On the 4th of January this year, we had our 12-week scan for our first baby, who now lives in heaven. On the 4th of December, we had another 12-week scan, for our second baby, who we desperately hope to bring home next year.

It’s been a strange year.

A few weeks ago it occurred to me that this new baby is sharing the same home that Dottie lived in. Like siblings shuffling bedrooms around, when the oldest moves out and the younger ones finally get their own space. I imagined this little baby floating around inside me, aware of their sister’s presence and absence all at once. It’s something they’ll always have in common, their first home, the place where my children lived.

Reaching the dating scan (official due dates are set at this scan in the UK)  feels like a milestone.

I’m not oblivious to the fact that pregnancies can go wrong at any stage – Dorothy died shortly after 37 weeks. But reaching the end of the first trimester at least feels like beating the first set of statistics, the most likely time that my baby could be taken from me. I can’t help but feel a little relieved, even though my brain is telling me it’s too dangerous to relax, to hope.

Issy's 12-week scan image in front of the Christmas tree - The Dating Scan Milestone

Author’s Personal Collection/Issy Jorden

We got the most perfect scan photo. Baby was dancing around delightedly but still showed us their perfect profile – something we never got with Dottie, the ultimate awkward scan baby. Is that a good omen? No, that’s crazy. Is it? My dates were moved ahead by five days, bringing that 37-week delivery date an inch closer. And a posterior placenta, thank goodness, so movements should be felt soon and strong. Dottie’s placenta was anterior, and she was a quiet baby. I often worried about whether she was moving enough and whether we should have gone in to get checked more. I’ve been pleading with God for a wriggly baby this time, for the reassurance of life busy inside me.

After the scan, I had bloods taken and a flu jab. The nurse asked me, out of habit presumably, is this our first baby? It’s a question I’ve been preparing for mentally for weeks, but the first time it’s actually been asked. “No, our first was stillborn in the summer.” Strange to say it out loud. So much of my sharing our story has been written, on social media, or in messages. There’s so much that I haven’t had to say out loud yet. Stillbirth. Stillborn. My first baby died. Her name was Dorothy. Will it ever feel natural for these words to come from my lips?

I can’t seem to hold both pregnancies in my mind at once.

I am either overwhelmed by grief, wishing Dottie was here as she should be, and convinced that this pregnancy will end in death too; or I am strangely calm, amazed that there is new life inside me, amazed that we might bring another baby home before Dottie’s first birthday. But then comes the guilt, that I dare to feel hope when I should only feel despair, when I should be broken apart at the loss of my daughter, and looking forward to meeting another baby is only cruel and unfaithful.

I try to give myself grace. Remind myself that it’s not even six months since we met and lost Dorothy. I may be 14 weeks pregnant, but my mind is only just catching up, so I give myself grace for not being able to process everything at once. For trying to do everything at once. For switching between hope and despair, Dottie and new baby, at lightning speed, making me dizzy. These are still the early days. I do believe that peace will come, that my mind will feel calmer one day. But at the moment, I give myself grace to feel relief at the sight of the baby wriggling inside me and, in the same moment, to weep for the baby who isn’t here.

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