by Nicole Martin
We started trying for our second child shortly after my daughter turned one. I was 38 years old and fully aware of the risks associated with having children a bit later in life. It took me longer than expected to fall pregnant and when I did I felt very anxious because many of my friends had suffered at least one miscarriage, so I arranged for a private scan at 8 weeks. During the appointment my husband and I discovered that I was in fact pregnant with twins, but that one of the babies had sadly died at around 5 weeks. Although upset, we felt lucky that there was one healthy embryo, with a beautiful beating heart.
Two weeks later, I thought that my symptoms had disappeared and went for another scan, only to discover that the second baby had died only several days earlier. I’ll never forget the look on my husband’s face when the sonographer told us it was “bad news”. I was scheduled for an ERPC the following day and I can still remember waiting with my husband in the waiting room of the hospital for the procedure in a total state of shock. I couldn’t quite believe that this was happening to us and that we had lost both babies. We arranged for the foetal tissue to be analysed and later discovered that the baby had died from a chromosomal abnormality – an oddly reassuring result because it meant that there was no underlying problem with either of us, and that the baby would never have been viable.
We immediately started trying to conceive again and I fell pregnant only a month or two later. As soon as I saw the two lines appear on the pregnancy test, I felt crippled with anxiety. I was convinced I was going to miscarry again, and was obsessively doing pregnancy tests day after day, comparing the strength of the line each day with the one before. I was around 7 weeks pregnant when I started bleeding at work. I immediately called a private clinic around the corner from my office and arranged for a scan. The sonographer (the same woman we had seen only a few months earlier) said there was definitely a pregnancy but no heartbeat, which there should have been at this stage.
I collapsed in tears as my husband arrived at clinic
This time, we were advised to go down the “medical management” route - when you are given medication that causes the tissue to pass out of your womb. A scan a few weeks later revealed that I had retained tissue and required another procedure under general anaesthetic to have it removed. After given the all clear, we were advised, again, to try again. Fortunately, by this point, I was in the care of a brilliant miscarriage specialist at St Mary’s Hospital whose kind words and support kept us going through some incredibly dark times. We had undergone all the tests to find out whether there was any underlying reason for the miscarriages but they all came back negative. Again, I returned to work, but I was a shadow of my former self.
I was consumed by what had happened to us, and wracked with guilt that I was unable to give my daughter a sibling. I withdrew from social situations, and felt unable to laugh or smile. I also found it very hard to be around or even see people who had more than one child.
I fell pregnant again a few months later, and, again, was a nervous wreck, convinced that I was going to lose the baby again. Unable to wait until I reached 8 weeks, I arranged for a scan at around six weeks, only to be told again that there was no heartbeat. My husband and I were in a state of total disbelief. How could this happen three times? This time I miscarried naturally, and questioned whether I had the emotional strength to carry on. Deep down, I wanted to give up trying and get on with my life, for the sake of my husband and daughter, but I also said that I would not stop until someone in the medical profession told me to. I called our consultant and asked him to be straight with me. I will never forget his response. He told me that if I and my husband had the emotional strength to carry on, he was convinced that we would go on to have another baby. I wrote down his words on a piece of paper and kept it in my purse.
Two months later, just weeks after my 40th birthday, I fell pregnant again. Against the advice of our doctor, I started taking baby aspirin from the moment I got a positive pregnancy test. I just felt that I wanted to do something, whatever is was, to help, and I had read a lot about women taking baby aspirin and going on to have successful pregnancies. In the weeks before my 12 week scan, I had at least 3 private scans, and felt physically sick each time I entered the scan room. I also arranged to have CBT counselling throughout my pregnancy as I regularly suffered with panic attacks. At around 20 weeks, I suffered a bleed, and will never forget lying in the hospital, my mother-in-law by my side, as the midwife used a Doppler to try to find the heartbeat, which she found after what seemed like a lifetime.
Joseph was born on March 24 last year and recently turned one. He’s a beautiful, happy, cheeky little boy with bright eyes and a wonderful smile. I feel incredibly lucky that we finally have our two children but I will never forget what we went through in those 12 months. It is difficult to explain how I felt during the very dark times. I often say that the miscarriages robbed me of my personality. I stopped engaging with life; even with my daughter; and was consumed by my almost compulsive desire to have another baby. I couldn’t find joy in anything; and I hated the jealousy I felt towards other pregnant women. My relationship with my husband was put under strain but somehow we got through it and, in many ways, it brought us closer together, and I will forever be grateful for the unfailing support he – and many others - gave me during that time.
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