Until very recently, my body thought I was pregnant, but I wasn’t
I was at the 10.5 week mark. I was booked in for my first scan in just a few days, when I started bleeding.
I rang my doctor’s surgery, and while my regular GP wasn’t there, I was put through to another wonderful female doctor who suggested I get a scan that afternoon to check. She gave me three numbers to call; I called the first one, and could get in for an appointment in just 30mins. Hubby picked me up, and we went in straightaway.
On the drive there, I was quiet. I went to put music on through my Spotify account but then thought I don’t want to associate this memory with any particular song. The radio will do.
I filled out a form. We sat in the waiting room. The air con was on, but that’s not why my legs were shaking. One part of me was terrified, one part was trusting—What will be, will be… you can’t control this, I thought—and one part was tentatively excited… maybe we were about to see our baby for the first time.
As soon as I lay back on the examination table, and the sonographer—a gentle, kind woman with a strong South African accent that, given my family is from South Africa, felt extremely comforting… although I didn’t get to tell her this—got everything ready to begin the scan, I surrendered to exactly where I was. I couldn’t change anything from here on it… I could only be present and go through it.
She started the ultrasound and straightaway I could see… there was nothing (although that didn’t fully sink in yet).
She even did an internal ultrasound to double check. She was very sweet and said maybe I should have another scan in a week or so to double check again, but you could see the gestational sac on the screen and… it was empty.
After continuing the scan and checking that everything else looked good, she explained that she thought I had a blighted ovum… which means that my body thought I was pregnant, but I wasn’t.
For almost 11 weeks? Is that possible? I’d never, ever heard of this. I didn’t even know that was a thing!
As she left the room, I turned to my husband, who’d been sitting by my side, holding my hand the entire time, and I folded into him, sobbing.
There was sadness, but mostly, there was shock. I had never heard of this before. It was completely bewildering to me. How can this be a thing?
We got back in the car, and sat there for ages, talking and crying. We both called our mums and talked to them for a while. By then, the shock was already passing for me, but I could tell I was still processing what this meant.
At one stage, I said to Nic ‘Was I just so ready to be pregnant that I made my body believe I was?’ He smiled and said ‘I mean, you’re a powerful individual, but that’s X-Men territory.’ I laughed. He was right—this hadn’t been in my head… but in my body. My intelligent, powerful, adaptable and capable body.
We got home, and I pulled an oracle card (from the Indigo Angel card deck by Doreen Virtue and Charles Virtue)
The Divine Timing card jumped out.
Two more jumped out with it: Physical Outlet, and Stay. To me this means; there’s a divine timing at play here, there’s a physical release of this pregnancy, and stay the course… your baby is coming.
Interestingly, the first line of the Physical Outlet card said: ‘This current situation is causing you to hold on to something that the angels would like you to release. The angels are asking you to engage in a physical activity as a source of self-counseling and a means of clearing the way to receive new messages, ideas, solutions, and healing energy.’
Just hours before I’d started bleeding, I went to a yin yoga class, taught by one of my best friends. It was all about embodying the energy of the new moon, resetting, and of course, yin yoga helps you release and flow.
When I got home, I’d started bleeding. The yoga class had been completely safe for pregnancy, so it wasn’t that. And with hindsight, I can see the yoga class had been timed perfectly, to help my body start to release this pregnancy. It was a class my friend didn’t usually teach, on a day I didn’t usually do midday yoga, so again… the timing was just perfect, and this oracle card helped solidify this for me.
That evening, Nic and I decided to skip a planned family dinner, and instead, we went out for dinner to one of our favourite restaurants in Bondi, just the two of us. A pair of pants I’d ordered online had just arrived, so I got home, showered, put them on, got dressed up, and did my makeup.
As soon as we sat down at the restaurant, I ordered my first glass of red wine in many weeks. It was large. I was grateful.
We drank wine, ate steak with porcini butter and tarragon sauce and roasted cauliflower and crunchy potatoes.
