Care and support kept our hope alive through multiple miscarriages

Gemma and her husband experienced an early miscarriage before the birth of their now 4-year-old son and have since lost 6 more babies – but under the expert care of Prof Lesley Regan, Director of our Recurrent Miscarriage Clinic in London, the couple hope their little boy will one day have a sibling to play with.
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So where to start… I’m 40 years old and work as a Business Relationship Manager, and my husband is 44 years old and works as an Engineering Director, and we are also Mummy and Daddy to our beautiful boy. However, for the last 4 years we’ve been through multiple miscarriages while trying to give our son a little brother or sister.

First pregnancy and miscarriage

We’ve been married for about 12 years, and in 2014 my husband and I started casually trying for a baby, with no idea of the emotional rollercoaster we were about to embark on! When we fell pregnant after about 9 months of trying, we were so happy and excited, but around the 6-week mark I started to miscarry.

I’m not a writer but when I had my first miscarriage, I actually kept a diary of what happened and when, not knowing the little book I’d written in would become a miscarriage journal.

Since then, I’ve kept a diary of all my miscarriages, with the last one being in October 2020. I also reflected on each loss and noted tell-tale signs that meant eventually I could almost predict it, like my boobs would hurt in early pregnancy but that pain would stop just before the bleeding started.

Our miracle rainbow baby

After the first miscarriage, I had one normal cycle before finding out I was pregnant again in late 2015. I was very aware of the stats and knew people that had miscarried, so at this point we almost brushed over the loss, assuming as many do that it was just ‘one of those things’!

My 2nd pregnancy was what I believe now to be a little miracle. I had an uncomplicated pregnancy, with our little miracle being born in June 2016. When he was almost a year old, we decided to start trying for another baby, and by early 2018 we were pregnant again.

Of course, miscarriage crossed my mind, but having only had 1 at that point (which is enough as it is!) I was optimistic. However, at 9 weeks 4 days, I started to bleed. The doctor confirmed another early miscarriage and the scan found our baby had stopped growing at around 6 weeks. It was a very tough time, but we got through it and were determined to try again.

Recurrent miscarriage and specialist care

When I fell pregnant again that summer, I was more apprehensive but still pretty positive, thinking we must have just been unlucky – but at 9 weeks 4 days, again, I miscarried. Again we went through the horrible physical and emotional process, and again we resolved to keep trying. This time though, because the circumstances and timing of the miscarriages had been the same, I started to question if there was something physically wrong instead of ‘just bad luck’.

As emotionally and physically draining each miscarriage was, I didn’t want to give up hope.

My GP referred me to a recurrent miscarriage clinic at my local hospital, where my husband had his sperm tested and I had all the usual blood tests as well as an ultrasound scan. They suggested I take progesterone as soon as I next find out I’m pregnant, but all our test results seemed normal, so it was just a case of ‘keep trying’ once again.

Trying again after miscarriage

By 2019, we were pregnant again. After 4 miscarriages, I was pretty sceptical, and sadly I was correct: 9 weeks later, I started to miscarry, exactly the same way as before. It was devastating but I was like a dog with a bone, determined that we would keep trying, as hard as it was.

Soon we were expecting again, and I had all the usual pregnancy symptoms: nausea, tiredness, painful boobs… But at 8 weeks 3 days, ANOTHER miscarriage. We couldn’t believe this could keep happening without a reason. We were offered genetic testing but the results showed nothing to explain the loss.

Desperate for answers, I went back to the recurrent miscarriage clinic, where more tests found my blood clotted slightly quicker than normal. It was a minor issue but enough for them to suggest I try Fragmin injections, alongside aspirin and progesterone, in my next pregnancy. Finally, there may be a cause that we can treat! I was delighted. 

In June 2020 I found out I was pregnant again, and this time I felt like we had some hope, trying all the treatments I’d been recommended. Sadly, an early pregnancy scan showed there was nothing there, and a week later I started bleeding again. I felt cheated; with all these drugs to help me hold onto a pregnancy, it hadn’t even got to the right place for them to make a difference!

After so many losses, it was a tough call to make but we decided to have a final try before drawing the line, because the miscarriages were taking their toll on both of us.

Coping with secondary infertility

I got pregnant again later that year and started all the same treatments to reduce the risk of another miscarriage. We saw a heartbeat at the early pregnancy scan, but when I went for another at around 9 weeks I knew from the sonographer’s delayed response that it was bad news: there was no heartbeat.

Having said this would be our last time, it felt very final and hit us 10 times as hard. 

Before I’d coped with miscarriage by trying again as soon as possible, that was part of my recovery, but this was different. There was no hope of ever having another baby and giving our son the little brother or sister that we so wanted him to have. We were devastated.

I couldn’t bear to wait for the miscarriage to progress as I’d always done before, so took medication to get the horrible process over with – and once again, genetic testing found nothing to explain the loss. 

Finding the experts at Tommy’s

A week later there was a documentary on TV where some Tommy’s supporters shared their stories of miscarriage. With everything still so raw, I sat in floods of tears for most of it, but nonetheless it felt like therapy to watch. The documentary featured a Professor whose confidence about how many pregnancy problems could be solved really inspired me: Dame Prof Lesley Regan.

I contacted her immediately and at my initial consultation she suggested I have a hysteroscopy – not something I’d ever heard of before, despite seeing many doctors by this point. This investigation confirmed Prof Regan’s suspicion that I had a uterine septum (when the sides of the womb join together, restricting blood-flow in pregnancy and potentially causing miscarriage) so she fixed it right away.

Now we’re trying once more, with renewed hope, and wanted to share our miscarriage story as it really helped me through the last few years to read about other people’s journeys.

While delighted to finally have some answers, I’m also gutted it’s taken 7 miscarriages to get here! After a testing few years, we remain positive, and we take comfort from the fact that we have our amazing little boy regardless of where this journey takes us.