I always knew having a baby would be hard. Having a condition where I have two wombs and two vaginas meant I had been seen by practically the entire medical unit of East London and had had suspected pregnancies before. Some hadn’t been picked up, others were called chemical, others were to be medically removed. My body just didn’t seem to know what to do with them once the sperm decided which womb to swim to and the frustration at not being able to bribe it into working was intense.
9 years ago, I experienced another pregnancy loss. It was this pregnancy that showed us we wanted a family and showed us we needed proper medical support for that to happen.
I found out I was pregnant at 3pm on a Sunday afternoon at the Hospital. No weeing on a stick, no, ooh my boobs feel sore, not even a missed period. Having two wombs means my periods have spontaneous parties, some big, some small, but all seemingly drunk and confused as I often got two at once and none for 3 months. Back to the Sunday afternoon….
I worked in a pub on Sundays and Mondays. I had lived there for years before I met John and it still held a big place in my heart and I loved being there so on Monday nights I ran the bar and sang with the band and on Sundays , I would roast 30 chickens, season 3 topsides of beef, massage 2 pork shoulders and cook a partridge in a Peartree at Christmas time. That morning, I had peeled approximately all the potatoes from Sainsburys and covered myself in enough gravy, I could have delivered myself to a customer’s table and been their own personal dipping sauce. At around 2pm, I had a tantrum that my Yorkshire puddings were stuck in my non-stick muffin pan and went to deliver 2 chicken dinners to a couple in the bar. As I walked down the steps, I slipped and fell down the stairs like a human slinky and found myself at the bottom with half a chicken resting on my boobs and the Yorkshire puddings even more out of shape than me after 3 days at an all-inclusive.
Bar the embarrassment of being a human roast dinner, I had hurt my back and with the hospital opposite the pub, I wet to Casualty to get checked over. As part of the initial tests, I had to give a wee sample and after 10 mins, a nurse came in to see me and asked my friends to leave the cubicle. I was convinced that by some weird medical science thing, my wee was able to say I had broken my back and she was about to tell me, but she didn’t. She looked awkward and said, Eve, is there any chance you could be pregnant? I thought for a moment … hmm. Well, I have had sex with John at some point between the Tesco delivery being dropped off and Christmas, but I can’t remember how, where or why. She looked at me and said, well Eve, I ask this, because this test tells me you are.
I called John, announced it to him in a blaze of glory and he rushed to the hospital to see my bruised back and the doctor reassured me the fall was minor. The morning after, I began to bleed very lightly and went to the doctor who did a pregnancy test on me and declared I wasn’t pregnant and that two lines meant negative. I asked him to be read the instructions only for him to confirm I was indeed pregnant and due to my womb and pregnancy issues previously, was sent to the early pregnancy unit for an immediate scan. It was here I met my lovely lovely Dr who we still think of so fondly now, for a year later, he delivered our son Joe. But I met him here for the first time and was scanned and it was there we saw our tiny pregnancy, all 6 weeks old and the size of a pin head. I was reassured the fall hadn’t affected the pregnancy and I was so grateful.
It was explained that due to my uterus didelphis, I would be looked after weekly by the team to track the progress of the pregnancy. Lots of things around having two wombs and pregnancy being in the smaller womb etc etc but we left elated. Nervous but happy. Maybe our family dreams would come true.
Some weeks past. We had more scans, and all was going well and as we hurtled towards 10 weeks, we knew that shortly we could announce our happy news. One side of my tummy had slightly more swelling the other due to the two-womb scenario and I knew that was my pregnancy was progressing in me. All was good.
Until it wasn’t.
Trigger warning here , as I describe my loss. Stop reading it you need or want to and pick up at another time or don’t read again. Be kind to yourself and only read what you are comfortable with.
I remember the day it happened. Imagine like a dandelion- in the space of a single moment, a single breath, it goes from being there, full of hope, to gone, in one quick fell swoop. I woke up and went to roll into John for a morning cuddle. There has always been a safety in his arms in the morning time – my sleep was broken, and my dreams were odd, so waking up to a hug gave me my strength for the day. But this day something stopped me.
