This morning, I had two maternity related appointments – a flu jab, and a GP appointment. We are ramping up now that we are in the second trimester, and I’m fully aware that this pregnancy is going to be incredibly appointment filled. Appointments that may be exciting for some, but just seem to be exhausting for me so far. There seems to be so much emotional energy spent on them.
So far, we have had three scans at our fertility clinic, a 12 week scan at our hospital, a midwife booking appointment and two GP appointments. In the next few weeks, we will start out consultant-led appointments, as well as hopefully visit the Rainbow Clinic at St Mary’s Hospital in Manchester. I am fully prepared for them to all be draining in their own different ways. There is an emotional complexity in all of them – memories from Leo’s pregnancy, memories from the hospital where we found out that he died, and we spent several days in after he was born, memories from our miscarriage, coupled with the anxieties of pregnancy after loss and the constant juggle of balancing history telling and the desire of more comprehensive note reading.
Our 12 week scan was on the most part, good. After all, baby was alive and thats the main outcome really. We were delayed, meaning we were in a waiting room with memories of both Leo’s 12 and 20 weeks scans, much longer than we would have liked. Whilst our sonographer was gentle with us, she mis-read my notes initially. As a result, she presumed the note regarding bleeding referred to this pregnancy, and not our previous miscarriage. Once she realised we had had a previous miscarriage, she ‘understood’ why I stared at the ceiling until she confirmed a heartbeat. She asked if I ‘felt different to last time’ – again, referring to our miscarriage, neglecting to actually read in my notes about our full term stillbirth. So, again, you have to say the words and tell the story, relay why he died, and when. And be ‘reassured’ that ‘they’ll take good care of us this time’. There is no real reassurance in pregnancy after loss. Short time flickers maybe, but that’s all.
After this, I came home and highlighted the lines ‘previous miscarriage, previous stillbirth’ in pink, and finally found my SANDS labels to place on the front. The stickers highlight that we have experienced a stillbirth, that our baby’s name is Leo, and when he died. It all just takes a deep breath. Before, during and after appointments. Its not that the health care professionals we have encountered aren’t good, caring or knowledgeable – its just that there’s a constant thought of do they know our history, am I going to have to go into it, and what awkwardness are we going to have to juggle. And it’s exhausting.
Exhausting, and awkward. Often made more awkward when health care professionals are they themselves, pregnant. Just because I am pregnant, it doesn’t mean I feel comfortable around pregnancy. The intense vulnerability of pregnancy is ever present in my mind and there is nothing that will change that. There is no just relax, and don’t think about it. It is our truth. And sitting opposite someone obviously pregnant whilst balancing the anxiety of does she know our history is even more exhausting. I understand they are professionals, but they are also people, with emotions and their own anxieties. Its a hard balance for us all, no doubt.
I’ve taken the approach to organise myself through this pregnancy. I guess it helps to give a sense of control. I have more reliable and trusted sources of information than I did during Leo’s pregnancy (the NHS, Tommy’s, MAMA Academy, Kicks Counts etc). I know where I want to get my information from, and ignore everything else. The internet is a minefield, and if discovering the baby loss world has taught me anything, its that a lot of pregnancy information that floats around is outdated and myth led. Its important to find places that I trust even more so now. I’ve got my notes in a MAMA Academy Wellbeing Wallet, used ours SANDS stickers, and kept Leo’s notes, scans and post-mortem information with our current notes. That way, should we ever need to refer back to them, we have them, without delay. Its something, it helps.
Overall, we are doing okay still – Christmas and New Year happened, and now Leo’s birthday fast approaching has knocked us somewhat. My reassurance from our 12 week scan has lasted about four or five days, and with the slight reduction in the intensity of symptoms now we are in the second trimester, its hard to avoid anxious thoughts. The second trimester, which is meant to be ‘easier’ than the others, feels like it could be the most challenging. Less appointments relatively compared to our plan for the third trimester, fewer scans, and the waiting and hoping for some sign of movements over the next few weeks (which will be a challenge all on its own) will no doubt present its own challenges. When this all overlaps with all the memories of Leo’s death, birth, funeral and the surrounding weeks, no doubt we are in for a bumpy ride.
I am glad to have a little bit more energy though, and trying to make use of the winter sun and get outside more – a good opportunity for a bump pic.