We had our first scan on July 10th 2014. I had waited for what seemed like forever for this date and I can’t describe to those who have not experienced it the sense of anticipation and stress I felt leading up to it.
I don’t think any newly pregnant woman does not have the same fears or anxieties. ‘Is the baby ok?’, ‘What if there is a problem?’ or even ‘What if there is nothing there at all and the test was wrong?!’ These are all common worries. However common they may be, it does not change the fact that right up until you see that little blip on the screen, I’m not sure you really believe it. Or you're scared to believe it in case there is a problem. All I remember about that time is that I was terrified and in some ways, these feelings ruined the first precious few weeks of my pregnancy.
As soon as those little positive lines appeared on the test, I was overcome with a sense of foreboding anxiety. Over the moon yes, but haunted by an unseen cloud of doom and gloom. At this time, the internet was not my friend. Whilst trying to seek the comfort I so desperately craved and trying to chill the fudge out, I read horror story after horror story about women who had lost their babies very early on, had blighted ovums and a whole host of other equally upsetting things that went wrong with their early pregnancies. This sent me spiralling into a bit of a depressive state (fun for Mike). Why did I not feel the way I thought I should, or wanted to? Happy, glowing, content with our little secret that only a handful of people knew about. I felt guilty about being consumed with worry but didn't dare voice my concerns. I am not really one for 'divine intervention' or fate but I felt that if something were to be wrong, it would be my fault as I had ‘wished’ it upon myself by thinking about it too much. I have learned now, albeit too late, that there is no ‘normal’ way of feeling. That was how I felt. I think in hindsight that I should have embraced it a little more and vocalised my worries. It may have helped, it may not. I hope that other women have a better experience than I did and don't send themselves stir crazy wading through a cyber landscape of miscarriage and brimstone.
Although my husband was supportive in his little way, he didn't quite know how to react to my unrelenting madness. About a week after finding out I was pregnant, he came home one night to find me hysterically crying over the washing up, shouting at him for every reason under the sun and telling him that he needed to take me out because I felt like the walls were closing in on me. Now, I can imagine this was a little difficult to deal with after a week at work in the field on exercise and a 4 hour drive home. I won't forget the look on his face. A mixture of weary surprise and ‘holy shit, is this how she’s going to be all the time?!’ He took me for a drive, talked rubbish to me and after half an hour, I had calmed down. Thankfully, this was a fairly isolated experience, but for the majority of the pregnancy I was screaming quite a lot internally.
I tried to explain to my midwife during my first appointment how I was feeling, but I was quite aware that I sounded like a crazy person so didn't unleash all of what was going on inside my head to her. She was nice, but I felt that she had heard it all before, which in all fairness, she more than likely had! Waiting for the scan was difficult, made worse by the fact that it was booked for when I was nearly 14 weeks, not 12. For the last year and a half, I have been tracking my menstrual cycle on an app called ‘Mydays’ so I was fairly certain of the date we had conceived (turns out I was spot on!) so I was disappointed that I would have to wait till nearly 14 weeks. Those two extra weeks felt like an expanding eternity. After my initial appointment, it felt quite strange to just be given a pat on the head and sent on my merry way. I was told to eat healthily and take my folic acid. What? That's it? The midwife didn't seem to understand the gravity of what was happening to me. And only me. Because of course, it's not like any other woman had ever been pregnant in the history of the universe...right?
