Our journey to parenthood started unexpectedly in 2015 when Danny and I found out we were expecting our surprise first child. The pregnancy started off well – but at our 20 week scan, we were told there was something wrong with the baby's brain and things were missing, and we were sent to another room. The dreaded room we would become all too familiar with over the next few years.
We were sent to a fetal medicine unit at a hospital an hour away where we were told our daughter had severe hydrocephalus and was missing a kidney and were told there and then about ending the pregnancy. This was something we weren't ready to contemplate so we asked for all the tests that could be done to determine how poorly she was. We spent the next 3 weeks having various scans and painful tests and, unfortunately, our little girl was deteriorating rapidly. The fluid on her brain was increasing daily and causing so much damage.
We were told she was just too poorly to survive.
We couldn't knowingly carry on and bring her into this world to endure pain and suffering when ultimately she would die, so we made the most heart-breaking decision that any parent should have to make and had a medical termination.
This is still a decision that I think about daily, and one I know others may have taken differently, but it was right for our family and we chose to live with this pain so she didn't have to. I gave birth to Isabella in a special bereavement room on the labour ward when I was 23 weeks and 6 days pregnant on 26 August 2015. We spent over 24 hours with Isabella before she was taken for a post mortem so we could see if it was anything genetic that had made her so poorly. We had to wait a couple of months for the results, but we were given the all-clear and told it was just one of those things.
The urge to have another baby was overwhelming and we started trying as soon as we got the all clear.
We were lucky to fall pregnant really quickly. We had lots of extra scans and it was an agonising wait for the 20-week scan. It was a huge relief when we were given the all clear that our rainbow girl was healthy. Unfortunately, at a routine midwife appointment a few weeks later, our baby was diagnosed with SVT (high heart rate) so we were scanned every few days by a fetal cardiologist. The SVT resolved itself a week before our planned c-section.
Lexi was born on the 7th October 2016 and after a very brief stay in NICU we were allowed home.
The decision to have any more children was not an easy one to make. The anxiety of going through a pregnancy after loss is terrifying and it takes a massive toll on both parents and was a decision we both came to at different times. We also found out when Lexi was 6 months old that she had a congenital heart condition that would eventually need to be operated on, which brought with it a whole new level of anxiety and worry.
When she had just turned 2 we decided we were ready and wanted to give her a living sibling.
I suffered our first early miscarriage in April 2019. I couldn’t quite believe that we were suffering more heartbreak. After a few more months of trying I was pregnant again, but this sadly ended with a missed miscarriage in the October of 2019, and I had a D&C as my body just didn't want to let this baby go.
I struggled a lot more with this loss.
My morning sickness was getting worse with each pregnancy, and I wasn't sure I could put myself mentally and physically through it all again, but I was just so desperate to give Lexi a living sibling.
It took quite a few more months of trying – and after going to the doctors for help, I was told there was nothing they could do. We would need to go through another loss before we could be referred and, even then, she said we might not be given any help because we had a living child.
I suffered my third miscarriage in August 2020. I called the doctors almost immediately and spoke to a different doctor from before, who was amazing and referred me to the recurrent miscarriage clinic at Tommy's Centre for Miscarriage Research in London. Because of Covid I was told the waiting list would be long, but I didn't mind, as it finally felt like we were going to get some answers.
We received all the paperwork from Tommy's to fill in before our first telephone appointment in December 2020.
I started filling it in and read we needed to do a pregnancy test before the appointment, as you couldn't be pregnant at the start of it – and lo and behold I was! The doctor put me straight on aspirin this time.
The pregnancy was full of anxiety after my losses.
What followed was 9 months of severe anxiety and worry – and almost 4 months of severe sickness where I was bed bound and on lots of medication. I had so many extra scans and appointments with various consultants, midwives, bereavement midwife and the perinatal mental health team. I was then diagnosed with gestational diabetes in the last month and also had to contend with being pregnant during Covid which resulted in me going to lots of these scans and appointments on my own.
But it was all worth it and on the 19th August 2021 (a week before her biggest sisters 6th birthday/death anniversary) our beautiful Lottie finally arrived via another planned c-section, the last piece of our family jigsaw.
That little glimmer of hope got us through some dark places and amazing charities like Tommy's help keep that hope alive. Tommy's was there for us when we needed answers to our 3 recurrent miscarriages, and also through online help and guidance with safe sleep advice when I struggled with anxiety when the girls were first born.
Fast forward almost 7 years and our first rainbow Lexi is 5 1/2 and has recently undergone a successful heart surgery, and Lottie is now 8 months old and such a happy soul. We are so proud of our miracles and our beautiful Isabella and 3 perfect butterflies that ran ahead.