Why You Shouldn’t Visit a Petting Farm or Zoo Whilst Pregnant
When you are pregnant there are several things you shouldn’t do. One of them is one you might not even realise. You shouldn’t visit a petting farm or zoo, especially ones that have lambs. This is because lambs carry many diseases which can cause miscarriages. This is what happened to me after I visited a petting farm whilst pregnant.
Around my son’s first birthday I discovered I was pregnant again. We were thrilled and couldn’t wait to add to our family. We didn’t tell anyone at first, waiting for the dreaded twelve weeks to pass and for the risk of miscarriage to go away. Naively I believed that if you didn’t have a miscarriage by twelve weeks then you wouldn’t have one at all.
I was working for Social Services at the time as a support worker and one of my clients was a teenager with the mental age of a child a lot younger and every other weekend I would take him out for a few hours to give his mother a break. I was about eight weeks pregnant and although work knew, not many others did. For something to do his mother suggested a nearby petting farm as he enjoyed being near the animals and they had some lambs. I agreed and off we went.
We arrived at the petting zoo, I couldn’t tell you what it was called or where exactly it was. In fact, I seemed to block this information out for a long time. The guilt I suppose. I knew not to go near sheep, ever since I’d watched an episode of Emmerdale when I was a child and Cathy lost her baby because of the sheep. Yet, I didn’t think it would happen to me and it certainly didn’t occur to me that I should avoid lambs as well!
We spent some time visiting the animals, the lambs, rabbits, goats and playing in the play areas. Nothing came of it and for years I’d even forgotten I had gone there whilst pregnant.
Finally, I hit twelve weeks and I started to relax. We began telling everyone and I eagerly awaited for my dating scan which had been booked the following week. Everyone was thrilled to hear I was pregnant again. I was due around Christmas that year and I couldn’t wait to celebrate Christmas as a family of four with a new baby!
Two days before my scan I started spotting and I began to worry. I went straight to the doctors and was given an appointment for later that afternoon. When I did go and see him he told me to go home and relax and that the bleeding might stop or it might continue. Whilst we were talking I noticed what he wrote in my notes, “Threatened Abortion” That really hurt and I wanted to shout at him, it wasn’t an abortion. I wanted this baby and I couldn’t wait to hold it in my arms. But I was too numb and scared to say anything. I was terrified I was losing my baby.
I went home and tried to take it easy, but it was hard seeing the blood every time I went to the bathroom, especially as it was getting worse. Later that night I ended up at the hospital and I was told I would go for a scan the following afternoon. I remember wishing I had stayed home as my dating scan was in the morning.
The following day I was taken for my scan. I was all alone as neither hubby or my parents had been able to make it in time. I went into the room and the scan revealed an empty sac and no heartbeat and no baby. I had lost it. By the time I got back to the ward, my mum was waiting with Ryan and I just burst into tears whilst holding him. The dr came over to discuss what was going to happen next but I wasn’t in the mood and I just wanted to go home so I asked the dr which option would allow me to go home sooner. I was allowed home to decide whether I wanted to let nature take its course or whether to go back for a D&C (Dilation and Curettage which is when the uterus is scraped clean to make sure nothing of the baby is left behind).
Once I was home I found it hard to deal with the bleeding and knowing that it was my baby I was losing and the grief was horrendous. I didn’t know why I had miscarried, yet I knew it was common and several women will miscarriage in the first few weeks of pregnancy. Sadly, I wasn’t on talking terms with my brother at the time as my pregnancy had caused a rift between us as his wife struggled to conceive and had suffered a stillbirth and a miscarriage (as well as a live birth). Because of this rift, I felt I couldn’t talk to them about how I felt. I even let the phone go to voicemail when I saw his number on my phone. I felt like I couldn’t talk to anyone and I just wanted the bleeding to stop as it was a constant reminder of what was happening.
Eventually, a day after I had found out I had lost my baby, I phoned the hospital and arranged to go in for a D&C the next day. I hung up, stood up and felt this almighty whoosh. I started bleeding heavily and blood was pouring down my legs! I rushed to the bathroom but felt like I couldn’t get off the toilet as it sounded like a tap constantly dripping. Hubby phoned our local doctor’s surgery and he was told to tell me to lie in bed with my legs elevated and the bleeding would subside.
