Part 1: Pregnancy tests and proposals

Two quite major things have happened since my last post:

  • I got pregnant again
  • Andrew and I decided to get married.

My last post described how I got pregnant in August, and the day after my positive pregnancy test, I had a miscarriage.

When I spoke to the doctor who had confirmed I’d had a miscarriage, I asked when I could try again.

She said I might ovulate again in two or three weeks, and I could try again whenever I was ready.

She said it can be good to wait until you’ve had a period, but I got the impression it was sort of up to me.

We decided to try again straight away.

After the miscarriage, I felt quite up and down. I had two weeks off work. I would have come back sooner, if I was something else, like a plumber, or even if I worked in a different area of healthcare, but it’s no good trying to be a therapist when you keep unexpectedly crying.

I felt like I didn’t have had the right to be upset, as I’d only known I was pregnant so briefly, but I was surprised the impact it had. I guess I had suspected I was pregnant for longer, and had been desperate to start trying for a baby since December. I guess it was the combination of the hormones and the life changes. I’d started thinking of myself as a mother, and then just as quickly, I was back to not being one again.

I am grateful I didn’t have a worse miscarriage – if I had been further along, I might have had to have horrible procedures, and I hadn’t had months with this baby inside me.

But on the other hand, as one of my friends put it, I hadn’t processed the news that I was pregnant before I lost the baby, which is bound to leave me feeling a bit all over the place.

I spent a lot of time talking to friends and family about how I was feeling (who were great). I did paintings of my uterus and tried to find as many TV shows and films that include miscarriage so I could cry along with fictional characters.

(Side note: considering this happens to 25% of women, there’s not that many. I found an episode of Sex and the City where it happens to Charlotte, and an episode of King of Queens. They both showed the emotional impact really well, but made absolutely no reference to the reality of what happens. In Sex and the City, Charlotte’s husband said, “it went away,” and in King of Queens, she said “I felt weird so I went back to the doctor.”

Only Fleabag’s sister’s miscarriage made any reference to bleeding.)

When I went to work, I kept being caught off guard in sessions. One time, I was reading out some examples on a therapy worksheet for someone, and when I got to one that was ‘a busy Mum’, I got choked up. Another time someone was telling me his friends had been supportive and it gave me a lump in my throat for some reason.

Then, I knew I was ovulating again. We had sex a couple of times.

A week later, my body felt similar to how it had when I was pregnant the previous month. My breasts felt enormous and swollen again, as did my stomach.

I think I’m pregnant again!

I couldn’t believe that two out of two times we tried, we succeeded.

This time, I had nausea and major tiredness, right from the third week of pregnancy. This seemed like a good sign, as nausea is associated with healthy pregnancies, and I didn’t have it last time.

I had my miscarriage at day 32 of my cycle, so this time we decided not to do a pregnancy test until day 33.

I felt like I didn’t want to acknowledge I was pregnant again, until I was past the point of the last miscarriage. I thought this would protect me from any sadness if I had another miscarriage.

I’ve read a lot about it now, and I keep seeing, “of course, very early on, many women have miscarriages before they even knew they were pregnant.”

I bloody knew.

I felt like it was my fault for finding out. If I was not the kind of person who has been tracking their menstrual cycles for years, and if I wasn’t actively trying for baby and looking out for any sign, and didn’t notice my period was late, and that my body felt completely different, I could’ve been one of these women who didn’t know. I felt like a drama queen for finding out.

On reflection, if I did have another miscarriage at the same point as the last one, I think it would be really important to know that something is repeatedly going wrong at the same stage, so this strategy of not acknowledging it was silly.

Anyway, on day 27 of my cycle, I got phone call saying I had been booked in for a colonoscopy that I’d been waiting for, for ages, because of my digestion problems. It had been delayed for a long time because of COVID, and now it was booked with only a week’s notice.

I didn’t know if it was safe to have a colonoscopy while pregnant, and I needed to know straight away if I either needed to cancel my own patients so I could attend, or cancel the procedure.

Therefore, I decided to do the pregnancy test there and then. I tried to call Andrew, to talk to him first, but he didn’t answer.

I’m still working from home all the time, so I had everything I needed around me, despite it being a Friday lunchtime.

It had started to feel like a familiar procedure, getting a glass Gu ramekin out of the kitchen cupboard to wee into.

I dipped the pregnancy test into the jar of wee. I can’t remember what I did for the 5 minutes while I waited for the lines to appear this time – I think I just wafted around in the kitchen and bathroom, picking things up and then putting them back down again.

