Thursday, 13 March 2014

Shot Down

With this, our fourth pregnancy, I did not feel a sense of elation. Of course, I was happy that the treatment had worked but I was so filled with fear and anxiety.  I was waiting for the joy to come but it didn't and I couldn't see past the possibility that I might lose another baby.   I envied women who's biggest worry was making it to the 12 week scan.  I knew, for me, that the 12 week scan was just the start of things and I couldn't allow myself to see past this for fear of being let down.  At the same time, however, inspite of this self preservation, I also couldn't bear the thought of losing another baby. 

Samuel was about to start preschool 5 afternoons a week and I was looking forward to our upcoming foster training, registration and the parenting course training.  These things were very welcome distractions at the time as I was not only dealing with the pregnancy, but we were also approaching Emiliie's first birthday.  Her first anniversary.  I had so many feelings relating to this anniversary and was surprised at how much it affected me.  I could feel the mist descending over me as the anniversary approached and found it incredibly difficult to separate my feelings of anxiety relating to the pregnancy and my feelings of grief relating to Emilie's anniversary.

When I was six weeks pregnant I dropped Sam off at nursery and returned home for the afterrnoon.  I had been feeling pretty groggy all day and was experiencing cramps.  As I have mentioned before, I had no idea what was normal and what wasn't.  I knew that I had experienced cramping with both Samuel and Emilie but this seemed so long ago that I couldn't remember the feeling.  On returning home I went to the toilet and immedietly realised that I was bleeding.

This time I attended hospital on my own as I felt it was important for John to pick Sam up from school. He would drop him at Faye's house after picking him up but I had the initial wait in the waiting room, triage and the initial examination on my own.  As ever, the nurses were fantastic. They held my hand, hugged me, made me cups of tea and did everything they could to comfort me.  I was even touched to see how emotional the triage nurse was when she asked 'is this your first pregnancy?' I explained that it was my fourth pregnancy and started crying.  When she asked how many living children I had and I explained that we had Sam, that Emilie had been stillborn and now we were struggling with infertility and loss I noticed that her eyes filled up.  She will never know how much this gesture of compassion meant to me.

By the time I came out of triage I could barely walk because I was in so much pain.  Unlike my last miscarriage where the outcome had been uncertain, an examination this time revealed that my cervix was open and that there was a lot of blood. My urine sample had also been tested and my pregnancy hormone levels were incredibly low.  There was no doubt in anyone's mind that I was miscarrying again.  The pain this time was a concern though and my blood pressure was dangerously high again.   For this reason they were talking about admitting me and were questioning whether it might be an ectopic pregnancy.  The only way to confirm it was through an ultra sound and the onlly ultra sound available at the time was downstairs in antenatal.

At this point John still hadn't arrived and I was starting to panic.  I begged the nurse not to let me go downstiars to antenatal on my own so she agreed to come with me.  I tried again to call John but my phone wasn't connecting.  I sent him a text message to explain where to meet me and walked out with the nurse.  I was trying hard to stay calm but could feel the familiar tight chestnedness and shortness of breath creeping up on me.  The nurse held my arm to steady me and led me towards the lift. Had I not been in so much pain I would have asked to have been taken down the stairs.  The lift arrived and the doors opened. We stepped inside and were greeted by a family bringing their new baby home in a car seat.  They were holding balloons, presents and cards and were beyond happy.  I couldn't take my eyes off them and tried to breathe slowly so that I didn't hyperventalite.  The nurse kept her arm around me the whole time.  

I stepped out of the lift where John was waiting and the nurse led us down to the scan room.  As soon as I stepped through the doors to the antenatal unit I completely lost control of my breathing and descended into a full blown panic attack.  I could see through the double doors to where women were sat in the waiting room holding their stomachs and cooing over scan pictures.  I felt as if I couldnt physically push the door open to walk through it.  Nothing in me wanted to sit in the waiting room and I turned to the nurse, begging her to let me go somewhere else to wait.   I completely lost control of my actions and started shouting at John and at the nurse that I couldn't go in the waiting room.  I couldn't sit in there waiting for another scan to confirm that another baby had died.

The nurse spoke to the receptionists and gently led us down the corridor to a scanning room.  She told us she would be waiting outside.  John helped me climb up on to the bed and the sonographer, not fully knowing what she was dealing with, started to scan me.  She was silent for a while before confirming that she could see a gestation sac and that I was showing to be 5 - 6 weeks pregnant.  I tried to explain that I was 7 - 8 weeks and she tried to reassure me telling me that maybe I had my dates wrong.  If only she knew how wrong she was; how there was no chance I could have my dates wrong due to having had IUI.  I then asked her if there was a heart beat.  She shook her head; 'no heart beat but it's not ectopic'.

The panic stopped as soon as I realised that the pregnancy wasn't ectopic and, unlike my last miscarriage, there was no doubt that we had lost our baby.  As we left the scanning room and returned upstairs to the Early Pregnancy Assessment Unit, I said to John 'I can't do this again' and he agreed.  We sat down back in the treatment room in silence, both of us shocked once more at what had happened.  As we sat in the silence I found myself praying.  I prayed that God would take the desire to have a baby away from me and that the pain would be lessened.  I prayed that we would both find some peace in the situation and, for the first time, I truly handed the situation over to God.  I told him that I didn't want it any more and that I would stop trying to control things.  I wanted to move on.  As I prayed, and sat in the silence, a huge sense of calm and clarity washed over me.  The panic left immedietly, as did the anxiety and sense of dread.  And I was left with simple grief.

We had the obligitary week long wait before returning to the hospital to check that the miscarriage was over.  I knew that I had lost the baby a couple of days previous to this and the bleeding had stopped.  Once again my consultant scanned me and once again sorrow filled her face.  'Yes', she said 'your uterus is empty.  I'm so sorry, Claire'.  I explained that I knew, that I accepted it and that we were ready to move on.  I got down from the bed and we sat down with her and chatted for a while.  We chatted about the fostering and she was delighted.  We talked about Sam and about how well he was doing.  He sat on John's knee, tired from nursery, and she looked at him with a real affection.  Our miracle boy.  She explained that she was going to refer me to a specialist in early miscarriage and I would also be referred to a gynaecologist to find out how to deal with my polycystic ovarian syndrome.  If we decided to try for another baby we would be seen by the early miscarriage specialist before being referred back to her after 20 weeks.  I was touched that she had faith in us not to give up but at the same time I was certain that I needed a break.  The only things that mattered to me from that point were John, Samuel and the upcoming foster training.

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