Tommy’s gave me hope when I was at my lowest point

Laura and her husband Sam got married in September 2017 and started trying for a baby soon afterwards. After having 3 miscarriages, Laura was referred to our clinic in Coventry, where she took part in the ALIFE-2 research trial. Under the care of Prof Quenby and her team, the couple welcomed rainbow baby Arlo into the world in April last year. This is Laura’s story.

It felt like it had taken a while for us to get pregnant, so when we found out were expecting in June 2018, we paid for an early reassurance scan. We should have been measuring at around 8/9 weeks, but the sonographer said it looked as though we were more like 7 weeks along. They got someone else in to give us a second opinion and asked us if we were sure of the dates. We definitely were. 

The clinic suspected we’d had a missed miscarriage and spoke to our local hospital to arrange an appointment to check. Sadly, the hospital confirmed that we had lost the baby. I was offered several options of miscarriage management and felt that surgical management was the best for me.

While there was little to no physical pain at all, mentally I really struggled. I couldn’t think of anything else and had to be signed off work for 6 weeks. 

We were perfectly young and healthy, so I think we were a bit naive. We knew it happened to other families, but we never expected it to happen to us.

Trying again after loss

The hospital told us to come back and see them as soon as we were pregnant again. It happened during our next cycle, in September 2018, but this ended in another miscarriage at 6 weeks.

The thought of this happening to us a third time was too much to bear. We had a holiday planned and decided to wait until afterwards to start trying. When we got back, we found out we were expecting – but, in December, we had another miscarriage at 6 weeks and were left heartbroken again.

Getting help after 3 miscarriages

After the third miscarriage, I started doing my own research into what help was available to me. I went to see my GP and asked about getting a referral to a recurrent miscarriage clinic. They were wonderful and immediately referred me to the Tommy’s Coventry clinic, who got in touch straight away to add us to their waiting list.

As soon as we got the referral, it felt as though a weight had been lifted. We were finally getting some specialist care from an expert and being pro-active rather than reactive.

In February 2019, the clinic called us because they’d had a cancellation and asked if we wanted to come in – and of course we did!

Taking part in a Tommy’s research trial

We met with Prof Siobhan Quenby at Coventry, and she did some blood tests. The results showed that I have a Protein S deficiency, a rare blood clotting disorder which she thought might have been causing my miscarriages.

Even this made me feel better – I had some kind of explanation, rather than thinking these awful things were happening to me for no reason. 

Once I had been diagnosed with Protein S deficiency, I agreed to take part in the ALIFE-2 study. Prof Quenby explained that I would be given a blood-thinning injection every day from the start of pregnancy to help me carry to term. She told me to call them as soon I was expecting again, and she would prescribe the treatment straight away.

I found out I was pregnant 2 weeks after my first appointment – but all of my despair and hopelessness came back when we had a miscarriage at around 5 weeks. I had assumed the trial would definitely work, so it was absolutely devastating when it didn’t.

The team at Coventry kept me going

Although we were heartbroken, the Tommy’s team were incredibly supportive. It also helped to see photos and cards from parents who had been through the clinic and brought their rainbow baby home. Seeing that other people had also been through awful things like us, and had come out on the other side, gave us some much-needed hope.

We tried again and fell pregnant for a fifth time. I was prescribed the heparin injections from 4 weeks, but I started experiencing some pain, and at around 7 weeks we found out that it was an ectopic pregnancy. Whilst I knew it was fortunate that we’d caught it early and avoided any complications, I was nearly ready to give up.

If it wasn’t for the team at Coventry, I don’t think we would have had the strength to keep trying. Natalie, one of the midwives, said to me “How do you know that this one won’t work out? Even if you give it just one more try – do it for me.”

We had a trip to Sardinia coming up, so we decided to see if we were ready to give it another go after our holiday. 2 weeks after we got back, we found out we were pregnant. We called up the Coventry clinic, who prescribed the blood-thinning injections straight away – and this one stuck.

I was anxious throughout the entire pregnancy 

Having been through so many losses, we were constantly expecting something to go wrong. We kept our pregnancy to ourselves and didn’t post anything online. When we were struggling with our miscarriages, I had to come off social media.

Seeing other people’s joyous pregnancy announcements made me feel completely isolated when we were stuck in a constant state of uncertainty and anxiety.

I continued to have the injections and had regular scans at the Tommy’s clinic until 12 weeks, as well as normal routine ones and consultant-led scans later on. The 12-week scan was a huge milestone, but I still couldn’t relax. This is why the support of the Tommy’s team was so important. They always encouraged me to come in if I was worried – I cannot explain how good the care has been. 

Our baby was measuring bigger than expected

At 20 weeks, we were told our baby boy was measuring big, so we had growth scans on top of our consultant appointments. We also took part in the Big Baby Trial, which aims to find out if inducing labour at 38 weeks can stop larger babies getting stuck in the birth canal.

I was offered the choice of a c-section or an induction, and decided I’d rather be induced. Due to lockdown restrictions, my husband was only allowed in for the active labour, so I had to go into hospital alone. 

The induction didn’t work, and after 4 days, the labour still wasn’t progressing. I was getting more anxious by the day, conscious that my baby was getting bigger and bigger, increasing the chance of him getting stuck. A few days later, I was booked in for an emergency c-section – I’ve never called my husband as quickly as I did then!

Our lockdown rainbow baby 

Our beautiful baby boy, Arlo, was born on 24 April 2020. 

The fact he’s our rainbow baby after so many losses makes him that much more special. He is absolutely everything.

Although it was difficult being alone in the hospital, lockdown meant we had our own little bubble when we brought him home. We were living with my parents in their farmhouse, and we loved not having to share him with anyone! He was all ours.

We’re so grateful for the Tommy’s Coventry team

I can’t thank the team at Coventry enough for their care and support. Since we were in a lockdown, I wasn’t able to go and thank them properly, but I called up and asked if I could pop into see them. I took them in some gifts, a photo of our boy for their wall of success stories and a card, which read:

“Words cannot express how grateful we are for everything you have done for us. You’ve made our wildest dreams come true, and I’m reminded of that every time I look at our special little boy.”