Saturday, 14 April 2012

Once More Into The Breach.... By Kate

...but hopefully not a breech this time.

Just under a year since my previous short-lived pregnancy, we discovered that our various efforts to combine sperm and egg had once again been successful. Various tell-tale symptoms meant I already had my suspicions and was fully expecting the positive line that appeared when I performed a home pregnancy test on the day my period should have arrived. I kept my own counsel for another week, then wrapped up the positive test and put it in Theo's Christmas stocking.

He looked quizzically at the digital device in his hand, then recoiled in shock at the message it contained: pregnant 2-3.
"Two to three...?!"
I was slightly taken aback by his shocked reaction. Then I realised.
"Not babies, Darling - weeks."
He visibly relaxed and gave me a hug, which was equal parts relief and congratulation.

My feelings were mixed. I was delighted that we had managed to conceive and I had been starting to worry about the length of time it was taking. After all, 41 is getting on a bit in child bearing terms. With that in mind, after several months of unrelenting menstruation (and one possible chemical pregnancy - a miscarriage in less than 5 weeks of gestation) I had decided to step up our baby-making efforts. Accordingly, I had invested in some sperm-encouraging lubricant, some ovulation predictor tests and a course of fertility-assisting acupuncture (a cheap deal courtesy of Groupon).

Turns out the phone call to book the acupuncture was enough on its own - I was pregnant within the next fortnight with nary a needle inserted. Powerful stuff, this acupuncture.

So the very fact of conception was a definite biological victory. But pregnancy after the emotional upset and numbing disappointment of a miscarriage is a very different experience from the pregnancies that take place with no troubled history behind them. A post-miscarriage pregnancy is an altogether more tentative and anxious affair - the blithe assumption that a healthy baby will come at the end of it just doesn't exist any more. We are made more cautious by sad experience.

The NHS midwives, although sympathetic about my concerns for the viability of my pregnancy, wouldn't refer me for an early scan unless I had a concrete reason to believe it may have gone wrong. Perfectly reasonable, but given that my previous pregnancy had hit the buffers with no external clues until the 10-week ecografia revealed its untimely demise, that was no comfort to me.

So I decided to shell out seventy pounds and pay for a private scan. It was carried out at just over 8 weeks and was seventy pounds well spent, as far as I was concerned. Despite having maintained a reasonably calm "que sera, sera" attitude up to that point, I burst into tears of pent-up anxiety and relief when the sonographer cheerily indicated the thankfully flashing beacon of the fetal heart beat. And statistically, I was now in with a 95% chance of carrying through a successful pregnancy. Heartening stuff.

The next sticking point was the outcome of the first trimester screening to check for the more "common" chromosomal abnormalities. With Rosie, a 1-in-60 risk of Down's Syndrome had come back to scare us and I'd endured an anguished and tearful few weeks deciding to have an amniocentesis test (carrying a small risk of miscarriage), then waiting to find out if that procedure would cause me to lose the pregnancy and whether the fetus' chromosomes were as they should be. It didn't and they were.

I was dreading going through all that again, but when the specialist midwife phoned to tell me we had a 1-in-47 risk this time, I surprised myself by shrugging my shoulders and calmly booking another amniocentesis. I think it helped that I had been through the whole thing once before with no bad outcomes and that I was wise enough this time to understand that the risk of having a child with Down's Syndrome was still less than 3%, so still very small.

The only time my pulse rate went up this time round was on the day of the initial result from the amnio. It came back as normal. And even though I knew that wasn't the definitive result, I immediately relaxed. Ten days later the full result was phoned through - chromosomes all fine and we were having a boy. Now we could start to allow ourselves to feel excited about the prospect of having another child - and know which set of names to consider for our impending new offspring.

Yesterday we cleared another hurdle with flying colours - the 20 week scan, known as the anomaly scan as it checks the fetus' organs, limbs and facial features for any problems. This is another nail-biting stage, as some of the problems detected can be severe and may show that the fetus, if it survives until birth, most certainly won't live for much longer. I know personally at least two people who have had to terminate their pregnancies at this stage for this reason.

But our baby boy had a clean sheet in terms of his tiny internal organs, face and limbs. Everything in the right place functioning as it should. I let out the last bit of breath I had been holding.

Yes, things can still go wrong of course, but all the main risk factors (barring my age) have now been discounted so there's every reason to believe we'll get there okay.

As for me, from the beginning I have been travelling hopefully. A friend who had lost a pregnancy in very sad circumstances (and went on to have another perfectly healthy baby afterward) gave me that advice when I asked how she had coped with the anxiety.
"All you can do is travel hopefully," she said and they are words I've taken to heart. They have served me well.

Now it's time to start accepting that another baby is on the way and start getting ready for his arrival. Where did I put that Pregnancy Yoga book?

No comments:

Post a Comment