My story starts at the age of 18. Young and not aware of the affect of antibiotics on the pill, I fell pregnant. My partner (now ex) was my first boyfriend, we had been together for 18 months. The timing was not ideal, but we were happy, despite being at college and young.
I never really knew of miscarriage, it was a thing that I'd heard my Aunt talk of once, something that (I thought) never happened often. I was nearly 9 weeks, still going to my classes as normal, when I started getting pain that got increasingly worse. My lecturer (who knew my situation) contacted the hospital. At this point, I wasn't bleeding, just severely in pain, to the point I couldn't focus on much else.
I was taken straight to A&E, followed shortly by my partner and Mum. I had bloods done, internal checks, all of which seemed fine. The hospital couldn't scan me until the morning but in the back of my mind, miscarriage was still something that happened to other people and that my baby would be fine.
But the next day there was no baby, just an empty sack. The scan showed I had a 'blighted ovum'. I was told that sometimes 'these things happen'. I was offered 3 options; have an operation to remove the sack, take a pill to induce abortion, or to wait for nature to take its course... I chose the latter.
Still numb, I returned home, still not really understanding what had happened. I took to the internet in the days following, learned more of miscarriages and how they occur. I was shocked that it happens so much, and that there was different types. I came across a blogger who had been misdiagnosed with a blighted ovum twice over, and went on to have healthy babies.
I convinced myself this had also happened to me, the hospital has got it wrong and that the baby must be hiding
I went on for weeks thinking this, I even broke the 'I'm pregnant' news to friends like nothing had happened, complete denial. Mum asked me nearly every day if I had started to bleed as they hospital advised I would eventually do. Angrily I replied with NO. I reached nearly 13 weeks when the bleeding started, the pain was horrendous, but not worse than the hole in my heart. I felt foolish for thinking the hospital had made a mistake, foolish for telling friends, foolish for thinking that I could be a mother at 18. I took myself back to the hospital and asked for the operation, I wanted it to all be over. I was booked in a few days later.
The weeks following the surgery were a blur. I felt empty. I had people saying to me; 'Well it wasn't planned, maybe it's for the best.' and 'You can always try again in the future, at least you know you can get pregnant.' The worst one, 'Least the baby died really early and you didn't know about it, it was just a bunch of cells really.' That one hurt the most. I thought I was going to be a Mummy, not and empty shell.
My ex and I decided to try again after a month or so. We didn't tell any friends or family as we didn't want them to judge us for being young. I quit college, got a job and a place of our own. Everyone thought I was getting on with things but in my mind I was lost. I cried nearly every day, I even had thoughts of suicide, but I kept it bottled. The only thing that kept me going was the thought of getting pregnant again. But 18 month later, no baby. I was convinced something had gone wrong during the surgery. So we got a referral to the fertility clinic. Still, none of our friends and family (or my ex) knew the turmoil I was in.
All our results came back fine, there was no reason why I couldn't get pregnant
You'd think this would be great news, but in fact it was the worst. I started thinking the universe was against me, that God didn't think I was worthy enough of being a mother. My depression hit a new low. We stopped trying after the clinic, I gave up hope. I started to close down and tensions between me and my ex became too much we split.
On numerous occasions, I wrote out suicide notes to my family, opened up all the tablets and would start to take one by one. I would then come over with guilt and sorrow for my family I'd rush off to the toilet to make myself sick. This went on for months. I never confided in anyone about how I felt. On the outside I pretended I was fine but inside I was dying.
My mood started to lift when my work gave me something to focus on. They offered me further training to get a degree. I would do coursework throughout the year, then go off to Uni to study traditionally for a few weeks in the year, with no student debt. The opportunity was great and I'd missed the Uni life. I met a bloke and we got along great. We started seeing each other, but it wasn't serious. More of a fling really.
I realised I was pregnant again. I couldn't believe it. I was overwhelmed with excitement, I didn't care I wasn't in a proper relationship. I did tell him, he wasn't interested, but that was fine, I was finally going to be a Mum!
I estimated I was around 5 weeks. But at 6 weeks I started to bleed. My heart sank yet again. Only one friend knew about my pregnancy, she came with me to the clinic. They took bloods but they could tell from the results I was going to miscarry. I left the hospital again feeling the same sick feeling and upset I had done a couple years earlier. I felt I couldn't tell anyone else. I didn't want them to know I got pregnant during a fling, nor did I want the comments like I had received first time round.
