When nine months feels like a lifetime

Worthit Peggy over at A Mother’s Secrets is gathering stories about pregnancy low points.

I thought long and hard before deciding to post something about my pregnancy. It was one long low point really.

But I decided to share it here because when I look at Flea now, finally, I can say it was worth it. And perhaps someone in a similar situation will be cheered up  – I know I used to scour the Internet for stories like mine that had happy endings.

I found out I was pregnant a week before my wedding. My breasts swelled up like airbags and my wedding dress designer cried for an hour. But six days later – on the eve of my wedding – I started to bleed. A scan two days later revealed a missed miscarriage. We cancelled the honeymoon and I was admitted to hospital for a surgical evacuation.

Three months later when I had another positive pregnancy test, I was nervous but optimistic. Having one miscarriage doesn’t mean you’ll have another, right? That feeling lasted precisely two days, at which point I started bleeding.

We were due to fly to San Francisco for Christmas the next morning so I went to my GP for advice. “You can either have a miscarriage, or a miscarriage a nice holiday,” he told me.

We opted for the holiday, but it wasn’t especially nice. I bled for the entire three weeks we were in the US, and when we returned to spend New Years’ in Devon with friends, I consoled myself by drinking bucket-loads of wine and mountains of peanuts.

On January 4th, we went for a scan at the hospital to check there wasn’t anything lingering in the uterus. I don’t think I’ve ever been more surprised than when the scan operator said: “There’s the heartbeat. You’re about 9 weeks pregnant.”

Wow. Despite being a tough Northerner the shock took my legs from under me when I tried to walk out of the room. But we were back there less than two weeks later.

I’d been standing in the  Post Office one morning when I looked down to find I was standing in a pool of blood. Trying not to panic, I drove us to A&E and was whisked up to the early pregnancy clinic, where a doctor said we couldn’t have a scan that day but we should keep anything that passed in a plastic bag, so they could look at it. Then she gave us a leaflet called, “About Your Miscarriage”.

The next morning, a lovely consultant called Des held my hand as he scanned my abdomen. “Well, we know you can get pregnant, and that’s the tough bit, we just have to keep you that way,” he said. Then he squeezed my hand and said, “Look, there’s your baby, it’s doing fine.”

After a barrage of deeply embarrassing tests, most of which seemed to involve putting my legs in stirrups and shining an enormous torch in the direction of my cervix (I kid you not), the consultant’s best guess was that the placenta wasn’t properly attached. This meant blood was collecting in the gap between the placenta and uterus – and every so often it would gush out.

This risk was that the baby wouldn’t have enough oxygen or nourishment, so I’d need careful monitoring and scans every two weeks. The moment there was a sign the baby had stopped growing, she’d be delivered. “So long as she’s over 2lb, we’ll be fine,” said Des, while I tried not to think about what a 2lb baby would look like.

It’s sad to me now, but I never relaxed or enjoyed my pregnancy. I never browsed through baby names or puschairs, I hid the clothes my mother bought when she visited us. I never really believed I’d have a baby – I was constantly in and out of hospital, I bled almost every day and I spent most of my time drinking ice-cold water to make the baby move. Poor little sod. I also used to chant to her when we were alone – “Just hold on baby, not long to go. Just hold on.”

When we started antenatal classes at 36 weeks, and they did the demonstration of the baby moving through a pelvis, I passed out. It was the first time it had really occurred to me that, well, I might have to do that.

As it happened, at our last scan, when I was 38 weeks pregnant, Des laughed and said our little girl was already 9lb and he wanted to induce the birth to give me a good chance of a natural delivery. I’m quite short with a narrow pelvis, apparently. Too narrow as it turned out – Flea was eventually born three days later by c-section, while I was out cold.

It took me a long time to come to terms with what had happened. I’d never allowed myself to bond with Flea before she was born, so it took us a while to catch up after the birth. She was probably six months old before I really let myself love her. Fortunately, she made it easy – she ate like a horse and slept A LOT.

I don’t often tell the story because, well, it’s a bit depressing and I try not to think about that whole torch/cervix thing if I can help it. But that’s why Flea’s middle name is Hope – because it felt as though sometimes that was the only thing that kept the two of us going for those nine long months.


Sally is a full-time blogger and founder of the Tots100, Trips100, Foodies100 and HIBS100 communities, along with the MAD Blog Awards. She spends a bit too much time on the Internet. She’s also a very happy Mum to Flea, the world’s coolest ten year old.

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  1. 8th October 2009 / 3:23 am

    I cannot imagine what you’ve been trough.
    But although I believe that you’ve spent 9 months holding and trying not to feel to hopeful I’m sure that Flea always felt loved .

