Pregnancy scare at week 11
By week 11 in your pregnancy you are very nearly at the end of the first trimester. Any unpleasant side effects should begin to ease and you can start to look forward to telling the world, shopping for maternity clothes and developing a noticeable baby bump!
For many women, the first twelve weeks are the most testing – and now you’re very nearly at the end of them. Here, one mother shares her experience of what week 11 meant for her.
Week 11 Pregnancy scare – one mum’s perspective
It was my first pregnancy and, like all newly expectant mums, I was a mixture of delighted and nervous. A fit and healthy 25, I was at the optimum age for carrying a baby, but it didn’t stop me counting down the weeks until I reached the magical number – week 12.
Actually, by week 11, I was feeling good. The miscarriage risk continued to drop each week, the morning sickness was easing, I had more energy, felt more settled and I was very much looking forward to the holy grail of the first trimester – the first date scan.
My research showed me that my baby was the size of a fig, with its head measuring approximately one third of its body. Plus, and it may have been my imagination, but I could have sworn that the waistline of my jeans felt tighter. All in all, I was feeling relaxed and in tune with my body. And then something nasty happened.
I was out walking my dogs when I slipped on a patch of mud and fell to the ground. It wasn’t a bad fall, but it was enough to make me feel uneasy and go straight home.
This turned out to be a good decision because about an hour later I discovered that I was bleeding. Not a lot, but it was not old, brown blood, it was fresh and red and alarming. I called my midwife who wanted to examine me and, once she had, she sent me straight to the Early Pregnancy Unit (EPU); because of the urgency I qualified for a same day scan.
The wait to be seen was excruciating. I sat nervously with my partner in the waiting room at the hospital, surrounded by pregnant women of all gestational stages, including some whose enormous bumps made it look as though they would be more at home on the labour ward. Meanwhile I had no idea if I was about to miscarry or not. I had never been scanned before and didn’t know what to expect.
Eventually, we were called through. I was asked to lay on a hospital couch and the sonographer applied cold gel to my lower abdomen. I felt a gentle pressure as she looked at the screen that was turned away from me and she passed the ultrasound probe over my skin. It felt like a lifetime before she gave a reaction, although it was probably about 30 seconds, and then she smiled at us and said everything was fine.
And then the screen was twisted our way so we could look at our baby for the first time; a grainy, black and white image with a tiny flickering heartbeat. The relief was absolutely overwhelming.
Because I was so close to 12 weeks, the sonographer handed us some leaflets about my upcoming anomaly scan (also known as the mid-pregnancy scan) and we left, with the first tiny picture of our child in hand (although personally I felt the image bore more resemblance to a potato than a baby).
It wasn’t until we were back home that I sifted through the various bits of information we’d been given and discovered something that I hadn’t even thought about: antenatal testing.
I was vaguely aware of the concept of testing during pregnancy, but I had no idea of specifics and even less of the risk factors. Nuchal fold testing, chorionic villus sampling (CVS) and amniocentesis were just a few of the terms that I had to familiarise myself with.
Some more intrusive than others, these tests are designed to pick up anomalies, abnormalities, identify conditions and syndromes that are incompatible with life and for some reason this knowledge made me feel uncomfortable. Baseline tests were sensible to have, but the more in-depth analysis, designed to access my unborn baby’s genetic make-up, seemed overly intrusive. I thought about it for a while before raising it with my midwife, and she gave me the piece of advice that made sense of all my thoughts.
She said, “If you would choose to terminate the pregnancy if there was something wrong with the baby, then you should have all of the recommended tests. If it would make no difference to you then you don’t necessarily need to have them. If your early tests show an elevated risk of something like Down’s, Patau’s or Edward’s syndrome then that could indicate that further tests are needed to establish the exact situation.”
She paused. “But if you would continue with the pregnancy regardless then you could choose not to have all of the tests.”
This was hardly the conversation that I’d been expecting at 11 weeks into my pregnancy, before there were even any outward signs that I was carrying a baby. However, I did feel grateful that I’d been given a longer while to think about how I would react if I found out that there was something wrong with my baby.
It was a horrible, hard thing to consider, but ultimately it was so important for me to have time to absorb the information, understand the implications and make a decision about how I would proceed. Despite this, I felt lucky. Without an early bleed I wouldn’t have had a scan, or information leaflets, or been alerted to the lesser-known realities of second trimester choices. Obviously I wouldn’t have chosen to have a scare like that at 11 weeks, but if there was ever a silver lining……..