Heartbreakingly, September 2015, also became the saddest month of my life – I miscarried. The grief was and continues to be overwhelming, and is something I can’t put into words. Naively, I never for a million years thought that a miscarriage would be something that would happen to me. I don’t think anyone does, as the education we receive in our younger years, tends to focus on safe sex and how not to get pregnant.
Through the grief, I managed to convince myself it would be ok next time. Little did I know that this was actually to be the start of a seemingly never-ending journey of heartache, and one that would take a massive toll on my mental health and require me to find strength and continue to find strength, I never knew I even had.
February 2016, I found out we were pregnant for the second time. Immediately, the excitement set in again and I can remember my husband suggesting that maybe I should wait to get excited. For me, he was asking the impossible, as I was immediately in love again with a little human I had never met. Devastatingly, happiness again turned to sadness and I miscarried for a second time. Questions started entering my mind – Why us? What had I done wrong? What was wrong with me? What had I done to deserve this?
I couldn’t wait around to see if this would happen for a third time. I needed to feel like I was being proactive, so I booked a private appointment at a fertility clinic to try and get some answers (I’m aware I was very fortunate to be in a position to do that and that not everyone can) Sadly, this didn’t get me anywhere and I came away feeling utterly deflated and let down, with the only advice offered, being to go away and try again.
The intense, physically painful yearning for a baby gave me the courage and strength to try again and we found out we were pregnant in July 2016. The excitement, the love for this baby, poured into my heart. Being a teacher, this pregnancy had arrived at the perfect time in my eyes, as I was 2 weeks away from starting my summer break. This meant I could slow down, relax and concentrate fully on me and my baby. By 11 weeks my excitement was off the radar, and for both my husband and I, this pregnancy was getting more and more real, we were certain it was going to be successful.
It still shocks me to write this, but at 11 and a half weeks our happiness was once again shattered and I began to miscarry. I phoned the midwife in despair, desperate for help and a scan. She couldn’t offer me a scan and told me to rest and drink plenty of water for 48 hours. Eventually, a few days later, crippled by what was happening, after a fight, I got a scan. This was my first ever scan and it should have been the happiest of moments, full of joy, but it was far from that. The sonographer performed the scan and then asked for my consent to do an internal scan too. It was at this point, I knew all hope had definitely diminished and quiet tears began to trickle down my face. We were led into a room and joined by an early pregnancy nurse, who explained that I would need to decide whether to have surgical or medical management. I opted for medical management. The follow up scan revealed it hadn’t fully worked and my miscarriage was still not classed as complete. This continued to be the case for 2 and a half months and all added to the trauma.
Now classed as a recurrent miscarriage patient, amongst the grief and sadness was a teeny feeling of relief, that maybe now, just maybe, I would get some help. I was referred to the NHS recurrent miscarriage clinic, but the wait was 6 months!
In a bid to again feel proactive, I booked another private appointment, but this time with a consultant in Bristol on recommendation. The tests began immediately. All my initial tests came back fine and he suggested I had a biopsy to see if I had a high percentage of ‘natural killer cells’- something that was considered at the time to be a possible cause of recurrent miscarriage. This test confirmed I did, and so for my next pregnancy I would need to have a daily clexane injection, 4 steroids daily and two progesterone pessaries daily, 12 hours apart.
Although the tests and investigations gave me something to feel a little hopeful about, it was after my third miscarriage that my mental health deteriorated massively and is something I continue to battle with now. The grief, the trauma, the invasive poking/ prodding, the self-doubt and the many people who made me feel like the grief for my babies, that I was engulfed in, should only be fleeting, along with my fear of life without my own children, became all too much.
I began to speak to a therapist. To be heard, was such a weight lifted. I was at breaking point at this stage and together we concluded that some time off work was what I needed to aid my recovery. I ended up being off work for 4 months (5, if you include the summer holidays that followed). When I returned to work, I decided it was best that this was in a part time role. This was a hard decision, but definitely the right thing to have done and continues to be the right thing and I’m grateful to have a supportive boss who has enabled this to happen.
It was while off work, June 2017, that we found out we were pregnant again. My heart was over flowing with so much love to give. I immediately started the drugs I had been advised to take, to support this pregnancy. The taking of drugs, the grief, the trauma, the lack of mental stability, made this pregnancy even tougher. It was during this pregnancy that my husband had to go away and heartbreakingly, it was the morning of the day that he was due back that I woke up to find I had blood loss. Everyone tried to tell me it would be ok, but my heart was telling me otherwise. The blood loss increased and we were faced with the heartache of another miscarriage.
Trying to conceive for the 5th time was such a dark, scary time. My cycles had become very long, so I was put on clomid and my mental state was still not good.A scan revealed that the clomid was not doing what it was intended to do and was instead making my womb wall thin. Our consultant felt we should continue with trying to conceive, which we did and we found out we were pregnant in December 2017 and immediately started the recommended drugs again, but very sadly I miscarried in the new year.
I felt totally deflated and in utter despair following my 5th miscarriage. My consultant in Bristol had nothing left to offer me in terms of further tests and he felt we should just keep trying. I wasn’t willing to do this. In my mind, enough was enough. The path he had taken me on, although it had worked for others, was proving unsuccessful for me and my instinct was telling me no more, there had to be something else, something must have been missed, I couldn’t risk allowing myself to keep trying, if nothing was different. I felt completely lost and lonely at this stage, unsure who else I could turn to.
My therapist felt I needed to seek another opinion and so I found myself in London. My new consultant re-did all the tests, which came back fine and booked me in for a hysteroscopy. It was this hysteroscopy that has provided me with a little glimmer of hope. It revealed I had a uterus septum which was then removed. Although not the cause of all my loses, it’s likely to have been a contributing factor, and to me means any further pregnancies will have an element of starting out differently.
Baby loss, as if that were not enough, has also meant so many other loses in my life. Loss of the personality I used to be, loss of the life I used to lead, loss of my full time career (and yes, I always wanted to eventually go part time but not in the way I did, it was a forced decision really) and loss of so many relationships.
People you hope would be there for you can’t always be. I don’t know fully why this is, and it isn’t the case for everyone, but I have come to accept that it is because, not being able to fix it for me, makes these people feel helpless.
Because of this my Fertility Therapists have always been and continue to be so crucial in my recovery. They provide an amazing listening ear, incredible support, gentle guidance, and exceptional care. They have a belief in me as a person, much more than I do in myself. To be honest I can’t put into words how beautiful they are, but I am, and will forever be grateful to them for their time, understanding, care and friendship.
Sadly, my journey hasn’t reached its happy ending yet, but I’ve still got a hold of hope, albeit very small, that it will. I’m pretty sure there are many people, given the mental toll it has had on me, that think I should just give up. To me, this isn’t even a consideration. My yearning for a baby is so intense it hurts and I will do everything I can, however painful and dark a journey it is to reach my babies. Regret I believe would hurt so much more. If you are reading this and are on a similar journey, stay true to yourself, believe in yourself and keep going. Your dream is as important as the next person’s, don’t let anyone make you think otherwise and hold onto hope no matter how small.
All of us, whether our babies are with us or not, are mummies and the moments, however short we shared with them, caring for them, were truly beautiful and can never be taken away. To my babies – I will love and hold each of you in my heart forever. xxx
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