Solo IVF, recurrent miscarriage and being over 40

Nicole Narracott, 45, has lost 7 babies through miscarriage. She lives in London with her partner Felice Napolitano, 45, and they are currently looking forward to adopting.

Age has been a huge factor, a really big part of my journey. I wanted to be a young mum because my mum had me at 41 and I got teased at school. I really wanted children in my 20's. 

I met my soul mate at university and felt we’d be married with a family by 30, but he didn’t want kids and walked away just before I was 29. I spent 9 years single, I think it’s referred to as social infertility these days.

I did speed-dating, online dating and I was out all the time but it didn’t happen so, by 32, I made a 5 year plan. I would have children regardless. I started saving for a 2-bedroom flat and IVF

When I first spoke to my doctor about fertility treatment he asked, ‘Do you not like men?’ which felt hugely insulting. I left feeling really ashamed.  

Following my first meeting at the clinic, I met someone and put treatment on hold. We separated after 6 months and it taught me not to put things off. I started tests and was diagnosed with stage 4 endometriosis. I had surgery to remove the growths and luckily, it wasn’t in my uterus so there was no risk of scarring there.

IVF as a single woman

At 37, I finally started IVF but, halfway through, they found liquid in my tubes which, they believed, was from the surgery. I was told it halved my chances of conceiving and increased the risk of miscarriage. I was asked if I wanted to continue but given no further information or options. I had paid for this cycle and taken the drugs so decided to go for it. 

I got pregnant but miscarried at 5 weeks. It wasn’t just 5 weeks for me, it was months of injecting, years of wanting, saving, waiting. I’d felt pregnant immediately and loved it, I was so happy. 

I started bleeding at work and the cramps were horrendous, I felt like I was going to pass out all the way home, like I was trying to hold my whole insides in. At home I made it to the loo and bled so much. I was alone and scared and worried it might be an ectopic pregnancy, so called 111 but they just said to call in the morning. 

Emotionally, at that stage, it wasn’t too bad, I figured my body would know what to do next time so immediately started trying again. My first appointment was in January, the same month I started dating my partner Felice. I didn’t know what to do,

I was almost 38, couldn’t wait but how could I date someone while pregnant with someone else’s child?

I told him a week before the egg transfer, expecting him to run, but he stayed. 

I was so certain that it would work this time so 2 weeks later after a negative test and my period starting, it felt like a huge shock. 

In May I went to see the consultant who told me it was unlikely I’d ever carry a child of my own. Beyond 1 round of IVF which resulted in a miscarriage and 1 failed round he didn’t offer any other basis for his opinion and I felt so winded and so devastated, I didn’t think to ask. Distraught and angry, I went to see a counsellor through work who explained I was suffering from grief. 

Felice and I decided to try naturally and fell pregnant straight away

But lost the baby in January 2015 at 10 weeks. I was pregnant again within a month but lost that baby at 12 weeks, it was a hugely traumatic experience. 

Both times I went to A&E and, the first time, the doctor wrote ‘abortion’ on the screen, when she saw my face she explained that she had to write something. 

I chose not to have surgery both times, maybe I should have because they could have tested the babies, but no one told me this would happen and I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to think of asking. 

Nothing happened for over a year and, after suffering 3 miscarriages, I was able to get a referral to my local hospital. They suspected a heart shaped uterus and I got an appointment for surgery in August 2016. Whilst waiting for this surgery I found out I was pregnant, but the day after I took the test I started bleeding. I went in for surgery but after putting me under, they found my uterus wasn’t heart shaped and didn’t perform the surgery. 

My age and difficulty getting pregnant, meant we were referred for IVF as a couple

At our first appointment, the doctor said that we’d probably need donor eggs. However, we got pregnant with my eggs and, at a scan at the recurrent miscarriage clinic, we saw 2 babies, we were so excited. A week later at the IVF clinic scan there was only 1 heartbeat. 

A few weeks later I started spotting and did the whole trip to the EPU via A&E, where they found there was no heartbeat at all. I had lost them both. That was the worst miscarriage in every respect, I have blocked it out completely. 

Afterwards it took a long time to be okay. We went back to the consultant who said that I couldn’t go any further because I would miscarry every pregnancy. That was a huge blow. 

I did get pregnant around 9 months later but lost that baby too at around 10 weeks. I think this is when I realised I couldn’t put myself through it anymore.

I had lost 7 babies and, emotionally, I was completely broken.

We’ve now been approved for adoption and are just waiting for a match

It is so important to discuss the emotional side of miscarriage, there is so much hurt out there. I never believed that miscarriages would happen to me over and over again.

I didn’t feel supported on the medical side at all, it feels like there were so many opportunities where I wasn’t given the information I needed. I feel like the medical profession failed me.

I was like a rabbit in the headlights, going from one scenario to the next, carrying all of this grief. My grief wasn’t recognised and therefore I didn’t recognise it myself in the anger, jealousy and guilt which consumed me.