In terms of fears during the pregnancy itself, as soon as the two lines on the pregnancy test revealed themselves on the little white stick, then the first fears kick in. Of miscarriage.
I didn't realise how much of an issue this is: in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy if you do happen to tell someone you are pregnant (it happens, especially if the expecting mother was a drinker and smoker and then suddenly stopped one day) they almost certainly have a story of miscarriage. It is even worse if the story applies to them. We had dinner with a couple we had only just recently got to know who were pregnant with their second child. My wife had a couple of questions to ask about being pregnant in Yangon, and very quickly the conversation switched to how the other woman had miscarried twice, her sister once and her mother three times. "Don't worry if it happens to you, it's totally normal" she said to my wife. That was one of the most depressing after-dinner taxi journeys home in the past 9 months we have had.
All the pregnancy books have a whole chapter dedicated to the subject, and if you want to really be disturbed then obviously go online where there are enough statistics available to run a full episode of Sportscentre on ESPN. For example, in the US:
- Approximately 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage; some estimates are as high as 1 in 3. If you include loss that occurs before a positive pregnancy test, some estimate that 40% of all conceptions result in loss.
- Approximately 75% of all miscarriages occur in the first trimester.
- An estimated 80% of all miscarriages are single miscarriages. The vast majority of women suffering one miscarriage can expect to have a normal pregnancy next time.
- An estimated 19% of the adult population has experienced the death of a child (this includes miscarriages through adult-aged children).
So there are a whole list of new statistics by nationality, and for the true statisticians out there, also applying to a second child. I even just found a miscarriage calculator which awarded me a miscarriage probability of 75%. Go figure.
This is not me trying to make light of a situation which must be emotionally devastating for many people around the world (those who realised they were pregnant and miscarried), nor being smug in that we made it past week 12. For the last 3 weeks of the first trimester I counted down day-by-day. And then I switched to fearing something else.