I have really enjoyed joining in with this project this year, and being given the chance to look back on each week and take a few moments to write about what has happened. Generally, as you may have noticed, I try to keep the posts short and quite positive. I like to keep this blog a record of happy memories, and although sometimes I worry it can be a bit superficial, and a bit one-sided to only show the cheerful things, I think it's important for me that I don't get into the habit of using this as a platform to moan! I also avoid writing about current affairs, or big issues, even when I have quite strong opinions on them, often because I don't want to feel like I'm opening this space up for debate, and argument. As much as I enjoy, and think it's important, to look at things from various viewpoints, I think the anonymity and immediacy of the internet can sometimes make those discussions a little more intimidating and intrusive, so I tend to steer clear. Additionally, and I realise this is always a somewhat bizarre comment for someone who chooses to blog to make, but I value my privacy, and am careful about what I choose to share here, in such a permanent, public manner.
There are some weeks, though, where you find yourself breaking the rules you have set for yourself, so apologies for the slight change of tone this week, and for the lengthy post ahead. I have been thinking about writing this for a long time, about how trying for a baby has been going on in the background of our lives for almost a year now. For The Husband and I, both intensely private about this, it is not something we had discussed with anyone until this week. I had often thought, though, if we got to twelve months, or perhaps to my thirtieth, I would try and find the words to write.
I was going to write about how, despite promising myself I wouldn't let it be all-consuming, within the first month I was convinced I had a metallic taste in my mouth, and was recording all manner of random symptoms on an app. I was also suddenly immersed in an online world filled with new and bizarre acronyms, and very quickly stopped reading forums about fertility and trying to conceive, when I realised just how much information was out there, and how it would be easy to get very involved, very quickly. I was going to write about how I became fixated on age, having arbitrarily decided that I wanted my first child before thirty, and then watching that possibility disappear as the months went past. Suddenly, every film, blog, news article that mentioned pregnancy, or children would result in some intrepid detective work to find out the mother's age, and then some rapid calculations to establish how old she was when she had her first child.
I was also going to write about how hard it is to relax about trying to conceive. If, like me, you like to follow the rules, there are plenty to be found, long before you manage to get pregnant. Ideally you should take folic acid for three months before you even start trying, which means I have been on pre-natal vitamins for what seems like forever. Even better, they are pregnancy vitamins which are suitable for pre-conception, so for over a year I have been taking pregnancy vitamins for a pregnancy that hadn't happened. You also shouldn't drink, which means that for the majority of every month, nights out, meals, meeting up with friends all involve deep consideration of the small likelihood of being pregnant weighed against the worry that would be caused if I had a few glasses of wine and later found that I was. You should ideally be at a healthy weight, and although I have lost a stone in recent months, there is more to go before I have a BMI in the normal range, and there lies another constant reminder of our pursuit of pregnancy every time I step on the scales. Finally, particularly if, like me, you are not predictable, when it comes to cycles (I have PCOS which makes them longer, and irregular), you have less chances a year to get pregnant, and you need to do some committed diary-keeping to keep track of it all. All things considered, however casual I might try to be, it becomes very difficult to not think about it as a major endeavour.
As it was, we came home from New York in September with lots of happy memories, wonderful photographs, and somewhere buried in the suitcase, was a positive pregnancy test. I was, as is my nature, cautiously excited, The Husband was just plain excited. Within a few hours of being home, however, I started with some mild symptoms that made us a little nervous, and after a few days I ended up going for an early assessment. Things looked fine, their test confirmed I was pregnant, and it was just a case of waiting for a scan, which they would only do when my dates were roughly six weeks, all the while knowing that even then I could well be closer to five weeks thanks to my variable cycles. We told my parents, cautiously, but still spent a giddy night celebrating. Over the weekend, though, my symptoms worsened, nothing severe, but it definitely didn't seem like a positive sign. After days of uncertainty, scans and blood tests this week confirmed that the pregnancy had stopped very very early, and had never developed beyond a few weeks, so early that there was nothing to see on the scan.
We are consoling ourselves with the fact that for us, it never seemed certain. The lines on the test were always quite faint, and by the time we had a digital test that was positive my symptoms had already started, so we were prepared for this almost from the start. We are also, in a small way, pleased to know that we are able to conceive, but I have to be in the right frame of mind to think of it like that. We are glad of each other, and my parents and friends. Only a handful of people know, but those that do have been incredibly supportive. We are having a quiet, low-key weekend, and I feel incredibly grateful for the relationship The Husband and I have, and the fact that we can come to the end of this week and still genuinely feel happy, and content, and hopeful.
There have been tears, at night, in the quiet, when I realise that, however briefly, for a few nights I drifted off wishing a silent goodnight to a baby that was never to be. When I got ready for the scan, and felt stupid putting on lipstick, knowing in all likelihood I would be going to stare at an empty screen, but wanting to look nice just in case. When we came home from that scan, and did a test, and saw the words not pregnant, confirming what we knew, and saving us one more night of uncertainty waiting for the blood test results. As we sat together and realised that in just a few days we had made so many plans, had so many daydreams, and the nicknames that we had for our growing baby suddenly sounded silly and hollow, and that I had probably spent many days talking to it, trying to convince it to stay, when it had already been long gone. I have never been more grateful for Millie, who has spent every morning curled up on the bed with me, watching films and being cuddled. She has been my shadow, and has stopped those long days at home from feeling empty, and distracted me from my thoughts on innumerable occasions.
The truth is, that we are doing ok. For us, it was so early and so soon, and gradually became expected, that we were accepting of the news almost before we had received it. We both said that we never felt like we were "properly" pregnant, because there was such doubt almost immediately, and so it feels like this was a pregnancy that never really got started, rather than a baby that we lost. It's easy to get caught up in how you should feel, and what is the right response, and instead we are just being sad when we need to, talking about it when we need to, and also feeling reassured that after months of wondering, we now know we can conceive. While I obviously wish things were different, and I am hoping beyond hope it will change in the future, for now, it is back to being just the two of us; we are happy, and two is enough.