I stopped because as I opened my eyes, I felt wet, like when you wake up having started your period in the night. But it wasn’t that this time, it was another act of nature at play and this time a very very cruel one… I placed my hands inside my pyjamas and felt what I knew was blood. My mind started feeling numb and heavy and I leapt out of bed and ran to the bathroom holding myself, screaming for John. He was shouting what is it Eve, what’s happening. A moment of calm hit me, and I said I need my red hospital book. I need it now. I need to ring the early pregnancy unit. I heard crashing around and he brought it into me. I sat there, with my pants around my ankles, and rang the unit. I wanted to call them and tell them what I had felt. I was calm and straightforward on the phone, knowing that I was booking an emergency appt to tell me what was wrong as I had felt my pregnancy leave me as I sat on the toilet. I never knew it could happen like that.
We got there and sat and waited to be seen. John was tapping his feet nervously on the floor and I stared straight ahead, not daring to think of anything. The noise around me seemed muffled until I heard my name called. In we went with the nurse who had scanned me that first day I found out I was pregnancy. The same nurse who had scanned me the week before. Yet here she was scanning me for probably the last time.
John took my hand and squeezed it tight, kissed me on my cheek and head and told me he loved me over and over. Then he looked to the floor, feet tapping. I was making pleasantries, nodding, shifting my bum down on the table, moving around so the nurse could get the best view – all the things I had done before in my scans to see how my pregnancy was progressing – all those times to be told it was going well.
There was a silence, filled only by brief taps on to a keyboard by the nurse. And then it happened – I looked at the screen, the screen filled with my two wombs yet one of them looked different to how it was last week. At that point it had been filled with a tiny sac that seemed so small but so big in hope but now, now it was gone.
“I’m so sorry” were the words we next heard. She took my hand and said it again and turned the scanning screen away from us. There was nothing left on there for us to see yet that blank space was filling our minds. My eyes, the eyes that had started at the wall, started to well up. John buried his head into me and cuddled me and we started to cry together. The nurse stroked my head and said to get dressed and instead of going out the usual door, to go through the door at the back – as that door leads to the loss room, where we can sit for a while and prepare ourselves to leave the hospital. But this time with no scan picture to hold.
We sat in that room, which was beige and with two seats and one small table and it looked as empty as I felt, and we cried. John held my tummy and me and when it was time to leave, the door opened out into the waiting room, now full of pregnant women, some smiling, some on their phone, some holding pots of wee, all holding their red book. I was holding nothing. And I wasn’t smiling. I wasn’t on my phone. And I had no pot of wee as it wouldn’t need to be tested anymore. People looked at us, both in tears, me wearing a cardigan that I didn’t realise still had the stains of the morning on it and we realised they knew why we were there and why we had come out of a door they had not seen before. Our faces told our story to a group of strangers and my mind went into overdrive. I felt a pang of jealousy that they were pregnant, I felt cross that I had to see them and be scanned in the same place, but I also felt incredibly guilty that I was a reminder to them that not all pregnancies work out and I wanted to run down the corridor and not scare them.
I called work and told them. My boss said it was a shame and that she would see me after the weekend. It was a Friday. There was no way in hell I would be in on the Monday. I was still bleeding, and my body, heart and mind felt like they had burst. I had absolutely no clue how I was supposed to go back to work and face people and make spreadsheets and act as if they were important. I never understood excel and could never get bloody formulae to work and felt useless and now here I was, again feeling useless, as my body couldn’t keep my pregnancy safe. And no one had known about my pregnancy. So, on Monday I was supposed to go back and see Susan in accounts and talk about how my weekend was and what was I supposed to say? It was lovely thanks. I had a dinner of Cajun chicken, watched Weird Science, got some sweetcorn stuck in my tooth, had an internal argument with myself about whether I should shave my legs or not and had a miscarriage.
