Laura has experienced recurrent miscarriage, an ectopic pregnancy and fertility treatment. She shares her story here.
Each scan (we had one a month throughout the pregnancy) was met with extreme anxiety followed by relief, then anxiety again. It wasn’t until she was safely in our arms that we relaxed (a little).
I was so delighted and surprised when I first saw those 2 lines on a pregnancy test. Then I started spotting and after seeing my GP he diagnosed ‘expectant miscarriage’ – yet naively we hoped all would be well.
We went to our local Early Pregnancy Unit (EPU) for what was to be the first of many horrific scans. “I am sorry. There’s no heartbeat.” These were to be words we would hear many times. I felt the weight of sadness almost suffocate me, with feelings of ‘why me?’ ‘why am I not good enough?’ and ‘what did I do wrong?’.
In the weeks that followed I noticed that my period had not re-started. This wasn’t unusual due to PCOS but I did a test anyway and was elated it was positive. We saw the new year in a bubble of pregnancy euphoria, feeling like the luckiest people in the world to be given a second chance so soon.
I woke in the middle of the night a few days later with horrific pain. Ian took me to the hospital and the doctor never said a word to us, just picked up the phone and whispered ‘ectopic pregnancy’ down the line to one of his colleagues.
It took 2 more weeks and several hospital dashes to finally get treatment for my ectopic pregnancy which was nestled in my fallopian tube. I was given methotrexate and told not to try to get pregnant for 3 months.
I’d only had one miscarriage and one ectopic pregnancy so wasn’t eligible for any tests to try to find a cause for my losses. I went to see a private specialist in miscarriage on Harley Street. Several thousands of pounds lighter I had some answers, I had high natural killer cells. I was given a cocktail of medications, all with their own side effects that left me feeling unwell but I was willing to do anything.
We began our long IVF journey in 2016. On our first cycle, we got 4 blastocysts and the consultant said he’d be really surprised if we didn’t become parents. We didn’t. We experienced 2 failed rounds of IVF (one single embryo and one double) and one didn’t survive the thaw. I also got ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS). We still had no baby in our arms and the feelings of failure and isolation seemed even greater. I was on a continual journey of medication, side effects, recovering from loss and avoiding triggering situations.
We moved clinics and began again. Three years after we’d first conceived we finally got a positive test result, twice. On both occasions, the baby was measuring small and I started to bleed. After several scans, we were told that we had lost our precious babies, a single baby and twins. After our fourth miscarriage, we carried out chromosome testing on our baby. Our little boy had a chromosome abnormality – trisomy 22. We’d lost 5 babies.
Next, we embarked upon preimplantation genetic screening. Our embryos were either abnormal or we got ‘no result’. In 2018 we had our 9th IVF procedure. When we saw our little daughter’s heart beating on the scan for the first time the relief was unimaginable. Each scan (we had one a month throughout the pregnancy) was met with extreme anxiety followed by relief, then anxiety again. It wasn’t until she was safely in our arms that we relaxed (a little). She is a true miracle, a rainbow baby that I treasure every day.
We entered a national lockdown in March 2020 and I started to feel unwell. I took a test and couldn’t believe my eyes. My GP sent me along to my old nemesis the EPU for an early scan. “I am sorry, the baby is measuring smaller than your dates.” I had to wait another week. Laying on the all too familiar hospital bed I was told again that I’d experienced another missed miscarriage. This time I was alone. No Ian to hold my hand.
We still had 5 frozen embryos. When the world began to open back up in the summer of 2021 we started to talk about trying again. The fear I felt overwhelmed me at times. But how could I destroy the embryos we had left? We decided to have another go, after all, it had worked last time, there’s no reason it wouldn’t this time. It did. We were pregnant again for the 6th time after our 10th IVF procedure.
We went in for the early scan. This time Ian was allowed in the room but had to sit away from me. I was shaking so hard that the screen was wobbling. The silence was deafening. That’s when I knew. “I am sorry. I can see the sac and fetal pole and a faint heartbeat. But the baby is very small. You’ll have to come back in a week for another scan.” It took two more weeks to be finally told our baby had no heartbeat. I was 10 weeks pregnant with a bump and a broken heart.
At no stage through any of these traumas did I receive any follow-up care. The expensive private miscarriage doctor never checked in on how I was physically or mentally after my losses. The IVF clinics didn’t follow up or offer counselling.
I wonder how many of the 250,000 losses each year lead to depression and anxiety? How many businesses have a policy to allow for bereavement leave after miscarriage? How many would-be parents are offered counselling when they experience multiple losses? That’s why I want to support the Miscarriage Association, as they offer one of the very few resources for bereaved parents who have experienced miscarriage and the grief, loss and depression that follows.
I will slowly pick myself up from these losses. I need to tell myself that no one could try harder for a family and I am forever grateful for my daughter as I know only too well that there are many people still bravely fighting for their families, or knowing that they have reached the end of the road and learning to live with empty arms.