We were told we’d have to lose another baby before we could access specialist miscarriage care

After Rebecca and Lee from Bedfordshire had 2 heart-breaking miscarriages, the learnt they were not eligible for specialist miscarriage care unless they’d lost 3 babies. Rebecca is now 16 weeks pregnant and reflects on her journey.

Lee and I met in May 2016 and hit it off straight away. He moved in with me the following year and we started trying for a baby soon after. We found out we were pregnant in September 2017 and were absolutely delighted.

A long, distressing wait

At 5 weeks, I experienced a tiny bit of bleeding. We didn’t really know what to do so we went to A&E. The nurse told us that spotting can be perfectly normal in early pregnancy but arranged for us to have an appointment at the Early Pregnancy Unit at our local hospital.

At our appointment, I had to have an internal scan. After a long, distressing wait, they eventually found a tiny baby with a heartbeat measuring 6 weeks and 4 days. They also found a large cyst on my left ovary but told me it was nothing to worry about. I was booked in for another appointment 2 weeks later. 

In the lead up to the next appointment I became unwell with sickness. I had assumed that it was morning sickness and was happy to put up with it. I was also tired all the time but all the articles I read said this was perfectly normal during the first trimester.

The words no one wants to hear

The day of my 8 week scan came around and we were excited to see our baby again. We got to the scan room and I could see straight away that something was wrong from our nurse’s face. Then she said the heart-breaking words that nobody wants to hear, “unfortunately I cannot find a heartbeat”.

Lee and I were devastated and really appreciated the kindness of the nurses. We were told that the best course of action would be to go home and wait for the baby to pass naturally.

A week passed by and nothing had happened. I began to feel very unwell and the hospital arranged for me to have surgical management. The operation went well, and I went home that day. The one thing that struck me was that no one asked if I needed any support or additional help. I wasn’t given the option of talking to someone about what I’d been through.

It was so painful having to explain to our family, friends and colleagues what had happened. For me, the whole situation was made worse when people brushed off what we’d been through saying things like “oh well, it wasn’t meant to be”.

Not many people seemed to understand that the baby was part of me that had been taken away.

Feeling hopeful

After a couple of difficult months seeing doctors about my ovarian cyst and suspected endometriosis, Lee proposed to me. It was the biggest ring I’d ever seen. He wanted to prove to me that he was here for the long haul.

While I was waiting for surgery to get the cyst removed, I found out that I was pregnant again. The consultant told me that my cyst would not be an issue and referred me back to the Early Pregnancy Unit for monitoring.

We had our first scan at 6 weeks. When they found a heartbeat, I was absolutely over the moon. This time I decided to tell my work, so I did not have to hide my sickness. I was feeling hopeful and felt really well.

We were booked in for an 8 week scan and both felt petrified about it. Unfortunately, those painful words again came again, “there is no heartbeat”. This time I asked for an operation straight away. I did not want to wait like I did last time.

Pushed and pulled

I was booked in for surgery but, this time, everything seemed far more disorganised. When I arrived, I had to explain my situation all over again to a new doctor who seemed to have the wrong notes with him. Unfortunately, the day didn’t get any better. I felt like I was being pushed and pulled around and I didn’t sense any kindness or sensitivity from the busy staff.

A couple of days after the surgery, I started to experience pain and vomiting. I was admitted to the hospital and found out that I had picked up an infection from the surgery. I had to stay in the hospital overnight and ate my meals in a maternity ward full of pregnant mums and mums with little new-borns.

When I was discharged the following day, I asked for a sickness certificate for work as I’d been off longer than a week. This request was declined, and a nurse told me that I was physically fine to go back to work. No one seemed to acknowledge the intense grief and pain I was experiencing.

A broken heart

After our second loss, I struggled to leave the house. The happy person I once was had gone. I went to see my GP in the hope that I would find some answers and couldn’t believe I wasn’t eligible for support. I was told I would have to lose another baby before I could be referred for an appointment with a miscarriage specialist.

My doctor recommended talking therapy, but unfortunately there was a long waiting list. I ended up speaking to my boss at work. He was incredibly supportive and arranged for me to have some private sessions to talk to someone. It was the best thing for me at that time and, after 6 months, I felt like I was getting my life back together.

I also joined the Tommy’s online support group which is a space where people can talk about their experiences of baby loss. It meant the world to find a community of women who understood what I’d been through.

Hope after heartbreak

I found out I was pregnant again a couple of months ago. Lee and I feared for the worst when I started bleeding early in my pregnancy. I was offered progesterone at 6 weeks by my local Early Pregnancy unit. They gave me information produced by Tommy’s that showed that the PRISM trial demonstrated that progesterone is effective for women who have experienced early bleeding and recurrent miscarriage. I started the medication soon after.

I’ve now reached 16 weeks. I have been having weekly reassurance scans but have felt very anxious. We really hope it all works out this time.

I support the Tommy’s Big Give Christmas Campaign because I believe miscarriage care needs to improve. Women shouldn’t have to wait until they’ve had 3 miscarriages before they can access the help and support that they need. I had amazing care from at my Early Pregnancy Unit, and it made such a big difference at a really difficult time