Recurrent miscarriage and autoimmune disorders

Becky and Daniel experienced 5 miscarriages, which specialist care found were linked to a thyroid condition. Now they have their rainbow baby after recurrent miscarriage, the couple hope their family’s story helps others going through fertility problems.

We married in May 2015 and knew right away we wanted to grow our family. We had our entire future together planned, never expecting that having a baby would be such a difficult journey or throw up so many hurdles for our relationship.

5 months after we started trying to conceive, we were over the moon to see the magic word ‘pregnant’ on the test. I arranged to meet the midwife and booked our first scan but suddenly, the weekend before this scan, we suffered a miscarriage. We were told our baby had stopped growing at around 6 weeks, miscarriage was very common, and we could try again in a few months’ time. 

Recurrent miscarriage

Once we felt ready to try again, it wasn’t long until we had another positive pregnancy test – but at 11 weeks, we were absolutely devastated by another miscarriage. I went to see the doctor but was told they only investigate if you have experienced 3 losses in a row.  

We waited until we felt ready to try again, but a part of us wanted to try sooner rather than later because we knew that if we had another miscarriage then we’d finally be investigated, giving us a glimmer of hope.

We had an early scan with our third pregnancy and we saw the baby’s little heart beating away, but at just 7 weeks we were heart-broken to have another miscarriage. We had really thought this time would be different and were desperate to know what happened so we could try to stop it.

Miscarriage tests and treatments

We saw a consultant who carried out all the routine tests, and started researching online, desperate for a solution. I’ve had hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid gland) since 2008 and wondered if it could be part of the problem, as autoimmune disorders have been linked to miscarriage, but doctors said my condition was controlled and monitored so that wouldn’t be causing the losses.

After numerous blood tests all came back clear, we were really concerned that our dream of becoming parents was being taken away – but we weren’t going to give up easily.

I was told to take a low dose of aspirin at the start of my fourth pregnancy. Again, we had an early scan, but since it was so early the baby was only measuring 5-6 weeks. 2 weeks later we had another scan and were crushed to learn the baby had not grown any further; we were going to suffer yet another miscarriage.

We’d read about Tommy’s research giving progesterone to women who had experienced recurrent miscarriage, to help their wombs hold onto their babies in early pregnancy. In the back of our minds we weren’t totally convinced this could help us but we had to try. Tragically, 6 weeks into our fifth pregnancy, an early scan confirmed yet again that our baby had stopped growing.

Understanding miscarriage risk

We decided to visit a private specialist to discuss IVF, but they said it wasn’t the answer because we were conceiving naturally, and instead suggested upping my thyroid medication in case it was having an effect on my pregnancies. We learned the thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) level should remain under 2 in the first trimester – and mine had been far higher, even reaching 6 at one point.  

With alarm bells ringing we sought out a specialist, Professor Evans, who is highly experienced in thyroid disease and was happy to support us in achieving a successful pregnancy.  He immediately increased my thyroid medication dosage by 40%, monitoring my TSH levels and adjusting my medication throughout my pregnancy. 

Pregnancy after loss

Going into this pregnancy, we had a totally different outlook and almost didn’t dare to hope, waiting until I reached 8 weeks before having a scan. To our disbelief, there on the screen was our rainbow baby, measuring perfectly with a strong heartbeat. We were immediately overcome with love.

Going through pregnancy after loss, we had another scan a fortnight later to ease our anxiety, and were absolutely over the moon to see our little miracle still doing well. Unbelievably, on 29 April 2019, our baby girl was born at a healthy 7lb 14oz - with a full head of hair!

Finally, our dream of becoming parents had become a reality; we just couldn’t believe it.

We cherish every day with our daughter, but will never forget the siblings that could have been – and I often think that if only we had been told sooner about the impact this thyroid condition could have on pregnancy, we wouldn’t have had to experience these 4 years of heartbreak.