Early Pregnancy with Baby Number 3.
(Part 1 is here)
*Note* I wrote all of these posts as they happened as a way of dealing with all the emotions that went along with the waiting and the procedure itself. This post was started at the beginning of December and Part 4 takes us to the middle of February.
So there I was at 4½ weeks pregnant in total limbo. That week I had my birthday and my lovely husband had taken me away to London for a few days. I went to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child with my Bestie and on my actual birthday Joe and I took Dylan to the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum. Dylan was an absolute nightmare, I was emotional and Joe was a bit fed up after 3 solid days of a rather naughty and uncooperative threenager. All in all, apart from Harry Potter, it was a bit of a disaster.
With it being December there was then the run up to Christmas and all the hoopla that goes along with it. Add in the fact that we were thinking back to this time last year quite a lot too, this time was generally speaking fraught, emotional and a bit of a rollercoaster. Eilys was diagnosed in December 2015 and that was the only Christmas we had with her so we had a lot on our minds. A new and rather terrifying pregnancy on top of it all made everything 10 times harder for me and Joe.
Christmas was going to be difficult for several reasons.
1. It was our first Christmas after Eilys died
2. We wanted to spend Christmas at our house (we want to do this every year) but to keep the extended family together we yet again decided to go to our home town.
3. Dylan’s behaviour was getting to be really bad and testing.
4. Being pregnant and not wanting to tell anyone that I was pregnant mean that I would have to be quite deceptive about several things like drinking, eating certain foods etc etc
I did have a plan in my head. I have been pregnant at Christmas twice already so I was a bit of an old hand at this now.
Christmas Eve we normally go into our home town for a few drinks with our best friends around a few pubs. It is a tradition of sorts and I love going along. It is lovely as so many other people are doing the same so I get to see lots of old friends. My plan was to drink “gin” and lemonade, obviously just the lemonade. It seemed to work quite well, I am naturally quite loud and inappropriate without the addition of booze (in fact I have no idea why I even bother with the alcohol, it is expensive and it gives me horrible hangovers). I am sure that at least one of our friends twigged that I wasn’t drinking but they had the decency not to mention it. Then when we got home I did some excellent drunk acting to my parents by bursting into their room and staggering around a bit and then covered their living room in glitter and shiny confetti where Santa had been (sorry Mum). On Christmas day I was in charge of making dinner so I kept myself very busy with that. I just kept up the pretence that I was quite hungover as well and I managed to not have a drink all day, yay me right? It did help that I looked like pooh as I hadn’t been sleeping properly for over 10 days but the insomnia is a whole other story that I’ll get to later.
I thought that Christmas was going to be so horrible without Eilys but in many ways it wasn’t at all. Dylan kept us smiling and cooking kept me busy. Of course there was a lot sadness, a lot of “this time last year” and a lot of memories. This was the main reason why we had wanted to spend Christmas at our house, so it was completely different but it still would have been sad. Christmas is, after all, just another day.
Boxing day was going to be a whole new set of drink related issues. My brother and his wife were coming over for “2nd Christmas”, drinks and games. But this time I just took control and made all the beverages for everyone. Hostess with the mostest and all that shit. The long and the short of it was that I survived Christmas with the family and I am pretty sure that no one twigged.
Right, the insomnia. So like I said earlier I pretty much stopped sleeping all night after talking to the Genetic counsellor. To start with I would wake at 3am and not go back to sleep for a couple of hours, then it was I couldn’t go back to sleep at all and then I started waking at 1am and just lying awake for hours. This coupled with me taking hours to actually drop off to sleep I was averaging 1-2hrs sleep a night for a while. It was fine if Dylan was at preschool as I could catch a nap the following day but if not then I was just a zombie. I didn’t feel as if I was actively worrying in myself but obviously I had a lot on my mind and that was weighing down on me quite a lot. I told a few people that I was struggling to sleep and they all gave advice. I also tried to get a Doctors appointment but was told it’d be a 2 week wait if it wasn’t an emergency, which it wasn’t, and I figured I’d be sleeping better in 2 weeks so I left it. As it was I didn’t sleep for about 5 weeks, nightmare.