I phoned my mum in a haze of tears and told her I had had a miscarriage. We hadn’t told our parents as we had been so incredibly nervous. She cried with me and put my dad on the phone who broke down in tears. We then lay on the bed and held hands and at night he ran me a bath, pulling the sofa out for me, making me hot water bottles and surrounding me in pillows and covers. Anything he could do to make me feel better, John did.
Nothing can prepare you or the emptiness you feel especially when you have spent the last month getting used to your body being full of something you didn’t expect. One day it is there, the next it is gone. We didn’t thin about trying again as we hadn’t tried to begin with and everything was such a muddle. I was so scared. Instead, we booked a holiday to travel around America, which we did – I got offered a job by a woman in New York who had 8-foot-high hair and blue eyebrows and a man in Time Square asked me if I was Britney Spears. And I became obsessed with fruit machines in Atlantic City and wanted to move there and play bingo forever with a sherry in my hand.
Almost exactly one year later, after a weekend away where I had consumed enough wine to be considered an international export, I found out I was pregnant. The usual fear, panic, tears and inability to think further than a day ahead took place. We went back to the early pregnancy unit and was scanned by the same lady we saw the year before, we saw the same doctor who had promised to look after us all the way through, and he did again, and we reached the 10-week mark and then passed it.
At 12 weeks, we told everyone, but I was clear and told people about what had happened before. We bought absolutely nothing and asked people not to get us anything – it was just all too scary to think about. I was placed on progesterone therapy until birth, meaning I spent 30 mins each night attempting to get what resembled a dildo shaped candle up the correct vagina leading to the womb with the pregnancy in and then had to lay upside down on the beds as said candle type tablet melted inside me. When I got to around 24 weeks, attempting to get this over my stomach with my very small arms was something of a feat but we were assured this would help keep my cervix strong. I was told that I wouldn’t be able to go the full distance and Joe would be delivered early via planned c section as its nigh impossible to push a baby out of one of two very small vaginal canals.
In January 2010, I delivered my beautiful joyful son Joe by c section and the two wombs meant I was live learning experience for some trainees. My surgeon had looked after me every single week of pregnancy and he was the first to hold Joe. He was also covered in Joe’s urine which decided to gush out as he was pulled from my tummy and we were so incredibly grateful for his support. We had told no one of my due date, even though we had known it from 12 weeks so keep me from having to deal with the “do we have a baby” comments as I feared I would have to respond with a no, it’s not there anymore.
Giving birth brought us new life changing challenges that were never expected. A diagnosis of postpartum psychosis meant I felt scared of my baby and also provided a stint in a psychiatric mother and baby unit as I learnt to be able to be near and hold him. My main fear was of him being here forever and I was terrified of being a mum forever. Now he was here, I couldn’t send him back and I felt terrible guilt that for so long I had wanted children that my body hadn’t given me and yet here I was with the most beautiful child in the world, and I didn’t think I wanted him. It felt so cruel to put me through this when wanted a baby so much.
My story of psychosis is covered in my other blogs, but I mention it as it the fear of that happening again combined with the very real prospect of further miscarriages due to the uterus didelphis and I have decided there will be no more babies.
I told Joe last year about this loss and how it led to him. At 7 years old, he took my tummy, and asked me what the marks were. I said they were stretch marks where his little feet and arms were growing and pushed my skin out. I showed him my c section scar and said that’s where you came out of and he then pushed our belly buttons together and said, “And this mummy is where we were joined” and I cried. He kissed my tummy and said I know about the other baby mummy. I was in there with her, but I was waiting to be born in the future.
I didn’t even know what to say to this. It was beautiful, it was healing, it was out of the blue and it was the her bit that really made me sit up. He drove his toy car of my stretch marks said yeah, she was a girl mummy, she was nice, and the car drove down my leg. Children say things at times that make you wonder, and John and I stood there staring at each other, not knowing what to say.
Time heals but you don’t forget. At times I don’t think about it and at times, it flashes into my mind when I am putting the lasagne in the oven or having a shower. Out of the blue, it’s there and I know this will probably be the case forever.
If you have experienced loss, my heart is with you.