Taking part in a research trial gave us hope after 3 heart-breaking miscarriages

After giving birth to her son Noah in 2012, Faye and her husband Dean had 3 miscarriages. In 2015, Faye took part in the PRISM trial led by researchers at Tommy’s National Centre for Miscarriage Research. Her daughter Leila was born in 2016.

Dean and I started trying for a baby soon after we married, and we were over the moon when I fell pregnant in February 2012. I loved being pregnant and everything went smoothly. I was aware of the miscarriage risk but never really considered we wouldn’t be okay. Our son Noah was born in November.

Our first loss

It was 18 months later when we started trying again. In July 2014 I found out I was pregnant again, but a week after getting our positive pregnancy test, I started bleeding. I went to my GP expecting them to do something. They just said we’d need to wait and see, but I was likely miscarrying.

I went back to work, but the bleeding got worse. I struggled emotionally with the whole process; I was very upset. I felt silly for being that upset, like I had no right because I hadn’t been pregnant for that long.

“Miscarriage is the loss of a dream and all those thoughts of what your child might be like.”

Pregnant again

I found out I was pregnant again in November 2014. I was pleased but on edge as I worried the same thing would happen again. Unfortunately, it did.

I started bleeding at around 8 weeks, and I was devastated. A scan showed our baby was measuring small, they thought my dates might be wrong and asked us to come back in a week. It was a week of incredible worry and, deep down, I knew the news wouldn’t be good.

When we returned for our second scan, the baby had grown but was still measuring too small for my dates, so we had to wait another week. When there was no heartbeat at the third scan it was confirmed that I’d had yet another miscarriage. I opted for medical management and was sent home to wait for the inevitable.

This all happened just before Christmas, but we still tried our hardest to make it a happy one for Noah. I thought it was all over, but a couple of days after Christmas I began bleeding very heavily again. From then, things are a bit of a blur. My husband called an ambulance because I was bleeding so much. I spent a night in hospital and ended up having surgical management because they were concerned about my heavy blood loss. The experience was very traumatic.

I began wondering what was wrong with me and started to feel overwhelming guilt. Over the next few months it felt like everyone around me was announcing pregnancies or having babies. I felt so angry and jealous, then guilty that I felt this way.

Some people dismiss early miscarriages, perhaps through lack of understanding or just trying to make you feel better - "it's not really a baby yet", "it wasn't meant to be"  - but as soon as you know you're pregnant you imagine that baby's entire life ahead. All I could think about throughout this time was pregnancy and babies. We were so grateful to have our gorgeous Noah, but desperately wanted a second child.

More fear than anticipation

In May 2015, I became pregnant again, but I was more scared than excited. At around 6 weeks, I started bleeding and I knew it was happening again. It was upsetting but, at least, after 3 miscarriages I felt I might get some answers.

I went to my GP who referred us to the recurrent miscarriage clinic at our local hospital. The staff there were amazing, and I had various tests to check for abnormalities. When the results came back clear I was conflicted, you half want everything to be fine, but the other half is looking for an explanation.

Hope after heartbreak

I became pregnant again in August 2015. I had some bleeding early on and assumed the worst, but at an early scan the sonographer found a little fluttering heartbeat. It was an incredible feeling finally hearing that longed-for heartbeat.

Somehow this pregnancy just felt different, but I pushed that feeling to the back of my mind to protect myself from any more heartbreak. I took part in the PRISM trial at my local hospital. This trial, led by researchers at Tommy’s National Centre for Miscarriage Research, was testing whether progesterone can prevent miscarriage for women with experience of recurrent miscarriage and bleeding in early pregnancy. I had to insert 2 progesterone pessaries a day up to 16 weeks. I had lots of scans which were reassuring each time but didn’t stop the overall worry.

This pregnancy was so tough emotionally - very different to when I was pregnant with Noah. I couldn't relax and felt constantly terrified that something would go wrong. At every scan we were shocked and delighted to see that little baby growing bigger and stronger.

In May 2016, Leila finally arrived and our family was complete. I was delighted, relieved and mentally exhausted. We gave her the middle name 'Iris' as it means rainbow - she is our rainbow baby, arriving after the storm of those miscarriages. We couldn't believe she was finally here - we felt, and still feel, truly blessed.

Reflecting on the PRISM trial

I experienced 3 heart-breaking miscarriages before the PRISM trial. My husband and I had got to the point where we were devastated and lost. The trial helped us to feel we were doing something positive and gave us hope that the outcome could be different.

The personal impact of miscarriage can be long term and far reaching. It’s clear that providing progesterone to those at risk would not only have significant benefits for women and their families, but also for the NHS.