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This is the gestation I have been dreading the whole way along. Regardless of how scans and tests went I knew that at some point I would have to deal with being 21 weeks pregnant again and knowing that the new baby I am growing is the same size as Maisie. Being able to really have a true concept of a 21 week baby’s size, their tiny hands, toes, fingernails, eyebrows, legs, weight, the way they feel in your arms. No one should know those things, the baby should still be safe inside the mother, but some of us do know this harsh reality. Whatever the gestation that a baby is lost at having to go through that milestone again is not easy! The build up to 21+2 has been hard and I have been relieving a lot of the days and weeks leading up to Maisie’s birth. In someways it has been a lot like the one year anniversary as it has brought all the memories back. When the day was finally over and I reached 21+3 I felt very sad that this new baby would always be bigger, stronger and older than Maisie. That I would no longer have an understanding of what my baby looked like inside of me anymore and they would continue to develop and grow beyond anything she ever did. It has been a very tough week. There have been a few moments of happiness as I have really started to feel movement now, normally it is only at night for a couple of hours after my dinner but it is lovely to feel and a nice reassurance that baby is growing well.
Busy week this week! To being with we had Fathers Day, I booked a private gender scan as a surprise for my husband. I had always said that I didn’t want to know the gender for two reasons that it wasn’t important and I wasn’t sure how I would react whatever the outcome. But I know that this pregnancy has been all about me so far so I decided that the one thing I could give my Husband to make him feel included is for him to know if he is having a son or a daughter.
That morning I gave him a card which told him that we were going to find out if the baby was a boy or a girl. He had a huge grin on his face and was so excited especially when I told him that we would get to see the baby in 4d as well.
When we arrived the waiting room was very busy (should have thought with it being Fathers Day!) and we didn’t have much privacy to talk to the receptionist to give them an idea of our history and that I would be a very nervous patient. Luckily when we went through to be scanned we recognised the sonographer as someone who scanned us with Maisie (our private 8 week scan) she was lovely and asked about all Maisie; not just her condition but actually about her. It turned out that sadly she had also lost 4 babies as well. It’s so sad how common baby loss seems to be and yet no one would ever know by just looking at you what you had been through. She started the scan and we got some amazing views but the baby wouldn’t stay still so it was quite difficult to find out the gender; I rolled from side to side just like I had with the anomaly scans and finally we got the right view. It’s another girl! I don’t think this came as a surprise to my Husband or I as we had both felt that it might be another girl, luckily both of us were quite happy with the outcome and all of my worries about how I might react to the gender seemed to disappear. We got loads of pictures of her and went to buy her ‘coming home’ outfit after the scan the same way we did for Maisie (now in her memory box).
We also had a midwife appointment this week (I booked an extra one as I had been so concerned about not seeing her for 10 weeks) which I hadn’t been particularly worried about until I was sat in the waiting room. I am trying to not use my home Doppler anymore and to rely only one movement but the baby is very quiet in the mornings so I was panicking that I hadn’t felt her move and didn’t know if she was still alive. Would the midwife be able to find her heartbeat and what if she couldn’t? Why didn’t I just listen to it at home? I ended up getting very worked up before going in and was very tense. Everything was clear (blood pressure and urine sample), I got my Matb1 form for work, some more calcium tablets and we talked about monitoring babies’ movement. My midwife was brilliant I had prepared myself to hear a lot of old advice about 10 movements a day and to take it all with a pinch of salt knowing that the new advice is whatever your babies normal pattern is but she knew all the new advice and was very strongly encouraging me not to stay at home worrying but to call labour ward and get checked out if I am ever worried about movement. Finally we listened to the babies heartbeat. My palms were sweating, my shoulders were so tense they were up by my ears and my heart was pounding in my chest. The midwife started by pressing lightly on my tummy to find babies position but couldn’t find her as I was so tense my tummy had gone really hard. I tried to relax and finally we heard a nice strong heart beat and I felt her kicking! All that stress for no reason at all! I know the advice is to not use home Doppler’s but I think on mornings where I have appointments have haven’t felt movement I might listen as at least I can say I couldn’t find the heartbeat today rather than I haven’t had movement yet today but that’s normal for her and I just come across as an overly paranoid idiot!
Finally this week I had my consultant appointment. My appointment was at 10.30am but the car park was very full so we were running late. We got to the antenatal clinic to find it was very busy and they were running very far behind, we weren’t concerned about it as we thought we were just there to see the consultant and then would leave but I kept getting called in by midwives to have my weight, blood pressure and babies heart beta listened to. I was getting very stressed about everything as I was concerned about being signed off by my consultant and by this point we had already been waiting 2 and a half hours! My blood pressure had rocketed in just 24 hours from 110/70 to 133/67! When we finally saw the consultant she was lovely, very positive about my weight gain but concerned about my blood pressure until I explained I was just a bit stressed and yesterdays (and every other time) blood pressure check was normal. She reassured me that she would not be signing me off and would be seeing me throughout the entire pregnancy. She offered me growth scans at 28 and 34 weeks which I am very grateful for. There is also an open door policy for me to call her secretary any time I think I might need another scan. So the next scan is in 6 weeks and my delivery plan will be talked about in 12 weeks!
This week has been very tough emotionally and mentally. I am trying to monitor movement and not use my Doppler which is hard as she can be really quiet in the mornings and some days I don’t feel movement for many hours. I have lovely days where she moves loads and I feel really reassured and then I have nightmare days where I am really busy at work forget to monitor her and then spend the whole evening wound up that I haven’t felt her move much. I am also aware that until 24 weeks she is not truly a person in her own right and that the chances of a decision being made to save her is low and the chance of her surviving should she be born now is very low. I desperately want to get to 24 weeks when I know that she will have some basic rights. I know I can register her birth and death (or stillbirth) and that I can take my maternity leave and not need to go back to work 3 weeks after my baby dying like I did with Maisie. I don’t think my anxieties have been helped this week by the number of nightmares I have been having. I dream about this baby dying, about the people I know who have sadly gone through child loss more than once, about having to decide to put this baby in their own grave or in with Maisie. I knew that pregnancy after loss would be hard but I never imagined the constant, everyday anxieties. There seems to be no respite from it I go to bed finally feeling reassured that she is moving only to wake up the next day and start all over again wondering if she has died during the night.
We made it finally! This baby is now legally a person in her own right, she will have a birth and death certificate (or stillbirth certificate), I will get fully maternity rights and if she is born with ‘good signs of life’ attempts will be made to save her. This date means so much and is such a big milestone to finally reach. I feel like now in the eyes of medical professionals I am carrying a baby and not ‘just a foetus’ and that now they are aware that they are taking care of two people and not just one. We also decided that this week we would announce the pregnancy. After living like a hermit for the last 6 months afraid to leave the house in case I get ‘caught’ by anyone I wasn’t ready to know it feels good to have everyone know but also very scary. It terrifies me that now people know they will be gossiping about us, Maisie and this baby it seems that you become ‘public property’ and everyone likes to speculate about the baby who died. However, we have also had lots of support from some amazing friends and colleagues and we are incredibly grateful for all their support. This is our announcement picture which features some of the pictures we took whilst on holiday at 20 weeks and a picture of me at 24 weeks exactly.
Unfortunately this week the anxiety became too much for me to deal with alone. Despite having lots of regular movement the feeling that something wasn’t right kept increasing. I text my midwife to ask if I could see her to listen to the heartbeat. I felt terrible thinking I was wasting her time as she has been moving fine but she asked me to go straight in and was lovely about it. Checked me over and listened to the heartbeat for ages which has helped me to calm down a lot.
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