by Alex Richards
I never really remember all the dates of my miscarriages, it’s like my brain doesn’t want to hold on to them, to spare me the pain.
I didn’t know I was pregnant the first time. I was having abdominal pain which my GP thought might be ovarian cysts. But my sister, an obstetrics and gynaecology consultant, suggested I took a pregnancy test and it was positive. I was placed under the care of the EPU and they took blood to monitor my pregnancy hormone.
I went on to miscarry at around five or six weeks but, because I hadn’t really known I was pregnant, I felt quite resilient about it. If anything, I was relieved to know I could get pregnant.
The second time I conceived I was under the care of the EPU straight away. I was feeling quite positive and happy, but then I got a call from my consultant to say they were concerned about my bloods, the pregnancy hormones weren’t as high as they should be.
I went in for a scan and they couldn’t see anything.
They thought it might be an ectopic pregnancy and talked us through our options. We could leave it and see if I miscarried naturally but, they warned, if the pregnancy continued it could lead to surgery and may mean them removing one of my tubes.
I was quite young and really wanted children so I chose an injection to end the pregnancy. It was such a difficult decision. My sister was pregnant and waiting to be induced. The day she delivered my niece, I was at home recovering. It was a tough time, especially as they told me I couldn’t fall pregnant for at least six months.
We started to worry and the hospital carried out tests and told us about some of the interventions that can help with recurrent miscarriage, like taking aspirin and heparin injections.
When I fell pregnant again I had a very early scan, then at 6.5 weeks another when we heard a heartbeat. Two weeks later another scan showed a heartbeat but there had been no growth.
At first I didn’t really understand. That heartbeat gave me hope, but they made it clear at my next scan that I would almost certainly miscarry. I was devastated.
When you’ve seen a heartbeat it makes it all feel so real and you dare to hope and dream.
We were both bereft, grieving. We’d imagined what it would be like to have this baby and we struggled with the loss emotionally and felt scared about the future. All we could do was spend some time healing and hopefully find the courage to try again. We took our time, but by December 2010 I was pregnant again.
An early scan showed a heartbeat and I started injecting heparin. It was early in the New Year when they told us that, again, the pregnancy wasn’t developing as it should, and I started to bleed soon after.
The hospital asked me to keep what I passed for testing which was pretty horrendous. I’d always miscarried naturally, at home, and I’d tried not to pay too much attention to what was happening physically. This time I had to confront it but I felt compelled because, hopefully, tests would give us the answers we so desperately needed.
By 2014, we hadn’t had another positive pregnancy test so we requested an appointment with a fertility consultant. Tests all came back fine but, conscious of our ages, they started us on IUI. Three attempts failed, so we decided to go for IVF. Just before our first appointment I fell pregnant, but, a couple of days later I started to bleed and miscarried again.
We started IVF in October 2015 and I fell pregnant first time and we felt hopeful.
It was the week before Christmas when I learnt I was pregnant but, at a scan on January 4th, there was no heartbeat. They told me to return in a week, just to be sure. I’d had strong pregnancy symptoms and felt quite ill which, for me, was really exciting because it felt like everything was as it should be. To be told there was no heartbeat, left us completely floored.
A second scan confirmed our fears and the consultant discussed our options. I’d usually miscarried naturally but this time my body wasn’t willing to let go. I couldn’t face still being technically pregnant but with no hope for the pregnancy, we couldn’t grieve and move on, so I had a D&C on January 13th.
Our consultant didn’t want to keep putting us through the strain of IVF without looking at all possible early miscarriage interventions. We’re now due to see a specialist in natural killer cells. We want to try every medical avenue possible so that whatever happens, we’ll have no regrets.
Research is the key.
That’s why I believe Tommy’s work is so important. The medical professionals have told us that nobody really knows why recurrent miscarriage occurs and yet it affects so many women. Tommy’s is trying to find answers and I hope that their work means that my younger sister and nieces won’t go through this pain and loss.
My sister works at Birmingham Women’s Hospital where Tommy’s new research centre will be. I think it must be so hard for doctors, desperate to help these women suffering repeated loss. They’re committed to finding answers and Tommy’s is helping them to do that.