Almost eleven weeks pregnant and our departure from Thailand was memorable simply because the morning sickness was at what I hoped would be its peak. We spent our last night staying at a rather lovely hotel in Chiang Mai itself, and in the morning we joined the main dining room for breakfast. E loves breakfast and was incredibly excited about the extensive choice from Eastern food to the continental buffet style that we are used to back home, but it was all I could do not to throw up upon arrival.
The smell of the Eastern food was just too much for me and I sat at our table desperately trying to chew small bites of plain toast without vomiting. I knew that without food in my stomach I was likely to feel worse during the rest of the morning but it was an effort. It sounds crazy to anyone who has never gone through it themselves, this concept of eating something to ease the feeling of sickness, but for me it made a huge difference.
The flight back to the UK was equally challenging as the smell of the aeroplane food exasperated the feeling of nausea. Strangely, fruity Mentos sweets seemed to help. E was surprised, he’d never seen me eat a sweet and here I was obsessed with them! It did seem like the strangest craving, all that sugar and artificial flavourings, but it made a huge difference.
Back in the UK we spent a night staying at a hotel near Heathrow airport. Jet lag and morning sickness do not combine well and that next morning I felt rotten. It didn’t help that we had to travel into central London to catch a train across the country to Manchester airport. Here we had pre-booked a hire car so that we could drive to a wedding that Saturday in St Martin’s, a few hour’s drive South.
It was Friday lunchtime by the time we got to the central London train station. The sun was shining brightly and there was a jovial-end-of-the-working-week atmosphere in the air as people milled about eating their lunch. I left E sitting in the sun while I spent a good thirty minutes walking from one sandwich shop to another and back again, studying the sandwiches in some depth to determine which one may make me feel better.
I wasn’t used to buying myself a sandwich to eat as I don’t usually eat bread, and here I was salivating at the mere sight of them. As a non-dairy eating vegetarian, I was particularly humoured by the fact I was repeatedly attracted to both roast beef sandwiches and cheese and pickle sandwiches. It was the strangest thing because my head was saying “absolutely no!” and yet my body was crying out, “yes, yes, yes!”.
It made me realise how much I was still listening to my head when it came to choosing food and not to my body, and therefore how much my old eating disorder was still having an influence on my present day food choices. It seemed that pregnancy was well and truly throwing me out of my comfort zone as it was making me question my usual habitual way of eating and that was, at times, challenging.
Needless to say E was wondering where I was and couldn’t believe it had taken me so long to buy a couple of sandwiches. The cheese and pickle sandwich won out in the end, together with a packet of crisps and a sugary sparkling lemon drink. I kept thinking to myself, “this is ridiculous, here I am growing new life inside me, I should really be eating a super healthy diet but actually all I want to eat is unhealthy stuff instead”.
Cheese sandwich or not I felt desperately sick much of the train journey. I had bought myself one of those awful celebrity magazines at the train station that provide meaningless distraction when travelling. This particular magazine contained an article about miscarriage, which I found slightly unnerving and which for some strange reason kept drawing my attention. Little did I realise how poignant this would become the next morning.
It was a relief to make it to the hotel later that early evening and crawl into bed to sleep. Ordinarily I love travelling but I was finding it hard work while pregnant. It was hardly surprising; your body is going through such a lot of change that first trimester. Not only did I feel sick but my breasts were growing and my waist had thickened so that I was beginning to feel uncomfortable in my usual clothing. I was also looking pale and washed out despite the suntan.
The next morning, I awoke feeling decidedly out of sorts. I joined E for breakfast in the small hotel dining room and attempted to eat some toast while he tucked into a hot breakfast. It was then that I started experiencing stomach cramps that had me holding my lower tummy. I was hoping it was just trapped wind but something didn’t feel right and I started channelling Reiki onto my lower tummy in the hope that the combination of this and the toast and tea may ease things.
But alas not and back in our room I went to the toilet only to find that I was discharging brown blood. Panic quickly took hold. I immediately imagined the worst and was overcome with that horrible stomach-churning empty feeling as I started shaking uncontrollably. Everything became very real and very present-moment, like time stood still. I couldn’t believe I was discharging brown blood and I cried out to E in the bedroom before bursting into tears.
I didn’t know what to do. I was desperately trying to feel the energy of the foetus inside me but I was too panicky to know what I was feeling. I reached for my laptop and googled “brown blood 11 weeks pregnant”. This probably wasn’t the best idea as I came across a whole host of pregnancy forums where women shared their experiences of miscarriage. Fear kicked in. That’s the trouble with these sites, they’re very fear-driven.
I couldn’t quite believe I might by miscarrying. It seemed too cruel. Having beaten the odds to get pregnant through IVF, to then miscarry was desperately unfair. It hadn’t even crossed my mind that this may happen, I was taking the progesterone pessaries to support the pregnancy and just figured that would help to prevent miscarriage.
I used my pendulum to try and dowse for the energy of the foetus. Ordinarily using a pendulum helps me to check in with my intuition but I was feeling so anxious and desperate that I couldn’t determine my truth. There was a part of me that was hopeful that because the blood was brown and not bright red that all would be well. But I was cramping and the discharge was noticeable so I couldn’t ignore that something was happening, even if I didn’t yet know exactly what it was.
We were due to collect E’s best friend from the train station later that morning and I decided that I would go with him as I didn’t want to be left on my own. I lay still on the bed, channelling Reiki onto my tummy until we had to leave. The discharge had eased a little by then but I was still getting cramps and I just felt that I needed to get it checked out. So after collecting E’s friend we headed to the local A&E department.
It was only a small department and they weren’t able to offer me a scan to check for the foetal heartbeat until the Monday by which time we would be back home in Guernsey. The doctor was very kind but did little to ease my concerns. My symptoms were suggesting a miscarriage and he said that there was little they could do for me and I was advised to go home and rest.
There was something that didn’t feel right about this. Waiting in the hospital environment had given me the opportunity to calm myself with my breath and drop out of panic mode. I kept trying to feel the energy of the foetus inside me and now that now that my mind was calmer, I began to sense something again. I had a feeling I was still pregnant, but couldn’t be sure whether I may later miscarry. It was a whole new world to me.
E and I discussed whether I should stay at the hotel but I decided to join the wedding as I needed a distraction. It was a tough day though and while the wedding was lovely, a small intimate affair, I found it difficult to concentrate and engage in any meaningful conversation. My mind was distracted by the sensations I was feeling in my body and I couldn’t stop trying to feel the energy of the foetus and channel Reiki into it.
The worst bit was the vaginal discharge. As soon as I felt some change in sensation down below, I was immediately desperate to know if it meant I was bleeding. I spent a lot of the day visiting the toilet, but it was with utter dread that I did so, praying as I pulled down my pants that I wouldn’t see blood. I can still remember that sickening feeling that accompanied any toilet visit; little did I know that this would set the scene for the rest of the pregnancy.
By the afternoon I was heartened to find that I was feeling decidedly sick again. Never have I been so delighted to experience morning sickness! Once again I was going through a U-turn on my perception of things. Conception and now pregnancy was throwing everything on its head. If I was still pregnant then I would welcome all sickness from now on. It was a sign of an ongoing pregnancy and that is something I wanted to celebrate.
Back home in Guernsey the specialist confirmed that I hadn’t miscarried. He wasn’t entirely sure what it was but surmised that it may have been the passing of the embryo sack from the embryo that hadn’t made it. It was a huge wake up call to take things a little easier and slow my life down, to appreciate the new life growing inside of me. But this is easier said than done and the Universe nudged me time and time again…