Our journey to parenthood started as soon as Karl and I got married in 2015. I was convinced that things wouldn’t be straight forward, and so I could not believe it when a few weeks after our honeymoon we found out we were pregnant. We were both over the moon and for 8 weeks we lived in a bubble of happiness. My sister was a month ahead of me with her first pregnancy so everything felt perfect. As the 12 week scan approached, I started to feel a little nervous however I felt reassured by the fact that I hadn’t had any pain or bleeding. Our happiness ended when the sonographer asked the dreaded question, ‘How sure are you about your dates?’ I will remember that feeling forever. We just felt broken. My only way of describing this feeling was that the world had gone from colourful, bright and hopeful, to dark and grey.
Due to protocol, we had to wait a week before having another scan at the Early Pregnancy Unit (EPU) to confirm it was definitely a non-viable pregnancy. A week I had to live my life as normal and return to work knowing that my baby inside me wasn’t alive anymore. The scan confirmed that it was a missed miscarriage and the doctors discussed with us our options about how to pass the pregnancy tissue. Growing up, I did not think the hardest part of having a miscarriage would be trying to get the baby out of my body. However over the next few weeks I found this to be the case. I had two rounds of medicine, an MVA and then finally a D & C in surgery. It took six weeks for all the treatment to be over, and we were ready to move on from this chapter of our life.
We decided that we wanted to try again straight away, so all we needed now was my period to return. That was my way of dealing with it, I just wanted to be pregnant again as soon as possible. However, things were not that easy. Another six weeks passed and my period still hadn’t returned, and I felt extremely frustrated. I knew something wasn’t right. Everyone, including my GP, kept saying ‘Give it time’, ‘Your body has been through so much’, and, ‘Just relax’. All things I now know you should not say to someone who is going through fertility issues or baby loss. Every few weeks I would get cyclical pains and I was convinced my period was coming and then nothing. I am someone that does not give up easily and I don’t simply accept things, so I made it my mission for doctors to listen to me and to find out what was going on. This is the one bit of advice I give to all women going through this- you know your own body so fight to be listened to. We had months of tests and hormones with the GP and the fertility hospital to find out what was going on. Finally, seven months after my miscarriage, I had my first natural period and it felt good knowing my body was finally doing what it should. The last few months had been difficult, friends had announced pregnancies and my sister had given birth to my beautiful nephew. This was a happy time for us, but it was also extremely difficult. I felt guilty about the feelings I was having, sadness for what we had lost and envious of what we should have been going through.
A couple of months later on our first wedding anniversary we did a pregnancy test and it was positive. We were happy, but realistic. A feeling that people who are pregnant after loss know too well. The first 12 weeks of this pregnancy were hard, we did not feel the same joy we had the first time. We felt constant worry. This was not helped by the fact we had some early pregnancy bleeding at around 6-8 weeks. We had lots of scans and at all of them we saw our gorgeous baby with a perfect heartbeat. We got to 12 weeks and felt excited to tell all of our friends and family. The rest of the pregnancy was pretty stress free and I loved every part of it. Our gorgeous, perfect little miracle was born at 38 weeks.; our son, Jacob. The labour was relatively quick and stress free. For the month after Jacob was born we were in a bubble of love, sleepless nights and hormones.
A month after his birth, I was at home with my parents and Jacob, when suddenly I started to bleed extremely heavily. This came without warning and was a massive shock. Safe to say I was terrified having never seen so much blood. We were rushed to hospital where Karl met us. I was then rushed to theatre under general where they performed an emergency procedure to remove a tiny piece of placenta that was stuck. I had blood transfusions to replace the 4 litres of blood I lost while I was haemorrhaging.
I recovered physically from this pretty quickly and felt lucky to be back safe and well with Jacob. I definitely wasn’t the same person I was before my journey to motherhood. After the loss and my haemorrhage, I definitely struggled with anxiety a lot, and I think I had some sort of PTSD from the haemorrhage as I was so close to dying it frightened me. It was important for me to speak about what I had been through and I felt that having weekly sessions with a psychologist helped me to overcome what I had been through. Little did I know at that time that the haemorrhage had done more damage than I could have imagined.