I tried various things to aid with going to sleep and I think a few of them worked. The main one was that I moved my mobile phone from near my bed and kept it either off or on silent at night so it didn’t disturb me. I left it in the spare room so I wasn’t tempted to google things or get angry at the news or twitter for hours. I then changed my bedtime routine. I had already cut down on caffeine due to being pregnant so I would have some warm milk with a tablespoon of honey mixed in before bed or a warm vimto (rock and roll). I’d have a warm bath with lavender oil in my oil burner, I’d get into bed and write a to do list for the following day and leave the pad of paper next to the bed just in case I needed to write any thoughts down in the night and if I felt like it, I’d write in my diary. The other change was that if I woke in the night I would get up and go to the spare room to read or sew until I felt sleepy and then go back to bed rather than lying awake for hours and hours. I have no idea if any of these things worked or whether it was just doing things a bit differently that jolted me into sleeping or that fact that I was fucking knackered but after a few nights my sleep started to improve.
On 5th January we went for a dating scan. By my calculations I was 8 weeks pregnant that day and that is when they like to date the pregnancy at the hospital who were conducting the CVS procedure. Sitting in the waiting room with a lot of very pregnant ladies was quite tough especially knowing that there was a chance that this pregnancy would have to be terminated. Me and Joe had spent a lot of time in this waiting room for scans with Dylan (4 scans) and with Eilys (8 scans) We bought a token for a picture of the embryo, I did think that maybe this was a bad idea but not getting a picture seemed wrong somehow, like I’d already given up hope. We had the scan, everything was ok and we saw the heartbeat which was lovely. The embryo was measuring at 7 weeks and 3 or 4 days, so I wasn’t as pregnant as I thought. But thankfully there was only 1 embryo in there. I had pretty much convinced myself that I would be having twins. I thought because I had been so so tired and having such awful sleep problems, much worse than with my other 2 pregnancies, that it was definitely twins. The whole experience left me feeling quite flat. Other scans were really happy, exciting times for me and my husband but this one wasn’t at all. Flat is the only way to describe it. We got home and Joe went back to work for the afternoon and then I had a phone call from the Ultrasound department of the hospital saying that Liverpool Women’s hospital preferred pregnancies to be at least 8 weeks when they were dated so I had to go back the following week to have a repeat scan. This wasn’t really a problem but I did feel like I was getting more and more attached to the baby which potentially (or in all likelihood, as my brain was telling me at the time) could be a bad and devastating thing. We decided that I would go to that appointment on my own, rather than Joe getting another morning off work as we weren’t sure how much time off he’d need should we have to go for a termination.
The wait for the second appointment was quite difficult for me. I wasn’t sleeping and my head was so full of stuff that I felt like I was drowning in thoughts. I felt as if I was being an absolute bitch to everyone and that I was being rude a lot but in all honesty I couldn’t think about much other than what was going on in my head. Something had to give. One thing that I found myself really stressing about before trying to sleep was that I was being a crap friend to my Besties. We had a group chat that they were merrily chatting away in most days. I muted it so I didn’t get any notifications but then I felt like that was me actively ignoring them so I felt obliged to reply and join in all the time. The trouble was that when I did I would dwell on my responses and worry that I was being rude or petty or a bitch to them and I would lie awake at night worrying about it. What I should have done is explain this to them and maybe asked if that’s what they were feeling about what I was saying but I didn’t. On the morning of my second scan I wrote a messaging explaining all this and just saying that I needed some space and time to myself away from the group chat. I am sure that it seemed like a massive over reaction and that I was being very silly, childish even but I just couldn’t take the pressure I was putting on myself.
The following week I got the bus to the hospital after a night of no sleep, again to my appointment. I got to the hospital really early and sat in the cafe having a coffee and a biccy before going up for my 10.15 appointment. This time the appointment was not at the Antenatal Department but in the Early pregnancy unit. I sat in the waiting room area with 2 other couples, both couple looked scared and teary but I didn’t think about why. I was the last one in and my appointment was about 45 minutes late. I could hear the other women crying during their appointments and they left looking tear stained and heartbroken. It was really really awful, so bleak. I went in for my scan and the nurse looked ecstatic to see a heartbeat. This time the scan dated the embryo at 8 weeks and 6 days which was about right with my dates. I was called the next day with the date and time for the CVS procedure in 20 days time when I would be 11 weeks and 4 days pregnant.
