Jo and Ben run the Royal Parks Half Marathon together
Jo and Ben's experience of recurrent loss led them to enter the Royal Parks half marathon in support of the Miscarriage Association. Jo shares their story here.
I often look at our children and think of the missing child(ren) who should fit between them, standing somewhere at our daughter's shoulder.
The first 48 hours of my first pregnancy were truly joyful – we were over the moon (if a little surprised!!)… but then, sat at work in an early morning management meeting, I started bleeding very heavily. Ringing the GP surgery, we were put through to a nurse who bluntly said “oh, you’ll probably miscarry – you will just have to try again”. Thankfully, our GP arranged a scan at EPU – amazingly our baby was there safe and sound – but a scary 9 months followed with bleeding that continued for several months.
Two years later, when we decided to try for baby number two, was when our miscarriage journey started. We turned up for our 12 weeks scan with a deep-seated fear. My early pregnancy nausea had disappeared and I didn’t “feel” as pregnant as I had several weeks earlier. My first comment to the sonographer was that I was worried there was something wrong. Sure enough, although there were two flickering heartbeats of twins, she said that they “didn’t look right”.
We then entered a horrible wilderness. The EPU took over our care again. I had no bleeding but they agreed that things didn’t look good, so I had to have weekly scans.
And so we waited.
Each week we would sit in the waiting room, holding hands and feeling nervous, waiting to find out what was going on. The sense of resignation and sadness couldn’t quite extinguish the glimmer of hope. But the results were the same every time… the baby wasn’t developing, it wasn’t going to be a viable pregnancy, but there were still heartbeats so I hadn’t officially miscarried.
We both kept going to work – trying to be normal, all the while feeling like there was a ticking time bomb was inside me.
After 3 weeks, we were told the babies had died and we were able to move to the next stage. I had spent plenty of time on the Miscarriage Association website researching my options. I was able to ask informed questions, so knew that I wanted to miscarry naturally if possible.
So again, we went away to wait.
On a wet Wednesday afternoon, a week before Christmas, the bleeding started. No matter how much research I had done, I was unprepared for the physicality of what would happen. Was I really having contractions? Were the clots “everything”? 4 or 5 hours later, the bleeding subsided and I thought we were done.
Wow, I was wrong! 24 hours later, walking through B&Q with a toddler looking a Christmas lights and decorations, I actually miscarried!
It’s actually something I can laugh about now, the perspective of time helps – but really, nothing I could have read would have prepared me for that moment.
Nor, could it prepare me for the sadness of doing the pregnancy tests after the miscarriage, hoping to see the negative which would mean it was “over”.
My husband and I recovered well emotionally and knew that we wanted to try for another baby again soon and 4 months later I was pregnant again. But that positive pregnancy test held little joy and lots of fear.
My job required pretty regular travel – and I was in a meeting room in Germany when I felt cramps and bleeding that signalled the start of miscarriage number 2. I was only about 6 weeks pregnant. Ringing the GP, put me in a dilemma – should I catch my scheduled flight home that evening or should I check myself into a German hospital for tests. Perhaps unwisely, I got on the plane – the next day, once again finding myself in that EPU scan room, by which time I had already miscarried.
Around this time, I took some parental leave from work – enjoying 6 weeks of summer fun with my 2 year old. This was exactly what I needed – healing emotionally and getting some perspective. I had a stoicism – I never once doubted that we would have another baby, we just had a few hurdles to get over.
Of course, every time I found out a friend was pregnant, I felt a pang. But my sadness for our situation didn’t dim my joy for them – how could it? I didn’t want them to be pregnant any less, I just wanted to be there too!
Three months later, I was pregnant and again I was bleeding, this time at 9 weeks. Once again we were sat in the EPU waiting room, and once again the results were the same… I was miscarrying.
Welcome to the club no-one wants to join – the 1% Recurrent Miscarriage Club.
Ben felt despair – how could he watch me go through this again? Should we just be grateful for our happy, healthy 2 year old and not keep trying for a sibling?
In my sadness, I have to say I felt some hope. Ticking the box of Recurrent Miscarriage meant we would get access to NHS tests and more support from EPU. We also decided not to try again for a while – waiting for the results of the NHS tests. When they came back, with a “no known reason, you’re just unlucky”, we were both pleased and disappointed.
I started planning – looking at private clinic options, trials and reading books. I had a deep seated need to “do” something – so I chucked out all plastic storage boxes, took a range of supplements and changed our diets. Doing something felt good, even if it was placebo effect!
After a 6 month break we started trying again – thankfully once again falling pregnant quickly.
Having direct access to EPU was great – no need to book a midwife or GP appointment. EPU had us in for weekly scans from 6-11 weeks. These were both terrifying and reassuring… the fear of sitting in that same waiting room followed by the happiness of another good scan.
We were discharged from EPU at 12 weeks and told to go and enjoy a normal pregnancy. Four years after his sister, our much waited for rainbow boy arrived – 12 days late and weighing over 9lb.
He’s now 2 ½ years old. Time has definitely healed the wounds, but the scars are surprisingly tender.
I often look at our children and think of the missing child(ren) who should fit between them, standing somewhere at our daughter’s shoulder.
We won’t have another child – not because we don’t want to, but the emotional impact was too great. Ben can’t watch and support me go through more miscarriages again. That makes me sad, I don’t feel “done” – but we are moving on to the next stage of our lives.
Our experience of miscarriages changed how we view the world. They fundamentally shook how we saw our lives and what we wanted from it. We’ve given up corporate careers, work flexibly for ourselves and spend as much time as possible together as a family.
This year, we are running the Royal Parks Half Marathon to raise money for the Miscarriage Association. For those going through miscarriage, the information and support available is vital, enabling them to be informed and “own” how they miscarry. Furthermore, the research that they support will help prevent miscarriage for so many more couples.
If you are able to donate even a small amount to help this wonderful charity help others who experience miscarriage we would be eternally grateful!
Jo and Ben