In January 2020 we decided we wanted to try and expand our family and give our three year old son a sibling. We were amazed that we fell pregnant straight away and the timing seemed to be perfect. We decided to book a scan around 7 weeks and on the day we felt nervous but excited. Our hopes were very quickly dashed when we heard the dreaded question again. This happened to be the same day the country went into national lockdown so it wasn’t perfect timing. Luckily Karl was allowed in with me at our scans to confirm that again this had been a missed miscarriage. Due to the pandemic, I was told that we could not have surgery and I had to have medicine. Again, this did not work and I was allowed an MVA. We got our negative pregnancy test quickly after this procedure and we were encouraged to try again when we were ready. Surprisingly my period, which was a lot lighter than normal, returned 5 weeks later. I spoke to doctors about my period changes and they reassured me it was nothing to worry about.
We were amazed the following month that we were pregnant again. This time everything seemed to be different because I felt extremely sick. We booked in our 7 week scan and sadly we were told that it looked like a missed miscarriage as there was no heartbeat. Again, I had to have medicine and two MVAs to remove the pregnancy tissue. At this point I just did not know what was wrong with me. My body couldn’t keep the baby alive nor could it get rid of the pregnancy tissue. I felt like a complete failure. Having a miscarriage so early in the pandemic was hard so having to go through two took its toll. Karl felt useless, like he couldn’t support me fully. I had to attend appointments alone and wait for hours in hospital for procedures. I was told it was just bad luck and to try again.
Karl said that he could not watch me go through it again without getting some answers. All miscarriages are heart-breaking but we found the added stress of not knowing how much treatment I would need, particularly cruel. Due to the rules in the UK, I was not eligible for free testing as I had Jacob in the middle of my three miscarriages. We decided to have private investigations. We quickly discovered that I had scarring of the womb or Asherman’s Syndrome. This syndrome is caused by trauma to the womb and the most common cause is surgery. Asherman’s is a rare condition and not well known even with some consultants. It is hard to treat and there are only a few specialist doctors in the world who know how to complete the surgery with success. Because of this, I felt extremely lonely and did not know who to turn to. Luckily, I found the infertility and baby loss community on Instagram/Facebook. These have been great sources of advice and support for me since struggling with Secondary Infertility and Asherman’s. I found out my haemorrhage with Jacob had probably caused the damage and then each of the miscarriages after it had been making it worse. I felt relieved to finally have answers but terrified that there was no guarantee that this could be treated and that I would ever have another baby. I also felt a lot of anger about it all because I felt that the hospital should have warned me that this was a possibility so that I could have had treatment sooner. D & Cs are necessary treatment for some miscarriages, however all women should be warned of the side effects that the surgery can cause and what to look out for.
Following my diagnosis, I had three hysteroscopies with a local private hospital to try and treat the scarring. Sadly this resulted in another loss which again lasted a couple of weeks and hit me hard. Through the Ashermans’ Facebook group I had found out about a UK doctor who specialised in Ashermans so we decided to travel the four hours to see him. He confirmed I needed another hysteroscopy and quickly booked me in. During this time, we also decided we wanted everything else checked. With the help of another amazing doctor, we found out that my NK cells were heightened and a treatment plan was created for when I became pregnant to prevent further losses. I found researching everything, having a plan and making doctors listen and explain things to me, helped me get through the tough days. It helped me to keep some control over something that made me feel so helpless. After my fourth hysteroscopy and all my tests were completed, we were able to try again. Three months later, we were delighted but terrified to find out we were pregnant again.
I am delighted to say that I am now 28 weeks pregnant with our rainbow baby. I would be lying if I said the last few months have been easy as pregnancy after loss is the most terrifying and lonely experience. However, seeing our baby on each scan, telling Jacob he was finally going to be a big brother and feeling our baby kick has made the journey we have been through worth every tear. Our baby has given us hope again and made us realise that miracles really can happen when you least expect it.