“Pregnancy loss is not rare but because people don’t talk about it, you think you’re alone.”

Zoe, 33, needed surgery and counselling for post-traumatic stress disorder after a series of pregnancy losses. In February 2024 she and husband Dan welcomed their Rainbow Baby, Penny.

Dan and I met in 2016. We started trying for a baby in January 2019 but after 12 months without success, we decided to ask for some advice.
We saw a doctor and got things under way but when the Covid-19 pandemic struck, everything was put on hold.
We got married in Cyprus in September 2021 and the following year we thought we’d take the first steps towards IVF treatment.

A complete shock

We had our initial appointment online in February 2022. I’d already done various tests and the consultant asked me when I’d last had a period.
I explained that things had been a bit all over the place over the previous couple of months – I’d just been on holiday to visit my brother in Dubai - so she said she’d like me to take a pregnancy test.
I said ‘yes, that’s fine – but it will definitely be negative’.

When the test came up as positive, I couldn’t have been more shocked. It was the first positive result we’d ever had, after three years of trying.

We were so excited. But 2 days later, I miscarried. It was a horrendous experience.

One loss after another

We decided to try again and conceived naturally by the end of April – only to go through another traumatic loss.
The baby began to develop outside my womb, in one of my fallopian tubes – an ectopic pregnancy. I had to have emergency surgery after it ruptured and I lost a lot of blood.
At that point, we were told we only had about a 1 in 20 chance of conceiving again naturally, so we decided to try IVF.
We had an embryo transfer in September 2022 and I had a positive test but it was a chemical pregnancy which didn’t last.
The next month, amazingly, I conceived again naturally. But we were told within weeks that this was a rare ‘molar’ pregnancy, in which no fetus develops normally. I had to have more surgery to remove it.

Struggling to cope

After that, I really struggled. Because the molar pregnancy and the ectopic pregnancy were quite similar experiences, I couldn’t remember certain details about them.

I was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression. I had quite intensive cognitive behavioural therapy, which helped.

We had to wait 6 months before trying again, as a molar pregnancy can sometimes cause health complications, but we were given the all-clear by doctors in the spring of 2023.
In May, we tried another embryo transfer from our IVF procedure but that failed.
The next month, June 2023, we went through it again – and this time I became pregnant with our beautiful daughter, Penny.

Making it through pregnancy

I had hormone injections and medications to maximise the chance of carrying her to full term, but even when it seemed the pregnancy would work out, I was in a state of almost constant anxiety.

By the time she was born, I felt as if I’d been holding my breath for months.

When everybody around you knows what you’ve been through, they think a pregnancy that’s got beyond a certain stage makes it all go away.
But it’s not like that. You go for a scan, which gives you some reassurance, then the very next day you start to wonder again if something’s gone wrong. The anxiety is wild.
It’s not a rare thing to go through but because people don’t talk about it, you think you’re alone.
That’s why it’s so important to be more open about it, to help each other.