  2. 8th October 2009 / 7:44 am

    My god Sally. What a story, and what an experience. I’m not surprised you didn’t enjoy your pregnancy or felt traumatised by what happened. I can’t imagine a woman who wouldn’t be. It sounds like you coped with it all amazingly well.
    And Flea. Well, what a fighter. No wonder you love her so much (which is very obvious to anyone who sees you two together, even if it is for two minutes while you tip her upsidedown in a dinner queue…)
    And do you know what? It ISN’T a depressing story, although must be a very hard story to tell. For me it’s a story of hope and hanging on and happy endings – and two souls who have never been more meant to be together.
    Thank you for sharing it xxx

  3. Mrs Trefusis
    8th October 2009 / 7:52 am

    What an extraordinary story; thank you for sharing it. It must have been so tough for you to go through all that, and I’m so happy for you that the outcome was such a good one. But goodness, what a very hard pregnancy. X

  4. 8th October 2009 / 7:57 am

    Sally, that sounds like a truly horrendous experience. I have had lots of problems with both my pregnancies, but nothing to that level. The first trimester, I spent worrying that we wouldn’t make it, because we’d had a miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy before. But I was fortunate enough to be able to bond and worry less after the 20-week scan, both times.
    My mother, however, had only part of her cervix (having had cervical cancer) and placenta previa, when she was expecting my sister, and spent the whole time (from about 10 weeks) in hospital, until my sister was born at 32 weeks. So I have witnessed that level of complications and the knowledge that you might very well not make it to actually giving birth. I think, even after my sister was born, it wasn’t quite real to my mum, and then she had to spend lots of time living in at the SCBU, before she could bring her home.
    Like you, she did see after a while that it was all worth it. She’d been trying for 12 years to have another child – many, many miscarriages and other problems – and finally had one. And my whole family have the pleasure of my miracle little sister, who is now one of my best friends, as well.
    It is worth it, in the end. But I would guess you’re probably not keen to go through that again.
    Thanks for sharing. I think it is important to share the bad as well as the good, when we can, as it is real help to others going through similar situations.

  5. Peggy
    8th October 2009 / 8:01 am

    What a beautiful story! I agree with Josie a 100% this is nothing like a depressing story. If I am shedding a tear right now (shush, don’t tell) it is because it is a moving story that shows that beautiful things happen everyday.
    Thank you for sharing it with A Mother’Secrets, I really hope it will help women going through it, or at least going through a rough patch.

  6. 8th October 2009 / 9:30 am

    Oh crikey – you poor thing. What a horrible, scary experience for you, but how wonderful that you have little Flea to show for it all – and I’m so glad that you can finally say it was all worth it. x

  7. Sally
    8th October 2009 / 10:02 am

    Thanks everyone for commenting.
    Cecilia – I certainly hope Flea feels loved, she very definitely is. And although it took us a bit of time to get a good bond going, I think we’re very close now.
    Josie – Sssh. Don’t tell people about the dangling the child upside down thing!! I consider it was completely fair since I warned her if she jumped on my feet, I would bite her legs. The child made an informed decision, in my book.
    @Tasha – no, Flea is very definitely an only child. Although she’s worth it, I don’t think I could go through those nine months again!
    @MT – Oh definitely worth it! Imagine if she’d been a horrible child, though, how bad would that be? I think karma meant I had to get a really good kid out of it.

  8. 8th October 2009 / 10:18 am

    Ok I feel like an unjustified winging moaning minnie now about my pregnancy woes. The happy ending makes me smile a lot, they’re always worth but not surprised at all that you wouldn’t revisit the pregnancy journey again. Thank you for sharing.
    Claire x

  9. 8th October 2009 / 12:03 pm

    That’s some story, what an incredibly difficult time you had. My pregnancies have gone smoothly (touch wood) and I still worry myself to bits when pregnant. It must have been terrifying for you. It’s amazing that both you and Flea hung in there and now you have your beautiful little girl who I’m sure is more than worth it.

  10. 8th October 2009 / 12:17 pm

    Sally – What a hard story, I bet that took some typing out. My children were hard come by too, but I think that makes them extra speical to me. I have never wrote my pregancy story down, but I have just emailed my story.
    I think that you have been brave in telling your experiance, if it helps just one person then that is worthwhile.
    We are so blessed to have our children

  11. 8th October 2009 / 12:26 pm

    Golly, what an ordeal. It just makes you want to hold onto them even as they wriggle and squirm to get away and play with their toys.
    I’m so sad that you had to go through it but so glad you have something to show for it xx

  12. 8th October 2009 / 12:28 pm

    That is an extraordinary story. I can’t imagine how you must have felt but it is the very reverse of depressing to read. Thanks for writing it all down. Inspiring I think is the word!

  13. MummyInce
    8th October 2009 / 1:22 pm

    Damn it, I’m in floods of tears now.

  14. Insomniac Mummy
    8th October 2009 / 2:41 pm

    Your story isn’t depressing, it is hopeful and extraordinary.
    We put our bodies through so much for our children.

  15. 8th October 2009 / 8:12 pm

    What an awful way to spend a pregnancy. Thank you for sharing that. I didn’t find it depressing either – it talks of the strength of life and love.

  16. 8th October 2009 / 9:08 pm

    Just had a little cry – that was a very moving account and I’m so sorry you went through such a hellish awful time. And, why are some of the doctors in the EPU so bloody insensitive? I would have been tempted to do something violent after the plastic bag/leaflet moment…
    I had 4 very early miscarriages in a row and I can really sympathise with the less then rosey view to pregnancy – it just feels like you’re waiting for disaster to strike. Thankfully mine was diagnosed as ‘sticky blood’ – very easy to treat with a daily injection (less easy when you have a phobia of needles, but it was a small price to pay!)