The control line appeared really quickly, and then the second, faint line.

I am pregnant!

Andrew called back, in response to his missed call from me.

I told him about the colonoscopy, and how it made me think we should do the test earlier.

“Hang on, let me go somewhere quieter…” He said. “I’ll call you back in a few minutes.”

I wafted around the kitchen some more, and then he phoned back.

“I suppose… we did say we were going to wait, but I guess, it probably does make sense…” He went on. He thought the conversation was still just about whether to take the test or not.

I interrupted. “I did take the test. I am pregnant!

“Oh, that’s great!” He said.

“I’m going to cancel the colonoscopy, but then I’m going to try not to acknowledge it, until we get to day 33.”

I spent the next week or so, in a weird state of knowing I was pregnant but trying not to have any emotions about it, so that if something went wrong, it wouldn’t hurt so much.

However, I couldn’t stop randomly smiling to myself and looking wistfully at my stomach.

The other thing that had been building up, around this time, was that Andrew and I were having increasingly serious conversations about getting married.

I’m not sure how much I’ve written about this before, but one of the few major things that Andrew and I have not agreed on, is marriage.

It came up in passing when we were first getting to know each other, and then more seriously, around the time of our one year anniversary.

We were having a picnic in Hyde Park, talking about the future. We realised we were pretty much on the same page about having children, but not about marriage.

“I definitely want to get married,” I said.

“I definitely don’t,” he said.

We talked about what we each thought, to try and figure out how we’d reach a compromise.

One thing that was really nice, was that there was no question about spending the rest of our lives together. We both felt the same about that.

I felt that the legal side of being married was really important, partly because of Balthazar’s death. I wanted us each to be each other’s next of kin, because, if someone dies, it’s awful if you’re not automatically involved the funeral or the inquest, and things like that.

The main thing we disagreed on, was the wedding day itself. Andrew couldn’t bear the idea of a day in which he’s the centre of attention, whereas I can’t imagine anything better.

I said that the commitment was more important than the day (but I ideally I did want both). He said he would be happy to elope.

We paused the conversation, at our picnic, because we heard a sound behind us. A crow had somehow picked up an unopened box of vegetarian sausage rolls, and taken them a few metres away. He started trying to peck the packet open with his beak.

We kind of left it that we’d find a compromise at some point in the future.

When we decided to try for a baby, this year, I said I did really want to be married at some point.

Then, with COVID, weddings were initially banned, and then only allowed to go ahead with less than 30 guests (currently only 15 guests are allowed).

“Surely a COVID wedding would be right up Andrew’s street, wouldn’t it? With barely anyone allowed to be there?” my friend said to me.

When lockdown started, most clothing shops had sales on their websites, because everyone was shopping less. I started looking online for dresses that would be the kind of thing I would wear, if we did have a COVID wedding.

I showed Andrew a dress that was half price.

“Do you think I should buy it, so that if we did get married at some point, I’d already have the dress? Just literally because it’s half price at the moment.”

At first, he ignored me when I showed him potential wedding dresses, but gradually, he started looking at them, and then said, “maybe you should get it. If it is half price.”

So, these discussions rumbled on, as did the no man’s land of knowing I was pregnant, but trying not to acknowledge it, because I hadn’t reached day 33 and done the Official Pregnancy Test.

On day 33, we were staying in my old flat, I forget why.

I had bought another, flashy digital test, so I could read words instead of analysing faint lines.

I had another Gu Ramekin wee, before work.

We both sat in bed together, and looked at the egg timer flashing on the screen of the test.

Then, the result flashed up.

“Pregnant 2-3 weeks.”

This meant I conceived 2-3 weeks earlier, so (because the pregnancy is counted from the first day of the last period) I was 4-5 weeks pregnant.

(It was a bit weird in terms of my cycle, because I actually hadn’t had a proper period since July, because I didn’t have a period in between pregnancies. I was counting my menstrual cycle as if the first day of my miscarriage was the first day of my period.)

We lay in bed and talked about it. I felt like there was less of an instant hit of joy compared to last time, probably because we’d both actually known I was pregnant for a week, however much we tried to pretend we didn’t. Also, I guess the first time, it was a huge moment we thought would be life-changing, that we’d never experienced before.

This time, we knew a positive pregnancy test doesn’t automatically lead to a baby, and we’d already experienced it a month earlier.

We were really happy though.

“Well, if nothing else, I seem to be pretty good at conceiving,” I said.

