A Pregnancy Update: First Trimester (Weeks 1 to 12)

So, last week I announced that Hay was pregnant and that we’re expecting a second sprog to be joining the clan in February 2018 – woop woop. However, I did also say that it hadn’t been an easy ride so far. I only wanted to focus on the positive in that last post, but as that’s now done and dusted, here’s a follow up explaining why things have been a bit of an emotional roller coaster during the first trimester. So, with that, cue a trigger warning.

To put it bluntly, (1) we thought we’d had a miscarriage, then (2) we were told about a ‘potential issue’ during the 12-week scan. It’s worthwhile saying that things are OK now and we’re positive about the rest of the pregnancy, but at times, we have assumed the worst. When you let your mind start thinking about the future, there’s nothing which brings you back down to Earth quicker than unexpected complications.

I guess I’ll take you back to Sunday 16th July when Hay was 9+2. She called me upstairs to the bathroom and told me that she’d had a bleed. This was something we’d experienced during the first pregnancy with Toddler L, however something was different this time. I don’t want to get too graphic, but she’d passed something which was a couple of inches in length and had a rubbery / jelly-like appearance. It reminded me a bit of a kidney.

From our first pregnancy, we found out that bleeding is quite common – NHS say around 10% of women experience some bleeding, whereas WebMD suggest 20% of women during the first trimester (1 to 12 weeks). What scared us this time though was that this ‘bleed experience’ was different to the last. We’d had a scare with Toddler L and feared the worst, but luckily we’d come through it and everything was OK. As this was different though, surely it meant that there’d be a different outcome – namely miscarriage – particularly considering 75% of miscarriages happen in the first trimester, according to NHS.

So, with heavy hearts, we dropped Toddler L at a friend’s house and went to A&E. Due to some particularly [insert your own expletive] people who think A&E is the right place for things like mild sunburn, a headache and a twisted ankle, it took just over two hours to be seen by the triage nurse. Here, she took Hay’s blood pressure and a urine sample, before asking us to go back into the waiting room for further tests.

Another 45 minutes or so later, we saw another nurse who took some bloods, felt Hay’s stomach, did an ECG and took her blood pressure again as it had been high before. Whether it’s because we were nice to her or because she was pregnant herself, she called in a favour and got us transferred to some kind of pre-operative ward for assessment. Here, a gynaecologist asked various questions prior to doing an internal exam.

After spending the best part of six hours at hospital, we were allowed to go home with no real indication of what had happened or whether things were OK. Our understanding was that it came down to two things – it could have been a big blood clot or it could be what is known as the ‘products of conception’, i.e. placental or foetal tissue. Either way, we had no way of knowing if the baby was alright in there.

A Pregnancy Update First Trimester Weeks 1 to 12 waiting in hospital room

We went to the hospital 99% sure it was a miscarriage, but on leaving, we were at 95% as the missus didn’t show any obvious signs of a miscarriage – she wasn’t in pain, there wasn’t any further bleeding and her cervix appeared to be closed. Obviously something had been passed and no-one could say with any certainty what it was. But at the same time, they also couldn’t confirm the worst which was positive.

Ultimately, it was all a bit confusing and worrying. Although you want to stay positive, you’ve got to have a sense of realism. The thing I kept coming back to was the difference to the first pregnancy with Toddler L and how difference must mean ‘bad’. The bleed was different and the way we were treated at hospital was different, with Hay being subjected to more tests and examinations than the first time around.

We’d been booked in for an emergency ultrasound scan two days later on the Tuesday (just like first time around with Toddler L), so until that point, we just had to wait and hope that no signs of miscarriage presented – i.e. bleeding and pain. Luckily things hadn’t changed, so we went to the hospital a little more confident, but still fearing the worst. This wasn’t helped as we were shown to a private waiting room – I couldn’t help but notice the posters which talked about “loss” and “support”, plus the multiple boxes of tissues strewn around the place.

