Nathan’s story – London Marathon 2018

Running the London Marathon for the Miscarriage Association is one of my proudest moments ever.

From the outside, people will see that we have the perfect little family, having had our daughter Amelie and recently our son, Archie, and they would be correct! We are incredibly grateful for the two gifts that we have. What many people do not know is the journey that Jo and I faced for the 3 years between our perfect wedding day and the birth of Amelie. Miscarriages are a taboo subject, not spoken about, however this is Jo’s and my story.

Jo and I had always had a fairy tale story. We met at Heathrow having both decided to move to Dubai, we were engaged 11 months later and married a year after that. We wanted children desperately, so started trying as soon as we were married. After just three months, Jo took a pregnancy test which was positive; we couldn’t quite believe how lucky we were. Many people believe not to say anything to anyone until 12 weeks, however, living in Dubai, we told our family back in England as we just couldn’t keep it from them; this proved to be pivotal.

During the next few weeks, we were like children on Christmas Eve, unbelievably excited about our news and what was to come. Our doctor confirmed the pregnancy at 6 weeks. Unfortunately, shortly after this, Jo didn’t feel right, explaining that her pregnancy symptoms had disappeared. After visiting our doctor, she confirmed that the baby had stopped growing and that Jo was having a miscarriage.

Words cannot describe how upset we were. People told us things like, “it wasn’t meant to be” and “they’re really common so no need to worry about it”, which did little to make us feel better. We were glad that we had told our family back in England, because we didn’t have to explain to them why we were so upset.

As we know, time is a healer, and after a couple of months we decided to start trying again. A whole year passed, of trying to conceive and getting our hopes up every month only to be disappointed. We spent this time appreciating each other, going on lovely holidays and being with friends and family.

In October 2014, we were pregnant again! It had been a year since the miscarriage, and although we were scared, we remained positive and excited about our news. We were a little more cautious though, and waited longer to inform our parents. At 7 weeks, we went to our doctor and heard a heartbeat. At that point in our life, it was the happiest we had ever been. For one month it was the only thing we could talk about with each other, planning our future with a baby.

At the end of November, I was on my way back from a 10 mile race when I saw I had missed calls from Jo. When I called her back it was the worst conversation I had ever had over the phone and I remember it like the back of my hand. Four hours later we were back in hospital being shown a computer screen proving that our little baby, with arms and legs, no longer had a heartbeat. Miscarriage number 2. We were not in a good place, and flew back to England to be with our families.

Another year passed of trying. We saw friends and colleagues around us getting pregnant, which was amazing for them and we have always been genuinely so pleased for other people, however of course it reminded us of our losses.

Lots of tests and treatments lead us to IVF. We only had one viable embryo, so we knew our chances weren’t amazing. However, on Christmas Day 2015, 13 months after miscarriage number two, Jo was pregnant for the third time and it did turn out to be third time lucky! We were absolutely blessed and Amelie was our miracle, born in August 2016. And not long after, Jo was pregnant again and Archie came along in November 2017.

We will never forget the pain and suffering we went through a few years ago, and for this reason I decided to fundraise for the Miscarriage Association, who help support couples going through exactly what we did.

Running the London Marathon for the Miscarriage Association is one of my proudest moments ever. It was a crazy 72 hours, flying in from Dubai to collect my race pack on the Saturday, running the race on the Sunday and then flying back on the Monday! Unfortunately my wife and children could not travel with me, however they were supporting me from afar.

Race day was very emotional as it really hit home the reason why I was running for the charity. I had run marathons before, but this was the first time I had run one for a charity and cause so close to my heart – and I could really feel the difference.

On the start line, fellow runners congratulated me for running for the M.A., and some were very open about the difficulties they had faced when trying to start a family. From mile 1 to mile 26, I felt like a superhero, with my name being shouted with words of encouragement.

I now understand why it is called ‘the spirit of London’ as I have never quite experienced anything like it. The race itself was incredibly difficult due to the midday sun and hot conditions, however this race for me was not about getting a PB, it was about supporting this charity as much as I possibly could. Running past the M.A. supporters group at mile 18 was lovely, especially putting faces to names of people from the charity.

As a vice principal in a large international school, I was able to spread the word among teaching staff from all corners of the world, and the generosity they have shown has been incredible. They have commended me for being open and honest about my personal life, and I feel happy knowing that if anyone ever wants someone to talk to, they know I am here.

Nathan