20 days doesn’t sound like a very long time to wait but it is. It is an excruciating amount of time to wait. And then we’d have to wait 3 – 5 days for the results, potentially longer. I did feel a little bit like I was losing my mind. After having a meeting with my new midwife I started to look into having a Harmony Test for SMA instead of the CVS. The Harmony is a blood test that can detect your babies cells within your blood and use them to detect chromosomal conditions and genetic conditions. It is a relatively new procedure and I wasn’t sure at how accurate the results would be but I decided to look into it a bit further. I knew that it would be something we would have to pay for ourselves and my midwife gave me the numbers of a few clinics to try to see if it was something they offered. I knew it was something that could be done but I needed to find somewhere local-ish to do it and to see if the accuracy rate was high or not.
I called 4 clinics in total. I spoke to 4 receptionists, 3 midwives and had an email from a doctor. It was a no from them all. For the most part I spent a lot of time explaining the condition, how I knew I was a carrier, the situation etc etc. 3 out of the 4 clinics were really nice about saying it wasn’t something they did etc but the 4th one was quite rude about it, wanting to know who’d told me to call them with this query. Ugh. I asked if maybe we could pay for the test and they could see if they could trace the SMA in the embryos genetic make up and then we’d confirm with the CVS as a way to helping them move forward with the tests they offered, naive of me! It was a no. So it was a no go but at least I had been distracted for a few days and it is always nice to have a project to focus on.
All this time my head was everywhere. I was excited about being pregnant. Half planning how to tell people, thinking about names and thinking about when the baby would have a birthday. But then the flipside, which was the side that won out most of the time, how would I cope with having a termination, would the procedure cause a miscarriage, would we be able to try again and how would we deal with it as a family. I worried that not telling our parents and siblings was a mistake but then again, I didn’t want them to know and worry along side us. I worried that after everything else maybe if we had bad news from the CVS we wouldn’t be able to hold our relationship together. Maybe an abortion would push me over the edge. It was confusing and upsetting. Having your head in some many different places, thinking up so many senarios and trying to figure out how you would deal with them all. And then if we did have good news from the CVS that didn’t mean that we were guaranteed a baby. We had to get through the other 6 months of the pregnancy! About a week before the CVS appointment, I started to have trouble sleeping, again. Not surprising really with everything whirling around my brain, I am quite surprised that my head didn’t explode. And not to mention the stress of keeping all this to ourselves!
As a couple we were holding things together quite well. We talked to each other about how we were feeling and allowed each other space when we needed it. Joe threw himself into work and exercise and I threw myself into eating crap and bingeing podcasts about murders, a very healthy pasttime haha. We had managed to keep the few weekends before the CVS procedure quite busy with going away for my Dad’s 60th and a trip to the Trafford Centre so we didn’t have much actual time for ourselves. Keeping busy was definitely a good thing to do! I was going to the gym a lot the weeks leading up to CVS day as I knew I’d have to take things very easy after I’d had it done in order to let the mucus plug (grim) heal and due to the chance of miscarriage. I didn’t know how I was going to feel after the procedure so Joe made the decision to work from home on the wednesday and possibly thursday if I needed him to.
And that brings us to today. The day before the procedure. I am feeling fairly optimistic which probably means it will be bad news. I am normally very positive and optimistic but the past year has sort of destroyed that part of my personality, hopefully not for good. I made the mistake a few days ago of looking up CVS on Youtube, foolish. Medical procedures are not best viewed on youtube. I am well informed on what will happen and I understand that it will be quite uncomfortable if not painful but I am sure it will be better than the weeks of torture I have put myself through worrying about it all. I have everything crossed but I am dreading the wait for the results, I am really hoping that it is a 3 day rather than a 5 day wait and I am really hoping that the sample is a good one so the wait isn’t longer than that (if they don’t get a good sample then they have to cultivate cells in the lab before testing). We have opted to find out as much information from the test as possible. This means that they are going to run the SMA test as priority and if they have enough cells they will also look for the most common chromosomal conditions (Down’s Syndrome, Patau’s Syndrome and Turner’s Syndrome), they will find out the sex of the baby (but only report this if it is good news) and then they will run a full diagnostic check of the rest of the baby’s chromosomes. Our consultant says that she will tell us the SMA results as soon as she gets them and that she will make sure that I am somewhere where I can talk before she tells me what those results are. Fingers crossed for good news!