We talked about more the pregnancy, and marriage. We decided to get married in November, when I still wouldn’t be showing too much, in the Lake District.

“We’re packing a lot of content into 2020,” I said.

As I got dressed, Andrew was faffing about on his phone.

“Shall we have a weekend away somewhere, in the next few weeks?” he asked.

“Why? I mean, we’ve got a pregnancy and wedding to deal with. We don’t know what will be open with COVID. Why give ourselves an extra stress?”

It turned out, it was because Andrew wanted to go somewhere nice, to officially propose.

When I realised that, we decided to go back to Dorset, where we went in 2018, (and had the Bunker Sex).

Andrew went to work, and I started working in my living room.

My first patient had cancelled, so I took the opportunity to call my GP surgery. They told me I can refer myself to the antenatal service, so I did.

I texted my friend Tess and told her I was pregnant.

I had been planning not to emotionally acknowledge the pregnancy until this day. Then, as soon as I decided to switch the emotions back on, I had expected all the excitement and happiness from the first pregnancy to rush back. However, this time, it still didn’t feel real.

Once you have decided not to feel something, it’s hard to decide to start.

I wanted it to feel more real, now I felt like I was out of the danger zone. I decided to tell my parents.

I phoned them. They were about to go out, but they put me on speakerphone, like they usually do. I told them I was pregnant again.

“Yay!” they both said. They told not me not to go up any more ladders (at the weekend we had been decorating).

We had agreed not tell anyone we were getting married until Andrew had had the chance to Officially Propose, but I said something very vague to my parents, about a secret event that might be coming up in November.

For the next week or so, I just couldn’t stop thinking I was going to have another miscarriage.

From the first pregnancy test, every single time I went to the toilet, I took a deep breath, half-expecting to see blood in my underwear.

I even started choosing which colour underwear to wear, so the blood would be as easy to see as possible. (When in reality, if you’re having a miscarriage, you know about it without getting any colour charts out.)

Every twinge in my stomach made me panic, even though my friend who had just given birth told me that she had aches and pains in her stomach throughout both of her pregnancies. I knew it was a good sign, as it meant the uterus was adapting and getting ready to grow.

I didn’t have any nausea in the first pregnancy, but I did this time, which I found reassuring. However, any time I went too long without nausea, I worried about its absence.

I googled every sensation I had in my body, to check it was normal for pregnancy.

I did a third pregnancy test, just because I thought, if I saw a really strong line, it would reassure me. However, it was a faint line, probably because the wee was crystal clear, and 99% tea, but I completely panicked about the faintness of the line.

My friend came around with her new baby, and we had a lovely day. I had ordered five potential wedding dresses from Coast, and I tried them all on, and she gave her opinions. (One dress made me look like a Victorian ghost. One was OK, bit titsy. The last three were my favourites.)

We talked about her new baby and my new pregnancy. At some points, like when she asked me if I thought it would be a girl or a boy, I felt like saying “No, we can’t talk about this! What if it doesn’t happen!”

(I know lots of people don’t tell anyone they are pregnant until 12 weeks, because of this feeling, but I had decided on principle that I would; I still feel like the 12 week wait and the avoidance of discussing miscarriages is mainly for the benefit of everyone else, rather than the women it’s happening to.)

In the first pregnancy, I only had one day when I was certain I was pregnant, before the miscarriage, but on that day, I felt so connected to the baby. I serenely swam around the pond at Hampstead Heath, feeling like a happy Russian Doll with all this life inside.

I didn’t feel that connection so much this time. I felt like my usual, not especially maternal self, but more anxious, tired and sick than usual.

The time I felt most connected to the baby was when I was eating and drinking healthy things, and I pictured molecules of omega-3 and calcium being carried to the tiny baby. I sat drinking glasses of milk, eating sardines, while looking at pictures of 5 week embryos.

When I got towards the 6th week of the pregnancy, I started to think it might be OK after all.

I went to the toilet, without worrying about seeing blood, for the first time. When there was nothing there, I thought, See.

Maybe it will be alright this time.

Then, I woke up in the middle of the night, with a strange feeling in my stomach.

I wasn’t worried, as strange sensations and waking up in the night had become a new thing. I felt a bit of an ache in my stomach, but I assumed it was a digestion symptom.

Until I saw blood on the tissue.

Fuck. It’s happening again.

4 thoughts on “Part 1: Pregnancy tests and proposals

  1. Pingback: Part 2: The Blueberry that couldn’t hold on | Dater Analysis

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