by Charli Walker
It's been almost two years since we decided to try for number three. We assumed it would be simple. A sense of complacency that had arisen from the ease with which 1 & 2 came into our lives. It never really occurred to me that something might go wrong. I certainly could never have imagined the struggles and pain that the next 18 months would bring.
We fell pregnant quickly, after the decision was made to add to our brood. We announced the news to close family members at my Dad's 50th in September 2014. I was 6 weeks and full of excitement! That very same evening, some mild cramping and a small amount of blood left me panicking. It was late on a Friday night and there was nothing I could do. There was no more pain or bleeding overnight and I began to suspect I was worrying over nothing. None the less, I contacted the out of hours GP in the morning. They saw me that afternoon.
The doctor listened to my explanation and simply stated "Yes, that sounds like a miscarriage."
I didn't believe him. How could it be? I felt fine now! How could it be that cut and dry? There must be another reason. I went for a scan on the Monday. It did little to ease my mind. A sac was present, but they could see little else and advised me to return in a week. The bleeding began in earnest on the Tuesday and I was not surprised by what I saw at the next scan. Nothing.
Of course I was devastated, but it's quite common isn't it? I was 1 in 4. It's heartbreaking, but "just bad luck". It won't happen again, surely.
When we fell pregnant again in October, I felt confident. We got beyond 6 weeks with no bleeding. We saw a beating heart at a private 8 week scan. We made our announcement at Christmas. Our baby was fine and due to join us in August. By the time my dating scan rolled around in January 2015, I was almost 14 weeks and feeling fine. Too fine. It dawned on me as I was sitting in the waiting room that I didn't feel pregnant at all. As she moved the probe over my stomach, the sonographer asked if there had been a live embryo present at my last scan. I knew then that there wasn't one any more. Our baby had died over 5 weeks ago and I'd had no idea. How could I even begin to come to terms with that? A D&C was booked for the following day, but I began to bleed as soon as I got home. It was almost as if my body hadn't wanted to let go, until it knew for sure.
I was left completely unprepared for what was to follow. I was warned to expect a heavy period, much like the last time; so when the contractions started, I was taken completely by surprise. This miscarriage was a blood bath. With each contraction came another gush. I vaguely recall lying on the bathroom floor, fainting and vomiting, surrounded by bloody nappies (the only things thick enough to help stem the flow). I felt so incredibly let down. How could they leave us to do this alone at home, with only the recommendation of taking some paracetamol? Physically and emotionally, this second loss was much harder to deal with.
A visit to my GP not long afterwards informed me that, once again, it was "just bad luck" and there was no reason to carry out any tests. It was extremely unlikely to happen again.
An abnormal smear and the wait for a colposcopy enforced a three month hiatus on our attempts to conceive. By July, we were expecting again. This time, I was terrified. My days were spent constantly rushing to the bathroom to check for signs of bleeding; pouring over forums online; over-analysing every single feeling or symptom. It was exhausting, just waiting for something to go wrong. At 6 weeks, some brown discharge sent me racing to the GP. "Don't worry. Brown means old blood. Nothing to be concerned about." By my midwife appointment at 7 weeks, I was deep in the throes of morning sickness. I felt reassured by it. More brown discharge at 8 weeks got me an appointment at the EPU. "There's nothing there. It's a failed pregnancy. I'm sorry," the sonographer told me. Not again. Please no, this can't be happening to me again.
We'd lost our third.
Later that week, an MVA was scheduled to remove the "products of conception". I consented to pathology. Maybe finally we'd get some answers. My appointment for the Recurrent Miscarriage Clinic arrived on the doormat, six weeks later. A consultant broke the news to us that our third loss wasn't actually a miscarriage at all. I had, in fact, suffered a Complete Molar pregnancy. Words like "cancer" and "chemotherapy" we're banded around, but all I really remember thinking about is how long we were going to have to wait to try again.
It had already been over a year. We just wanted our baby. Why did the bad news just keep on coming? No further tests were carried out. It wasn't recurrent miscarriages after all, you see. It was two miscarriages and a molar pregnancy. I'd have to lose another one before I was entitled to any answers. To any additional care. What had happened to us was still considered to be "just bad luck". How could a person be that unlucky? Three times?! I'll admit, it all felt so unfair. I felt jealous as the pregnancy announcements rolled in. Everyone seemed to be getting positive pregnancy tests, whilst the only tests I was doing were fortnightly urine samples to Sheffield Molar Pregnancy Centre.
I felt stupid for the complacency I'd felt all those months ago. I'd been so naive to what could go wrong.My test results were all encouraging. I'd gotten off lightly. Three months before my official "all clear", I was told that if we felt ready, we could try again. So we did. Christmas Eve yielded those two pink lines. Seven weeks later, a scan at the EPU ruled out another Complete Molar, as a little heartbeat flickered away on the screen. A private scan at 10 weeks confirmed that our baby was still thriving. A dating scan at 14 weeks showed a perfectly formed foetus, bouncing around my womb.We finally began to believe that this might really be happening. That we might finally get our baby, after all that we'd been through.
Well, my 23 week bump kicking away as I type this, tells me it will. All being well.
This pregnancy has been unlike any other I've experienced. I was offered no additional care, despite my history, and that was difficult to deal with. I was allowed to have an 8 week scan at the EPU simply to rule out another mole, but nothing more. The rest of the time, I've just been left to fret and worry. To feel fear and exhaustion and the constant terror that something will go wrong again.
At my recent 20 week scan, I didn't rush in there, full of excitement, desperate to find out if I was carrying a boy or a girl. I went alone, and lay hesitantly on the bed, still filled with the anxiety that haunts me after too many scans filled with heartbreak. The only thing I was desperate to find out this time, was if our baby was ok.
This one, this little miracle of ours, is absolutely perfect. Carrying a rainbow baby is something I never imagined I would experience. But in some ways, i'm glad. I'm glad that I can wholly understand and appreciate how truly incredible growing a human is. How many things there are that can go wrong and how painful it can be when they do. How, even after everything, I'm still one of the lucky ones.
I will savour every single moment of this pregnancy (yes, even the reflux and the acne and the pelvic pain) because I know how incredibly fortunate I am to be experiencing it. I realise, with outstanding clarity, what a gift this is.
So hang in there, Mamas of little stars in the sky. Even when you feel like there is no hope left, once the storm has passed, you just might find your rainbow.
In the meantime, don't hide your pain. Acknowledge what you've been through. Acknowledge your baby. We're all in this together.
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By Anonymous (not verified) on 13 Jun 2016 - 17:37
Reading this story is almost identical to reading my own. Although I don't have any children at present my partner and I decided to get the ball rolling after a number of reasons to delay. We fell pregnant very quickly and told close friends and family, but it was short-lived. Soon after, I was also taken in for a colposcopy to remove cancerous cells which was then followed by another pregnancy. After a private scan showed an "abnormal cluster of cells" leaving our hospital very confused, we later went on to find out it was also a complete molar pregnancy. The same words such as cancer (having just got one scare out of the way) and chemotherapy were so frightening and daunting. I felt great pleasure reading that you are now doing so well, and congratulations to you indeed! I'm still waiting for my all clear, but hopefully that will come soon enough. I am also running the British 10k for Tommy's which has given me a time to focus instead of anything else. Good luck x