My hope, my heartbeat

I was broken-hearted. I was isolated. I felt like I was up against a wall. I kept pushing forward and I would not give up.

 A blog by Tami

My story 

I had no reason to think I might never have another child.

My story started fifteen years ago when I was pregnant with my now 14-year-old daughter. I wasn't nervous during my first pregnancy. If anything, I was oblivious to the fact that anything could possibly go wrong. It all went smoothly, and my daughter arrived perfectly on her due date with an uncomplicated, natural birth.

My daughter and I relocated to England so that my husband could continue his career as a doctor. Amidst all this change and growth, my husband and I chose to start trying to add to our family.

At 37 years and 38 years old, we weren't as young as we were when we had our first child. But somehow, this decision just felt right. At the time, I never would have thought the rest of my story would turn out the way it did.

Within the first month of living in England, I became pregnant.

No heartbeat

But then, at my 12-week scan on Christmas Eve, there was no heartbeat. Just like that, on Boxing Day, I was having surgery. Just 3 weeks later, I was pregnant again.

Again, that ended with the words ‘I’m sorry there is no heartbeat’.

I pushed the GP's to send me for testing. I wanted answers. I was devastated when they explained that I had to wait for 3 miscarriages before I could be referred.

I started exploring every other option I could: naturopathy, Chinese medicine, acupuncture. In addition to meeting with a private gynaecologist, I also met with Professor Siobhan Quenby from the Tommy’s National Centre for Miscarriage Research in Coventry.

Searching for answers

During this time, I experienced my third miscarriage. I was finally eligible for a referral to see a recurrent miscarriage specialist.  

After a uterine biopsy by Professor Quenby, I became pregnant and was put on steroids. My numbers looked good for my pregnancy. I felt pregnant. It was different this time- I knew it. 

Then came New Year's Eve. My day was going typically, nothing felt off. I attended an appointment for a routine scan. No heartbeat.

The following week I was admitted to the hospital to have a medically induced miscarriage.

Throughout it all, I desperately attempted to hide the pain of these losses from my daughter.

Seeking change

After my fourth miscarriage, I was extremely frustrated. I just wanted to go back to my hometown in Vancouver. My daughter and I took the long trip back. Once there, I went to an arranged an appointment with a specialist who recommended IVF.

After traveling back to England, my husband suggested that we all go back to Vancouver to live so that I could do IVF.

In January of 2015, my daughter and I finally had everything ready. We left England to move back to Vancouver. We arrived at my parent's home with all our belongings in a sea shipping container. My husband was scheduled to arrive on a prepaid flight at the end of the month to start IVF with me.

He didn't show up. He vanished from our lives in the middle of everything- just like that.

Moving forward

I decided to move forward with treatment- after all, I was in the middle of the IVF cycle, and I couldn't stop the cycle after starting medication.

The next three years were occupied with intense emotional turmoil.

I was broken-hearted. I was isolated. I felt like I was up against a wall.

Fourteen failed fertility cycles later, I was going on 7 years with the discovery of damaged fallopian tubes, ovarian cysts, early pending menopause, 2 more chemical pregnancies from IVF, an abnormal uterine biopsy, and countless more invasive tests and surgeries. I kept pushing forward. I would not give up

Eventually I reached 15th cycle: my very last embryo. I fell pregnant again and this time, at an early scan, I saw the heartbeat I had longed for. I was overjoyed- but scared, too. After everything, after all the challenges and pain and heartbreak- I didn't know what to expect.

Then came the bleeding. I bled all the way up until 12 weeks. I was convinced I was losing the baby.

Struggling to cope

I had hyperemesis gravidarum from 6 weeks until delivery.  Hyperemesis gravidarum is a condition which causes excessive sickness and vomiting in pregnancy. I was hospitalised and immediately signed off work.

Nothing seemed to help. I could barely function. I had severe Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and my ankles and feet started to swell. I also had an extremely high blood pressure and was advised to go back to the hospital as I was showing signs of pre-eclampsia.

At this point, I was 32 weeks pregnant. My blood tests were getting increasingly worrying and I was not coping with the sickness. The doctors managed to get me through a couple more days until almost 33 weeks. My health was declining rapidly.

A decision was made to have a c-section as the baby and I were both at significant risk.

 A rainbow after the storm 

My perfect rainbow baby Oliver Rhys was born at 4.5lbs and spent the next month in NICU. The nurses were extraordinary. He was carefully and lovingly taken care of as he experienced this new world much earlier than expected.

He was wanted and loved more than he could ever know.

He is the brightest shining light at the end of our tunnel of broken family, divorce, loss, pain and struggle. He is my hope. He is my heartbeat.