  17. 8th October 2009 / 10:04 pm

    It was a wonderful story and I think Flea is a very lucky little girl. And yes I wish there had been stories like this when I was pregnant – I admit I thought of myself as the miscarriage Queen. But now all that heartache is worth it I have two fabulous boys.

  18. 9th October 2009 / 1:14 am

    What a horrendous thing to have to go through – but what a good outcome. I had a bad pregnancy with Littleboy 2 – placenta praevia and four weeks in hospital among other things – and that was bad enough, but your experience sounds far worse. I always think it is a miracle when people say their pregnancy has been fine; having spent so long in the antenatal ward I saw so much of the dark side of pregnancy and it can be a very scary place.

  19. 9th October 2009 / 7:37 am

    That is an amazing story Sally and in some ways similiar to mine (though I had premies and enjoyed SF!) I also did not enjoy being pregnant because I thought I wouldn’t go to term. Seems like so long ago…

  20. 9th October 2009 / 1:50 pm

    I’m lost for words, honestly. The nine months must have really felt like an eternity. So hopeful to hear that it had a good ending, and that now you can look back and say that it’s been worth it. Thank you so much for sharing, I’m sure it will help people in similar situations keep their hope up.

  21. 9th October 2009 / 6:56 pm

    You’re an incredibly brave lady for going through all that, and for writing it all down. I think the harsh reality of getting pregnant and staying pregnant is so often overlooked, so it’s important that people like you, who can express themselves so excellently, are prepared to tell your story – so others in the same situation can take something positive. As you say, look at what you have now 🙂

  22. 9th October 2009 / 9:15 pm

    I started crying half way through your heartfelt but beautifully written (and brutally honest) story as I too had a miscarriage. It was the most awful experience and I had to choose whether to have my dead baby surgically removed or go home and let it happen naturally.
    I chose the latter and held a dinner party (yes honestly!) for family and friends as I secretly lost my baby in our bathroom.
    Luckily I now have two gorgeous children but I will never forget the baby I lost. Thank you for sharing your story. Miscarriage is devastating when it happens but if you battle through the pain you and I both show you can be a mum – and it’s completely worth everything.

  23. angelsandurchinsblog
    9th October 2009 / 11:08 pm

    Wow. And I thought this was going to be a post about being sick for nine months. Not that I’m going to belittle that, having seen various friends hospitalised for pregnancy-induced dehydration caused by not being able to stop vomiting. Can’t imagine what it must feel like being told about a 9-week old heartbeat, and not wanting to enjoy it because it might not make 10 weeks, let alone 40. I know exactly who I’m going to show this post to, because as Elizabeth M, Josie and Peggy wisely said, it’s not depressing, but quite the opposite. Gives hope. Thank you.

  24. 9th October 2009 / 10:54 pm

    Oh Sally, you made me cry. A lot.
    I’m so glad you got Flea at the end of all that, she’s fab. x

  25. Sally
    11th October 2009 / 9:13 am

    Thanks to everyone who has commented so kindly and thoughtfully on this post. And to those of you who’ve shared your own experiences in particular – I sometimes think given how complex the whole nature of conception and pregnancy is, the real miracle is probably that it ever goes off without a hitch!
    I’m glad too that people see the story as hopeful. For a long time I suppose I linked my pregnancy with the breakdown of my marriage (which sort of fell apart when I was six months pregnant), so it was just a pretty tough time for me.
    But you’re right – it does show that you can come through a tricky pregnancy with a ridiculously healthy baby who has grown into the most gorgeous child, full of life and energy. Definitely worth it.

  26. 11th October 2009 / 9:48 pm

    I’m so sorry you had such an awful, long nine months but so grateful you got your gorgeous girl safely at the end. Pregnancy is often portrayed in the magazines as all sweetness and light and blooming and just about buying little babygrows and sweet little things, when really it can often be heartache and fear and gruelling. But this is certainly not a depressing story but rather an uplifting one, showing your tremendous courage and love for Flea.

  27. 12th October 2009 / 8:04 am

    Blimey. That sounds like you had a hard time and to go through the breakdown of you marriage at the same time is terrible.
    You and Flea are a couple of amazing girls.

  28. 20th October 2009 / 6:01 pm

    Thanks for sharing. ike you say, there might be someone out there who needs to read this story.

  29. 18th January 2011 / 5:30 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing. I am glad that you got to have your little angel. I am sure that she is a special blessing and all the stress and emotional turmoil you went through while carrting here has strengthened your deep love for her.

  30. 12th March 2013 / 8:55 am

    Goodness, how perfectly terrifying. I was I’ll with pre-eclampsia with my first pregnancy tho fortunately I only had a few short weeks of worry, not the whole 9 months. As you say, they are worth what they put us through. Parenthood- joy, guilt and worry seem to be the primary emotions!
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