At the exact moment my husband and I found out our first pregnancy had failed, a huge hole opened up right in the centre of me. I have never known a pain like it. It may be difficult for anyone who has not experienced it to understand, but I knew I would never be the same person again.
But before that, there had been joy. So much joy.
I had found out I was pregnant at 12 days post ovulation (dpo), when I was a little under 4 weeks. We had got back from visiting our friends in Switzerland the night before I tested. We’d had a long day of travelling, as the second of our flights home had been delayed, meaning we didn’t make it to our bed until the early hours. But I woke up at 7am full of anticipation.
I had promised myself not to test while we were away, as whatever the result, it would have distracted us too much from being with our friends. So I was very much ready by the time I tore open that test.
The three minute wait before peeking felt like the longest time. I was trying to remind myself that this was just one cycle, if it didn’t happen this time, there would be plenty of other opportunities. We were still new to trying to conceive, and we couldn’t expect results so quickly.
But as I opened my eyes, I couldn’t quite believe it – a second line, pink, beautiful, gleaming even – and looking right up at me from the early pregnancy test in my hand!
After obsessively taking snapshots of the test in various positions in the bathroom – in the early morning sun, out of the sun, held up, on the floor (is there any woman that doesn’t do this?), I left the bathroom to the sound of my husband snoring in the bedroom. Sharing the news would have to wait.
I sat in the lounge and felt the butterflies flying whirlwind-style in my stomach. I tried to process the hundreds of feelings I was simultaneously hurtling through:
- It’s real!
- Is the line pink enough?
- Will those beers I drank while we were away have done any damage?
- What will being pregnant be like?
- I wonder if it’s a boy or a girl.
- It’s actually happened!
Although nothing had changed, everything had changed.
Eventually, husband appeared, bleary eyed and mouthing his standard first word of the day: ‘coffee’.
“I’ve got something to tell you” I said “I’m pregnant!”
Cue utter joy, hugs, kisses and mass excitement. Happiness with a capital ‘H’.
The pregnant weeks
Right at the beginning, other than fatigue and some spotting, there was physically very little to signal the early, but amazing, goings-on in my uterus.
Emotionally, I felt very different. The first few weeks of knowing had been wonderful, carrying around a secret only known to my husband and me. The smiles between us when we were in public carried extra significance and were full of the promise of what was to come. Whenever his hand lingered near my stomach, I felt like he was acknowledging what was happening and protecting us both. I never felt alone – even when I was on my own, there was always me and my little +1, busy growing away inside. It was a beautiful time, I don’t think I will ever forget it.
The physical symptoms eventually ramped up. I had burning-sore boobs, fatigue, nausea. I struggled with my IBS, which flared up uncontrollably for the first few weeks. I couldn’t get enough dairy, especially strawberry milkshakes, yogurt and cheese. And although I was in bed at 9pm every night, had started suffering with insomnia and wanted to vomit at the mere sight of a dustbin lorry, it couldn’t eclipse the excitement we felt every single day.
I had phoned my GP surgery the day after the positive pregnancy test, to book an appointment. I didn’t know what for exactly, I suppose I wanted them to validate my pregnancy, to have it on file, to tell me what I should expect over the coming weeks and months. I was surprised when they said I didn’t need to come in. “All you need to do” they said “is phone the maternity department of your local hospital and they will arrange a booking appointment with the midwife at around 8 weeks.”
“But I’m pregnant now!” I thought. “I can’t wait another month before I see someone.” That you wouldn’t be seen early on was something that completely shocked me, that your status as pregnant woman would effectively be denied until you were 2 months or more into your pregnancy. Knowing what I know now, I wonder if it’s a money-saving exercise. If 1 in 4 pregnancies fail in the first trimester, is it economically viable to see every woman as soon as she finds out she is pregnant? It pains me to say it probably isn’t, but at the time, I didn’t know the devastating miscarriage statistics – why would I? – and I felt let down by the NHS.
I put the disappointment to one side however, and was determined to enjoy the early weeks. Which I did, thoroughly. Until I booked in for an early reassurance scan at a private clinic.