#misCOURAGE story by Jo,
24th June 2017 was the happiest day of my life when I married my partner Aaron of 10 years (exactly to the day). What a fabulous day we had surrounded by our loved ones, “it’s me and you against the world!” we declared in our wedding vows.
In previous years we had discussed about wanting a family, coming from a large family myself I had always told Aaron I wanted 4 children, but he wasn’t so convinced! In the lead up to the wedding we discussed when we would begin trying for our first baby. We had planned our honeymoon for the December so this would be the time, we also bought the first baby grow from Jamaica as a little accent from our honeymoon.
A couple of months past and nothing had happened, but it was fine, we were relaxed about it all and enjoying married life. In March I was going away for the weekend for my friends 40th birthday, a chilled lodge weekend, hot tub, comfort food and gin! I woke up on the Saturday and realised my period was due on the Sunday but I hadn’t bought any supplies. I knew I needed something as my period was ALWAYS on time. Luckily I got some tampons from the holiday site shop! Phew.
Sunday 18th March came and I had nothing, not a spot of blood. I didn’t feel very special that morning, a little icky, a little blah. I just put it down to the gin! Aaron came to pick me up and as I got in the car a wave of nausea hit me. I put then window down and asked him blow his smoke (he’s a smoker) out the car window. He laughed and joked about me having a hangover. I told him I hadn’t come on and didn’t feel too great.
When we got home I found a pregnancy test (still in date) at the back of the cupboard. It was just the basic one that gives results in lines. I done the test and slipped it back in the plastic pouch, my god that 3 minutes felt like a life time!! I asked nervously if he wanted to check it first, he shook his head quietly. So I slowly pulled it out of the pouch and there was a very faint line, I said “I think I’m pregnant” and he asked what I meant so I showed him the test. Am I pregnant? Is that a line?
We were a little unsure and he suggested we get a digital test so we knew for sure. I had already convinced myself I was pregnant! However I done another test the following evening……...there in black and white PREGNANT. We were elated. I cried with joy! There was a little human beginning its journey inside me. I downloaded a pregnancy app on my phone and reading about what would be happening at that time. I was looking at prams, clothes, bedroom ideas, bottles, maternity bras. You name it and I researched it! We discussed names and I had a list as long as my arm but we never agreed on one but we said it didn’t matter as we had plenty of time to decide.
Those mornings after we found out I felt as sick as a dog, my breasts were hurting and I just wanted to drink chocolate milkshake! I had contacted my GP and had my first appointment booked with the midwife, so very exciting and so hard not to tell anyone. I did tell my two managers (who happen to be very good friends of mine, it was her 40th birthday we had just celebrated) because I was sooooo excited. We had discussed that Aaron wouldn’t smoke around me anymore or in the car, and also that we would wait as long as possible to share our wonderful news.
On the Saturday we had a date night planned, on our return home I had a wee and there was very faint pink blood on the tissue. I shouted for Aaron and he came straight away. His faced dropped and said, “what does that mean?”. I felt a little teary, but I wasn’t sure? What does it mean? Is it normal? It’s only a little bit isn’t it? I got into bed and read about implantation bleeding, maybe it’s that? Aaron was quiet and wasn’t really saying anything. I had another wee and it happened again. I rang my local maternity clinic who said it was likely to be implantation bleeding but keep an eye on it, nothing could be done as it was very early. I didn’t sleep very well, thinking over and over. Wanting to keep going to the bathroom to check if there was any more blood.
On the Sunday it happened again but there was more of it and darker in colour. I was getting some pain, only faint pain but it was there, low down. I still had the dreadful nausea so surely I was still pregnant?
Another uneasy night but the blood and pain continued to the Monday. By the evening I wanted a hot water bottle, I couldn’t stay still, I was fidgeting, I was uncomfortable. But I plastered a smile on my face as a friend was visiting with her new born baby. I hid the hot water bottle and snuggled her baby in my arms. ‘This will be me’ I thought, only 8 months to go!
By 10pm I wasn’t feeling so good, so I rang the maternity clinic again. She suggested I go to the Early Pregnancy Assessment Clinic (EPAC) first thing in the morning, get peace of mind that everything is ok. That evening I don’t think either of us had any sleep. I felt shaky and nervous, but scared as I didn’t know what to expect, what was going to happen.
