The bereavement midwife calls me on Monday afternoon. “Issy! There’s an appointment for a scan tomorrow morning. Can you make it?”

I’m 9 weeks pregnant and have yet to meet with a consultant to discuss what this pregnancy will look like. The bereavement midwife assumed I would be referred for an early scan and some reassurance, but none came, so she chased them down and booked me in.

In the UK, the NHS is our greatest blessing and biggest frustration. Free healthcare for all, with the caveat of facing its overstretched and underfunded realities. I’m grateful the bereavement midwife saw my need for reassurance and pulled the right strings, as ‘technically’ there was no need for me to be seen until 12 weeks.

Tuesday morning, we drive to the hospital.

I cry getting out of the car, walking through the rain and into the corridors of the women’s centre. I remember pulling into this car park on an afternoon in June, after the midwife couldn’t find a heartbeat and sent us for an emergency ultrasound. I remember that day, with painful clarity, not wanting to get out of the car and have our new reality confirmed.

The scan goes well. The sonographer asks how far along I think I am, I say just over 9 weeks, she questions why I’m there so early. (Standard practice in the UK is two scans: one at 12 weeks to date the pregnancy, and one at 20 for the anatomy scan). I say, “The bereavement midwife got me the appointment,” and she doesn’t question it further. Either she doesn’t want to pry, doesn’t care, or simply doesn’t have time for conversation.

I’ve been practicing in my head how I’d answer the question, “Is this your first?” Keep it simple, I think. “My first was stillborn.” I haven’t said the words out loud yet, only practiced in my mind.

It’s brief. There’s the heartbeat; there’s only one in there, and all looks good.

I go to relieve my full bladder, and she prints out the report and an ultrasound photo. I’m relieved, I think, but honestly, I don’t feel much. I’m thinking about Dorothy. How we saw her at 7 weeks, 12 weeks, 16, 20, and 36, heart beating, nothing to worry about. And then at 37 weeks and 5 days, the long, silent wait, staring at the screen, when we could tell nothing was moving but praying we were wrong, before the confirmation—no more heartbeat.

Issy and Tom pregnant with Dottie - Issy's Bump Day Blog, Week 9: A Lesson of Hope

Author’s Personal Collection/Issy Jorden

We were lucky to get pregnant just three months after Dottie was born. I know that this is lucky, that others face long waits for their rainbows, some infertility, and some never bring home a living child. I know we are lucky to be in this position again so soon. I know I should be grateful. But I don’t feel lucky. If I were lucky, I would have my first baby at home with me, she would be four months old, and we wouldn’t even be contemplating baby number two yet. How could I possibly consider myself lucky when my baby was taken away from me?

But we have this new opportunity. A new chance at life. A lesson of hope.

I cry leaving the hospital. Walking back down the corridors, this time the inevitable reminder of the last time we left this place, without our baby. I look at the ultrasound photo of baby number two, waiting for it to mean something.

Today, I’m pregnant. Today, there is a baby, our second baby; they exist, and they are alive. We don’t know how long that will be true for. But today, I’m pregnant.

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