No one quite prepares you to get the news that something that was so viable and real growing inside of your body is no longer going to be your reality. It certainly wasn’t something that crossed my mind that is for sure. I was a mum already. At the time of our first experience of baby loss, I was a step mum to ten year old, strapping, young lad and a two year old boy who kept me on my toes. The plan was always to add to our family. I wanted at least one more little one to join our tribe, and the ideal scenario for me was to have the children close in age. In my mind, I was going to handle the different stages of parenthood close together. Of course, the plan didn’t go my way. The start of our story can only be described as a whirlwind. My now husband and I went on a date, we fell in love, moved into together and then we got a surprise positive pregnancy test just five months into our relationship. I became a mum the moment we committed, because my husband had a son already. He was seven years old at the time, shy, cautious, but has grown up to the strapping 15 year old young man he is today. He’s taught me so much. While there were complications in my pregnancy, such as being diagnosed with a unicornuate uterus (something that turns out to be wrong as we find out later on), Logan arrived safely by emergency c-section on the 1st June 2013.
We started trying for another little one quite soon after Logan was born. When he was around eighteen-months old, we thought it would be the ideal time to start the process and see how we got on. In September 2015 I had a positive pregnancy test and was overjoyed. It hadn’t really occurred to me that it had taken a few months to get pregnant. The fact the words “pregnant” were on that Clear Blue pregnancy test was enough for me. I was around 4-5 weeks, and I just carried on with life, as you do. A bit oblivious about what could, or might, happen. Just two weeks later I noticed bleeding and a bit of cramping pain. I got it checked out by the early pregnancy unit at the hospital, and my HCG levels were monitored. Over the following few days, the midwives prepared me for the worst news, and as the HCG levels weren’t rising as much as they should have been, I was told I was likely miscarrying. They tried to scan, but it was noted as a pregnancy of unknown location. The HCG showed I was pregnant, but physically they couldn’t see anything. We were heartbroken.
I was due to go back every other day to check those levels were decreasing in-line with a miscarriage, but the night before I was due in for another routine blood test, I experienced horrific pain on the left lower side of the abdomen. It was awful, but in my mind, I had already lost our baby, so I coped with it overnight. Something I shouldn’t have done. The next morning we went to the hospital, the colour drained from my face and in agony. They immediately scanned me on the left side and said they had found the pregnancy, and it was in my left Fallopian tube. An ectopic pregnancy that was likely to rupture the tube if I wasn’t operated on immediately. I hadn’t even heard of what that was until then, and it turns out, that it can be quite common.
We were in total shock. During the surgery, my Fallopian tube couldn’t be saved and was removed. Which did reduce our chances ever so slightly of conceiving in the future. I often wonder that if I had listened to my body and my gut that night the pain started, would that have been the case? It was certainly a lesson learned and something to this day has changed me. I trust my gut a lot more.
Getting over the ectopic pregnancy was tough, but we didn’t give up. So, once we felt that I had physically healed and mentally we felt ready, we tried again. Between then and getting a positive pregnancy test, we got married, and it was the distraction that I needed. When you are in the “trying to conceive” bubble, you are totally consumed by it. Even if you don’t intend to be. You track cycles, you research the best foods to eat and the lifestyle changes you can make. Planning a wedding was just what I needed, and it seemed the honeymoon was also just what was needed as it turned out we conceived around that time, because a few weeks later in May 2017 we got that much wanted positive test again.
This time I was so cautious. Every time I went to the bathroom I worried, every twinge in my body, my stomach and shoulders, I panicked thinking it would be an ectopic pregnancy again. But only a few weeks into the pregnancy, the bleeding and cramping started once more. History seemed to repeat itself. We immediately headed down to the hospital and started to monitor the HCG levels, this time they were rising, and I got to the stage where at six weeks I had a scan and there was a baby there. But they hit us with the news that there was an intermittent heartbeat. The chances were slim, however, we kept a positive mindset and we were hopeful. I was advised to go back in a week unless any of the symptoms I was experiencing changed, to be scanned again. When we went back, we were told that there was no longer a heartbeat. We had miscarried. Another decision needing to be made as to whether I let things happen naturally, at home, or whether I had surgery to remove the pregnancy. At that time I wanted it all to be over, and so we opted for the surgery. Feeling broken-hearted once more, I just wasn’t sure whether it was going to ever happen for us again. Which makes me sound selfish, in a way, or at least I felt that way at the time. Here’s me with two healthy boys and a loving family, I should be content with my life. I felt, and have felt for a long time, so conflicted with these sorts of feelings and emotions.
We didn’t make any decision to try again after that, but quickly in September of 2017, I had a positive pregnancy once again. Of course, we were happy, but this time we were all too familiar with the dark side and what could happen. This time it happened quite fast. The bleeding started a week or so later, and we didn’t have too much monitoring from the hospital from that point because I miscarried at home naturally without any need for management from the hospital.
As each loss happened, I felt I became quite numb to it. Like my body was failing me in some way. I had already managed to have a baby, so why was this becoming such a problem for me? I wanted answers, but ordinarily the NHS would only refer to a recurrent miscarriage clinic if you had experienced three miscarriages, the ectopic pregnancy, although a baby loss, was not classed as one of the three. It was as if they were telling me I had to go through it once again before anyone cared to find out if there was a reason why. Thankfully, one of the midwives said that a “loss is a loss”, and referred me.
For the year of 2018 and the beginning of 2019, I was under the clinic. I had an MRI scan, an ultrasound, blood tests, you name it, they looked into it. They advised there wasn’t a clear reason for the losses, but I didn’t have a unicornuate uterus, I had a uterus didelphys. This essentially means that I have two womb chambers, each linked with one Fallopian tube, and the two chambers joined at the bottom. Of course, the only side really viable for pregnancy was the right side, which happened to be where I carried my son to term. After that diagnosis and consultation, I was sent away with progesterone pessaries and blood thinner injections, both of which to be used the next time I got a pregnancy test for the first 12-weeks.
I had that bag of medication for months, and we never got a positive test. It took 22 months from that last result to July 2019, when we finally got the news we had hoped for. Only a month before we had the conversation of giving up, that perhaps it just wasn’t meant to be. We even said that by the end of the year, if we hadn’t managed to conceive, then we would stop trying and just focus on life and being more in the present. Trying to conceive, for me, felt like I put everything on hold, because I was waiting for my happy-ending, when really I already had it. I love my boys and husband; but, finally, we got a surprise positive test just a month after that conversation.
To bring the story up to date, Luna was born on the 3rd of March 2020 by elective c-section at 39 weeks. The pregnancy was filled with anxiety, and I can’t even begin to explain the fear every time I went to the bathroom or felt some sort of twinge; but we finally got our little rainbow baby.
Miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, any loss is devastating. Whether it is only a matter of weeks that you are pregnant, or months. If anyone was to ask me how to handle the devastation, I would always say that whatever your situation is, your grief is valid and to be kind to yourself. It isn’t your fault. You naturally want to find something or someone to blame, but you simply can’t. I will always say that I’m a mum of three, but I’m also a mum of three stars in the sky. I often look up at night and give them the acknowledgement they deserve. All three experiences have changed me and my husband in more ways than we wish to say; but we are so incredibly thankful that we never gave up.