We were made to feel like there was nothing that could be done

Kirsty and Paul from Preston had 3 miscarriages before they were referred to the Tommy’s National Centre for Miscarriage Research at Birmingham Women’s Hospital. In January 2019, Kirsty gave birth to Alice Ivy.

Paul and I got married in December 2014. We always knew we wanted a family; it was just a matter of when. Little did we know how difficult this would be for us. It’s such a huge decision to start trying for a baby, and for us this was in the winter of 2015. We first fell pregnant in January 2016. Our journey through recurrent miscarriage began shortly afterwards.

Questions ran through our mind

We lost our first baby in February 2016. I asked myself so many questions. Was there something wrong with me? Was it because I’d travelled on an aeroplane before knowing I was pregnant? Was there something wrong with the baby? Had I spent too much time at work instead of resting? Had I carried something too heavy? Was it because I had an internal scan to try and provide reassurance when I had spotting? Should we have done something differently?

Then came the questions about how to deal with losing our baby. Should we tell people about it? Do we do something to remember our baby by? How do our parents, our baby’s grandparents, feel? Will elderly relatives get to meet our baby? Am I allowed to be this upset? Will people see our baby as a person that we are allowed to grieve? Why can’t the doctors do anything? What if it happens again? How do I best deal with being around friends and family members and their new babies? Have I let people down? Are we still a Mummy and Daddy? How will we be ready to try again?

I fell pregnant again in July 2016. I went to see the GP who confirmed the pregnancy. They were very sympathetic but couldn’t do anything to help ease my anxiety. We lost our second baby soon after. All the same questions went around my head again and again. We needed time to heal before trying again.

More heartbreak

Our third baby would have been due in early December 2017 but, instead, we had our third and most painful loss in May 2017. We had already had a private early scan where we saw a heartbeat but a week later, I began to bleed lightly. It took 4 days for the hospital to book me in for a scan. We saw our little baby and its heartbeat, but we were also told about an area of bleeding and advised to go day by day and hope for the best.

Almost 2 weeks passed, and I woke with heavier bleeding. I rang the hospital and with it being a Friday I was told to wait until Monday and insensitively reminded that an appointment and scan at the early pregnancy unit will not change the outcome if I was having a miscarriage. We lost our baby over the weekend and attended the hospital on the Sunday and Monday. We still talk about ‘the room’, the room we sat in many times, the room just next door to where other parents sit excitedly sharing scan photos, wondering if there could be more appropriate, more sensitive arrangements.

I felt devastated as I was handed a form asking permission to cremate our baby. I couldn’t believe there wasn’t any support in place to help us to recognise and remember our baby.

With this loss came the added trauma of the hospital misplacing our baby who was insensitively referred to as ‘tissue’. They also misplaced my blood samples and were therefore unable to carry out the limited local tests available to us. I was offered bereavement counselling with a midwife at our local hospital, but this wasn’t what I needed, I needed answers.

Accessing support

After our third miscarriage, I almost felt relief. I’d now lost 3 babies, the ‘magic number’. We eventually got an appointment through to see a specialist at the recurrent miscarriage clinic.

We left our appointment feeling disappointed and frustrated. It all felt rushed, like miscarriage is just one of those things, like nothing could be done, like we just needed to keep trying.

We still had no answers. It was through my many hours of searching the internet that I discovered Tommy’s. I booked an appointment with my GP and took all the clinic referral information from the Tommy’s website with me. They hadn’t heard of Tommy’s National Centre for Miscarriage Research but made the referral for us.

Tommy’s gave us hope

Our first appointment at the Tommy’s National Centre for Miscarriage Research at Birmingham Women’s Hospital was booked in for July 2016. The long drive down the M6 is bad at the best of times, but it was so worth it.

We were met with a very warm welcome, the Tommy’s clinic staff demonstrated such kindness and knew exactly what to say. They seemed to understand how we felt and didn’t diminish what we’d been through. Over the next 2 months, I had several blood tests including diagnostic tests for lupus, antibodies, thyroid functions and Rubella. I was also offered a 3D ultrasound scan. These specialist tests and procedures were not offered to me at my local hospital.

I found out that I had a septate womb, a small wall of muscle was splitting the space in my uterus in 2. I learnt that significantly increased my risk of first trimester loss. In December 2017, I had surgery with Professor Clark who removed a septum in my uterus.

Tommy’s offered us early reassurance scans in our next pregnancy and gave me a prescription for progesterone. They gave us hope for the first time in a very long time. 

In fact, Tommy’s gave us much more than hope: they gave us our rainbow baby. In January 2019 Alice Ivy entered the world. We will always remember our babies we weren’t able to meet and every year as a family we hope to hold an event to raise awareness and funds for Tommy’s as a thank you and to help give other families hope.

I support the Tommy’s Big Give Campaign because the care we accessed through the Tommy’s National Centre of Miscarriage Research should be available to all women across the country. Miscarriage care needs to improve for everyone, no matter where they live or what they’ve been through.