And then the sickness began…
From around 6 weeks, I felt AWFUL. I was tired and constantly nauseous. My skin was terrible and I felt drained of energy. This was on top of the unyielding worry. I started being sick around twice a day although I felt sick constantly so it’s not like there was no warning. I work in a secondary school and on a few occasions, had to run out of class to be sick. This was difficult to explain away, as I didn't want to tell my colleagues (and certainly not students, they tend to be somewhat gossipy) that I was pregnant. I was thoroughly miserable and a few times (this is hard for me to admit, but it is the truth) regretted being pregnant, which would set me off again as I felt so guilty that the thought had even crossed my mind. I’m not a good sleeper at the best of times and have never been but I was barely sleeping, and would burn out in the middle of the day. Working full time, there was not much I could do about it. I think my husband thought I was faking sometimes. At this stage, you are not physically showing at all so I think it’s difficult for men to really understand what you are going through, being the visual creatures that they tend to be. One minute I had been fine, then almost immediately after finding out I was pregnant, I was a hormonal, screamy mess! I’m sure he thought I was after sympathy. And you know what, sometimes I was. Being the wife of a squaddie, I have always found sympathy or indeed empathy to be in short supply. The words "man up" were heard in our house more than a few times. The words "insensitive" and "bastard" usually followed. I digress. This horrible sickness lasted until around 11 weeks. Then came some sweet relief. I stopped feeling so nauseous which was my main complaint and had a little more energy. In fact, I was so paranoid that I thought something was wrong because I didn't feel unwell. Seriously, I just can't win with myself!
Me, feeling particularly sorry for myself.
Finally the day came for our scan. It wasn't until 5.30pm so I had a whole day of work to endure first. Mike had travelled home from his base that day to come with me and traffic had been bad so I was worried we were going to be late. I, of course blamed him. He picked me up from school and I cried the whole way there. When we got there, we were directed to wait (more waiting...really?!), and I saw three or four couples go in and come out looking happy. I hoped desperately that we would follow suit. Mike was very quiet and didn’t say much apart from “what will be will be” which was all he could say really. It was finally our turn.
We went into the little room and the bored-looking lady told me to lie down and unbutton the top of my trousers. She was very quiet and barely looked at me. To her, I was just another crazy pregnant lady. I tried to smile and offer a few pleasantries but she didn't seem interested so I quickly gave up. She squeezed some of the ultrasound gel onto my tummy and pushed the wand firmly down. This bordered on painful. I had drank so much water (as directed) that I needed the toilet very badly and thought I might wet myself, which I'm sure would have been very amusing and a great anecdote. Then I finally saw it. With my unblinking peepers I saw my little pipsqueak pop onto the screen and my heart skipped a beat. I was totally mesmerized by the image. I don’t recall seeing any movement and kept asking “Is the baby ok?”. The technician just nodded and continued checking whatever she was checking, making no attempt to explain what she was doing. Mike said “Ha ha, I’m glad it’s not just a big poo!” (how romantic and appropriate) She showed us the spine and the bottom and then all of a sudden, it was over. It lasted from start to finish, around 5mins. We took our little picture (pricey!) and toddled off, feeling happy but bewildered. I then had to have bloods taken which due to my ridiculously small veins, took tiny pediatric needles, and two phlebotomists! The only thing that rivaled the feeling of happiness was going to the toilet afterwards. It was without question the best wee I have ever had.
The first pic of baby MMW.
And that was that. When I thought about it later, I wished I would have asked a lot more questions, asked to hear the heartbeat and generally been a bit more pushy, as the technician we had was pretty useless. I felt really angry about it afterwards as I had been so worried for weeks and then I felt that she had robbed me of my magical experience. I got myself into a mood (a pregnant woman in a mood? surely not I hear you cry en masse), and we even had an argument on the way home. When I got home I cried for an hour, which was totally silly. It was mostly relief I think. Nevertheless, our baby was fine and this was wonderful news.
I felt very lucky. Seriously lucky. I can’t imagine the devastation I would have felt if there had been a problem and my heart sincerely goes out to those couples who do experience problems. My advice to any newly pregnant woman is to not trawl the internet and take solace in the fact that (in my experience) the sickness subsides. Although my first scan was a bit of a crap experience, my second more than made up for it…that one truly was magical! Let me know if you would like to hear about it.
I hope reading about my experience will help someone who also felt/feels a little depressed during their first trimester. It does get better!
In a state of constant surprise that I was actually with child.