I’ve hesitated to write this post because… oh for a million different reasons. Partly because it felt like the blog ended nicely, on Mother’s Day no less, tied up with the bow of a baby — finally — after all this time. Partly because I’ve never seen a post like this by anyone who writes about infertility. Partly because I wasn’t sure I wanted it down in black and white. Partly because I wasn’t sure when I would actually have the time to arrange my thoughts and get them down.
But then I’ve never been anything other than brutally honest on this blog and I know that there are people who have gone through fertility treatment who read this blog, and I kind of wanted to write about this for them, as much as for me — because part of the problem with this whole thing was feeling, a bit like I felt when I was first freezing my eggs, that it was just me. And I’m fairly sure it’s not just me. Anyway, I’ll stop caveating and get to the point…
Baby Loss Awareness Week takes place from the 9th to the 15th of October every year.
9th October 2020 was two days after I’d been told at what should have been a 9-week scan, that the foetus only measured what you might expect for 6-weeks. And that they couldn’t see a heartbeat. But that I’d have to wait another week to confirm that it hadn’t grown before they could confirm that it was a missed miscarriage.
Back sometime before the last Ice Age, we’d made the decision that we were going to try to conceive with donor eggs. OK, maybe it wasn’t that long ago, but it was pre-pandemic, pre-accidental-natural-unexpected pregnancy, pre-totally-predictable miscarriage, and so as a result it does feel like aeons ago. Even if it was only just over a year ago. Because since then we found (or rather the agency found us) the Mary Poppins donorwho wasn’t, and the Mary Poppins replacement that didn’t fill us with joy. And then two days after I’d had it confirmed that I’d definitely miscarried, the agency got in touch with a suggestion of someone else.
And not for any good reason. It’s been a while because, as you could probably guess from the last post, having a miscarriage in a pandemic was a pretty shitty thing to happen and even six months after the event, it wasn’t something I really wanted to dwell on or revisit. But equally, it feels — as I think I’ve said before — that all of this should be documented — for you, for me, for completeness. So here I am, ironically about nine months after the miscarriage, finally writing it down.
I’m not going to sugarcoat it, it was really fucking grim. I took the same pills that a friend of mine who had accidentally got pregnant was prescribed when she wanted to terminate her pregnancy. She already has two children and she described the pain of those pills as being “worse than my second labour”.
I mean, I say that like you have a choice, or like miscarrying any other time in history is a walk in the park. It’s not, I know it’s not. Although I’ve got to be honest and didn’t realise how fucking horrific it would be. And I don’t want to play Top Trumps when it comes to miscarriages, but doing it in a pandemic is really, really shit. How is it shit? Well let me count the ways…
You know that plan to wait until 10 weeks for a scan? Yeah well on the day I woke up and my boobs didn’t hurt like they did before, I caved. Despite finding forums full of women saying the exact same thing had happened to them and they’d had healthy babies, I became utterly convinced that I had had a silent, or missed, miscarriage, where the foetus stops growing but you don’t bleed. I spent the morning in tears, suddenly realising quite how much I wanted everything to be ok. Knowing B was right when he told me that getting upset when we didn’t know if there was anything to get upset about was counterproductive. Knowing he was also right when he said that if this doesn’t work out we’re not in any different place than we were in before, and yet still knowing that for all our backup plans, this was the plan I wanted to work.
While I’m obviously writing and posting these posts many months on, at the time, I scribbled notes on my phone about my feelings. At night when I couldn’t sleep and B was asleep beside me, I typed my hopes, fears and dreams into that little illuminated screen. Some of those notes have made it into these posts. Here are two, in their unedited entirety…
I once wrote during my first ever two week wait that “nothing means anything” – it was basically about the idea that you couldn’t deduce anything from a single symptom, that a headache, no headache, bleeding, absence of bleeding, cramps, absence of cramps — all of it seemed as likely to be an indicator that you were pregnant as you weren’t. Never had that felt more true.
Working women often talk about how they feel that whatever they’re doing is wrong. They feel permanently guilty that they’re not doing “enough” for either their children or their careers. Finding out that I was pregnant catapulted me into a host of similar dilemmas. Did I carry on exercising as I had been? Or stop entirely? Should I contact my old clinic and ask them to prescribe more of the progesterone injections, the clexane blood thinners, the whatever the fuck else they throw at the women who manage to get pregnant on a wing and a prayer and want to stay pregnant? Or just carry on taking the Pregnacare Max that I’ve been taking for years as if it were a multivitamin?
It was John Lennon who apparently said that “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans” and Woody Allen’s credited with saying “If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans” — even though my suspicion is that Jewish grandmothers have been saying it for millennia. Undoubtedly there’s a bunch of other quotes from various wise civilisations that say pretty much the same thing. The bottom line is that you can do everything in your power to create a certain outcome, but it turns out that “everything in your power” is pretty much the square root of fuck all.