This is a difficult post to write. Not just that it’s written off the back of minimal sleep but because it’s about the more difficult and scary moments of pregnancy, a subject that people are understandably sensitive about. It’s also one that maybe doesn’t get talked about enough, and because of this you may be surprised to learn that one in four families will lose a baby during pregnancy or birth…
Sian wasn’t sure I should write about this and I understand why, we didn’t lose Quinn so how can we possibly understand what that’s like!? And the truth is we can’t, I can only imagine that losing your baby is one of the hardest things to go through in life, and the difficult moments or scares throughout Sian’s pregnancy pale into insignificance. My intention here is not to upset anyone or to over dramatize any of our own experiences, it’s simply to share them with you to tell our story and to raise awareness.
Let’s start with the obvious, I’ve never been pregnant, and I know that some women don’t like it when dad’s to be say “we’re pregnant” so I won’t say that either. I have however been there to experience Sian’s. I’d never say it’s easy because I know it’s not, but equally even though I try to appreciate it, I’ll probably never understand how physically, emotionally and mentally hard it must be. Saying that I hope not too many people will shout at me if I say that the first few weeks aren’t too difficult, because in most cases you’re not actually pregnant and then there are few symptoms for the next few. By the time most women find out they’re pregnant at around four weeks, the foundations for their baby’s brain, spine and heart are already in place. From there on Mum and baby face weeks and months of changes that place huge demands on both at the best of times.
And then there are those moments that aren’t the best of times.
For us the first difficult time came at six weeks, when a visit to the GP ended with us being told there was a threatened miscarriage. I’m not really sure I can describe how that felt. I’d barely got my head round the thought of having a baby, to then be told there’s a possibility we weren’t. It was tough but, and I really hope this doesn’t come across the wrong way, not heart-breaking. Having a baby hadn’t yet become a real thing; it still felt more of a theoretical possibility, we hadn’t seen the baby, heard its heart beat or felt it move so at the time I was more worried for Sian. We made an appointment with the early pregnancy unit and the next day went in for a scan. We sat there in a full waiting room and waited our turn. Having heard the word miscarriage I’d definitely prepared for the worst going in and I was more thinking about what I would say to Sian to comfort her.
And then we went in and within a minute or two there in that dark room on the screen was a tiny, tiny heart already beating away.
I’ve said previously that the moment Sian told me she was pregnant was the moment that everything changed, and that is true. However this was the moment it became real, seeing the beginning of our baby changed things again and I truly felt for the first time, right deep down in my bones, like I was going to be a dad and this was my baby. It’s maybe strange to say, but in a way I’m glad we had this first scare because out of it came that connection and this moment of happiness at seeing our baby for the first time.
Sian may disagree as she had to go through an ECV which I’ll tell you about another time, but for me the worst moment of the whole pregnancy was at 16 weeks. During a routine midwife appointment they tried to listen for Quinn’s heartbeat, but they couldn’t find it. Twenty minutes later and they still couldn’t find it. The midwife told us not to panic, and that it can be difficult to find at this stage of the pregnancy. But watching her search in vain over and over again and then hearing her call to book us an emergency scan didn’t help either of us to remain calm. We left the midwife and walked to get the bus to the hospital and this time there were tears. Sian had been able to feel the first fluttery movements of Quinn moving for about a week by then, and I remember standing at the bus stop as she talked to her bump and willed Quinn to move so that we knew she was ok. The hospital was only ten minutes away but the journey felt much longer and Sian didn’t feel any movement. Unlike the first scare this did feel heart-breaking and I couldn’t even contemplate preparing for the worst, I was just hoping and praying that everything would be alright.
Within minutes of arriving at hospital Sian was having the scan and it only took seconds for them to show us her heart beating away perfectly normally. I could have cried, I think I did a little, I’m not sure I’ve experienced a feeling of relief like it ever before. I was exhausted, drained and I just sat there quietly thanking God while the midwife checked everything else was ok with our baby, which it was.
Now nearly five months old Quinn is a health happy baby, I can’t imagine her not being here. Quickly take a moment to consider how many pregnancies you will be around in your life, not just your own but those of your friends and of your family. Sian and I are both one of four, so hypothetically let’s assume two pregnancies per sibling and us, that’s 14. With friends included let’s increase that to 40, I think that’s realistic. So not only does that mean a lot of presents to buy, it also means the chances are very likely that on more than one occasion we, or the people we love, will lose a baby during birth or pregnancy. Even more will experience scares like we did or even greater difficulties and need support.
I know that I’d like to reduce the chances of this happening to Sian and I or anyone for that matter, and that’s why this April I will be running my first (and probably last) marathon to raise money for Tommy’s.
Tommy’s believe it’s unacceptable that one in four women lose a baby during their pregnancy or birth and support the families that experience this devastation. They also fund research into pregnancy problems so that fewer and fewer families have to.
And they don’t only help families going through difficulties, through qualified midwifes they also provide support and advice to any parents expecting a baby. When Sian was pregnant with Quinn they provided a lot of information to us and will for half of all pregnancies in the UK. The weekly NHS email I received, that became my bible for 40 weeks, often contained links to information and advice on the Tommy’s website and when I had questions it was the first place I went to find answers.
Over the next few months I will be writing a few posts updating you of my training and how my fundraising is coming along in addition to my normal posts about Quinn, and if you’re interested or would like to donate you can visit my Just Giving page here.
The chances are that all of us will know someone, if not ourselves, who will have to go through something like this. I hope that because of Tommy’s ongoing work I’m wrong and that if I’m not that they are there to support you or me.