On my wedding day in May 2003, the sun was shining, and all our family and friends were there to celebrate. I was only 30 but it felt like my life was all falling into place – I had a man and a job I loved, and now it was time to grow up and knit baby booties! We were ready to be parents and start the next chapter of our lives.
Trying to start a family
The honeymoon meant all systems go, and the whole time I kept thinking: this could be it; I could be a mum… I was picturing pushchairs and dreaming about idyllic walks with our dogs or meeting my friends with children for picnics in the park. Back home, the wedding seemed like a distant memory, but the house was still filled with the smell of lilies from that perfect day and I still had such a positive feeling.
My husband plays football and the season had just started, so I was looking at the fixtures when I realised the date: 4 weeks since the wedding… 4 weeks! I practically ran to the chemist to get the pregnancy test that could change our lives forever.
I could feel myself looking at babies in pushchairs and gazing at baby clothes, thinking it would soon be me, and I couldn’t help but rub my tummy with excitement.
Although I was alone, I couldn’t wait to take the test – and it was positive! It was an amazing feeling. I called Andrew to tell him and he was over the moon too. I told my mum as well; the 12-week thing was not even a consideration. We were going to be parents, just as we’d dreamt, and nothing could dampen our mood.
The heartbreak of recurrent miscarriage
We spent the next few weeks making plans and walking round with the inner smile; it really was the best feeling. One day, I was at home doing some work, when I felt an agonising pain in my stomach that just wouldn’t go. It was then I knew… our baby had gone. We rushed to hospital where they said it can happen and doesn’t always mean bad news, but I just knew.
They turned the screen away when they scanned me, then we saw an expression of pity and the words that we dreaded followed: "you have lost your baby".
We went home in silence, both devastated, and deep down I felt like a complete failure. Why am I not able do this? It’s the simplest thing to do as a woman, yet I can’t do it. I had no control and no part in the decision. I just wanted to be a mum.
Sadly, this was the first of 3 miscarriages over 6 months; getting pregnant was simple but my body couldn’t keep my babies. I also required 2 surgeries because my body couldn’t deal with the miscarriages either. I felt empty, desperate, and incredibly useless.
People tried to console me saying “these things happen for a reason” or “they can do things now like put a stitch in to keep the baby in!” I know they meant well, but no one could understand. I couldn’t speak to anyone about what had happened because their responses made it worse, and I started to resent anyone who was pregnant.
Tests, treatments and trying again
After 3 miscarriages you can get tests done, which showed that my blood wasn’t clotting properly, and I was diagnosed with rare immune disorders Lupus and APS (antiphospholipid syndrome). For many, that would be sad news, but for us that was amazing news – we had a cause, and a treatment, so maybe I was not useless.
In 2004 we started trying again, but I was taking Aspirin and Clomid to help with my blood clotting problems, and 2 months later we were pregnant. This time felt different; we really believed it was our time. Sadly, the treatment didn’t work. Again, at 6 weeks, our scan showed a baby but no heartbeat – another life lost inside me and another hospital procedure.
Were we ever going to have a baby and be parents? What had we done wrong? At this point, I started sharing my story – to protect us from people asking what happened, and so they didn’t feel awkward or avoid us in the street.
We didn’t give up and made a new treatment plan: we’d keep using Clomid while trying to conceive, and if we got pregnant again, I’d inject myself with a blood agent to help my body hold onto the baby. By the end of the year, after doing probably 10 pregnancy tests, I saw those 2 lines that meant positive. This was it, surely, we had made it?
Pregnancy after loss and having our rainbow baby
At 6 weeks, we booked a scan at a private clinic; we couldn’t face going back to the same room that we had visited in sad times. I had bad morning sickness and we were both scared, but this time they didn’t turn the screen away – this time they showed us, and this time we heard a heartbeat.
We both cried and cried and cried. We did it, we could do it!
On the way home, we played a CD of the heartbeat, and phoned all our family. In summer 2005, we had our beautiful boy, our rainbow baby. We were finally a family and we loved it very much – but soon the questions started. “When are you having another? I bet he’d like a brother or a sister…”
Later that year, without planning, we found we were pregnant with twins! The team at the hospital couldn’t believe it; at my 6-week scan, they were all so pleased. But heartbreakingly, within 2 weeks, we had lost them both. We lost 4 sets of twins in total, and each loss ended in surgery, so it took a real toll on my body.
Secondary infertility and IVF
This time, people’s ‘advice’ and ‘support’ was actually quite hurtful. They kept telling us that we shouldn’t be doing this because we already had a child – but why should we not want another? Why should our son not have a sibling?
In 2008 we decided to try IVF, just once because we probably couldn’t cope with much more. It was a simple process and the hospital were amazing. What was more amazing was it worked! We had a stronger positive test result than we’d ever seen before, even having been through it 5 times.
At 6 weeks, I had the worst pain and bleeding; it was happening again. I was rushed to hospital where instead of turning the screen away, they turned it towards us and smiled, saying: ‘they both have heartbeats’. Yes, we were having twins! They thought we may have lost 1, but these 2 were safe and in a good position.
In December 2008, we had a beautiful baby boy and baby girl. Our family finally felt complete and our long wait was over. This is the end of our story, as we now have 3 almost teenagers in the house and continue to be grateful every day for our little miracles.
We want to share our story to help those who may be making their own stories now and need to hear from people who understand. We made it to the other side, and we hope you do too.
On the rocky road to having our family, Tommy’s provided some incredible information and support forums, so it’s a charity very close to our hearts. We’re planning a fundraising half marathon in 2021, having completed many sponsored mud runs before, to say thank you to Tommy’s for the help they’ve given us along our difficult journey to parenthood.