I got pregnant for the third time two months before that trip to Australia. I was more than happy to forego those wine tours. I was even happy to embrace morning sickness as a sign that this pregnancy was going to be a sticky one. I held off this time on making my booking appointment with the midwives, waiting until my second lines got stronger until 6 weeks before phoning. I’d found deciding what to do with my scan invite too upsetting the first two times.
My booking appointment when it came coincided with my flight to Australia. That pleased me as it meant if I did miscarry and need to cancel again, I’d still have something positive to do that day. It was a milestone for me to make it that far for the first time, and it made the pregnancy feel more real and concrete.
What I struggled with in my third pregnancy was the first trimester constant anxiety and hypervigilance for cues a miscarriage might be coming once again. Every time I went for a wee, I half expected to see blood. Every emotional shift I noticed, I wondered if it correlated with hormone changes heralding miscarriage. The trouble with that is, early pregnancy, PMT and impending miscarriage all involve raging hormones and emotional shifts so that all becomes intractable.
I painfully missed tea and coffee, but I abstained completely from caffeine in the first trimester so I wouldn’t have the guilt that something I’d done could have caused a loss. I also abstained from my then favourite coping strategy of running for the same reason, and sorely missed the emotional release. But I was willing to do whatever it took to avoid another early miscarriage.
What helped me most in that time was the support thread on Mumsnet for women pregnant again after a loss – that thread helped me feel a sense of community and connection with others when I didn’t know anyone in the same position as me in real life. Distraction also helped – I focussed on planning a trip to the Isle of Skye as well as the aforementioned trip to Australia. Focussing on work also helped, but given how anxious I was feeling it was probably also a good thing I spent two chunks of my first trimester on holiday.
When we were on the Isle of Skye I started to feel very crampy at a restaurant and fearing the worst, miserably went off to the toilets to check for bleeding. I’ve never been so relieved to discover my only problem was trapped wind.
By the time I’d got through my booking appointment and made it to Australia, I was starting to believe this baby was going to stick around, and live up to the nickname I’d given of baby tenacity. We were staying in b and b accomodation in the blue mountains when I was about 11 weeks pregnant with no cues of miscarriage and we felt confident enough to mention the pregnancy at breakfast to another couple – who were confident enough to say they were pregnant too, having just found out before the trip – and the husband of that couple still enjoyed his wine tour with his wife driving. Talking to them reinforced for me that you don’t have to follow anyone elses rules about what you do when you’re pregnant. There will be lots of conventions, other people’s expectations and advice around but each of us can choose to take what we like and leave the rest. Which is of course also true of my site – my answers might not be yours, and your experiences and mine will also differ. But maybe there’s something of value in offering to share our experiences and allow each other to decide what to take from it, and that’s my aim here.
I vividly remember my anxiety before my 12 week scan. I had a mental image of my blank womb on the screen, and a technician awkwardly explaining there was no baby and walking off to find a doctor. I’d read about lots of scenarios of non viable pregnancy that seem viable until 12 week scans – I like to be prepared, even if that means considering scary possibilities. We had agreed not to tell people in our real life this time until after a viable 12 week scan. I remember the feeling of overwhelming fear as the technician put cold jelly on my abdomen for the ultrasound. And almost straight away, I saw her – my baby, wriggling. Then I heard her strong, steady heart beat. I felt indescribable joy and relief. All my pieces felt back in place, and I felt solid and sure of who I needed to be and what I needed to do. That little wriggly creature was going to be my longed for first daughter, and I was going to love her even more. That was the point we told family and close friends.
During this pregnancy I ran five ACT groups and used the model a lot in 1:1 work. I also went to an ACT conference.
The plan was to wait until our 20 week scan before sharing the news more widely but I’m not that good at hiding a baby bump and people kept guessing. I found out one of my work colleagues had guessed when I was only 7 weeks pregnant and told the rest then, so the keeping it quiet at work effort was a waste of energy. I didn’t get to surprise anyone really. From the point everyone knew, I began to really settle into and enjoy pregnancy. I felt I had ownership of my life and my sense of self back. Authenticity is a key value for me and being genuine in my relationships with others is a really important aspect of that. Keeping something as major as a pregnancy secret had the effect of creating a rift valley between me and others, removing my sense of connection to my community. So for me, to feel connected to living with my values again transformed my wellbeing.
I built on that by starting pregnancy yoga which allowed me to spend time with and make friends with other pregnant women and discover that the real life version of Mumsnet was even more supportive. When my 20 week scan showed everything looked fine, I began to plan more seriously for the reality of having a baby – I’d spent so long thinking about pregnancy, I hadn’t fully processed the baby part until then. I was lucky that my baby daughter (scan confirmed my gut feeling that she was a girl) was very active so I never had to worry for long whether she was OK. I started to enjoy baby shopping, keeping a baby journal, a time capsule of my pregnancy and taking weekly baby bump photos to compare the growth. I applied for maternity leave. I began to finish up work commitments and look forward to my last Christmas as a wife but not yet a mother. I got round the pregnancy cheese rules by eating baked camembert with fake red wine. I made the decision to stop work at 37 weeks since I had no idea when my baby might come – and started mainlining raspberry leaf tea in the hope it would make my labour more efficient, having daily walks and penning my final diary entries. I reviewed my birth plan notes which covered all possible scenarios I could uncover. And I waited .. and waited .
Resources I found helpful during this pregnancy
A mindfulness app specific to pregnancy. I particularly liked the preparing for sleep audio clip but used this generally throughout pregnancy.
Wonderful centre based in Edinburgh offering various forms of support to pregnant women and parents of young children. For pregnant women – pregnancy yoga, active birth and preparing for breastfeeding workshops and regular sales featuring reusable nappies, second hand baby clothes and toys and slings and baby carriers to try. People who like to be prepared (like me) might also want to try a breastfeeding support meeting with la leche league hosted there or a baby first aid course in prep for the new arrival.