Mother (Almost Never) Knows Best: The Pregnancy: When Bad Things Happen To Good Embryos

Friday, 3 March 2017

The Pregnancy: When Bad Things Happen To Good Embryos


So we are pregnant and just about used to the idea. There is a little nausea, there is a lot of bloating. I feel thick, not fat just thick around the middle. It is a permanent state of PMS. Just delightful. Around the corner we have our 12 week scan and I am excited. The booking appointment was very formulaic; a list of dull questions (name, DOB, address, etc.), some slightly more interesting ones (last period, family medical history, etc.), a bit of wee, a few vials of blood and a ‘close your eyes and hum loudly to yourself’ date with the weighing scales then the receipt of a lovely green ‘low risk’ stamp. Huzzah. Straight to the midwifery led birthing unit, do not pass go. But the scan, that was going to be exciting, it would all feel so real after that and we can start sharing our happy news.

I wasn’t a fool though, as an innately pessimistic human I had all my anxious thoughts neatly collated in preparation for my scan. I have a weird belief that if I have considered the worst possibility and verbalised that to all in sundry then it is less likely to happen. I have no experience on which to base this belief other than the fact that I have done this routinely and led a largely charmed life up to this point. (Husband is almost the complete opposite and lives by the ‘worry is like a rocking chair; gives you something to do but gets you nowhere’ school of thinking. I drive him insane but he humours me.) So there I am, prepared, or so I thought. They call my name. Deep breath and in we go.

“Just some cold jelly”. I see a head. As a side point, how can babies be quite so beautiful when their heads are twice the size of the rest of their bodies? A head is good, I know nothing about the measurements so just cross my fingers and toes (literally) while the nice sonographer concentrates on the job in hand. This isn’t too bad. There is clearly a heartbeat, which we have all enjoyed listening to and there is a bit of wriggling going on. That is a positive sign. Then it comes.

“I am just going to step out for a moment.”

I look at my husband, he is trying to be reassuring but I have seen the flash of panic in his eyes.

Then she comes back in, except this time she has brought someone who doesn’t wear a uniform. This is not good. Uniforms are reassuring; they have a clear job, they do the grafting. They are very talented but have a remit. Go out with their remit and the big guns are called in. Big guns don’t wear uniforms. Big guns are also rarely required in good news scenarios.

The lady with the kind face introduces herself (there was a doctor in there somewhere) and tells me that she is “just going to take a look”, which she does and then she asks the sonographer to see if the room is free. I know that room. I have seen people go into that room composed and coming out broken and bereft. In my head I am saying “no, just tell me now” but I have no words, I can barely stand never mind speak. It’s like I am underwater and screaming for help but no one can hear me. I am locked in with my panicked thoughts and I need someone to pull me out.

She comes in and explains very clearly what they have found and what it means.

“There is no fluid around the baby.”

“This is normally associated with non-viable pregnancies largely due to chromosomal abnormalities.”

“The baby’s heart is beating but a miscarriage is almost inevitable. It is a waiting game.”

“If nothing happens in the interim, we need you to return in a week for another scan and then we will make a plan.”

“I am sorry.”

So we leave. Broken and bereft. I have failed you before you have even taken a breath. I am evicting you when I should be the one who keeps you safe from harm.

There is nothing I can do but cry. So I cry. All I do is cry.

My husband suggests we go for a walk. In hind sight, this was a terrible idea. We say some things, none of which I can remember but I imagine along the lines of “this isn’t fair”, “was it [insert ridiculous self-blaming activity here] that caused this? ” and then we stumble across a nursery school out for their walk, holding hands, wearing their high-viz jackets and looking more adorable than any living creature should be permitted to look. My heart hurts more than I ever thought possible.

So I cry some more.


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