By Claire Duggan
I fell pregnant for the first time in March 2009. I was cautious for the first 12 weeks especially as I had some early bleeding but my 12 week scan came and all looked well. I naively assumed I was out of any danger. On Fathers Day I arranged an early scan and told my husband we were expecting a baby boy. He was overjoyed. I watched my bump develop and waited for the 20 week scan. During this scan the sonographer mentioned that my baby boy was a bit small and that I needed to come back in a few weeks. I wasn’t really that worried. I assumed he took after my husband’s side and was going to be a shorty! I had a private scan booked for few days later and decided to ask them what they thought about his size.
She said the words I would hear many more times: "There's no heartbeat"
As soon as the sonographer put the wand on my tummy I knew something was wrong. My usually wriggly baby was still and I couldn’t see the reassuring flicker of the heartbeat on the screen. Then she said the words that I would hear many more times over the next five years, “I’m sorry, there’s no heartbeat”
I went into autopilot and called my husband Jason to collect me. To my horror I realised that I would actually have to go through labour and deliver my son. The process took two days and on 24 July 2009 my perfect, tiny boy Rory was born silently. I was in shock.
I went back to work four days after the delivery and tried to block out what I was feeling and focus on moving forward.
I woke with a start and knew my son had gone. Maybe it was instinct.
I fell pregnant again six weeks after losing Rory but miscarried at six weeks. Then I immediately fell pregnant again. This time I was on a carefully planned drug regime. Tests had revealed blood clots in the placenta so I was under the care of a consultant. I was very scared but I was confident that the treatment would stop any issues with this pregnancy. Indeed the pregnancy progressed well. I sailed through every milestone and when I passed 21 weeks there was a great sense of relief. I knew I was having another son and at 24 weeks I was delighted to being to feel him move.
I woke with a start one morning when I was 28 weeks pregnant and I knew my son had gone. I don’t know why I was so sure. Maybe instinct. But as I had my own heart beat monitor I checked for myself and couldn’t find a heartbeat. I went straight to hospital and they confirmed the awful news. My second son Milo was born silently on 11 April 2010. I did see him and managed to hold him briefly. He was perfect. I could see his tiny nails and his head of hair. He looked like he was sleeping.
Six weeks after Milo was born I was pregnant again. Sadly this was a blighted ovum and I had a D and C operation at eight weeks.
One of the best days of my life
I knew I had to keep trying and so four weeks later I was happy and very scared to be starring down at those two blue lines again. This pregnancy progressed well I was under the care of the Foetal Medicine Unit at the John Radcliffe Hospital this time and they monitored and checked me constantly. I sailed passed all the milestones making it to 30 weeks. I felt sure I could do it. I was expecting another son and although I was terrified, I think I knew that this time I would get to take him home. On the 7 April 2011 our son Finlay was born safe and well. It was one of the best days of my life.
Four years later we decided to try again
At the beginning of last year Jason and I felt that we would like to try and complete our family with another baby. I knew that this time would be hard, I was by now 37 and with my history and that fact that I didn’t ever get rid of any baby weight I was high risk. I fell pregnant as soon as we started trying but had a very early miscarriage. I decided to have some tests just to check that all was well and discovered that my fertility was low. The specialist began to suggest fertility drugs. Before I could start however I discovered I was pregnant again. I was very anxious but tried to keep calm. I had done it once and I wanted to believe I could do it again. Sadly I lost this baby at 13 weeks. I had some genetic testing done and discovered that we had been expecting a girl. This was one of the lowest points in the journey.
Jason wasn’t keen to keep putting us through the heartbreak but I wanted to try one more time and in November of last year I fell pregnant for the eighth time. I was more nervous during this pregnancy than any other. I was lucky to have some amazing care and bi-weekly scans showed me that things were on track. Once I passed 25 weeks and I could feel the baby move I became even more paranoid. I was attending the hospital at least three times a week. If the baby was quiet I went straight in! I was lucky to have a great team at the hospital and I was seen whenever I was worried.
Time seemed to slow down
I found it hard to enjoy any aspect of the pregnancy and obsessed over everything. My consultant was confident that the baby was doing well and the plan was to induce me at 37 weeks. Time seemed to slow down and I was counting off the minutes every day and night. By the end I could barely sleep. I just wanted the baby out and in my arms. The induction was planned for the 22 July almost five years to the day that our first baby was born. The induction was started but our baby had other ideas and turned to a breach position half way through being induced. I had a caesarean and our daughter Phoebe came screaming into the world, a healthy 7lb12.
I am thankful for every Peppa Pig episode I watch for the fifteenth time!
We can’t believe how lucky we are. After everything we are really blessed to have two beautiful children. I would urge anyone who is going through a similar experience not to give up hope. Our family is complete and I am thankful for every sleepless night, dirty nappy and Peppa Pig episode that I watch for the fifteenth time – I always believed that it was possible and I will be forever grateful to my husband, my family, my medical team and Tommy’s who helped my dream come true.
Marty Hayes wrote about his experience of miscarriage after not knowing where else to turn; 'miscarriage isn’t really the thing you chat about down the pub, or with your mates.'
We need to break the silence around men and miscarriage so fathers do not feel guilty for showing their grief.
Several studies have shown that the womb may not work as well in older women. This may be because the muscle produces less energy so that contractions are less effective, so labour isn't triggered in the same way as in younger women.
We are trying to find out if a simple procedure before conception could help prevent miscarriage. If so, this could be an easy way to encourage healthy pregnancy.
Tommy’s are helping to train the carers of the future, so that we can continue giving women the best pregnancy care possible.
We want to understand the different ways that women and their partners cope with miscarriage, so that we can better train doctors, nurses and midwives to provide the emotional support that is so important following loss.