"I'm so sorry". The words you never want to hear at something like a baby scan. In truth, as I'd stared at a screen with an incredibly still baby peacefully lying there, and thought back to the fact that we'd had to chase Otis (my first son) around my tummy to get a shot of him, I knew what was coming. Knowing doesn't make it any easier.
Only weeks before we'd returned from our first year of travel round the world as a family, with the unexpected news that our family was about to become four. We'd had a scan in Bangkok, when the baby was about 7 weeks old, so we felt comfortable telling people we knew that we were expecting, hopeful that the healthy scan meant a continued healthy pregnancy.
And yet, here we were at our 12 week scan, watching a still baby on screen, being told that our baby had passed away at 9 weeks, unable to continue developing as they should have done. It's so hard to describe what you feel in that moment. A whirlwind of numbness is the phrase that comes to mind. So many feelings rushing around, but somehow you feel nothing at the same time.
I remember turning to Ben and saying "I'm sorry" as we both burst into tears. Otis was sat on his lap, looking at the bright lights and flashing machines, yet totally confused as to why Mummy and Daddy were suddenly crying. My motherly instincts immediately kicked in, wanting him to feel ok and not be worried, and wanting to make sure Ben was alright too.
As our options were explained to us, and we were ushered into another room to wait to speak to a different nurse, all I could think was how cruel it is that in these situations you're sitting alongside other mums waiting for their (hopefully) successful prenatal check ups. Because seeing another woman heavily pregnant is really the last thing you need at that time.
In all honesty, our hospital was great, giving us time and space to explain things to us, but also understanding that we would want to get the hell out of there and be on our own. Having an existing child naturally changes how you deal with these things. Our plan post hospital appointment had been to visit the park, and of course, we still did that. Our focus was suddenly, wholeheartedly on Otis. We forced ourselves to laugh and play, and entertain until he took his nap. And then we slumped onto the sofa and held each other and cried, with relief that we could finally let it all out, relief that we are so lucky to have Otis in our lives, and relief that we have each other.
There is no right way to react to these things. That first day took us through the whole gamut of emotions. The sense of the strength of our existing family unit was huge, and has been so helpful in keeping us going in the last week. The loss is hard to explain. We were lucky in one sense that it was early in the pregnancy, so we hadn't yet got to naming our child. We didn't know if it would be a boy or a girl. We hadn't bought a thing. So many plans were left unmade.
But that's almost what makes it hard as well. The sense of lost possibility. Seeing friends with two children and feeling that we'd robbed Otis of his brother or sister. Our plans that we were making for the next year that were focused on having a new baby at their heart all suddenly out of the window.
Everyone tells you not to blame yourself, but it's so incredibly tough not to question your own routines in the lead up to this horrific news. Should I have had those odd glasses of champagne at Christmas? Should I have been more lenient on my exercise? Not been on long plane journeys? I'm a logical, pragmatic person, but of course these things flashed through my head.
Luckily, optimism was also amongst the gamut of emotions. I don't know where we found it from to be honest, but somehow what has happened has cemented our desire to have another child, but also our understanding that if it doesn't happen, then we are so lucky to already have one brilliant baby boy. Our plans for the next year are still exciting, and we are determined to focus on that, and not look back at what might have been.
We actually dragged ourselves to our party the next day after our news. It had been planned for ages, Bens parents were coming up from Devon to baby sit, and for the last year we've not had a night to let our hair down. I was nervous about it, nervous about the effects of drinking on two people who had gone through this tragedy. Nervous that I'd break down at some point.
It was actually one of the best things we could have done. We saw people who we love and who are a huge support for us. We told some, others we have told separately, or not had the appropriate moment to as yet. We managed to talk about positive things, and have all of the achievements of our last year played back to us by our friends, reigniting our gratitude at the time we've had together as a family.
There are no silver linings on this kind of event. It's horrific when it happens. I'm still going through the physical side effects of miscarrying, and from what I have read there could be some horrendous stuff to come. However, I wanted to write this so that people who go through it understand that there are no wrong reactions. You may feel every emotion imagineable, but you'll eventually find your way through to making steps forward. We are so, so sad about the loss to our family, but also so excited about the potential of our family to come. I hope if this happens to you that you can find a way to feel the same.