Tommy's guest blog by Laura 03/10/2018
Having my first baby was so straightforward. My husband and I decided we wanted to start a family and it wasn’t long before I was pregnant. My pregnancy was text book and I had a healthy baby girl in May 2013, she was perfect. I always knew I wanted two children, so when our daughter turned 3 we were ready for another baby. I was so naïve, I just assumed it would be just as easy second time around. How wrong I was.
We fell pregnant straight away, just as we did first time around and I was so happy. But 5 weeks in I started bleeding. I left work early and called my local early pregnancy unit (EPU) who told me to see how it went overnight and to come in to A&E if it got worse. I was still bleeding the next day, so I called my parents.
I’ll never forget making that phone call, saying, “Mum, I think I’m having a miscarriage.”
After a trip to the (EPU) they confirmed that my pregnancy test was negative, and I was miscarrying. I felt sad and disappointed, but I knew the stats, 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage, it happens so often that it wasn’t surprising it had happened to me.
I picked myself up really quickly, we tried again straight away, and I fell pregnant again the very next month. But the same happened again. 5 weeks in I started bleeding again. I was crushed. I knew what it meant, and I couldn’t understand how it could happen again to us. What was going wrong? The second miscarriage hit me so much harder, emotionally and physically. I felt sure something wasn’t right, so I went to see my GP. She was very kind but said that it was just nature’s way and that I’d need to have a third miscarriage to be referred for further investigation. I was so disappointed.
I spent hours searching on the internet for potential reasons for miscarriage, second guessing my body and what it was doing, driving myself mad with “what ifs” and “maybes”.
A few months later we gathered the strength to try and again, and I had a third miscarriage at 6 weeks. It sounds awful, but I barely remember the third one. I just felt numb. I knew the drill, no point calling anyone, I just had to go through the emotional and physical pain until my baby was gone. Miscarriage is such a lonely experience. Don’t get me wrong, I have the most wonderfully supportive husband and family, they were there for me every step of the way, but it’s your body, your pain, your hormones, your baby. No one else can take it away. It’s personal and heart-breaking, and so very lonely.
I started to lose hope that we’d ever have another baby. I was desperate for our daughter to have a brother or sister. She was growing up fast and I wanted her to have someone to play with, giggle with, get up to no good with. The thought of her missing out on that was by far the hardest thing for me. But, after a third miscarriage I could be referred, so maybe that would help.
By the time our appointment came through at the Tommy's Research Centre in Coventry I’d had a fourth early miscarriage. I was exhausted and hopeless, but something changed that day. The Tommy's team gave me hope again.
They told us about some blood tests they would run and various medical trials that I might be eligible for depending on the results. They couldn’t promise us a baby, but they promised us that they would support us in the rest of our journey and they’d do everything they could for us. It felt like a weight had lifted. Like finally, someone was listening to us and that we might just have that baby we so desperately wanted after all.
There was another blow to come. My blood tests showed I have inherited Thrombophilia, a blood clotting disease that I had no idea I had. It was a bitter sweet result. I was scared of what that meant for me, my family, and any future pregnancies, but it also meant I was eligible for one of the medical trials Tommy's run called Alife2. The trial gave me the chance to take a daily dose of Clexane, a blood thinning drug that can help prevent clots, and potentially, early miscarriage. The team told me to come back to them as soon as I was pregnant again, which took another six months, but as soon as I got that positive test I called them up and was seen the next day.
From that moment on it was an entirely different experience. We weren’t on our own, we had a whole team of people on standby to support us however they could.
I was given fortnightly scans and the midwife who looked after me came with me each time to hold my hand. They kept a close eye on me, we talked all the time and they were there to keep me positive, keep me sane.
As the weeks ticked by it all felt so surreal, I was pregnant, and my baby was doing well. Each day felt like a marathon, getting through it without any complications was one step closer to meeting our baby. It was the longest nine months of our lives, but finally on 27 December 2017 our baby girl was born, 7lbs 14oz and the spitting image of her big sister. She was the best Christmas present any of us could have wished for, and the missing piece to our family which now feels complete.
The Alife2 trial continues to run, and until the results are released we won’t know whether the Clexane is proved to reduce recurrent miscarriage or whether it was just our time.
One thing is for sure though, I’m not sure our little girl would be here with us today if it weren’t for Tommy's. They gave us the hope and strength to try again, and get through each long, nerve wracking day of pregnancy. The work they do to research baby loss and support families along the way is invaluable and really does change lives. I will be forever grateful to them for all their medical knowledge and care and support, and of course, for our precious girl.