The waitress accidentally knocked over my water and my wine—only the water spilled on me, thankfully—and so she refilled my wine glass. Bonus wine! Excellent (thanks Universe).
We talked. We laughed. We began to reset. Strangely enough, we had one of the best dinner dates we’d had in ages. Everything is going to be okay, we decided. And it is.
When we got home, we both got into bed. Nic fell asleep; he’d had the longest day, having woken up before 5am for work. I put on a facemask (one I’d just bought, hadn’t even opened and had been about to return, as I realised it had kaolin in it which isn’t safe to use topically in pregnancy), and made tea, ate chocolate, texted my mum and my girlfriends, and watched Netflix.
The next morning, I woke up really early. I went to a sweaty 90min yoga class that I hadn’t been able to attend for months (again, the Physical Outlet card—using yoga for healing and release). Afterwards, I got a coffee and sat in a café, writing. My parents and our dog, Miso, were going for a walk and detoured to walk past me for hugs. I met up with girlfriends for lunch, booked a blow dry at my friend’s hair salon for the afternoon, and hubby and I decided to get sushi and see a movie that night. Sushi! Raw fish! Bring it.
When it first happened, I was shocked and sad, but I feel okay about this now for so many reasons. Here they are, in no particular order.
⇢ Some people might be upset or angry at their bodies for doing this—for giving you all the signs of a healthy pregnancy for weeks (prior to your first scan, of course), but without the actual developing embryo/baby… but I’m not mad. I’m proud. My body conceived, easily and quickly (10 points to Gryffindor). My body picked up there was a fertilised egg (good work); it carried it to my womb (top marks); it implanted it (excellent); it did everything it was supposed to do (gold star).
It elevated the appropriate hormone levels, which showed in two blood tests; gave me sore breasts; fatigue; a metallic taste in my mouth; a crazy-heightened sense of smell; a lowered tolerance for caffeine, a higher body temperature. It did all the things it was supposed to do, had I been growing a tiny human.
The difference is that it also picked up that this embryo was obviously not viable. Blighted ovums—I’ve since discovered—are often linked to chromosomal abnormalities in the embryo, meaning my body knew better. It knew—before I did—that this wasn’t our baby. It knew this wasn’t right, and it dealt with it… but somewhere along the way, lines got crossed—a memo was missed!—and my body kept telling me I was pregnant.
⇢ Before I fell pregnant, I always believed that if you miscarried, that simply wasn’t meant to be your baby. I even said this to my doctor at my first appointment at about 6 weeks, when I got my referral to the midwifery program. She agreed with me, and while at the back of my mind I wondered if my perspective on this was because I’d never experienced a miscarriage of any kind, now I know that, at least in this case, I still believe that, and I’m okay.
⇢ The support around us is incredible. My mum has always said that when I fell pregnant, I could tell as many friends and family as I wanted, because if anything did happen during my pregnancy, I’d want the support around me. She couldn’t have been more right. My family has been incredible. And I’ve never felt my girlfriends rally around me as much as I did in the days after I told them what had happened.
At one stage, I had double the amount of unread text messages than emails. Their texts, calls, stories and hugs filled me, fueled me, buoyed me. Friends bought me flowers. My friend who blow dried my hair, wouldn’t let me pay for it. A friend dropped us soft cheese and red wine.
And my family; their love was endless. Texts, calls, hugs. (Cute side note: my granny told me she was so proud of how brave I was being, and that I was cheering her up with my outlook. My grandpa looked it up online and when we spoke, he so sweetly told me this was for the best, ‘Your body is so intelligent’ he said.)
My husband… his support and love, boundless. I made a (albeit blackly comic) joke that I was just testing him to see if he’d be a good husband-to-pregnant-me, and I can now confirm that he is! We actually did laugh.
⇢ There is a bigger timing at play, and once our baby is in our arms, we’ll know why this happened as it has. Well, we already know one reason. We’re waiting for our baby, whenever he/she is ready.
