Fearless She Wrote
Published in

Fearless She Wrote

What Pregnancy After Miscarriage Feels Like

The flickering rainbow

Photo by Alistair MacRobert on Unsplash

The last time I found out I was pregnant, I punched the air. I crackled with excitement. I did a second test just to watch the twin lines swim into existence, the way the life inside me had. This time, I burst into tears. They were not happy tears. I’m so sorry, little one. I feel already I’m letting you down. I am just so scared. I don’t want to lose you too.

When my first pregnancy ended in miscarriage at twelve weeks — just three months ago — I knew I could never treat you like the first baby. A hazy ‘maybe’, I tried to hold what was at my very core at arm’s length, waiting until we were safe, out of the supposed danger zone for miscarriage. And then the baby died anyway, and I had nothing to hold onto at all.

I don’t want that for you. I whisper to you, ‘I will love you for as long as we’re together, whether that’s for one more day, or for the rest of my life.’

It’s 6 weeks in, and I don’t like keeping you a secret. I don’t like trying to find you blindly through echolocation — a flutter here, an ache there. But I know you are here. You are with me. One way or another, you will never really leave me now. Right now you are a chubby tadpole. I like that. A little sea monkey swimming around.

I’m sure I am losing you at 9 weeks. The tender, tingly feeling of ‘being pregnant’ has vanished overnight, just as it did right before my miscarriage. I sit in bed with Henry — your Dad — holding my hand as we watch silly video after silly video to try and keep ourselves distracted. Every time a video ends, I can feel my whole body stiffen and chill. Sometimes I start crying, shaking. I can’t sleep. I can’t.

The next morning, there is no blood. I tell you I still love you, whatever happens. The next few days, every now and then my breath will catch in my throat and my heart will race. Finally, I break down in tears and book a private scan. I don’t have any pregnancy symptoms at all anymore.

By now the coronavirus lockdown is in place and we walk through the sunny streets on Easter Sunday, which are quiet and almost empty. I’m breathing as if through the pain. I walk so fast.

I feel like I’m running through a dream, from a monster, and I don’t wake up until the ultrasound technician says ‘I can see a heartbeat’.

And I see you for the first time, with your tiny arm reaching up.

‘Baby’s waving’, the technician says.

At 13 weeks, this is it, the big one, the scan at the hospital. Because of the lockdown measures, I have to go alone. I feel so bad for your Dad, not getting to see you, having to wait at home to hear from me that everything is okay. If everything is okay.

I can’t believe how much I can see. I’m shown both hemispheres of your brain, a minuscule world. Your stomach, taking in nutrients. I hear your heart, less of a beat and more of a sloshing of water, or a gush of wind like something hurtling through the air to meet me. It’s really happening. You jiggle and fidget so much the technicians laugh and it’s hard for them to take their measurements.

I didn’t expect to see you so intensely alive, so early on. I was scared I’d never get to see you this way. I call your Dad. I walk home and show him the pictures. The photos, black and white, are arranged on a long strip, and they concertina out like an exploding accordion, letting you announce yourself in a shout, not a whisper. You’re here. I get it. You’re here.

Things feel different at 14 weeks. Henry, with a warm smile, touches my belly — when will we feel kicking? I know he’s been really scared. I feel almost ready to tell everyone.

I feel something between survivors’ guilt and imposter syndrome. I am so lucky things have worked out this time, when I know that isn’t the experience of everyone who has a pregnancy loss, and that feels deeply unfair. I am also acutely aware that this is real now, and I am already in over my head. Are they — the fates, the heavens, the invisible authorities — really going to let me be a parent? Me? Now?

I feel ready to tell everyone. We do tell everyone.

And still, anything could happen. We could lose each other at any time. So I will say it again. I will love you for as long as we’re together, whether that’s one more day, or for the rest of my life. No. I will love you for the rest of my life. That’s all I need to say.

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Coralie Oddy-Propsting

Coralie Oddy-Propsting

Exploring art, activism, adventure and radical compassion, while finding my way as a parent and person