We went on to adopt a little girl, who came home with us almost 5 years ago. We can’t imagine life without her and couldn’t love her more!

Following care at Tommy’s National Centre for Miscarriage Research and 6 devastating losses, Caroline and Tom went on to adopt their daughter, who they love endlessly.

Starting our family together

I’m Caroline, 41, working in the Civil Service. My husband Tom is 36 and works in secondary education. We live in Yorkshire with our daughter, who is 6.

Our journey to grow our family began back in 2015, a year after we got married. We knew a couple of people who'd had miscarriages, but just assumed having a family would come easily to us.

Our first pregnancy

I found out I was pregnant in October 2015, two months after we began trying. I experienced extreme dizziness and nausea from very early on but, one day, noticed a peachy coloured discharge and called my GP. 

We were sent for a scan at the EPU and told we were expecting twins – that explains the intense symptoms then! It was still relatively early days, but one twin was clearly in difficulty, so I was sent home to rest, and another scan was booked for 10 days later.

At this scan, we were told that one twin sadly had not survived, and the other’s development had slowed.

We were told to prepare for the worst and faced another 10 days wait for a scan… the torture of this time, I cannot even begin to describe.

Heartbreaking losses

Sat at home with our babies inside me, one fighting to survive and one already gone. The scan came and the midwife broke the devastating news that both our babies had gone. A D&C was booked for the following week. My body didn’t want to let go, so surgery was the only option. Tears flowed as I was wheeled to surgery, the sadness and relief I felt - it was almost over.

We waited a few months before trying again, and I quickly fell pregnant. We miscarried. We reset, we tried again. We miscarried again. 4 babies lost in less than 12 months.

A referral to Tommy's

Our GP referred us to the Tommy’s National Centre for Miscarriage Research clinic at University Hospital, Coventry. We were placed under the care of Professor Quenby and her team, who were incredible from the very beginning.

I remember one occasion, after our consultation finished, I’d had some blood taken. After the nurse left the room, I gathered my things to leave, suddenly bursting into tears. I couldn’t stop. Aware I couldn’t stay in there all day, I left trying to discreetly run past the staff.

Someone saw me, put their arm around me and guided me back to Professor Quenby’s office. Despite having other patients waiting, she welcomed me back inside whilst another member of staff found Tom. She spent more time with us, calming me down and reassuring us she would try everything to help.

No stone left unturned

Over the next couple of years, that’s exactly what she did. The endless list of medications we tried, procedures I had… no stone was left unturned. We tried both proven and newer methods to improve our chances. It felt like nothing was off the table, and she was completely honest with us throughout.

I fell pregnant again. We miscarried. We reassessed, then kept going.

We had one last thing to try… but it was very clear that if this didn’t work, that was it.

I fell pregnant for the 5th time; we had an early scan at the clinic, we saw a heartbeat. This was it! We really believed it.

The end of the line

We booked another scan for a couple of weeks later, but I couldn’t wait and we had a private scan before. There was no heartbeat. Absolutely devastated, we called the clinic and booked to see one of the Tommy’s doctors later that week.

I walked into the office and just cried. Professor Quenby came to talk to us. We had the conversation there and then… that was the end of the line. We needed to explore surrogacy or adoption to grow our family.

I’ll always remember the gentle frankness of this discussion – complete honesty and utter compassion.

Our daughter

I know we didn’t do anything to cause this, though I still feel enormous guilt that it’s my body that failed us. My womb – the perfect storm of several medical conditions and almost no womb lining for life to cling onto for long enough to survive.

We went on to adopt a little girl, who came home to us almost 5 years ago. We can’t imagine life without her and couldn’t love her more.

The deep sadness of what we went through remains with us to this day. 

Until we moved from the house we lived in at the time, I would often have flashbacks to incidents that happened there, particularly when in the bathroom.

Coping in our own way

I still find that I distance myself from friends or family when they are pregnant. Babies outside the womb I am completely fine with, but being part of the pregnancy journey of others is not something I cope well with – that’s not because I’m not happy for them. In part if I’m truly honest, I’m jealous, but mostly it just reminds me of a difficult time.

I don’t attend baby showers; and I’ll politely step away if there’s a birth story conversation happening. But most people understand. My husband has coped in his own way, primarily through cycling the long hilly roads of the Dales!

As time has passed, we’ve found comfort in speaking openly about our experience, and in doing so have connected with others who have suffered their own losses and fertility issues. 

Tommy’s is a thread that runs through a lot of these conversations and leaves me in no doubt that the incredible support we had wasn’t an exception.

Supporting those who supported us

I’ve reached out to Tommy’s over the years when I’ve struggled with waves of grief, and they’ve offered guidance and support. I know I’ll probably need them again in future, and I know they will be there when I do. 

In a moment of madness, I signed up for the London Landmarks Half Marathon 2024 – I’ve never run a half marathon before. In fact, I’ve barely run anywhere close to that distance in my life!

So, I’ll be running/walking on 7th April 2024, proud to support those who supported us, and in memory of the 6 babies we never got to hold. Cheering me on will be my little family, Tom & M, who I couldn’t be more grateful for.