My husband and I decided early after Holly's death that we would try again for a baby. The way we saw it, whether we tried now or in 5 years, the worry would still be the same. Whenever we fell pregnant we would still have a 20% chance of another baby with a poorly heart like Holly's. I had decided to take my full maternity leave with Holly and so decided if I was going to be pregnant again, lets do it whilst I was not working and had one less stress to worry about.
We are lucky that we don't struggle to fall pregnant. Holly died in the September and on December 10th I discovered we were pregnant again. I cried with relief at seeing those two little pink lines. This baby was never going to be a replacement for Holly but instead, another much loved sibling for Eleni. I remember sitting in the car with my husband and letting our imaginations run wild. It was the first positive news that we'd had in four months.
That evening I started bleeding and that was the end of that.
One month on and we saw two new pink lines (I told you we fall pregnant easily) but this time there were no tears of relief and no excited smiles. We didn't dare let ourselves believe that this baby was going to actually stick around. Our minds were very much focused on our raw grief for Holly and the previous months events meant that we purposely didn't allow for this new pregnancy to have much time of day. The recent miscarriage had just been another kick in the teeth that this time we didn't dare feel hopeful that this one would live. In all honesty, I wondered if I was capable of carrying a live baby anymore.
We made an early doctors appointment as I knew from our post mortem consultation that I would be going onto medication in a subsequent pregnancy. We saw a consultant who immediately put me onto an immunosuppressive drug called Hydroxychloroquine. The cause of Holly's poorly heart was the presence of specific antibodies in my blood. The antibodies normally attack secretory glands (Sjogren's Syndrome) but in pregnancy they attack the baby's developing heart. This medication was hopefully going to suppress these antibodies from doing it again. Additionally, I was put onto a daily dose of Aspirin, Vitamin D, Calcium and Flucloxacillin for my recurrent urine infections. We maxed out all the doses in the aim of giving this baby the best chance possible.
We were to be under the care of the hospital where I had Holly and the Evelina Hospital in London as they specialise in heart conditions. The plan was for 2 weekly scans to commence from around 16 weeks to observe for heart block. Cruelly, heart block can't be picked up on scan until 16 weeks and can actually develop any time up until 30 weeks gestation. It was going to be a very long journey and a case of one scan at a time.
We chose to not announce our pregnancy on all platforms of social media and I decided not to blog about the pregnancy either. I wasn't worried that we would 'jinx' the pregnancy as I had gone past the point of believing that a pregnancy announcement could be the cause of heart block. Instead, I felt that I needed to keep a safe and separate place for Holly. For a long time they felt like two separate parts of my life and I felt uncomfortable in merging them.
I think part of me must have been worried what people would think about another pregnancy. I wasn't worried that people would think it was too soon or that I was trying to replace Holly but I just worried more that a focus on a new pregnancy would mean Holly being forgotten. I didn't know if this new pregnancy would end in a live baby and so back then, I couldn't give it my time that could have otherwise been used remembering for Holly. It was just another bizarre way in how my grieving mind decided to cope.
I very quickly realised how different this pregnancy would be to my pregnancies before Holly's death. Gone were the hours browsing pregnancy announcements ideas on Pintrest and gone were the daily checking of the pregnancy app to see what was happening that week in the pregnancy. Instead, announcing the pregnancy was now met with worried faces because the people who loved you wanted to protect you from more pain. The pregnancy was so very, very wanted but so very, very scary.
We reached the 12 week scan but what formerly felt as the most nerve wracking part to our previous pregnancies, now felt unsurprisingly manageable in comparison to what we knew we were up against.
Our rainbow journey had begun and all we could do was hold onto as much hope that our grieving hearts could muster..