by Carmen Arico
My husband and I were longing for a family. We’d been together for 7 years, married for nearly 2 and we had always wanted children. You never think that you’ll experience loss when you first talk about having children – you imagine the white picket fence, little angelic cherubs racing each other around the garden with sunlight streaming through their hair. To have that vision shattered by miscarriage after miscarriage is, well, devastating.
After finding out I had PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) as well as hypothyroidism in 2009, my husband and I saw a consultant about fertility treatments and I was put on Clomid. My first pregnancy was in June 2010, and I was so over the moon excited, I never dreamt anything could go wrong. Unfortunately, it was an ectopic pregnancy and I had to have emergency surgery to remove my right fallopian tube as I was dangerously ill. I fell pregnant exactly a year later, slightly more cautious after the ectopic but still hopeful. When the signs were there that the pregnancy was failing, the doctors suspected a second ectopic and in order to prevent another surgery I had to take a drug called methotrexate that is normally used for patients undergoing chemotherapy. This experience floored me and I couldn’t consider trying naturally for a baby again.
We went through one round of IVF in 2012 which again resulted in a miscarriage at 7 weeks. Now suspecting something seriously amiss, I saw a very well-renowned consultant. He diagnosed me with an autoimmune disease and was confident he could help my husband and I achieve our goal of having a baby. We tried two more rounds of IVF in 2013 and 2014, got further than we’d ever been in terms of gestation but sadly lost the babies. We were determined to give it one last go before looking at alternatives, so I was put on a very aggressive immunotherapy protocol.
I fell pregnant through IVF in October 2015, but convinced myself that it wasn’t going to work.
I couldn’t enjoy the pregnancy, convinced that any day now I would have that inevitable bleeding and pain, and all the hopes and dreams would disappear once again.
In fact, I was in such complete denial that despite barely fitting into my normal clothes anymore I refused to buy maternity clothes at 16 weeks pregnant, and my mother-in-law eventually bought me some. My husband and I announced the pregnancy at 20 weeks, but even then I was so sure I would have to retract the announcement shortly afterwards. I was terrified. When baby started moving and I could see my tummy moving up and down, only then did I really believe I was pregnant and was going to have this baby. I did have a scare at 33 weeks where I had threatened pre-term labour signs but was hospitalised overnight for observation and all was fine. It was a shock, but at that stage I was slightly reassured that had baby been born then, there was a good chance of full recovery, although there may have been a few weeks in NICU.
Finally, after 6 years of trying, 4 rounds of IVF and 6 miscarriages, our daughter Evelyn Francesca Victoria Arico was born in June 2016. Although this was a twin pregnancy, I sadly lost the smaller twin at 8 weeks gestation, but Evie carried on growing healthily and was born by natural breech delivery the day before her due date. To say that we sometimes feel like this is a dream is an understatement. There are times when both my husband and I will sit and stare at Evie, our beautiful rainbow baby, and swear that someone is going to come along and say “OK you’ve both had her for long enough. Time to give her back.” We can’t imagine our lives before her.