#misCOURAGE story, 09/02/2017, by Irena
I long as I remember, I have always wanted to have a child. Nowadays planning to have a baby and actually having a baby are two different things.
First I got married - just after finishing my masters. Then everything went according to the plan - I had a great husband, a job I liked, a nice flat close to work - but also close to nurseries and schools. And I was young - only 26, when we started trying for a baby.
I got pregnant for the first time in November 2013, after 3 months of trying. We had the first scan at 6 weeks which was fine. But somehow, in my bones I felt something was not right. I booked another scan privately when I was 10 weeks pregnant.
Unfortunately the doctor informed us the baby was not alive. I still remember those words: “I am so sorry, there is no heartbeat”.
I cried a lot. That was the worst thing ever happened to me, up to that moment at least… I remember myself crying at work. I remember I couldn’t sleep. I lost my baby just before Christmas and since then, every Christmas I feel deep sadness inside me.
But at some point I took a deep breath and we decided - we will try again. And we tried straight away.
I got pregnant for the second time in February 2014 but again, my head was full of bad thoughts. This time, as it appeared on the scan, there was no baby, just a sac where there baby was supposed to be. I was sent to hospital, and again, within only 3 months, I had another surgery.
At this point we stopped believing in a coincidence - I wanted to get some basic tests done to see if there was a possible cause of miscarriages. Everything was done privately as NHS runs the checks after 3 miscarriages.
I was screened for thrombophilia, had my thyroid checked and some genetic tests on myself and my husband. All came back normal. We were ready to try for the third time.
I got pregnant again in July 2014. This time all felt different. I even had morning sickness. I had been scanned every week since week 8; week 8 - perfect scan, strong heartbeat. Week 9 - strong heartbeat, baby even bigger than expected.
Week 10 - no heartbeat.
I was devastated. That was the time I think I had depression, cried day and night, no sleep. Couldn’t work. I was in pieces when my sister called in September announcing the birth of her first baby. I couldn’t even talk to her.
Some time in October, my husband and I pulled ourselves together and decided to investigate. We asked our GP to refer us to Recurrent Miscarriage Clinic at St Mary’s Hospital in London. We had a few tests done but again, nothing was found.
The doctor in the clinic said that the reason for my miscarriages in unknown and added: “Just try again. I sure you that at some point of your life you will have a baby. We just don’t know how many times you have to try”.
It wasn’t good enough for me. I couldn’t imagine going through the same thing again and again.
I decided to investigate further and check private fertility clinics. One of them offered rather unconventional immune testing. Some of my tests came back abnormal or borderline-normal. The doctor decided to put me on immunosuppressants and anti-coagulants even before the conception.
When I got pregnant for the fourth time, I decided to quit my job. The medications I took were strong and I was sick of both pregnancy hormones and drugs. Plus I couldn’t imagine myself going through a well-known scenario of telling the management at work that I was pregnant and reducing working hours due to risk - and in the end rolling back everything in case something went wrong.
I couldn’t stand people with “I am so sorry” eyes. I couldn’t look at the pictures of newborn babies of my colleagues. I isolated myself from everyone and everything, even closed my Facebook account. We informed only our closest friends and family about the pregnancy and we kept it hidden for months.
But this time the pregnancy was going well. We had a lot of scans (at least 10 in total) and every single one of them caused my heart to stop for a minute before I had heard a well-known strong heartbeat of my baby girl.
I cannot even describe how difficult it was to go through a full-term pregnancy after three miscarriages. I prayed every day for this baby to be alive. I was afraid of traveling so I mostly stayed at home.
I was afraid of chemicals so used non-toxic detergents for cleaning. Checked ingredients on face creams in case there was something dangerous for the baby.
I was panicking when I felt a tiniest pain in my abdomen. I was going through all horrible scenarios in my head and couldn’t stop it. But in the end, after a few hiccups (low placenta, high blood pressure) - I successfully delivered a healthy baby girl in November 2015.
Unfortunately, going through so difficult experience as recurrent miscarriages changes you.
Changes you as a parent, because I am still very anxious about my daughter; I am very worried when she has a simple cold.
Changes you as a partner, because so much stress puts a lot of pressure on the relationship.
Changes your life - because you are scared of what is unexpected, especially if you consider having more children. And that is the dilemma I have now - do I want to have another baby.
One question that leads to many others like: how many babies will I lose before I have another one? Am I emotionally ready for that?
I hadn’t heard about Tommy’s when I struggled with my pregnancies but I think for many people the research they do is important and brings hope.
I was lucky enough to have money to apply private out-of-the-box treatment NHS didn’t provide. Tommy’s research will help people who don’t have this option.
I was thinking what I want to say to couples who are still struggling with similar problems and I think there is no good advise. You cannot say “Don’t give up, try again” because I have met women who went through 7 and more miscarriages. Does this person want to hear “Try again”?…
And you cannot say: “Give up, live your life, you can adopt” - because adoption is not for everyone and it is actually a cruel thing to advise (I had heard that for a few friends myself and was crying after).
It requires a lot of strength and accepting certain facts like for example - never giving birth to my child. Or never asking where those curly hair/blue eyes are coming from. Simple but painful things. Not everyone is ready for that.
What helped me the most was thinking that I was just in the lowest point of my life and many people go through different but equally painful things.
People struggle with getting pregnant, going through IVFs, some are sick, some have closest relatives sick or dying.
Life is full of unhappy moments and mine happened to be miscarriages. The only thing I can do is to rise above. Accept that.
I am thinking of all of you in grief and of those full of hope. I remember one quote from the movie “P.S. I love you”: “If we are all alone, we are all together in that too”. This gives me some comfort.
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