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Jessica and Natalie’s story: a miscarriage after a stillbirth

Jessica and Natalie share their story of the loss of an IVF pregnancy, following the loss of their son at 37 weeks.

Early pregnancy is such a lonely time. There is no-one who can help you, and give you the reassurance that you need. What is just a few weeks to some, feels like a lifetime of energy and anxiety, and fight to stay positive.

They say that lightning doesn’t strike twice.

It’s a phrase that shouldn’t really exist – how can something as random as lightning know to not hit the same area as before. It has no consciousness, no morals. It’s just lightning.

When we discovered that our first son, Leo Phoenix, had died when I was 37 weeks pregnant, our worlds crashed. Like a million lightning bolts had decided to hit my body in seconds.

Leo gave me and my wife the ability to truly know what we had been fighting for through three years of fertility treatment – three IUIs and two IVFs. He gave us pure, unconditional, parental love. Through the pain, we still knew that a child was our life’s goal – a living one. We knew we had so much love to give and it was overflowing and beautiful.

From Leo’s cycle, we had two more embryos. Embarking on a frozen embryo transfer cycle just five months after Leo died was difficult. We knew the hurdles ahead of us were huge. The embryo had to thaw successfully, we then had to fall pregnant, and then make it through a turbulent pregnancy, survive birth. It seems easy for some, but for us, each step is a mountain now.

Compared to our previous cycles, we actually managed to approach this new one with a sense of calm. Our lives were so turbulent already, and we knew we just had to get to each little stage at a time. The hardest challenge was fearing that we would lose both our embryos before we even got a chance to bring them home.

When we discovered that we were pregnant, it didn’t come with the jubilance that you read about. It came with a massive deep breath, a deep missing of Leo and the desperate need to cling on to the hope that the pregnancy test had given us.

Four days later, the anxiety of pregnancy after loss set in, as I started spotting. Early pregnancy is such a lonely time. There is no-one who can help you, and give you the reassurance that you need. What is just a few weeks to some, feels like a lifetime of energy and anxiety, and fight to stay positive.

We just had to wait, avoid overanalysing and giving in to the pain of grief, and the desperation of pregnancy after loss. After all, everyone kept telling us some spotting is normal in early pregnancy. You can convince yourself it’s all okay, just as easy as you can convince yourself it isn’t – in the space of a minute I would flip repeatedly from one state to the next.

And then, on July 4th, at 4:30pm the bleeding changed. I was no longer just spotting. I was miscarrying. I knew in an instant, and it was devastating. The heavy bleeding, passing of tissue and mild contractions lasted for about two hours. It was so quick. And we were back in the shock and devastation of realising that another baby wasn’t coming home.

Under the advice of 111, we went to A&E and we were seen by Gynaecology that evening. Unfortunately, no-one was qualified to scan me and confirm our miscarriage – which is what I really wanted to get from going to hospital. I just needed to know.

I attended the Early Pregnancy Unit two days later. The scan took place in the same room where Leo’s last scan alive was, and by the same doctor who told us that Leo had died. Of all the pain of our miscarriage, that moment was absolutely the worst. I experienced flashbacks to the moment that we found out that Leo had died at the first sound of the doctor’s voice, whilst having my second baby’s death confirmed, in the same room where I last saw Leo alive. It was exhausting. I just closed my eyes the whole time. I didn’t want another visual memory of that devastation. Grief on grief. Pain on pain.

The miscarriage was termed as incomplete, but only a small amount of tissue was needed to pass, which it did that day. I had to take a pregnancy test two weeks later – I’ll admit, I didn’t, I avoided it, until I got reminder from the hospital. I just didn’t need further proof that I was no longer pregnant. That I had lost my second baby, in six months.

Our grief over our miscarriage often feels overlooked. I just don’t think we have the energy to give it its own individual set of emotions. Which saddens me so much. There is so much guilt in grief. It has been swept into our grief for Leo. The Robin that Leo sent us (as we liked to call it) hasn’t and won’t be forgotten though. Whoever they would have been, they gave us hope.

Jessica & Natalie

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