⇢ This experience has deepened my friendships. I’d never heard of a blighted ovum before, however within 48hrs of discovering this is what happened to me, I knew at least eight friends who’d experienced the same thing, and who’d then gone on to have healthy babies. On looking it up, I discovered that it’s so incredibly common (a few websites said about 50% of miscarriages are because of a blighted ovum, which is a type of miscarriage); it is common in healthy women; and once it’s happened to you, it’s unlikely to happen again.
⇢ I also heard stories from girlfriends who’d had miscarriages who told me that with hindsight, they could see the timing of their healthy pregnancies and the arrival of their healthy babies was so much better. I already trust and believe this (and not just because I wrote a book about trusting and surrendering to the bigger plan…!) because as I said before, this was just obviously not our baby.
⇢ We now know I can conceive, which is, really, the best part of this whole story. That is the true miracle.
⇢ We know my body can hold a pregnancy… at least until it realised it was a ‘fake’ pregnancy! This is completely my viewpoint but it gives me confidence that my body will know what to do with a ‘real’ pregnancy too.
⇢ Nic and I now get to focus on us again while we build back up to starting our family. We now have more time to prepare for baby, save for baby, and be ready for baby.
⇢ Physically, I get to come back to myself (as a girlfriend said ‘This time is about coming back home to yourself’). I get to spend time reconnecting with my body, preparing my body, getting back into the exercise I was too tired to do for the last couple of months, and cherish my body before I also cherish my baby. I’ll also see my acupuncturist more regularly and take herbal medicine to get my body back on track.
⇢ On a practical note, I had semi-planned out the rest of my year in my business, thinking I’d be taking maternity leave from early August. This now gives me more time (how much more, I’m not yet sure!) to keep working and building up my biz so it’s even more supportive for us when I do end up stepping back for a few months for maternity leave.
⇢ And on a completely hilarious yet serious note; now I can go back to my yoga studio for heated vinyasa classes, drink all the wine, and eat all the poached eggs and raw fish and soft cheeses, and have two cups of coffee a day, if I want. At least… until I can’t anymore. And then I’ll be so glad I can’t… because our baby will be on their way to us.
While this is a loss, of course, a friend pointed out that it’s almost more a loss of the plans, ideas and thoughts about what was coming, and she’s so right. That hit the mark for me exactly. I also think I feel that way because there was never really a developing embryo or a growing baby… so we don’t feel like we’ve lost a baby, but rather, the idea of a baby… the excitement we had, and all the plans we had. We’ll have all that again… we just don’t know when.
While I felt very overwhelmed when I woke up on the Sunday morning, because all of a sudden it hit me that my ‘plans’ now had to change, I now see this all as a fresh start.
The only way to welcome in the new, is to let go of the old. I wrote in my journal: ‘I let go of what I thought then, and lean into what I know now.’
What I know now is that I’m okay; we’re okay.
My body is processing this change and healing well. It’s… all good.
We are feeling like our usual selves. I am feeling incredibly optimistic; life is unfolding… and while I don’t know the answers yet, I’m feeling very content being right here.
It feels like there are even more possibilities ahead of me than ever before.
Time has been reset and stretched, to be filled with something new and wonderful.
P.S. I wrote this post in the hope it might help other women who’ve experienced a blighted ovum… something I knew nothing about until it happened to me. If you’re going through a difficult time conceiving, if you’ve recently miscarried, if you’re struggling in any way… I see you, and I’m so sorry. There’s so much help out there for you. I really recommend seeing a naturopath and an acupuncturist, alongside your GP and/or OB/GYN to help prepare your body in the best way possible. Plus kinesiology, reiki, psychology, counseling, self-care, mindfulness, yoga, journaling; combine all the things, and see what sticks. Wine and poached eggs and sushi helps too.
Sending you love, wherever you currently find yourself.