We were also told that we’d be seen by a consultant, which again suggested things were more serious. After a few questions, we went into the ultrasound room. Hay laid down then had the ultrasound probe placed on her stomach. After a few seconds, I saw a small fetus appear on the monitor. A few seconds later, the consultant said that she could see the heart moving and we got to hear it in action.

Until that point, we’d held it together quite well. We’re both very logical people, so we knew that if a miscarriage had happened, it was due to something not quite being right – obviously pretty devastating, but ultimately for the best. However, on hearing everything looked OK, my eyes watered up and the missus started to cry. All of that uncertainty instantly vanished and we knew that everything was OK at that point.

However, uncertainty once again crept in as we approached the end of the first trimester. On Tuesday 2nd August as the missus was around 11+5, we went back to the hospital for the normal 12 week scan. Here, the sonographer did everything as expected such as taking measurements and checking everything was developing as it should be.

Just as we were about to leave, a senior sonographer popped in to take a look – not for any reason other than curiosity. She asked if she could take over as she’d spotted ‘something’, then proceeded to highlight something which she said looked like fluid on top of the baby’s stomach. She then asked if she could do an transvaginal scan (TVS) which is basically an internal ultrasound to see if she could get a clearer image of the fetus.

She wasn’t 100% sure whether it was fluid or not, so said that she wanted to refer us to a senior midwife. What had been a totally normal scan had suddenly turned into more complications and uncertainty. After a little while, we saw the senior midwife who gave us a bit more info. Basically, fluid could be a sign of something not quite right, for instance, the organs may not have grown properly if fluid is in the way.

A Pregnancy Update First Trimester Weeks 1 to 12 hospital corridor

So it was suggested that they do additional bloods to look for infections, alongside the usual screening for Down’s syndrome, Edwards’ syndrome and Patau’s syndrome which we’d opted to have. These tests would be fast-tracked and we’d find out the results in a few days, with these determining the next course of action, e.g. if high-risk. She’d also said something about booking us in for another appointment with some specialist in five weeks time for another scan.

So just like that, we were once more trying to figure out what all of this meant. It seemed like fluid on it’s own didn’t necessarily mean things were bad, but alongside high results for the combined test and / or those for infections, we could once again be considering a scenario where we don’t get to full-term. I was already sick of pregnancy and we weren’t even at 12 weeks.

A few days later, the missus got a phone call with the results. Thankfully, the combined test was a lower risk result (Down’s syndrome 1 in 2,831 and Edward’s or Patau syndrome 1 in 100,000), plus there was no sign of any infection. As such, they were reasonably confident that everything would be OK and the fluid would naturally go on its own – although we have the appointment and scan I mentioned which will double check.

So, that brings you up to date with the first trimester. At 13+5, we think everything is fine. There’s the question about whether the fluid is still on the stomach and what that could mean, but as the combined test and infection results didn’t highlight anything, it’s assumed that this will just go naturally and have no further implications. Obviously, if that’s not the case, then we’ll just have to tackle it at that point. Everyone we’ve seen at the hospital so far have been good and supportive, so I’d be hopeful of that continuing.

The main thing now though is just to focus on getting through the pregnancy, but also starting to enjoy it. So far, we’ve not taken any specific pregnancy photos or particularly celebrated the fact that we’re pregnant. I’ve been reluctant to talk to people about the pregnancy or discuss what the future might look like – when there’s doubt and uncertainty, I find it easier to assume the worst rather than focus on the positive and be let down should things not go to plan.

I think what this has shown me is that no two pregnancies are the same. Bleed aside, with Toddler L, everything went perfectly. I think we assumed that the same would happen with the second kid, however we’ve already learnt the hard way that this isn’t the case. The fact remains though that we’ve got through the first trimester successfully and *fingers crossed* things should be a bit easier and more certain from this point forward.

A Clichéd Pregnancy Announcement We're Having A Second 12 week scan ultrasound photo