A pregnancy… and a loss

Soon after Shannon came along, I wrote in ST about how I could not imagine myself having a third kid. As it was, I could barely manage then, juggling a full-time reporting job and two kids. I was sleep-deprived most days, and hardly had time for myself and my husband. Many readers wrote in commiserating and sharing their experiences. Well, Jason is now 8 and Shannon 4.5 – and I was never more glad to say goodbye to the nappy-changing, night-feeding years.

Then I found myself pregnant last month. After the initial shock, we grew to accept the idea. My husband’s grin said it all. The strongest reaction came surprisingly from Jason. He was so excited about having another sibling, and would eagerly whisper to me: “I hope the baby’s cute and guai(obedient), not like meimei!” He would “talk” to the baby and ask about its development after each gynae visit.

Shannon, whose reaction was initially muted – perhaps she didn’t understand fully what it meant, or she was worried her position as the baby of the family would be usurped – was soon influenced by her korkor and became enthusiastic about the idea of becoming a jiejie(elder sister). One day, she came to me and said: “If the baby is a girl, can I change my name to Elsa and name her Anna?” (Frozen craze…) I was caught off-guard and stopped myself from laughing out loud, before asking her, “what if baby’s a boy?” Without missing a beat, she replied: “Then I’ll call him Olaf or Kristoff!” For the uninitiated – Olaf is the name of a snowman and Kristoff, the good guy. Or so Shannon says.

It is another reason for them to fight. Jason: I want a didi. Shannon: I want a meimei.

Perhaps it is age – I just celebrated my 36th birthday – but this pregnancy was tough. I was feeling nauseous day in, day out. When I was expecting Jason and Shannon, any nausea could be dispelled with food. This time, nothing I tried worked. I was just counting down the days to the end of the first trimester. It didn’t help that I had spotting at about 6 weeks, and had to be on bed rest. Thankfully, during the scan, we saw a tiny heartbeat after a long search and the spotting stopped after a week or so.

I was relieved and was looking forward to the 8.5-week gynae visit last week. I felt good – I was feeling nauseous and I had not been spotting for two weeks. During the ultrasound scan, my gynae took longer than usual. Then he frowned and said: “I don’t see a heartbeat.” My heart sank.

A repeat scan (ultrasound and internal) at Thomson Medical showed the same result – a sac that measured 8 weeks or so, but no heartbeat. This miscarriage was the second one. I had a miscarriage before Shannon came along. But that time, I had bleeding, and no nausea. There was a sac, but nothing developed.

My gynae gently told me that one in six pregnancies end in a miscarriage, usually in the first trimester. It is usually because of chromosomal abnormalities and so the pregnancy is terminated spontaneously. It is nature doing its job. He also said his wife has had 3 miscarriages and he could do nothing about them. Miscarriages are common, but they are usually early and hushed up, so we seldom hear of them. I understood all that. In fact, the nausea was so unbearable despite the lack of heartbeat, I told him I would like to arrange for a D and C immediately.

Before I had the miscarriages, I had the impression that a miscarriage meant the womb being unable to carry the foetus successfully, there would be bleeding, lots of it. I also thought it was because of strenuous activity. But my two experiences showed me otherwise.

These are some other questions I asked my gynae both after the first miscarriage in 08 and last week. He is not one to mince his words:

1) Is it because I didn’t take folic acid before I conceived?

Gynae: (Thought for a while) Did you take folic acid before you conceived and successfully delivered the first time (Jason)?

Me: Nope.

2) I’ve been on bed rest, how come I still have spotting/bleeding? Is it something I did/didn’t do?

Gynae: If the baby is healthy, bed rest will help. If not, even if you lie down, you will continue to bleed.

(When I had Shannon, I was spotting/bleeding for 4.5 months even though I was on bed rest. I managed to carry her to full term.)

3) Is it my age? I’m 36.

Gynae: A 26 year old can also miscarry. Try again after three months.

But a loss is a loss. We grieved over what it could have been. Jason took the news the hardest. He said: “But I was planning to play lao ying zhuo xiao ji (literally: eagle catches baby chicks, kinda like a catching game) with the baby and we need at least three people for it.”

It has been nearly a week since the D and C and life is slowly getting back to normal. There’s always a silver lining. In this case, a supportive family has been critical in helping us get through this period. My mum has been cooking dinners for us and my husband doing the heavy lifting at home. Jason and Shannon are their usual selves, demanding much of my attention and I don’t dwell on the loss.

The only difference now is perhaps that the thought of having a third child is no longer as scary or as daunting as before.

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