My miscarriages made me feel like a complete failure as a woman

Danielle from Peterborough had had 3 recurrent miscarriages before being referred to the Tommy’s National Centre for Miscarriage Research. Whilst undergoing treatment, she lost another 2 babies before becoming pregnant for the sixth time. Danielle and her fiancé Ed are currently 21 weeks pregnant and their baby is due in March in 2020. This is Danielle’s story.

My journey through baby loss began around 4 years ago when I had my first miscarriage. It was a whirlwind of emotions, as there was not a lot of time between finding out I was pregnant to losing the baby.

Total darkness

I felt so upset and prayed that it wouldn’t happen again. Unfortunately, it did a couple of months later. After experiencing some bleeding at around 6 weeks, I had an ultrasound scan and the Early Pregnancy Unit at my local hospital.

The scan showed my empty womb, total darkness. I was devastated.

I started to shut myself down. I didn’t know how to cope with my grief and was diagnosed with depression. My relationship at the time took a hit and we ended up going our separate ways.

My silver lining

They say every cloud has a silver lining and mine came in the form of my fiancée, Ed. He really picked me up when I was down, and I will forever be grateful to him. I got myself back on track and built myself up again.

Ed and I had been friends for a number of years, and he knew what I had been through, so I didn’t have to go over everything with him. At the back of my mind, I was worried about what our future might look like, especially as Ed has two lovely little girls himself. The thought that I possibly couldn’t give him what another woman could killed me a little inside.

 The fact I couldn’t do the thing my body was made to do made me feel like a complete failure as a woman.

More heartbreak

Unfortunately, Ed and I suffered our first loss together quite unexpectedly. The pregnancy wasn’t planned but we were obviously delighted. However, our happiness was short lived because, at 6 weeks gestation, I started to miscarry again. Now I’d lost 3 babies, I was eligible for recurrent miscarriage support and I found some comfort in that.

When I went to see my GP, he seemed uncertain about how to make a referral. He sent me on my way and told me that he’d give me a call once he’d found out. Eventually, I was referred to a recurrent miscarriage clinic at our local hospital.

Before our appointment, Ed and I had to sit in a waiting room full of pregnant women, it was so insensitive. The appointment itself was very disappointing. The consultant commented on the fact I was still young and told us to keep trying. He implied that our loss was ‘just one of those things’. I had some blood tests done before we left. I received a letter a week later confirming the results were all clear and that I’d been discharged from the clinic.

Tommy’s gave me hope

I felt completely lost and desperately needed answers. I posted on a couple of baby loss forums and came across the work of Tommy’s. I booked another appointment with my GP and asked him to refer me to the Tommy’s National Centre for Miscarriage Research at Birmingham Women’s Hospital. Soon after, I got a letter confirming my appointment. Unfortunately, whilst I was waiting for my appointment, we had another miscarriage.

This was my fourth loss. This time we didn’t even bother contacting the hospital, we just added this to our list of things to discuss with the Tommy’s specialists.

Our appointment day arrived, and we met with a very warm welcome by Dr Craciunas. He asked lots of questions and listened to us tell our story. He apologised for what had happened to us and told us that there was hope for us, it was music to our ears.

It was such a relief to find someone who actually wanted to help. We felt so disappointed and dismissed by the miscarriage care we had received up until then. I felt hopeful for the first time.

I was booked in for several tests including specialist blood tests and a detailed scan of the structure of my uterus. The results came back all clear. Dr Craciunas asked us if we would consider participating in a Tommy’s research trial. He explained that this would help us to access cutting-edge treatments. While I was waiting for my first trial to begin, I fell pregnant again and had my fifth miscarriage.

Embarking on a research trial

After taking some time to heal, we decided to continue with our plan to take part in a research trial. Dr Craciunas explained that he was working on a project examining the lining of the womb. As part of this trial, he would take a small biopsy from the lining of my womb in a procedure called an ‘endometrial scratch’.  

Before this could take place, I had a scan so they could make sure that the lining of my womb was at the right thickness for the best results. However, the scan showed that the lining was very thin. We proceeded with the scratch, but Dr Craciunas asked to us to come back the following month so he could monitor the situation. We returned a month later and discovered this wasn’t a one off – it was a pattern.

I was prescribed medication to try and thicken my womb lining, but unfortunately it didn’t work. I was absolutely devastated; our hopes were crushed all over again. 

The words we needed to hear

I didn’t know where to turn. I had an appointment with Dr Craciunas and I went in feeling totally hopeless. I’ll never forget the moment he turned to us and said, “Danielle and Edward, we will not be giving up on you”. These were the exact words we needed to hear.

A couple of days later I received an email containing a 6-month plan. This plan involved trying a mixture of different hormones to try and thicken the lining of my womb. We finally dared to hope again.

Hope and heartache

During the first weekend in July, Ed and I had a wonderful mini break in London. During this special weekend, Ed proposed. Obviously, I said yes! For a while everything else that had been going on didn’t matter, we were in our own little bubble. That bubble was popped when we got a positive pregnancy test a few days later.

We were past being excited when we saw those 2 lines, all we now felt was heartache of what could happen again. Even our families couldn’t bear to get excited anymore and we only shared our news with as few people as possible.

However, the weeks started to pass us by. At an early scan we saw a little blob with a flickering heartbeat. At 9 weeks severe morning sickness started. At 12 weeks we had a scan that showed a little baby growing perfectly. 

We are forever grateful to Tommy’s and Dr Craciunas for not giving up on us, for pushing to find answers and for letting us be included in with their trials and treatments. Without them we wouldn’t be in the position we are today with a growing bump ready to pop in March 2020.

We were lucky because we were able to access the amazing care offered by staff at Tommy’s specialist miscarriage clinic. I feel like they gave me hope and determination when I was running out of it. I believe that miscarriage care across the country needs to improve so that people can hold on to hope when all hope is lost.