Written November 2019
The two-week wait is tough but for some reason, I am finding the first trimester a little more difficult this time around.
Or maybe I’m just remembering it a little differently.
I don’t remember being this anxious about bethend having a miscarriage but now I’m just waiting for the twelve weeks to be up, to feel more secure in this pregnancy.
And it doesn’t have to be this way. I’ve been a little more open about this pregnancy this time around. When bethend was pregnant with Snappy it felt like the worst kept secret in town but this is fewer people figuring it out and more the two of us actively telling people.
With Snappy people told us it was unlucky to tell people before 12 weeks. And it was something I grew up with (I’m the oldest cousin on my mum’s side by a number of years). This idea of it being unlucky is tied to the increased risk of miscarriage in the first trimester.
All this has really done is to encourage a culture of silence around pregnancy and early miscarriage.
Bethend had a miscarriage over a year ago, in October 2018. I didn’t blog about it and only told a few people for the first few months. And it’s not really my story to tell, it’s her body but it has affected me. It was an early miscarriage, two weeks but given how long it had taken to find a donor (how long it always takes to find a donor), it had its effect.
I feel them now, even as we creep into the twelfth week.
According to the stats most miscarriages occur at the start of pregnancy.
Over 80% of miscarriages happen within the first twelve weeks of pregnancy. After 12 weeks, the rate decreases. The overall probability of a miscarriage in the UK goes like this – 25% at four weeks; 5% at eight weeks; 1.7% at twelve weeks; and 0.5% at sixteen weeks.
We hear a lot about the one in four statistics. One in four pregnancies ends in miscarriage. Everyone knows it, everyone talks about it, but no one is actually talking about the people who miscarriage. They become numbers like with every other stat, and not actually people.
And then as no one talks about those people, those people don’t talk about it either.
For us it’s a little different. Again it’s not my story, it’s Bethend’s body, but I felt the loss though. Much of the pain was about disappointment, at how well things had been going for a change in face of what had been a pretty crappy year.
We’d gotten a donor, gotten pregnant, I’d gotten a job I really liked, things were going our way finally. Then the miscarriage happened and my mental health started to spiral again. It felt like the world was out to get me and then we had to find another donor as ours dropped off the radar.
But I didn’t really talk about any of that and I have those same fears now. Losing the baby, losing the donor. I’ve been more open about all it this time around, at least about the pregnancy, but those old fears are hard to shake.
It’s ingrained, it’s common knowledge, something I’ve heard time and time again.
You don’t tell anyone until you’re twelve weeks pregnant. “It’s bad luck.”
But regardless of whether you believe in luck or not, all this really does is close people off from opportunities to talk about what they are going through. Not just the fear, risk and actual miscarriage but the changes and emotions experience in those first three months. While most people will confide in their partner, immediate family and best friends, giving them some people to talk to, so many changes cannot be concealed. Pregnancy is huge, it massively affects a person’s body and there needs to be some concessions, respect for what a person is going through. New limitations, new needs.
Given the state of mental health care in the UK, we need to turn to the people around us for the care and support we don’t and won’t ger from the NHS. When Bethend had her miscarriage, all she had were some blood tests to check she wasn’t anaemic.
At two weeks, the doctor may not have thought that this was really a loss. But what if we were suffering with infertility as well? What is this was a pregnancy after endless attempts and negative pregnancy tests? The pregnancy and subsequent miscarriage really through her body into a spin that was hard to deal with too and hard to get people to understand how much change had already happened and was happening.
I am aware people have been doing this for a long time now. But the more we’ve learnt, the more we respect a person’s body during pregnancy the safer both the person and fetus. For both parent and baby.
Both physically and emotionally.
Surely that can only be a good thing.