I pondered over whether to publish this post. It’s not the happiest of stories, so I hope that I’m not starting off on the wrong foot. My reason for sharing is not to make you reach for your tiny violins and feel sorry for me, instead I think its important to set the scene for my journey into motherhood. I am also hoping that by writing it all down, it might have some sort of cathartic quality, you never now.
July 2015, 2 months after a fairytale wedding of Katie Price proportions (yes, I wore a diamante tiara, my dress was pink and covered in sequins) I found out we were pregnant. I had been irrationally moody towards my brand new husband for a few days so after hosting my good friend’s baby shower and consuming far too much prosecco, I did a pregnancy test. Squinting at the test with one eye I saw the word ‘pregnant’ jump out at me. I felt excited. Tipsy, but excited. And guilty for drinking prosecco. And sick from drinking prosecco, and probably the pregnancy.
Chris and I were elated. We downloaded the Ovia app to track the growth of our tiny human, which we wittingly named ‘Keith’. We decided to announce the pregnancy to his parents by writing ‘you are going to be a Grandmother’ in his Mum’s birthday card (the best birthday present ever) and telling my parents too. I didn’t tell my sister as she was approaching her own 12 week scan and I didn’t want to worry her unnecessarily or steal her thunder. Which is weird as I tell my sister everything. By this stage we were a couple of weeks along, ‘Keith’ was about the size of a seed. Far too early for any grand announcements. Silly us.
Rewind about a year and tickets had gone on sale for the Gentlemen of the Road festival. Mumford and Sons were hosting an epic line up of some of our favourite artists in Aviemore. I had no idea where Aviemore was. I just wanted the tickets. I panicked and bought 4. We’d be able to sell the other 2 as everyone loves Mumford and Sons don’t they? As it turns out, not everyone would travel all the way to the Highlands to see them and I couldn’t flog them for love nor money. We found out we were pregnant the week prior to us having to embark on a 10 hour journey, with a ton of camping gear, on a sleeper train where I had been far too tight to book us a private cabin. Needless to say, the festival had somewhat lost its magic at the point we realised we’d be scrunched up on a train surrounded by teenagers, for a ridiculous length of time.
We remained upbeat, bought all the pregnancy snacks and boarded the train. It would be fun. Chris could drink all my quota of cider – he would need to as he was basically my sherpa, not allowing me to carry anything heavy and making sure I was as comfortable as possible at all times. About 4 hours into the journey, I picked my way through the sleeping bodies towards the loo. I had been feeling a bit uncomfortable but put it down to the seating arrangements. Why hadn’t I booked a bloody cabin. I glanced down and saw some blood. Was that normal? I had no idea. I returned to my seat, Chris was sleeping (he can fall asleep anywhere) so I started Googling ‘bleeding in early pregnancy’. The worst thing to do when phone reception is intermittent at best, my battery was dying and I was captive in a confined space only halfway into our journey. I started crying. Proper tears. People were looking at me. Chris woke up. I texted him as I didn’t want to speak out loud. He held my hand and told me not to worry. Everything was fine. Try and sleep. The bleeding continued. I had to bundle up lots of train loo roll to try and catch it. That stuff is like sandpaper FYI. I had used up all the loo roll. I was so tired, emotional and very, very worried. By the time the journey from hell was over and we had arrived at our destination, I had worked out 2 possible outcomes by going through every forum on Netmums, BabyCentre and MadeforMums. Man, there’s a lot of acronyms on those sites – it was mind boggling. Scenario 1) I was having ‘normal’ early pregnancy bleeding – after all, EarthMother had bled throughout her entire first trimester and her LO was just fine or scenario 2) I was having a miscarriage. I clung onto scenario 1 with every fibre of hope in my body.
