I never expected to go through recurrent miscarriage or molar pregnancy

Rachael, 34, is Head of Maths at a school in Barnsley, where she lives with her partner. After having 2 miscarriages, she gave birth to their son Elijah in 2020. Last year, she sadly had another miscarriage, followed by a molar pregnancy. This is Rachael’s story.
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We decided to start trying for a baby in 2017. Miscarriage and baby loss was not something that had crossed my mind. After only a few months, we fell pregnant. We were so happy, but also a little scared. 

At my GP appointment I was told how to get in contact with the midwife. We calculated my due date and I started to consider what the next few months would be like. Before I left, she warned me that not all pregnancies work out and quoted the statistic that ‘1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage’. 

I started spotting at 7 weeks

At around 7 weeks, on a Friday, I had some spotting at work and started to panic. I spent the morning searching the internet and texting my partner, unsure what to do or who to speak to, as no-one I worked with knew about my pregnancy. I contacted the midwife. After talking through my symptoms, she got me an appointment at our EPU (Early Pregnancy Unit) for 5pm that same day. 

I had an internal scan and then had to schedule a second scan 2 weeks later. The sonographer told me she was sorry. I was told to monitor the bleeding and make sure I wore sanitary towels only to avoid infection.

That weekend, the bleeding got heavier, and I cried a lot. I remember calling my mum and just crying down the phone at her. On the Monday I couldn’t face going to work so I called my GP, and they wrote me a sick note for the rest of the week.

My follow-up scan confirmed what we already knew – I had miscarried – but by that time, everything had passed, and I was told to try again after my next period if we felt up to it. 

Another heart-breaking loss

The following February, we fell pregnant again. Within a week of a positive test, I had some light spotting, and I told my GP. She scheduled me an appointment at the EPU for the next day. At this appointment they said it was too early to get a conclusive scan. I had some blood tests and although my hCG levels were rising, they were not doubling as expected. I was scheduled for an internal scan; they could see a pregnancy sac, but no fetus. I was still spotting but had no bleeding or pain. I then had to wait 2 weeks for another scan. Though the sac had grown, it was still empty. I was shown to a room, where I waited to speak to a consultant.

She explained that this was not a viable pregnancy, and I was given leaflets outlining my options for ending the pregnancy. We were devastated.
I opted for surgical management for miscarriage, which seemed like the fastest way to end the whole ordeal. Unfortunately, following the surgery, I had a week of intense cramping and passing large clots. A second visit to the hospital revealed all the material hadn’t come away and I would need a course of medication

Our next pregnancy brought us our son

In April 2019, we were pregnant for a third time. This led to our beautiful son, Elijah born at 41+5 weeks in January 2020. Despite some complications during labour, he was born healthy. We feel incredibly grateful and lucky to have him in our lives. 

We wanted to add to our family

At the start of 2021 we decided to try to give Elijah a sibling. In March 2021, miscarriage number 3 happened at 6 weeks.

We were devastated again, but also resigned to it. I only took a couple of days off work and tried to return to normality as soon as possible. 

In August, I fell pregnant for a fifth time. It felt very similar to my pregnancy with Elijah. I was nauseous from around 6 weeks, and I felt like I was gaining weight. I had my booking appointment, blood tests and scheduled my 12-week scan. No pain or bleeding.

My partner and I were anxious; I was constantly on the look out for any sign that something was wrong, questioning every symptom and terrified of going to the toilet.

Bad news at our 12-week scan

We made it to the 12-week scan, and I even wore my work clothes to the scan so that I was ready to get back to work. I should have realised something was wrong as soon as the sonographer asked if I was sure of my dates. She took several minutes to search around and then said words that no-one wants to hear ‘I’m sorry, today it’s not good news – there is a baby, but there is no heartbeat’. Following this I had my second surgical management of miscarriage, this time with no complications.

I took almost 2 weeks off work and struggled to cope with my feelings of loss this time. This pregnancy really shook me, as my body had completely fooled me into believing everything was fine. I was looking for answers.

However, I knew I could not be referred for tests as despite now having had 4 miscarriages – I didn’t meet the criteria for 3 in a row. This made things even more difficult, which is why it’s so important that Tommy’s has been campaigning to change this rule so that parents can get support sooner.

I was told I’d had a molar pregnancy

A month later, I got some answers and an explanation for my most recent miscarriage. It had been a molar pregnancy, categorised as a partial mole. This is a term I had heard before but was always brushed over when mentioned by nurses and midwives as very unlikely. 

I was referred to the a specialist centre for gestational trophoblastic diseases (GTD) as I would require further monitoring. I received a leaflet and was sent an online questionnaire. We had to be careful not to get pregnant again until I was given the all-clear by the hospital. I started to worry this might impact my fertility or cause further complications. 

Over the next couple of months, I had to send urine samples to a specialist in the post every fortnight. I then had a blood test to confirm my hCG levels had returned to normal and was discharged from the hospital. The nurses that I spoke to were incredibly knowledgeable and happy to answer all my questions or concerns, both medical and non-medical. This was helpful, but I think there should be more information and awareness around molar pregnancy – and I hope sharing my story helps make this happen.

We can try for another baby when we feel ready

I’ve been told I'm safe to start trying again. The centre has assured me that they will support me in a future pregnancy should I want to get an early scan.

Although still very unlikely, the chances of another molar pregnancy are higher than the average person. My partner and I want to try again, but once we are both ready physically and emotionally.

When I had my first miscarriage, I felt incredibly lost and ill-informed. By talking about my about own experiences, I hope I can remind other parents struggling with miscarriage and molar pregnancy that they’re not alone.