We arrived at the clinic at 7.30am and had to wait, time seems to pass slowly when your waiting so patiently! Many other women were also waiting with the same fearful look in their eyes. We all flooded through the doors when they were unlocked, filled out the registration form and waited. Every noise, knock, door hinge I looked in anticipation that it was my turn to be seen.
Finally, I got called by the doctor, Lottie, lovely warm lady with a gentle voice. She asked some questions and said she would arrange a scan so we would need to wait again in the reception area. Unbeknown to us, this waiting area was for EVERYONE. There were women walking out of the scan rooms with their blooming bumps clutching lovingly to their scan pictures. There were also other women walking out with tears rolling down their faces, how is this happening? How is this taking place in the same area?
I got called one side and asked if I gave permission for a trainee to perform my internal scan. I agreed straight away and they took us to the scan room. A small dark room, me, Aaron, the trainee and two nurses. I lay nervously on the bed whilst the trainee pokes around with everyone at the bottom of the bed, no dignity here! I wasn’t allowed to see the screen either. The qualified nurse took over and said she could see “a blob” to the right side of my uterus. The pictures weren’t clear so they would need further investigation.
We had to wait for a little while longer then Lottie (the doctor) called us again. She wanted to take some blood to check my HCG levels. She said there was a possibility it could be an ectopic pregnancy. I had heard about this before but this wasn’t happening to me was it? She just needs to check and everything will be fine, I’m sure of it. Aaron asked her to explain and she did, very clearly, very caringly with empathy. She said she will call me later in the afternoon with the blood results and wanted to see me again in two days (Thursday) so they could do more blood and compare the hormone levels. As we walked out my mind was in overdrive. So much so I didn’t have any feelings, I wasn’t upset but why would I be. Everything was going to be fine, our baby was going to be ok. This sort of thing doesn’t happen to people like us.
When we got home I was restless, up and down from the sofa. I demanded that Aaron take me out, we went to order our new fridge freezer. I spent ages looking at them in the shop even though we had already decided what we were having. I just wanted to waste some time until she called. Eventually the phone rang and I’ve never answered it so fast. Lottie said that my hormone was rather low which could be due to me only being 5 weeks or it could be another indicator of ectopic pregnancy. But it will be fine won’t it? I’m only 5 weeks so the hormone can’t be that high already.
Thursday couldn’t come quick enough! Off to the clinic again, this time we had an appointment so not much waiting around. Lottie greeted us again and asked both of us how we were. She took more blood and said she would ring again in the afternoon with the results. We were supposed to be going to London the following day for the Easter weekend, Lottie said there was no reason we couldn’t go but to seek immediate medical attention should I become unwell. She explained the serious risks of ectopic pregnancy………….. I don’t need that though, I’ll be fine, our baby will be fine. Aaron on the other hand had already decided we were not going, absolutely no way.
Later that afternoon she rang and her voice seemed different. She explained that the hormone hadn’t changed, it should have at least doubled by now. She said she wanted to see me again in a week but if I become unwell in the meantime then I was to go straight to A&E.
I pottered around the house with a million thoughts in my head, a million thoughts about our baby. Aaron suggested we have some tea, I just wanted a hot water bottle on my aching belly. He went ahead and made some nachos, “we need to eat” he said. ‘That’s right’ I thought ‘I must eat for our baby’. Half way through eating it felt like someone had stabbed my right shoulder, I burst into tears. I just felt a horrible wave come over me. I sobbed to Aaron that I didn’t feel well. What do we do? Surely I’m ok? I’m probably exhausted from worry? I rang the maternity clinic and explained the situation, they said I should go straight to A&E but I thought it was a bit dramatic. I then rang 111 but they weren’t much help! So I reluctantly packed a bag and we headed for A&E.
“Don’t leave me” I sobbed to Aaron driving in whilst clutching the hot water bottle against my belly, “please don’t leave me”. When we got there I gave my name and they said they were expecting me. They whisked me through the side door and got me in a gown. I was assessed by the nurse and a canula was inserted into my hand. They checked on me regularly and asked about my pain, I was adamant I wasn’t staying in there overnight. It will be fine though, they will check me over and I will be able to go home and continue my pregnancy without a problem.
