Finding support and seeking answers after multiple miscarriages

After a healthy pregnancy, 28-year-old primary school worker Helen and 29-year-old social housing manager David were devastated to lose their next 3 babies - but the West Midlands couple hope to give 3-year-old Henry a sibling with specialist help from our recurrent miscarriage clinic.

Having been together since we were teenagers, and got married in 2017, we always knew we wanted children – but were shocked to become pregnant so quickly. Just a month after our wedding, we were expecting our beautiful now 3-year-old son, Henry.

Pregnancy complications and postnatal problems

I’m a worrier, so miscarriage was always on my mind in the first trimester, and it was a huge relief to find everything was normal at the 12-week scan. What started off as a straightforward pregnancy was not without complications though; I went past my due date and felt reduced baby movements, so doctors had to induce labour and Henry was born via emergency c-section

Sadly, antenatal classes didn’t prepare us for this hugely traumatic and terrifying birth. The experience led to a struggle with postnatal anxiety, and as a result it took 2 years before I felt ready to think about another pregnancy.

In April 2020, after 3 months of trying, I fell pregnant for the second time. I didn’t feel completely ready but adjusted quickly and excitement soon set in, despite my concerns about how the Covid-19 pandemic would affect the pregnancy

Miscarriage and chemical pregnancy

They say each pregnancy is different, but early on I felt something wasn’t right – the lines on the test were lighter, the symptoms were milder. At 8 weeks, I booked a private scan so that David could be there, hoping to shake this uneasy feeling… But as I lay back in the darkened room, we were told the pregnancy sac was 3 weeks too small and there was no baby inside. 

After waiting 10 torturous days for the hospital to confirm the loss, I chose medical management. I then haemorrhaged in an A&E waiting room, in pain and alone because the virus sweeping through the hospital meant that my husband wasn’t allowed in. I spent that night curled up in a hospital bed waiting for the nightmare to pass.

2 weeks later, I was readmitted with a bad infection putting me at risk of sepsis because the miscarriage hadn’t completed. The whole process was draining, mentally and physically, but together we got through it.

We’d had our 1 in 4 now, so that must be it; you’re still young, you can try again, we were told.

In October 2020 I took an early pregnancy test and there was a faint positive, but a day later it was over: a chemical pregnancy. Fed up, I switched off the following month – only to find myself pregnant again. 

Trying again and pregnancy after loss

The lines on the test were strong, I had food aversions and sickness, my belly began to grow, and the 6-week scan showed a strong heartbeat. As I carried the photo to my husband waiting again in the car, we cried tears of happiness and relief; we didn’t get this far before.

As the weeks passed, my hopes grew and my fears faded – but at 11 weeks, I went to the toilet and found spotting. Concerned, I rang 111 and was booked in for an emergency scan the following day. That night I scoured online forums for stories of hope. 

I held my breath and stared at the familiar grey squares on the ceiling in the side room of an EPAU, without my husband to hold this time, as I was told my baby had died 2 weeks earlier: a missed miscarriage. My baby had died but my body hadn’t let go. 

Determined to avoid my earlier trauma, I opted for surgical management, and found it physically easier to handle. As I lay on the bed in a bright cold room, a doctor removed my baby under local anesthetic while the nurses held my hand as my husband sat, helpless, at home. 

Care and support after multiple miscarriages

This was my third miscarriage in a row, which meant the NHS could investigate why it happened – but after genetic testing, they said there wasn’t enough DNA to tell if our baby had chromosomal abnormalities

Life is always uncertain - why did this happen to me? Is it something I did? Could I have done more? Will it happen again?

The lovely doctor empathised with my struggle and booked me in for blood tests, looking for clotting disorders which can cause recurrent miscarriage. My GP also referred me to the Tommy’s clinic in Birmingham so I’m currently awaiting further tests. 

Grieving and remembering our babies

I don’t have any answers yet, but I knew I wasn’t going to silence my experience and have openly discussed it with those who want to listen. Talking helps and I’ve been overwhelmed by the support from those around me. The Tommy’s group on Facebook has been a great source of support, helping me to connect with people who have shared experiences, so I feel less alone in this pain.

The biggest impact of this whole experience has been on my emotional well-being and mental health, leading me into a very dark place, for which I am getting support. I feel like I’ve failed myself and my family – I shouldn’t, but I do. 

With each pregnancy I’ve lost, I also lost a part of myself.

My husband is fundraising for Tommy’s by running the London Landmarks Half Marathon in memory of Henry’s lost siblings, our babies. We’ll never brush their hair or see them go to school, but they were here, and they are a part of us. Every day, we remember them.

I don’t know if my journey is over, but I do hope to see a future where fewer families suffer like this, which is why we’re supporting Tommy’s as they work to make that a reality. 

You can make a donation to David’s LLHM challenge in support of Tommy’s here.