Running to raise awareness for Tommy's

Rebecca and Richard, from London, decided to start a family in January 2021. What started off as a beautiful beginning to the year ended up being one of the most challenging for them. Richard shares his story on why fundraising for Tommy’s is so important to them.

We were both aware of the risks of miscarriage but we had no idea just how common it actually was until we started to talk about what we were going through with our friends and family.

Very early morning on Friday 12th February 2021 Rebecca woke me up to present me with a positive pregnancy test! We were both shocked as it was the first month we’d tried to conceive but extremely excited nonetheless. Over the next couple of weeks, it felt like we were on cloud 9 as we made plans about our future, talked about names, where we would live and how we would tell our friends and family. We knew the unwritten rule of waiting until 12 weeks but we had made plans to tell our parents a little early on Mother's Day. Rebecca would have been around 9 weeks pregnant.

On Thursday 25th February Rebecca received her TFL ‘Baby on board!’ badge

which again made us super excited and happy. I took a photo of her smiling with it but unfortunately that was to be our last fond memory of this pregnancy. Later that day Rebecca noticed some light bleeding after going to the toilet. She called me in to the bathroom straight away and my heart sank but I was conscious of wanting to remain calm and pragmatic for Rebecca. Unfortunately, I found myself scrolling through the internet finding similar cases on forums and sharing any reassuring stories with Rebecca but it wasn’t really helping. I tried calling the doctors surgery and midwife team at St George’s Hospital but neither were open. As the evening went on there was no more blood but I booked us in for a private scan the following day.

I hated the thought of Rebecca being so worried

The next morning, we went along to the scan, Rebecca would have been around 7 weeks and from what I’d read online we could potentially hear a heartbeat or at least see something so I had a pinch of hope that things were going to be okay. However, it wasn’t the day we were hoping for. The sonographer couldn’t see anything and explained it could either be too early, an ectopic pregnancy or miscarriage. Unfortunately, the EPU at St George’s wasn’t open until Monday so we had to wait over the weekend before we got any answers. Rebecca did another pregnancy test which still read pregnant so we were both very confused but probably deep down were expecting the worst.

One of the hardest parts of this journey was us calling our friends and family to explain what was happening

We envisaged these wonderful moments of surprise in telling them great news, so to explain that “Rebecca is pregnant but it’s not looking good” was incredibly tough.

Over the next 10 days, Rebecca had a series of blood tests and scans. Although HCG levels were rising there was still no sign of a gestation sac, much to the confusion of the sonographers. Despite us clinging onto some hope, Rebecca was later diagnosed as having a pregnancy of unknown location. We spoke to several senior consultants and they recommended Rebecca to have an MVA (Manual Vacuum Aspiration) which we agreed sounded like the best route. It was heartbreaking to see Rebecca struggling from the pain of the procedure and losing the baby, but I will always be proud of how incredible strong she was over those few weeks.

We gave ourselves plenty of time to heal from this experience

we felt ready to try again a few months later in June. On 3rd July we found out Rebecca was pregnant again. This time we told our parents and closest friends straight away. We felt like it made sense having our support bubble close to this journey. We took it a day at a time and remained pragmatic throughout but it was difficult not to make plans and get excited.

However, our joy was short-lived as on 8th July I remember Rebecca walking into my office at home and telling me she’s just experienced some heavy bleeding. Deep down, we knew what this meant and we held each other with tears.

We visited the EPU for tests which showed the HCG levels were rising normally but there was no sign of any gestation sac again. We were getting our head around the fact that this wasn’t going to be a viable pregnancy again. After what felt like eternity, with regular scans and blood tests, on the 25th July we had another scan and the midwife said the words we were dreading, “I’m really sorry but this pregnancy is ectopic”. Rebecca burst into tears and I felt completely helpless. Later that day, Rebecca was taken into surgery to have a laparoscopy operation to have her right fallopian tube removed.

2021 - a year of heartbreak

It's safe to say 2021 was incredibly sad, confusing and draining for both of us. I was aware of the dangers of our mental health being massively impacted by what we went through so we made an effort to make sure we spoke to each other about our feelings as well as to our friends and family. We were both aware of the risk to miscarriage but found that by just speaking out loud about what we’d been through it opened up so many stories of other couples who have gone through the same thing, and done so in silence.

I wanted to use how I was feeling in a positive way

to try to spread awareness of what we’ve been through and for other people to know that they don’t have to go through miscarriage alone. Tommy's is such a brilliant initiative, providing so much research, help and guidance to couples in a similar position. That’s why I decided to run in several races throughout 2022 to raise money and awareness of Tommy's with the latest being London ASICS 10km and Royal Parks Half Marathon.

To end on a happy note and to give other couples hope, Rebecca is pregnant again. We’ve just had our 20-week scan and everything is looking absolutely perfect – little baby Sutton is due on Halloween this year!

You can find out more about Rich's story and sponsor him on his JustGiving page.