A father’s story

Recurrent miscarriage followed by successful pregnancy.

As I left that evening I rang our parents to tell them we had lost our baby. The grief was overwhelming; my eyes are filling with tears just to remember it.

I’d like to relate our story in the belief that it will bring hope to others just as reading other accounts in The Miscarriage Association’s newsletter gave hope to us.

We had been married for about a year when we decided we wanted to start having children. Hilary became pregnant within the first month of trying. Post pill hyper-fertility we were told – this was easy! The weeks passed and Hilary fell pregnant. Then came that terrible Sunday evening. Out of the blue there was heavy bleeding. We rang the on-call doctor who met us at our local hospital. He decided that the bleeding was bad enough to go to Shrewsbury hospital, 45 minutes away. I’ll never forget watching a young doctor picking huge blood clots out of Hilary. I think it was the first time I’d been really frightened for her. As I left that evening I rang our parents to tell them we had lost our baby. The grief was overwhelming; my eyes are filling with tears just to remember it.

The next morning we were given the option of having a D&C or letting nature take its course. We chose the latter. This wasn’t the choice we would make again as the bleeding continued for weeks on end which prolonged the agony. Neither of us could stop crying, the slightest thing could set us off; another baby, a story on the news. It wasn’t helped by our friends who all seemed to be having their first babies. You just keep thinking it’s so unfair. I think we were both a bit shocked by our reactions to anyone else with a baby.

Our GP told us that you need to have had three miscarriages before they start investigations – what other medical condition requires you to have suffered three times before you qualify for treatment? Hilary did have some tests done but nothing abnormal was found. We improved our diet, had hair analysis done by Foresight and went on the supplement program.

It was several months before we felt ready to try again. Once again Hilary became pregnant at the first month of trying. Hoping that losing our first baby was “just bad luck” we were optimistic. This didn’t last long, as at around eight weeks Hilary started bleeding. I think your first reaction is ‘oh no, not again, this can’t be happening’. Scans revealed an empty egg sac. Hilary decided to have a D&C this time and get it over with.

A few months later and pregnant again, Hilary started bleeding after only six weeks. Thankfully no hospital visit was needed as the bleeding soon slowed after what was like a heavy period. We had lost another baby but at least now investigations would be done. Many tests later we were told that nothing appeared to be wrong.

Having no reason and hence no cure left us with one option – try again and hope for the best. Hilary again became pregnant easily but was almost rigid with fear from the point when the little blue line confirmed the pregnancy. At about eight weeks our worst fears were realised when Hilary started bleeding. An emergency scan the next day showed a dark empty egg sac. We elected for a D&C which had to be repeated a few weeks later when another scan showed that there was some foetal tissue left inside.

Having done some research, we knew that London, Liverpool and Birmingham specialised in the investigation of repeated miscarriage. We were referred to Birmingham Women’s Hospital where they did many blood tests including ones to look for blood clotting agents. Having got the all clear from the tests, we tried to get pregnant and for the first time struggled to do so In fact it was taking so long that I had a referral to a fertility clinic. No problems were found and a month or so later Hilary was pregnant.

Given our history we were booked in for an early scan at around seven weeks. The black blob of the pregnancy sac was ominously empty; only a tiny foetal pole a couple of millimetres long could be seen. We were asked if we were sure about the dates and were told to come back in ten days time. This was all frighteningly familiar by now, and however much you may hope, you know something is wrong. We went home sick with worry.

We never did go back for that second scan. Hilary passed the sac intact, a greeny-grey thing not much bigger than a golf ball. We could hardly bear to look at it. That should have been our baby. I put it in the fridge overnight and took it to Shrewsbury hospital the next day. We asked to have genetic analysis done so we could find out if the miscarriage had been due to a genetic abnormality. We never did find out what tests had been done but no abnormality was reported.

After reading Professor Regan’s book , Hilary was convinced that the way in which the tests were done was vital to the outcome. I had thought that all hospitals would carry out tests in the same manner, so you would get the same result anywhere. Hilary was convinced otherwise and would be proven right. We were referred to see Professor Regan at St. Mary’s in London.

On our first trip down, Hilary had a 3-D ultra sound scan which showed that she had a sub-septate uterus. Many blood tests were done including those for blood clotting abnormalities. The results showed Hilary did indeed have raised levels of anti-cardiolipin antibodies and anti-phospholipid antibodies and would need to take Heparin and low dose Aspirin in her next pregnancy.

After a few months Hilary was pregnant and we went down to London for a seven week scan. Our nerves were jangling as we went in for the scan. The sac was soon found and there inside was a foetus, its little heart beating away. It was an incredible moment, I was overcome with emotion, a baby – we had a baby!

Only a week or so later we were back in London to see a show. The following morning fear and panic struck, Hilary had woken to find blood. We went to St Mary’s where a doctor really took his time to ensure we had seen the foetal heat beat and reassured us that all was well. Thankfully we hardly saw any more blood after that, not that it stopped Hilary checking every five minutes.

At around 12 weeks we had the nuchal scan done in London and were relieved to find out the probability of Downs syndrome was less than one in a thousand. As the weeks went past our confidence grew. Once I could hear our baby’s heart beat through Hilary’s tummy we could check any time our baby was OK.

Hilary was induced at nearly 40 weeks and Alex was born at 3 a.m. after a quick delivery. It was incredible to hold our little bundle in my arms. My eyes filled with tears of joy, and I mumbled to him repeatedly “Hello little boy”. Hilary said many times over the next few weeks, “I look at him and still can’t believe he’s ours”. For me the moral of the story is don’t give up, keep trying and asking and God willing you too will be blessed with a baby to love.

Peter Barrass