The support and service Tommy’s provides is vital

Helen suffered 3 devastating miscarriages before she was referred to Tommy’s, and she was then supported throughout her last pregnancy by our clinic at the Tommy’s National Centre for Miscarriage Research in Birmingham. Noah arrived in November last year.

Helen, husband David, and sons, Henry, 5, and Noah, 9 months, live in Shropshire.

David and I met as teenagers. We’d always wanted children but were surprised when it happened so soon, just a month after our wedding in 2017. The pregnancy was fairly straight-forward but, after reduced movement, Henry arrived via emergency C-section, a traumatic birth that left me with post-natal anxiety. It was 2 years before I felt ready to consider trying again.

I fell pregnant for the second time in April 2020 and, despite the excitement, I felt something wasn’t quite right early on. I booked a private scan and, due to Covid, was alone when they told me the sac was too small and there was no baby. It was then an agonising 10 day wait for the hospital to confirm the loss. I opted for medical management but haemorrhaged, again alone, in an A&E waiting room.

2 weeks later, I was readmitted with an infection, at risk of sepsis, because the miscarriage had not completed. It was a draining experience but, together, we got through it.

In October I suffered a chemical pregnancy and then fell pregnant again the following month. 

I can’t describe the relief when a 6-week scan showed a strong heartbeat, David and I both cried.

My hope grew with each week but, at 11 weeks, I had some spotting and booked for an emergency scan the following day. That night I desperately scoured online forums for stories of hope.

Again, I was alone on a hospital bed, when they told me that I’d suffered a missed miscarriage. I opted for surgical management and the nurse held my hand because Covid meant David couldn’t be with me.

After 3 miscarriages the NHS could start investigating our losses but there was not enough DNA to test if our baby had any chromosomal abnormalities. 

Our doctor was sympathetic to our situation and sent me for blood tests and also referred me to the Tommy’s clinic in Birmingham. We went there in Spring 2021 but all blood tests came back inconclusive. Nobody could explain why I kept miscarrying.

A nurse asked if I wanted to be considered for trials, which I did. In January last year I was contacted by the Tommy’s clinic in Coventry and went for a consultation and biopsy to test for endometritis, the focus of this particular trial.

The biopsy came back negative so I wasn’t eligible but a nurse did say that, sometimes, the scraping process can aid fertility and conception. We’d tried for 8 months and I hadn’t fallen pregnant, but a month after the biopsy I was expecting again!

I was terrified and called Tommy’s Birmingham to see if they could help me, and they did. I had my first reassurance scan at 7 weeks and baby had a strong heartbeat and was measuring a week ahead of my dates. I had another scan at 9 weeks then, at work, I had some spotting. 

I can’t explain what was going through my mind as I waited for an emergency scan at my local hospital, I was crying and hyperventilating in the waiting room, every scan is so triggering for me now.

The sonographer was great, explaining that, if she was quiet for a few minutes, it didn’t mean something bad had happened. 

In the end, within seconds, she told us there was a heartbeat. I was relieved, I’d been waiting for another, ‘I’m sorry…’

I’d been taking progesterone, as recommended by Tommy’s and it turned out the pessaries had irritated my cervix, causing the bleed. They told me to use the pessaries rectally from then on.

The pregnancy was such a blur, I couldn’t let myself get excited, I lived from scan to scan. As soon as I started to feel him moving, I’d stress that he wasn’t moving enough. I was convinced something was going to go wrong until the moment he was here.

The NHS consultant could see the anxiety at every appointment but I didn’t want to take mental health medication. I’m not sure how I got through it. I’d had some counselling after my miscarriages, which helped, but the Tommy’s Facebook group was a great source of support. Baby loss is so isolating and that group made me feel less alone.

I had a planned C-section at 39 weeks which was very calm and helped me feel less anxious, more in control. We both burst into tears the second we heard Noah cry, I couldn’t stop staring at him, I still can’t.

My husband fundraised for Tommy’s after our last miscarriage and I’d do anything for them because they need more funding, more attention. 

I don’t know what I would have done without Tommy's, just knowing someone understood made such a difference.

Going through 1 miscarriage is bad enough, to have to go through 3 before you get help is just too much. If it’s the cost implication, that makes no sense, medical management, surgical management, that all costs money. 

Baby loss takes such an emotional and mental toll, and you carry that with you for the rest of your life. 

I don’t know if I would have Noah today without Tommy’s support, I don’t know how I would have gotten through that pregnancy. The support and service Tommy’s provides is vital.