The work Tommy’s do in helping those facing the most awful situations is truly remarkable

After experiencing 2 miscarriages, Rubie and Ben sought the support of 3 Tommy’s clinics. After months of research and investigation, as well as the support of Tommy’s professors and midwives, Rubie and Ben welcomed their double rainbow baby.

Ben and I met 14 years ago at the tender age of 17 in the crowd at Reading music festival. Together we went through A-Levels, University and our first experiences of the working world. Before getting married at 25, we spent a lot of our twenties travelling the world together. A few years after our wedding we were blessed to welcome a beautiful, healthy daughter into the world with our firstborn Norah arriving in December 2018.

Very soon after her birth we knew we’d love for her to have a sibling and to keep the gap between them close, subsequently we were lucky to fall pregnant in the summer of 2019. Everything had progressed as per our first pregnancy, with no significant risks or abnormalities discovered at any of the midwife check-ups or scans we were having. Given our relatively straightforward first pregnancy experience, we were delighted after 12 weeks to share the good news with friends, family and colleagues, all of whom shared in our excitement.

Experiencing loss for the first time

Then at a routine 16-week midwife appointment, I remember balancing a 10-month-old Norah on my belly as the midwife tried to locate our baby’s heartbeat with a doppler. She couldn’t. I was told it was very normal at this stage and that, given I had an anterior placenta, it would be hard to find anyway. If I was worried, which I was advised that I shouldn’t be, then I should go to the hospital. I remember carrying Norah to the car whilst calling Ben, with a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. I knew something was wrong. 

Ben rushed back from work to meet me at the hospital, where only an hour later as Ben gripped my hand, a lovely consultant at Barnet hospital said the words every expectant parent dreads; ‘I am so sorry but there is no heartbeat’.

Our world crashed down around us, a million questions running through my head. The main one to which I knew the answer, but also dreaded hearing it, was ‘how do we get the baby out?’. It all hits you so suddenly and then in your state of shock you’ve suddenly got these big decisions to make. Suffice to say, a few days later I was in the delivery room, next-door to the room in which only 10 months prior we had welcomed a healthy daughter. A heart-breaking and exhausting experience, I gave birth to our daughter who we’d lost at 15.5 weeks. 

As if that wasn’t enough, my placenta refused to come away, an apparently common issue as it ‘ripens’ throughout your pregnancy and well, at 16 weeks, it just was not ready. A piecemeal extraction in the delivery room left me with retained pieces. We returned a few weeks later for a scan and unfortunately it remained. After 6 weeks I pushed for surgery, I felt helpless and could not wait another day for it to all be over.

After more waiting and a cancelled procedure, a close family member put us in touch with a gynaecologist; 2 days later I was on his operating theatre, a week before Christmas. He squeezed my hand and kindly said ‘let’s get this over’, and he did. 

A few months later we were back at the hospital for the post-mortem. Still to this day we don’t know why we lost our baby; everything came back perfectly healthy. I was positive at the time of the birth for Group B Strep, but the consultant believed it was highly unlikely that this had been the cause of our loss. We took the lack of findings positively and tried our best to move forward. 

Rebuilding the courage to try again

We rebuilt the courage to try again and were delighted to fall pregnant soon after for a third time in the spring of 2020. All was progressing well and again our 12-week scan showed no issues. We were therefore shocked and distraught to discover that we had lost another baby at 13.5 weeks. After the traumatic experience of labour, I knew I couldn’t endure that again.

We saw our gynaecologist from our first D&C for retained placenta, who was unbelievably kind and understanding. After scanning me he said that a D&C was possible. The relief I felt in that moment was immense and I will be forever grateful to that consultant and to Ben for protecting me. We believed at that point that we may never be able to produce a sibling for our beloved Norah and were uncertain as to how much more pain and heartbreak we could endure. 

Seeking support from Tommy’s clinics 

Our journey to our rainbow baby was only made possible with the help of others; particularly 3 different Tommy’s clinics.

Having undertaken a huge amount of research and investigation throughout our journey, we have been advised and helped by, as well as undergone trials with, some of the best Tommy’s clinics in the country, run by the most amazing professors, consultants and midwives. 