I did what I was told but I couldn’t still feel myself bleeding. Hubby came in and took one look and he went as pale as a sheet. He couldn’t believe how much blood covered our bed and that it looked like I had been stabbed! He phoned the doctors again and this time the doctor agreed to come and examine me.
The doctor arrived and realised I was haemorrhaging. She gave me an injection to make my womb contract and phoned for an ambulance to take me to hospital. The ambulance arrived and said that the Air Ambulance was available and it could get me to the hospital a lot faster.
The helicopter crew were fantastic and put me at ease, I didn’t feel scared about being in the helicopter and in fact, I remember feeling sad that I couldn’t look out of the windows! We arrived at the hospital in about 15 minutes, compared to the usual hour and a bit by road.
I was taken to casualty and suddenly started to go downhill. My blood pressure dropped dangerously low and I passed out. When I came to I had a cannula in both wrists and elbows as they flushed fluid in me to raise my blood pressure. Had this happened in the road ambulance I doubt I would have survived and this is why I will always be grateful to the Air Ambulance.
After my mum and hubby had arrived I felt an overwhelming need to push and whatever was left of the baby I pushed out. The consultant took one look and immediately arranged for me to go for surgery and a D&C.
I was soon home and had to get used to the idea that I wasn’t pregnant again. In fact, that week I had what I call my week of hell. I lost the baby, we were turned down for a council house and then my Fiesta, my one and the only decent car that I have ever owned and had owed for 7 years, died when the cam belt blew (and I have had nothing but bad luck with cars since!) I remember sobbing in the AA van for my baby, my car and my house!
The day after I came out of hospital I had a phone call to say I had an infection and needed to take antibiotics. For many years I thought I had suffered an anembryonic pregnancy which is also known as a blighted ovum. This is when the pregnancy sac develops in the womb, but the sac is empty and doesn’t contain a baby. The most likely explanation is that the baby stopped developing at a very early stage and was reabsorbed. This is usually discovered between the 8th and 13th week of pregnancy, usually during your dating scan and can come as a shock if you had no symptoms of pregnancy.
A few years ago I happened to spot in my notes at the Drs that there was indeed a baby and that it had stopped developing at 8 weeks gestation. I tried to think if anything was special about when I was 8 weeks pregnant and that is when I remembered visiting the petting farm and I realised that I must have caught an infection from the lambs.
Realising I was the cause of my miscarriage was tough. The guilt is overwhelming, knowing that I am the reason I lost my baby and it wasn’t just “one of those things”. However I was lucky in one respect, I fell pregnant with Becky shortly afterwards. In fact, I remember the consultant asking me if I had any questions following my D&C and I remember asking when it was safe to get pregnant again. He told me to have at least one period and two weeks later I had some bleeding, decided that was my period and started trying. All I could think about at the time was getting pregnant again, probably not very healthy as I didn’t take time to grieve for my lost baby, but I wouldn’t change Becky for anything!
However, I do believe that falling pregnant with Becky so close to my miscarriage and the infection I picked up from the sheep and lambs, had an impact on Becky. She was a difficult birth and she suffered from an infection and needed antibiotics as a newborn. I also haemorrhaged again whilst having an emergency caesarean section.
The only other problem with getting pregnant again so close to my miscarriage is that I was pregnant for over a year!!!! I miscarried at 13 weeks, conceived Becky 2 weeks later and she was born at 41 weeks. So, excluding the 2-week break, I was pregnant for 54 weeks and a year is 52 weeks!
One thing I did do as a reminder of my baby I lost, was I wrote a poem. Something I have never done before or since. As for my sister-in-law, just before my miscarriage, I discovered she was pregnant as well and her daughter was born just after Christmas and is three months older than Becky and despite all the bad-feeling and my miscarriage, I was thrilled for them, even if their baby was born when mine was due!
This is the poem I wrote;
Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
How I wonder what you are.
Roy or Rosie, we’ll never know
But for now, you have to go.
One day soon, we’ll be united
Mummy, daddy and baby reunited.
We also appeared on the TV Show Helimeds, talking about our experience with the Air Ambulance. Ironically, in the show, I reveal I am pregnant with my 5th and when the show aired on TV I was actually in labour having Reese!