At 8 weeks on the dot, the day of our dating scan, I woke up more nauseated than usual. I put it down to nerves. I’d been lucky with the girls. I had never thrown up, and any nausea I had was mild and quickly relieved with food. I never needed to even consider medication. This pregnancy was different. After making the huge effort this particular morning to haul myself out of bed and make Reina breakfast, I lay back down in bed, muttering something about feeling particularly gross. It was a school day, but Chab sat beside me, and Reina squeezed for a full body cuddle. If mummy’s in bed I can be in bed. I’m pretty sure that was her reasoning. I didn’t mind. It was early. We had plenty of time.
Suddenly something swayed inside me. Up until this point in the pregnancy I’d only ever felt nausea. Moderate nausea, all the time, but I’d never vomited. That was about to change. I made a dash to the ensuite toilet and proceeded to do my best dying dragon impression as I succumbed to an apparently urgent need to empty the contents of my stomach. Chab was soon beside me, calmly rubbing my back. In between hurls I could hear Reina’s terrified screams, muffled from her hiding place under our covers. “Reina!” I called out –retch- “I’m okay honey!” I managed, trying to sound chipper. “Mummy’s just a little bit”- rrretch– “off! Nothing to-” rrrrrrrretchhh- “-Oh for god’s sake!- worry about!!”
Once the heaving subsided, we comforted my 7 year old daughter, who’d never witnessed me throwing up, trying to convince her that I really was fine. Her face was crumpled and tear stained, and I almost told her right then and there that I was NOT sick, she did NOT have anything to worry about, I was just pregnant. But there was no ‘just’ pregnant about it. This was a big deal and Chab and I still didn’t know how we felt. We still hadn’t heard the heartbeat. We hadn’t forgotten the pain of the scan in 2019: “I’m sorry,” she’d said, “but there’s no heart beat.” No, we were just not ready.
Later that morning we got the reassurance we needed with a picture-perfect, textbook scan. Baby resembled a beautiful jelly bean, heart beating away at 170 beats per minute, a perfectly normal rate at this gestation. Unlike last time, there was no haematoma, there was no slow, non reassuring heart beat I assumed must have been mine. There was no question of inappropriate growth. This day, my dates put me at 8 weeks. Jelly Bean measured precisely 8 weeks. Bit of a show off really. The relief was palpable as I let the tears flow. We couldn’t let our baby go now. This is our baby. Sure we hadn’t planned this. But our baby was real. Our baby’s heart was beating. Permission had finally been given: to connect with it, love it, nurture it, and dare to have hopes and dreams for this pregnancy. I felt like I could breathe for the first time.
“Babe,” I said once in the car, “we need to tell the girls. Soon. They are worrying over nothing. They deserve to know.”
“I know, I think we have to tell them soon too.”
“But first, before we do anything else…”
“Can you take me to the doctor? I’m gonna need a script for something for my dying dragon act.”
Thanks to the marvels of modern medicine, my act was never repeated. The question remained though: how would we tell the girls? And how would they take it…