Love after loss

Amy, 34, and husband Darren, 39, had ‘miracles’ Bethanie, 11, and Alfie, 8, after being told they were unlikely to have children. They then lost two daughters, Hope and Missie-Mai, both born too soon. Thanks to the Tommy’s supported clinic at University Hospital Coventry, they have now added Noah, 3, and Nancie, 1, to their family.

Tommy's guest blog by Amy Morris, 10/10/2018

We were told we would never have children. I was too young for IVF so they put me on fertility tablets, it wasn’t until I stopped taking them that I fell pregnant, it was a miracle.

From the day I discovered I was pregnant, I bled on-and-off, then Bethanie was induced at 30 weeks after I contracted an infection and group B strep. It was a very worrying time but she came through it.

When we decided to try again I fell pregnant straight away and went full term before Alfie arrived. At that point, because of our fertility problems, I felt so lucky, like we’d beat the odds.

Later a routine smear revealed pre-cancerous cells so I had an operation to remove part of my cervix, but the consultant assured me an incompetent cervix wouldn’t affect future pregnancies.

We wanted another child and Alfie was three when I fell pregnant, it was horrendous from the start.

At nine weeks I was at home when I started to bleed, I lost two litres, it was terrifying. I thought I was dying. When the paramedics came we all thought I’d lost the baby but, at hospital, a scan showed she was still there. I was relieved, but scared, because nobody could explain why it had happened.

I started taking iron tablets, gradually feeling better, but at 21 weeks I just didn’t feel right. At hospital they found baby’s heartbeat was fine but an internal showed I was 2cm dilated, I was so scared and confused.

Two days later I had an emergency stitch in my cervix but it only held for a week before I woke at 4am, bleeding and in pain.

An ambulance delivered me to hospital where they removed the stitch and, after 36 hours of labour, I delivered our daughter at 22+5 weeks. Warwick Hospital weren’t willing to do anything before her because she was so early.

I can’t tell you exactly how long Hope was alive, I’ve blocked it out, but I know it was over an hour, the longest and shortest hour of my life.

I stayed with her overnight before a bereavement midwife came and took her away and I’m so glad I had that precious time with Hope.

Funeral plans kept me focused but I felt pain like I never thought possible and it never goes away. You don’t think that grief can actually physically hurt you but my chest ached.

I found talking about Hope helped but my husband couldn’t and still can’t. We did talk a lot about trying again.

I fell pregnant with Missie-Mai in January 2013 and I was terrified, once you’ve lost a child a positive pregnancy test brings no joy.

I had a stitch put in at 11 weeks and was referred to Professor Quenby at University Hospital Coventry. Hope died because of my incompetent cervix and an infection so I asked for antibiotics throughout my pregnancy but it was explained that could do more harm than good.

Everything went well, I had fortnightly scans at first, then every week, along with scans to measure the length of my cervix which, at 23 weeks, had shortened to just beyond my stitch so I was admitted for bed rest.

After two weeks, at 25+2 weeks, I was in labour. I had injections for baby’s lungs then delivered our daughter.

Missie-Mai was on the neonatal unit for seven weeks, her lungs kept collapsing and she had infections, but she kept fighting. After two weeks we all relaxed a little, but then, around six weeks, it all went downhill.

We received a phone call in the middle of the night to say she’d dislodged her tube and they were struggling to reintubate. She was given nitric acid, steroids, but nothing helped. She passed away on the 10th of July and I was devastated. I just didn’t think I could get through that pain, that grief again. It was unbearable, it still is.

That was my lowest point, I didn’t feel I could try again. I struggled just to get through days, to breathe in and out, I just wanted to be with my lost babies.

We talked a lot and I met with Tommy's Professor Quenby before deciding whether to try again, she promised it would be different this time.

I fell pregnant quickly and had a stitch, then antibiotics through the whole pregnancy. At 38 weeks I was induced and, after a quick labour, Noah arrived and it was amazing.

We didn’t really plan our fourth child but the pregnancy went well. I had antibiotics throughout, a stitch at 11 weeks and they measured the length of my cervix every week from 18 weeks. It got shorter and shorter until, at 24 weeks, I was on bed rest but it meant being in the same room where I’d had Missie-Mai and, unable to cope, I discharged myself.

Two weeks later my cervix was critically short so I was admitted, on the Tuesday I felt I’d got an infection and by Friday my markers were so high they delivered Nancie at 28+2 weeks.

She was in hospital for nine weeks but got better day-by-day and we were transferred back to Warwick for the final 5 weeks before bringing her home.

That day, when I knew my family was complete, the anxiety started. It took a huge toll and I was referred to the perinatal psychiatric team at Warwick. I suffered panic attacks, feared I was dying, feared something bad would happen to the kids. It was all a delayed reaction to my grief and I’ve now, also, been diagnosed with post-natal NPSD.

But I’m getting help and, though not yet at a peaceful place, feel hopeful.

Professor Quenby has meant the world to me, I love her because she listens to you. Though high-up in her field, she never makes you feel like she knows best, I knew she cared and I trusted her.

If it wasn’t for Professor Quenby, for her clinic and the work Tommy’s does, I wouldn’t have Noah and Nancie. They really made our dreams come true.