My first pregnancy began a few weeks after my wedding on honeymoon in Kauai. A few miles from the quirky town of Honalea in the land of dramatic green clifftops, beautiful white sandy beaches and tourquoise crashing waves. Our host had left a lucky penny under our bed and when I lost it on the beach one day, I worried it could be a bad omen. I had an early hunch I could be pregnant but with reservations took anti sickness medication for a boat ride. Later, when we flew over live volcanoes in an open doors helicopter I saw signs warning pregnant people to be wary. I drank the local coffee, tried the wine and especially loved the sushi – including the merlin. We took lots of long haul and short haul flights on that trip. I’d wonder if any of these things caused the loss of the pregnancy and I’ll never know for sure. I know the more likely explanation is genes though. My husband works with teratogenic compounds but I didn’t consider that as a possible explanation until recently – in our culture there seems to be a habit of assuming anything fertility or miscarriage related must be the woman’s ‘fault’ (why is that?).
I found out I was pregnant in Honolulu. We gleefully shared the news with an ice cream seller and bought a cute little Hawaiian baby vest. I started fretting about work commitments I wouldn’t be able to see through. I was so naive – I just assumed pregnant = baby and couldn’t believe my luck at conceiving as soon as I came off the pill.
Next stop was New York and I had horrendous morning sickness on the hour long taxi ride to Manhattan. I thought that was a sign all was well. I felt exhausted wandering around central park but happy my pregnancy app confirmed this was also an early pregnancy symptom.
When we got home I took another pregnancy test which was also positive but the line was fainter. I didn’t want to see that as a warning sign.
For the next two weeks I grudgingly kept my news to myself at work, having been convinced by my husband to follow the usual social convention of silence before the 12 week scan. I struggled to cope with jet lag without caffeine but registered the pregnancy and looked forward to my first scan.
Then I started bleeding – brown at first, then black. I was concerned when I checked it out that it could be a sign of ectopic pregnancy so contacted NHS 24 after work and was duly sent to A&E. There I was asked to do a urine test by a nurse. I knew it was bad news when a doctor came to tell me it was negative. Her approach was blunt, as was my emotional response at the time. In a sort of stunned shock, we went to get fish and chips. While there, I got a call from the same doctor to say the blood test showed I was pregnant after all and as such needed to see the early pregnancy unit for follow up. This I thought meant there was a glimmer of hope. Now I know the main aim of the EPU is to rule out complications of continuing ectopic pregnancies – which unfortunately for me I have a few risk factors for. The EPU offered blood tests to check if my HCG levels were going up. Sadly, my miscarriage started before the appointment. My husband busied himself taking photos of all the graphs and stats showing how miscarriage risk increases with age (we were both in our mid thirties then) and the chances of it happening again. The nurse confirmed that my experience sounded like a miscarriage (red blood, more than a period, clots) and checked I had plenty pads. My HCG levels dropped over the next week until the unit were satisfied that even if it was ectopic it was over. Physically, that is. Emotionally it was just beginning.
#miscarriage #mental health #ACT
The best help I found for knowing what to expect and how to cope practically: