The Second Blue Line: Booking Appointment & First Scan

So after the worries during weeks 9 and 10 of bleeding I finally made it to the next milestone in this pregnancy, meeting the midwife and going to my booking appointment.

After my MMC earlier in the year, each appointment seems like another milestone crossed so getting to this Midwife this time was a bit of a relief, but in fairness I was still totally worried about the first scan – but more on that later!

Each area of the UK handles Midwife care differently, some have clinics at your local GP’s, some are hospital based, some will come to your home and some (as in my case) are done in local centre (or as it turns out in the local Primary School!)

When I arrived I was given a blank copy of what are now my maternity notes and left to fill in a lot of personal details along with the background health history of both my husband and myself. I knew this would be asked so made sure I spoke with my husband and mother-in-law to get a good idea of any medical issues that might cause any concern.

Once I went in I had to provide the usual urine sample along with having blood pressure taken, being weighed and my height noted, I also had to re-answer the million questions I had just filled in, along with a million more. The questions vary from your heritage and background, any previous or current medical conditions, any family medical conditions to the type of accommodation you live in to your lifestyle choices. I was given leaflets on all sort of things as well as being recommended to take a daily supplement of Vitamin D, ensure I got my Whooping Cough vaccination topped up at 28 weeks and to ensure I book myself in for a flu jab later in the year (the latter of these is what I am dreading – I have never had one, or wanted one but needs must). I was also given a Bounty welcome pack which was filled with useful magazines, a few samples and lots of guff. I was then booked in for my 16 week visit and sent on my merry way.

I was also due to have some bloods taken but the Midwife had no luck with my veins so it was a trip the hospital after to get the required red cells out! These blood tests are super important to check how you are generally as well as checking for any blood disorders which might effect your pregnancy and birth as well as checking for things like HIV. They take quite a bit of blood to run all these tests but it is pretty painless and over with soon enough. Unless you have any issues come back with your bloods the Midwife will not contact you after with your results.

A week after my booking appointment it was time for my first official scan – which as I mentioned I was looking forward to and dreading in equal measure. Although I had seen little Jelly Belly on the screen a couple of weeks before I still had the fear of what if something went wrong in-between? My husband had been cheering me on over the previous weeks saying everything would be fine but I was still worried.

We were the first in the waiting room on the day (nothing unusual there, we are both always early for everything!) and after showing my ID and letter (yes they check your ID before you go in!) I was sent down for some more blood tests. Apart from being used to help date and check that the baby is growing as it should be, the first scan is inclusive of a nuchal scan – this basically is where a measurement of the back of the babies neck is taken and along with the results of a specialised blood test lets you know the probability of a high risk or low risk of carrying a baby with a chromosomal condition such as Downs. As you having your scan the bloods are tested and your get the results as soon as you are done – which is pretty fantastic when you think about it.

So it was time for the scan itself and my husband and I went into the darkened room and then up on the screen was little Jelly Belly.

He or she was taking a bit of a nap which was no use for the sonographer so he wiggled my tummy a bit (which looks like a mini earthquake on the screen!) and the baby soon woke up, kicking and punching at the intrusion! Thankfully everything looked to be where it needed to be (two arms, legs, hands and feet – a normal sized head etc.) and the heartbeat was a very reassuring normal 160bpm.

It was pretty amazing to see this little teenie tiny person on the screen which now really was starting to look like a baby! It was also great for my husband to get his first glimpse of the baby – I think it really started to make everything seem even more real! The best part though was finally being able to tell people the good news – and hearing back from our friends and extended family really topped off the day.

The Second Blue Line: We’re Pregnant

After everything that had happened in the February of this year the last thing on my mind was that I was going to get pregnant again, in fact given that took us a year and a half to get to that point it felt like it would like a lifetime before I got that second blue line, so we didn’t expect anything at all and really didn’t plan for anything at all to happen.

I started to feel a bit like my normal self, my period had started up again and I fell back into the routine of regular life. We booked a short break to Italy to not only give ourselves a break from everything that had happened but to celebrate my husbands birthday, little did I know I was actually already pregnant at this point!

We had a fantastic time, eating wonderful food, enjoying the sun and relaxing that I didn’t really notice I was late for my time of the month, in fact I just thought given everything that had happened my cycles were just a bit more variable than they had been.

But some more time passed and those funny old symptoms started up again, my boobs felt bigger, heavier and sore (although this is a common monthly occurrence for me), I was needing the loo more often and I started to feel a bit sick during the day. I had been given a stack of pregnancy tests by the EPU on my last visit so figured I may as well do one to prove to myself I was going bonkers rather than being pregnant. So one lazy Sunday morning I work up, did the test and straight away a bright blue second line appeared, I honestly couldn’t believe it and there was no question about it this time, it was as bold and blue and the test line.

My husband and I were both in a state of shock but were of course thrilled, my husband even referred to me as a baby making machine, but it felt like all the hoping, wishing, happiness and sadness of of the past few months were just all tied up in this one little test.

First thing I did was to try and get an appointment with my GP to confirm everything and move onto the next steps of my maternity care, easier said then done! There was a two week wait so I booked in, waited and checked often to see if any cancellations came up. I had given up caffeine as soon as I knew I was pregnant and checked I wasn’t eating anything I shouldn’t and was taking my folic acid, basically everything the Doctor will tell you to do on your first visit.

By a rough estimate on the NHS site I was around 8 weeks pregnant, which is pretty far along to be finding out but in a way was nice as the previous weeks of worry were bypassed a bit as I lived in blissful ignorance. My only major concern was the coffee I had drunk without knowing (caffeine consumption can increase the chance of miscarriage and I certainly didn’t want to go through that again) but thankfully I am not a big drinker so that was one less worry I had up until seeing my GP.

I managed to get a cancellation the Friday before my scheduled appointment the following week so went into the surgery with my sample and hopes that the positive would still show up, which it did in a glorious bold pink line. My GP could not have been happier for me and sent me away with some paperwork and let me know my midwife and scan appointments would be sent to me in the post pretty sharpish because due to her estimates I was 9 weeks pregnant with a due date on Christmas Eve.

I went away feeling fantastic, being able to tell my husband and my mum the news that everything looked as it should and when the baby might be due was such a relief, this was so different from my last experience and I was on cloud nine.

Then on that Sunday the bleeding started.

I had woken up as normal and gone downstairs and there it was, a big pink blob followed by bright red bleeding, of course this sent me into a total panic and all I could think of is it’s happening again. I called up the EPU as soon as they opened, they advised I came in but couldn’t guarantee me a scan as it was the weekend and a Bank Holiday.

I rushed down and waiting for around three hours to be seen and it honestly was the longest wait of my life. My mum had come with me for support but we barely spoke, I just couldn’t stop thinking that when I  was seen they were going to tell me that bad news all over again.

Thankfully I was called straight into the scan room and the first thing she said to me was baby is all ok and pulled the screen round so I could see my little jelly bean bouncing around, I was also given a new EDD which 27 December.

The bleed was coming from behind the baby and wasn’t effecting it. I was told to keep an eye on it and if it got worse to go back. I was sent away with a photo and a great sense of relief.

Of course this was short lived as the bleeding just didn’t go away, It had settled more into brown spotting as the week progressed but that nagging fear was at the forefront of my mind and intensified each time I went to the loo and saw it and then on the following Monday the bleeding got heavier again so once again I was up the EPG.

I had missed the slots for scans that day but saw a lovely nurse who did a swab to check there was nothing untoward causing the bleeding but she was happy that my cervix was nice a tightly closed and the only blood she could see was old and working its way out.

I went back in the next day for a follow up scan and thankfully again all was ok (the baby even gave a little kick!) I was advised that should the bleeding get heavier with clots and I was in pain to come back but overall everything looked ok and hopefully the bleeding I was currently having will stop and that will be that.

And thankfully a few days after going back it did, but the fear of it coming back was still there in the back of my mind and would keep growing until my next scan date which was another couple of weeks away.

The Second Blue Line: The Second Pink Line

First Published June 2015

OK so where to start? Usually I find the beginning works best, so let’s go from there.

Firstly who am I and why are you reading this? Well the first bit is easy, I’m a 30-something Londoner who is embarking on the road to having my first baby, I thought writing this blog might be interesting to people in a similar boat, might introduce me to some like-minded, like-situation folk and lastly sometimes you just need a bit of space to go somewhere and talk about all the things running through your mind on a daily basis.

Secondly where did this begin? Well unlike Mary I didn’t wake up one morning suddenly pregnant, in fact in many ways getting pregnant didn’t happen suddenly at all, but let’s just backtrack a bit. I got married in 2010 and babies were not at the top of the agenda at the time. We did things like go on holiday and buy a house (and fix up said house) and one day it felt that the time was right to move onto the next stage of life an try for a baby.

I knew that it wasn’t going to be as easy as clicking my fingers and ta-da I’d be pregnant, in fact I was ready for a hard slog as, as in my early 20’s I had been diagnosed with PCOS (this was after multiple appointments of being told I was just stressed and there was probably nothing wrong, when they finally admitted I had PCOS I was put promptly on the pill as that was the only thing they could do).

Flash forward a few fair years later and the pill was finally going away for good, hooray!  I’m not an anti-pill monster or anything, in fact being on it so many years seemed to have helped my cycle fall into some sort reliable timing, but I was never really keen on taking them and did have a bit of a worry if it might do anything to me further down the line, but now I had something new to worry about, getting pregnant!

About six months in and no luck I spoke with my GP to see if there were any tests I could have in regards to my PCOS as I didn’t think I was ovulating as I should be (measuring your Basel Body Temperature is a great indicator as to how your cycles run) I was sent for some blood tests and just as I thought I wasn’t ovulating on a monthly basis, however I would need to try for at least a year before I got any help – so I set my reminder for January and carried on, not to say that this news wasn’t frustrating to say the least!

So the end of the year rolled around and I was waiting for my time of the month is makes its usual appearance in January so I could book my appointment in and…nothing. Due to the nature of my cycles they can range anywhere between 35-45 days average so I figured I was more on the 45 day spectrum that month and I waited some more…and nothing apart from a very small bleed one evening I was AF free. Could it be? I wondered and so like any curious soul I took a pregnancy test and it was negative. OK I was just late.

Another week passed still no Flo so I booked in with the GP and she tested me, still nothing BUT by then I was totally knackered all the time, I was weeing like a champion and my boobs seemed to have grown overnight. So I was sent off with another test and told to try in a couple of days. So at 6.15am on a cold, dark February morning I took and test and a very faint second pink line showed up.I was thrilled and happily went back to the GP a couple of days later to tell her. Another test was done but the line was still really faint – something was up, so off I went for a blood test the same day and the results came back 4 days later, I was registering as pregnant but only just, by then in my mind I knew something was wrong but I was sent along to the Early Pregnancy Unit at my local hospital for an ultrasound to check what was going on. While all this testing was going on I was also having slight bleeds on and off which was another cause for concern.

The EPU, although fantastic in what it does, is not a place you want to visit (and I’ve been inside it now more times than I would have liked), the waiting room is filled with anxious women who are all there for the same reason, they are not having a textbook pregnancy. I was called in and after a through examination nothing was found. A follow-up blood test confirmed that I was in fact suffering what is referred to as a silent or ‘missed’ miscarriage.

Now this is one of the most evil things your body can do to you because although you have lost your baby, your body still acts like you are pregnant, you get the usual symptoms and unless you suffer from bleeding etc, you will probably have no idea that anything is at all wrong. For women who only find this out at their 12 week scan, I honestly cannot think what this must be like because being told on the end of the phone that this is what had happened to me (I would have been around 8 weeks pregnant), it is like your whole world just falls apart in that second.

I can honestly say that there is no real way to describe how you feel when you are told you have lost a baby, a baby that you have wanted and tried for, for what feels like a lifetime. There was plenty of tears and a lot of wallowing but what I was needed to gear up for was what was going to happen next.

I had to confirm back with EPG that after that weekend I was testing negative on a home pregnancy test to show my levels had dropped enough for the process to complete itself, but come Monday the test was still coming up with that faint positive – cue another trip to the EPU and more testing and finally they confirmed the pregnancy was over and that within the next week or so the bleeding would begin and the miscarriage would be completed. They also sent me off with some pregnancy tests and wished me the best for my next try.

It took until the weekend but once it began there was some sort of relief mixed with extreme sadness and the wanting of the whole world to go away while I sat and went through this. Everybody tells you that it isn’t you fault and logically of course you know that’s true but it doesn’t stop you thinking, well what’s wrong with me? Why can’t I stay pregnant? Is that it now? Will this be my only chance?  Am I that horrible a person that I don’t deserve this? In reality none of these concerns should even have crossed my mind but when you are in that bubble nothing seems ridiculous.

The miscarriage itself was and wasn’t awful – the whole process is draining, sad and heartbreaking but it was much like having your worst period and then doubling it – the cramps were awful and the bleeding lasted a couple of weeks. In one way I am thankful I wasn’t further along as it would have been total unbearable but once it was over it was like putting an end to a really horrible story.

Life sort of ends up going on, a week after my initial bleeding stopped it started up again, a call to EPG just confirmed that in fact my body had re-adjusted and this bleeding was in fact my time of the month. If only your emotions were that easy. Day by day you do start to feel slightly better about things but the loss never really goes away, you always end up thinking what might have been and who that little person might have grown up to be. A few weeks later I went back to the GP and as I had actually gotten pregnant (although not successfully) I would need to wait at least another 6-12 months before I would be considered to have any investigations done – this did feel slightly like the last nail in the coffin at the time, but I know how stretched the NHS is and figured if I needed to wait then I would wait.

Knowing this would be a part of me forever, a few weeks after everything had happened I got a tattoo, the design represented how I felt and I will carry it with me forever, as much as I will the memory of that little person who only lived for a short while but was very much loved in that time.

What I did find amazing during everything was when googling what was going on, how many people are in exactly the same boat as you and how common miscarriage actually is. I have to admit before this happened to me I have never heard of a MMC or even know the EPU existed, it seems that we are almost ashamed to talk about miscarriage and that is a real shame. I know I could have done with the support of somebody who has been through the same thing and we should be more open and honest with each other as women that this happens, it happens a lot and this is one of the reasons I wanted to start writing this blog – to share an honest account of what can happen when it goes wrong and to hopefully give somebody else out there going through the same thing a bit of reassurance or even somebody to talk to if they need it.

So that’s how our journey started but little did a know a couple of months later I would be back to the beginning again.