Phillippa shares her story of experiencing a miscarriage after 4 years of trying to get pregnant, and of going through this during the coronavirus pandemic. If you're looking for more information about the impact of coronavirus on your care please have a look at the link at the bottom of this page.
We were happy, planning the future... But then at 9 weeks something changed... Something felt wrong.
We thought we had everything mapped out – moved to a bigger house, purchased a family car and even tweaked my job, all in preparation. But nothing happened after I had my contraceptive implant removed on 4th July 2016. 9 months went by and we saw the GP, to be told we needed to come back at 12 months, oh and “are you having enough sex”?
At 12 months we were referred to a specialist who ran multiple tests on us both. Lots of small things came back – slightly polycystic ovaries, slightly lower sperm mobility, a small blockage of both of my fallopian tubes etc. A minor procedure and a laparoscopy to flush my tubes under GA later, and still no pregnancy, so we were referred for IVF.
The postcode lottery on IVF meant we only had 2 NHS-funded rounds, so we researched our options and picked a clinic with the best outcomes nearly 2 hours drive away. Lots of appointments, more blood tests, sperm tests, scans, and forms to check we’d make suitable parents and we were finally given permission to go ahead and begin the fun of learning how to inject.
Turns out we were pretty good at making embryos with some help from science. We managed 3 strong embryos in the cycle. They recommended transferring one at a time, each time giving us a picture of a blob that we hoped we could show off as our first picture of our baby. Both transfers went to plan, but neither resulted in a positive pregnancy test.
Our next plan was to have a rest from it all while we saved up for self-funded IVF, emotionally try to recover and then decide if we pay to use our last remaining embryo or pay for the recommended round of tests after two unsuccessful transfers.
Then something miraculous happened. After nearly 4 years we conceived naturally! To say we were ecstatic was an understatement! We had our first ever positive pregnancy test at the start of lockdown and I didn’t realise until that amazing month and a bit of being pregnant just how much the whole process had effected us. Suddenly we were happy, planning the future and had hope that we would start joining, what felt like the rest of the world, in parenthood.
But then at 9 weeks something changed, I had some watery discharge and then some light spotting. My midwife told me not to worry. I called NHS 111 but felt like I was wasting their time and everything I read online told me not to worry. But something felt wrong. I started losing pregnancy symptoms and, when I called my midwife for the 3rd time at 11 weeks, she offered to try to find the heart beat. She couldn’t. She told me because of Covid I couldn’t go to the EPU unless I was bleeding.
We chose to have a private scan and booked an appointment for the next day. The clinic didn’t follow the same guidelines as the hospital and we had happy expectant couples around us, even watched the couple before us have their picture printed out. But our scan revealed something I didn’t even realise was a possibility, a missed miscarriage. My baby had stopped growing at 8 weeks and there was no heart beat. I wish every day that I had asked for a picture too but one wasn’t offered.
The clinic spoke with the EPU, but it was a Saturday so I was called later and offered an appointment for the Monday and told things may happen naturally before then.
They did. I spent 4 hours unable to leave the bathroom as I was bleeding heavily and passing large clots. The pain would come over in waves and was untouched by painkillers. I gave up with pads in the end and instead sat on old towels, all dignity gone. I considered phoning 111 again because of the amount of blood but was worried about being taken to hospital in the middle of Covid.
Towards the end I saw a sac and, with hindsight wish I’d put it to one side and didn’t just flush. Now I know that was probably my baby…
There have been plenty of tears, but I mainly feel empty and numb.
The hardest decision we made was telling close friends and family but I don’t want to pretend that out baby didn’t exist.
As supportive as everyone has been I wish people would stop saying “at least now you know you CAN get pregnant”.