A few hours past, blood tests and checks and also no food or drink until told otherwise. That’s was awful as I love my food! They then decided I was staying in and I would be admitted to the ward. They wheeled me up but all was in darkness, it was midnight. I felt so alone and just sobbed in my bay, Aaron was sent home. What if it is bad news, will Aaron still want to be with me? A doctor appeared wanting to take me for a scan, off I scuttled across the ward in my gown to have an internal scan. She was a lovely lady, asking me lots of questions about the ‘blob’ that was found on my first scan.
First thing in the morning the consultant and surgeon appeared at my bedside. They had decided that the only way to find out what the ‘blob’ is, is to have a laparoscopy (key hole surgery). I would be put onto the surgery list immediately and they would collect me when it’s my turn later that day. I rang Aaron and my parents, they all came in to see me. But I’m fine I thought, our baby will be fine too. The day dragged especially as I wasn’t allowed to eat or drink!
The surgeon appeared at my bedside again, with a tired concerning expression. She explained that I wasn’t going to theatre today as there had been an emergency therefore I would be seen tomorrow. That’s fine as they can’t be too worried about me leaving me for another day surely?
I barely got out the bed the following morning when the nurse came in wanting to put surgery socks on me as I was first on the theatre list. I was wheeled off to theatre in my bed, seemed a little fussy as there wasn’t much wrong with me. I did tell them I could walk but the porters were having none of it. The theatre staff were lovely, all introduced themselves and their role. I felt quite upbeat, I’ll get checked and then all will be fine but I did have a little niggle in the back of my head. Before I knew it I was off to sleep.
I woke up crying, “Aaron, where’s Aaron?” I mumbled to the nurse. She couldn’t understand me, I pulled my oxygen mask off my face and asked again, she reassured me that they had been calling him and he would come. Why is he not answering the phone? He doesn’t want me anymore I thought. Then the surgeon appeared held my hand and said she was very sorry but it was an ectopic pregnancy therefore my right fallopian tube had been removed………….BANG it was like someone had just stabbed me right through my heart. How can this be happening to me? Why me? Our baby has gone…..Our baby has been discarded like all other bodily bits and bobs.
Back on the ward I felt awful, so awful I was numb. It felt like a bad dream! My belly was achy, tender and sore from the three holes they cut but my heart was broken, well and truly broken. That feeling is the worst feeling in the world.
I was allowed home the following day. Two weeks rest and recovery the surgeon said. Aaron took great care of me, running around after me, plumping up my pillows, fetching me drinks, getting me food and also helping me to shower. He has been super patient with me especially through my meltdowns and tears. Physically I healed really well, following all of the aftercare instructions. Mentally I didn’t cope so well, I brushed it under the carpet and repeatedly told myself and others I was fine. I blamed myself on a daily basis, obviously my body is no good, there must be something wrong with me. Maybe I shouldn’t have got in the hot tub on the girls weekend. What if it was the gin I drank. So many questions and what if’s.
As more time past, the harder it has been to deal with, especially all the negative pregnancy tests. Was it my only chance to have a baby? Comments from family and friends were the hardest…..”at least you know you can get pregnant” “its obvious everything is working” “don’t get to stressed and you will be pregnant again before you know it” “once you get pregnant again you will forget this even happened”.
Sometimes I just wanted to go crazy at them but how could I, they didn’t know how to comfort me. They were just trying to say something to help me, especially as I was telling everyone I was fine. Many people don’t know what to say, like it is a taboo subject.
I am slowly teaching myself now that it’s very important to talk about it, to help and heal your mental health as that is just as important as healing physically. Also sharing feelings with Aaron, what about him? What about his feelings? Very few people asked about him but he has lost his baby too.
So now I talk to people about it and our dreadful loss. Even though it is still painful, it has left me with a piece missing from my heart and an everlasting wonder of why us. We still live in hope of expanding our family but most importantly Aaron and I have become closer throughout this brutal journey. As we vowed “it’s me and you against the world”.
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