddenly I was empty. On my own again. That takes some getting used to.
The baby that might have been. That was my first mistake. Treating the pregnancy like it was a baby from the off. You can’t help it.
For the first few days, I was really OK. Then I had a tough week where it really hit me hard. I think it might have been partly a hormone comedown. I wanted to do nothing, stare at the wall or lie in bed, but I couldn’t indulge in this because of Arlo. At this point I was also well into the throes of launching my business. I felt I didn’t really have time to sit and feel sad about it.
I assumed that the EPU would have informed the relevant people, but a few weeks later I had my booking in and scan dates come through the post, which meant two separate phone calls using my best ‘I’ve had a miscarriage but I’m OK” voice before someone finally took the hint and discharged me from midwife care.
In the months afterwards, I desperately wanted to get pregnant, but I thought I was OK with what had happened. In hindsight, I didn’t cope very well. There hadn’t been the closure I needed – At the EPU, I was told in the bluntest of ways that I didn’t need a scan because if the pregnancy test was negative it meant there was “nothing left anymore”. For someone who had been testing positive two days before, and had spent the past two weeks gearing up to my 7 week scan, this wasn’t so simple to accept straight away. This happened at the beginning of May, and in July I was still wondering whether I should ask for a scan, just in case. After two months, in my head there was a possibility that it could all have been a mistake. I wondered if I was feeling the beginning of fetal movements. Our minds can be cruel to us sometimes.
I think because this was the first time, and because everything with Arlo had been absolutely fine, and because I had false hope with the good HCG results, it took a long while to really sink in. I had a hard time for a while, but I’ve accepted it now. We’ve moved on from this point and in the last few months more has happened to help me better understand.