Trigger warning: miscarriage and domestic abuse themes discussed below.
I’m starting this blog by talking about a taboo subject: miscarriage. Because it’s not spoken about even nearly enough.
Those first 12 weeks of pregnancy aren’t just filled with happiness and excitement, they’re equally filled with worry and anxiety. A lot of people aren’t aware at just how high the rate of early miscarriage is. It’s estimated that 1 in 4 known pregnancies ends in miscarriage, with 85% of those occurring during the first trimester. 1 in 4 is so high, too high.
Sadly, I know of many families who have been devastated by miscarriage, and this was weighing on my mind a lot during my first trimester. I felt that I couldn’t get properly excited until we reached the 12 week point. I didn’t want to plan or talk about the baby too much, just in case. I was constantly on edge, prepared to see the worst every time I went to the toilet and it became consuming. Every twinge and pain I was Googling, and at one point I’d convinced myself I might be having an ectopic pregnancy. This was the main reason we chose to have an Early Scan, to put my mind at rest that everything was ok.
We’ve been so blessed and we’re unbelievably grateful to have made it to 12 weeks, and it breaks my heart that so many precious little babies don’t.
We’ve been lucky that our 12 week NHS scan was actually the 3rd time we’d got to see Baby E, the first time was at our private 9 week scan, then we had another one at 12 weeks as Paul wasn’t allowed to come to my 12 week scan due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Initially, I’d been extremely nervous about attending the 12 week scan alone. I hate finding my way around unfamiliar places, and I also hate blood tests! But after we had our second Window to the Womb scan and we were told everything was healthy with Baby E, I felt a lot more comfortable. Our midwife had also been round to our house to take a blood test, so I was less scared about needing another one in hospital. Turns out blood tests really aren’t that bad are they!
Our NHS 12 week scan
The 12 week scan appointment was longer than I expected, and I saw quite a few different medical staff about different things. After finally finding my way to the right reception desk, I was asked to wear a mask and to wait until the sonographer called my name. When it was my turn to be scanned, they allowed me to FaceTime Paul, which we were grateful for as some NHS trusts haven’t allowed this. The sonographer took a good look round at Baby E and their measurements, and allowed us to watch them for quite a while, it was a much longer scan than the private ones so that was reassuring. Baby E was super active again, kicking their legs and touching their face with their little arms, it was so cute and we were able to get a couple of good images.
I was then taken into a private room by a different midwife and asked if I suffered from domestic abuse in my relationship. Initially I was confused and thought, what on earth gave you that impression?! But she then explained that it’s a routine check that midwifes are doing whilst women are currently coming to scans alone. I’m grateful to not suffer from domestic abuse, but so many women do. Evidence shows that sadly, domestic abuse tends to increase when a woman is pregnant, so I thought this was a great initiative by the midwives at the Countess, and hopefully it will encourage victims to speak out against their abusers, without them present to influence their answers.
We chose to get the additional tests done to see if Baby E has a higher chance of being born with life limiting illnesses. We thought long and hard about having these tests done, and I almost didn’t. It wouldn’t have changed our mind about having this baby, so I wondered what the point was. But when reading more into it, a lot of women said that although it wouldn’t change them wanting to carry on with the pregnancy, it did help prepare them for the birth and the challenges they might have to face. So after another blood test and my new maternity folder, I was good to go!
I’d said since the beginning of our pregnancy that I didn’t want anyone to buy anything for the baby until after our 12 week scan, so I was SO excited to get a little outfit on our way from the hospital. Luckily Matalan in Chester was open, and we got these 3 gorgeous little grey outfits, I’m in love!
My best friend also got us these lovely pregnancy milestone cards, so I put this little pic together that same day:
I had been dreaming about how we would announce our pregnancy on social media for years, and I’d followed a few hashtags on instagram even before we were trying. As soon as we knew Baby E was due around Christmas, I just knew it had to be festive themed!
I contemplated having a photoshoot down the beach, or in Beddgelert where we got engaged (my favourite place in the whole world), but COVID made this difficult. Another idea we had was to make a stop motion video around baking, but to be honest we just never got round to it so we ended up with a basic letter board and some little Christmas bits. I was made up with it though:
I got the quote from Google; thought this very apt and funny.
The personalised baby grow was from eBay.co.uk, I got a long sleeved one so Baby E can actually wear this when they arrive in the winter. The candy cane heart idea was also off Google, I ordered plastic ones so we can re-use them on our tree every year. The eucalyptus was left over from the Valentine’s flowers Paul bought me earlier this year, so that part was extra special. The little reindeers were one of the first Christmas decorations we bought for our first house together, so I thought they were just perfect for this announcement!
We’ve loved reading all the lovely comments from you all congratulating us on our pregnancy. We are so blessed that Baby E has made it this far, and that they are already so loved. Every single day I’m grateful to be pregnant, and when Baby E arrives, I know every day I’ll be even more grateful to be a Mum.
Never take for granted that you have your baby to hold in your arms, and if you know someone who has been affected by the loss of a baby, ask them if they want to talk about it.