The moment all the prayers for joy came flooding back to me was around 5 weeks ago. I was standing in the shower, and my whole being was filled with happiness. It felt like everything I’d ever wanted was coming true. Here I was, going about my day, marvelling at the miracle of life. I was growing a tiny human.
At 11 weeks pregnant, I was starting to feel some of the relief of heading towards the end of the first trimester. The morning sickness was not entirely gone, but was better. I was able to stay awake beyond 9.30pm. And soon, I would be able to share this happiness with more than just the immediate family and handful of friends that already knew. It was all starting to get real, and in that instant I felt that finally, after years of waiting, those prayers for joy had been answered.
Fast forward a week, and the morning of my 12 week scan.
The appointment starts with blood pressure, weight and height measurements, blood tests, and discussions of all the clinical trials I could participate in. Cue lots of signing of forms. The doctor explained a little about the scan. She told me that it usually takes a while to get all the necessary measurements because the baby is so wriggly. She smiled, lead me along the corridor, and said, “Let’s go meet your baby.”
As soon as I saw the image on the screen, I knew.
My baby was not wriggling. It was still. It was not the perfectly formed baby you see in everyone’s 12 week scan pictures. The doctor spent a few minutes looking at the images, pushing the probe hard into my abdomen. After a few more minutes, the second doctor took her place. He apologised for pushing harder. It felt like hours before anyone spoke, as I choked back the tears that were inevitable. I was asked about my dates, about how regular my cycles were. With hindsight, I was being asked if there was any chance I could be less pregnant than 12 weeks.
Finally, the doctor explained to me that he could not find a heartbeat. For a foetus measuring more than 25mm, a heartbeat should be detected on an ultrasound. My foetus was measuring 28mm, and he could not find a heartbeat. He patiently took the time to show me the blood flow to my uterus, and explained that he should be able to detect this in the foetus.
My husband later told me that the 28mm measurement was shown on the screen alongside the dates “9 weeks, 4 days”.
My baby had died more than two weeks before that scan.
That joy I had felt, that complete knowledge that prayers had been answers, was shattered. And tears poured down my face.
Today, a month on from that day, I feel like a different person entirely. And I sit here, contemplating all that has happened to me. I wonder what is yet to come for my life. I remind myself to breathe, to eat, to live. And I remember that moment of joy, knowing I will never feel that way again. That innocence of a first pregnancy before miscarriage is lost forever, along with my baby.
Lastly, I remind myself to continue to pray for joy.