After our second loss, we were seen almost instantly by the renowned Professor Lesley Regan at St Mary’s Hospital. Professor Regan quickly performed a whole suite of blood tests and a thorough hysteroscopy to check that my womb confirmed no issues. Our results again were perfect, no rationale to explain why we had now had to experience two late losses. Professor Regan’s only concern was that my cervix seemed a little weaker than optimal, possibly due to the piecemeal extraction of my placenta. She mentioned inserting a stitch at 12 weeks as she wouldn’t want a successful pregnancy to be impacted by the possibility of premature labour. We left feeling a bit dumbstruck. Nothing was wrong with me, I was perfectly healthy, and apparently all we needed to do was get pregnant again… it just didn’t feel right yet. 

I continued my research and found Professor Brosens’ trial into uNK cells at Coventry and Warwickshire Hospital. A few weeks later Ben and I made the drive up to Coventry to provide my first endometrial sample, a relatively painless procedure which took less than 10 minutes. This was followed by an additional sample a month later. Professor Brosens’ provided us with the results a few weeks later; my uNK cells were low. With these being linked to growth hormones, he suggested I take an old diabetes drug ‘Sitagliptin’ for 3 months prior to conceiving to try and improve my uNK cell count. He also prescribed progesterone from the day we received a positive pregnancy test until 34 weeks. 

I began to research hospitals to look after me once pregnant. My potential cervical weakness played on my mind, but I didn’t want to opt straight for the stitch. It was then that an old school friend posted on social media that they had welcomed their rainbow baby thanks to the amazing care of Professor Shennan at St Thomas’ Hospital. I immediately looked up Professor Shennan and found that he was running a Tommy’s clinic to prevent premature labour via careful cervical monitoring. I emailed Professor Shennan immediately before going to bed. 5 minutes later, at 10pm he replied. I couldn’t believe it; I knew we had found our consultant.

We met Professor Shennan a week later and both left feeling hugely confident and optimistic that when the time came, we’d be in the best possible hands. 

At the end of the 3 months of sitagliptin, we took a family trip to Majorca and on our return were greeted with those wonderful, if not terrifying, two blue lines on a pregnancy test. We scheduled our first appointment with Professor Shennan at around 7 weeks. At 5 weeks I started bleeding and I was incredibly nervous but I felt this pregnancy was different, we had done everything in our power to make it that way. We were seen by Professor Shennan’s amazing team of consultants and nurses every two weeks until 25 weeks, when we were discharged with the promise that they were only a phone call away. 

Welcoming our rainbow baby

On Wednesday 23rd March 2022 our beautiful double rainbow baby Coco Elula was born, a much longed for daughter, sibling for Norah, granddaughter and cousin. Although we could have transferred back to our local hospital and avoided the 1.5-hour drive through central London traffic on labour day, and the 4-hour round trips to have check-ups, our care at St Thomas’ had been outstanding throughout our pregnancy, so we decided to remain in their care.

Although we may never know why our miscarriages happened, the thought that our story and this fundraiser may help many other parents bring their rainbow babies home, makes our tragedies seem somewhat bearable.

Throughout the two years of heart ache, I would always remind myself that we would, one day, bring our rainbow baby home and after that day I would strive to raise money and awareness for Tommy’s and the great work they do.

It was something that got me through the darkest times, and I cannot believe that that time has finally come. 

The work Tommy’s do in helping those facing the most awful situations is truly remarkable and we will always be grateful for the help and support we received by 3 of their amazing clinics, and through their website.

The power of other people’s heartfelt experiences and stories provided us with belief and strength in some of the darkest moments.

On race day I will definitely be thinking of those 2 babies that we couldn’t bring home; however, I will mostly be celebrating the life so far and the life to come of our beautiful double rainbow baby, Coco Elula. Coco has bought us so much joy and will have turned 1 a few days before the race. Both Norah and Coco mean everything to us and seeing them grow up together is a privilege – one that we will never take lightly.

Rubie, Ben, Norah and Coco x