With exams looming and work to continue with, I threw myself back into it all. I didn't want to let myself fall into the pit as I did before, I convinced myself 'it was meant to be'
After my degree, I met my husband. I fell head over heals for him instantly. He seemed to take away all those negative thoughts and feelings I'd had for the last 4 years. For the first time, I spoke in detail about my miscarriages and how they'd made me feel. He was supportive but shocked that I'd isolated myself and kept things so secretive.
We married 2 years after and decided we would try for baby immediately after. Remembering my time after the first miscarriage, I didn't want to put too much pressure on us. I didn't buy tests, tried not to do the math, but 6 months in I could feel my frustration building, especially when everyone around us seemed to get pregnant at once!
I went straight to the shop and stocked up on ovulation sticks and upped my game. After 3 months, it worked. I was pregnant again. But this time I found it very hard to get excited. My husband was overjoyed, he tried to understand but he hadn't been through what I had. I called the doctor and cried and pleaded to send me to a specialist to make sure it didn't happen again, but the answer was no.
My husband could see how much the stress was getting to me, he told me to tell my parents we were pregnant and confide in my Mum for extra support.
My parents were delighted I was pregnant, and the extra support was a huge help. My husband also booked a private scan for us for the following fortnight for reassurance. But unfortunately we didn't reach that point. At 7 weeks I began to bleed again and was sent to the early pregnancy unit. They again told me from my blood results that my hormones were not high enough to support the pregnancy. I was sent home without a scan, without a hope, without my baby.
My husband was my rock. He held me tight, he made sure I was comfortable, he said all the right things. He was hurting too, but he knew for me the hurt ran much deeper
He knew a big part of me falling into depression previously was due to not being able to talk. He encouraged me to not be ashamed of miscarriage and to talk about our baby. For the first time in a long time, I felt the stigma of miscarriage leave the weight of my shoulders. I was grieving, and why should I hide it? If you lost a friend, would you arrange a secret funeral? Of course not, so why should I hide my hurt?
The next couple of months were still difficult. Although I felt better for talking, I was still suffering my 3rd miscarriage and watching most of my friends starting their families. Less than 6 months later, I got pregnant for the 4th time. We had taken a belated honeymoon and conceived while we were away. I again found it hard to be excited, my husband was even more understanding to my fears as he had now been through the miscarriage first hand. We badgered the doctors, they still refused to see me for reassurance. So we done the same as we did before and booked privately for a scan.
I could hardly breathe when at 7 weeks a began to bleed, again. I sat in the room at the early pregnancy unit a defeated woman, my HCG and progesterone levels were low, again. I begged the midwife to send me for a scan, I told her I couldn't take anymore pain.
I'm not sure what made her change her mind, but she fitted me in for a scan that day. I shuffled into the room and sobbed at the sonographer, I begged her to give me some hope. I think I nearly broke my husbands hand when I was lying there looking at the screen. The wand went over my belly, the sonographer zoomed in, there was our baby. As she zoomed in even closer, we seen a flicker, it was a heartbeat!
Our baby was fighting hard to hang on, but we were not out of the woods
Back at the clinic the midwife said we could still miscarry, but she was going to see one of the doctors could help me. Help me, in what way? The doctor agreed to put me on a hormonal drug called Cyclogest and to start on a small dose of aspirin. I was so happy somebody was on my side and finally. I took the tablets until 16 weeks until the placenta was fully formed and could take over the production of hormones that for some reason, my body was not producing.
I had terrible side effects as well as bad morning sickness. We had scans every week to check on the baby, each time I cried when I saw the heart beating. My little rainbow baby.
I'm now 39 weeks pregnant writing this, waiting for my little one to make an entrance. Throughout this pregnancy I've been through highs and lows, nervous and excited. But I have learned that miscarriage should in no way be brushed under the carpet. I'm now 26, I've had 8 years of hiding my story and my hurt.
Speak out against the stigma and the 'these things happen' explanation we get given from the hospital/doctors. I still do not know why I have suffered multiple losses, I was never offered testing. I'm grateful I was offered help at the beginning of this pregnancy, but I am still left wondering if I will be able to support a pregnancy unaided.