We found a cafe that would have been charming if we weren’t worried out of our minds, ordered hot tea and toast and called the NHS helpline. We were booked into the local GP later that day to try and put our minds at ease. We just had the small matter of walking to the festival site and setting up camp first. And it was raining. A deluge of rain. I remember thinking back to my A level study of pathetic fallacy in romantic literature, and understanding for the first time how human emotion can be attributed to nature – the clouds really did seem sullen that day, and so was I. I remember laying on the groundsheet of the tent in the middle of the Scottish Highlands, writhing in pain and listening to the sound checks happening in the distance. I was in agony. I really didn’t want to be in that tent. I wanted my Mum. I also really needed to sell those spare tickets. Thank God for Chris. Within moments he had booked us into the MacDonald hotel up the road – I didn’t ask how much it cost on the busiest weekend Aviemore was ever going to experience and he didn’t tell me. We just needed to be warm, dry and not surrounded by shitfaced teenagers. We hiked back up the hill, absolutely soaked through so I could attend my doctor’s appointment. The nice GP couldn’t really do anything of course. Just gave me a tissue and some leaflets on miscarriage and recommended that I visit my own GP when we got home… That seemed like a long way off and I was still hopelessly clinging on to scenario 1.
We found a pharmacy to stock up on ‘supplies’, got back to the hotel and I had a hot bath. It felt so good as long as I didn’t look down in the water. It was nice to be clean and out of the rain. I called my Mum. I could tell she was heartbroken for us, but told me to remain positive and let Chris look after me. She wished she could jump in the car (or on a 10 hour sleeper train) to be with me. I busied myself by becoming an amateur ticket tout and listing our 2 x spare festival tickets on Gumtree. Surprisingly, I managed to sell them for face value. Result. Chris handed over the goods later that evening. It was all very surreal.
After a broken sleep we woke up to a bit less rain and I made the decision to be very British about it all, maintain a stiff upper lip and get our butts down to the festival site. I didn’t want this trip to be in vain. I wanted to check that our tent and stuff was all still present and correct – why I cared I have no idea, I suppose I was just trying to channel my worry into something else. I think at that point I knew that scenario 2 was becoming increasingly likely. Festival toilets are no bueno at the best of times, least of all in my condition. The next few hours and subsequent trip home all flashed by in a blur. The bands were ace, I would have thoroughly enjoyed it under different circumstances and Chris remained my rock throughout. We managed to make the best out a very dismal situation to say the least. I even had a cider – just one though, just in case.
My appointment at the Early Pregnancy Unit at Lewisham Hospital on the Monday was one of the saddest days of my life. I decided to go on my own, I didn’t think it would take all day. It did. I had to lie to work and say I needed to have some blood tests done. They probably thought I was horrendously hungover from a weekend of ‘aving it at a festival in Aviemore. I was there for hours watching other women go in and out and finally my time had come. The nurse was very matter of fact – the ultrasound and her diagnosis confirmed it. My uterus was empty. Keith had left the building. I was no longer pregnant. And just like that, I had experienced my first miscarriage. According to the nurse I was quite lucky that it had all been over relatively quickly and didn’t require further management. I didn’t feel very lucky. I felt traumatised and I just wanted to be pregnant again.
Apparently 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage. That is a statistic which means there are so many women who have experienced loss. What I don’t understand is why there is such a stigmatism attached to miscarriage – not many people talk about it. We shy away from the word. Only in the past year since those alarming statistics were published have we seen a rise in women speaking up and sharing their experiences with others. Social media has been a great tool to help me cope, particularly following @ihadamiscarriage on Instagram. Miscarriage isn’t something women should feel ashamed in talking about yet I still find myself brushing it off with sentences like ‘oh, in the old days I wouldn’t have even known I was pregnant, I’d have just thought I was having a heavy period’ but actually, it was totally shit and I still ache with sadness when I think about it.
For support or further information on miscarriage I would advise against trawling through forums on the internet, instead visit miscarriageasscociation.org.uk or tommys.org – or speak to your friends and family. Miscarriage is nothing to be ashamed of. The more women who share their experiences, the more support will be readily available to us.
Thankfully for us, there was a little pot of gold at the end of the rainbow with the news that we had fallen pregnant relatively quickly after my next cycle. This time I would approach with caution, no grand gestures or announcements just the hope that this one would be a sticky bean. Our rainbow baby did indeed stick and our Super Bean, Maggie was born on 21st June 2016, the best day of my life to date.