I first got pregnant a year after getting married. The kind of way a lot of couple's plan it really. I'll never forget that feeling, so many amazing emotions and thoughts that our world was about to change in the biggest and best way possible. Well our world did certainly change, just not in the way we had hoped.
That first miscarriage was long and drawn-out. Having had a successful scan at 7 weeks and believing everything was fine, things started to go wrong at 10 weeks. I went in for another scan and the doctors didn't actually look at our notes, so told us it was all still fine. It was only when I pointed out myself that I shouldn't be measuring only 8 weeks they realised it wasn't. We then had to wait a week for our baby to die before I could finally have a d&c operation. The awfulness of the experience and the grief was something I never could have imagined. When people suffer from things like illness or bereavement you can imagine how that might feel, but to lose something in this way is perhaps such a strange scenario that it's unimaginable until you experience it. I think that may be why it's so hard for people to understand it. I would probably describe it as being stuck in a strange kind of hell that you don't really understand yourself and don't quite know what to do with.
After that we got pregnant again fairly quickly, but this time lost it at 5 weeks. Being so early the scenario itself was easier to deal with, the grief not really any less. For a while we stopped trying as it was all too much to deal with and we focused on other things in life, but our relationship was struggling as we both tried to come to terms with what had happened.
Everyone talks about how having kids is so hard on a relationship, no one ever talks about how not having kids if you want them is very on hard a relationship too.
Eventually we felt we could try again but then it took a long time. We even started to go down the fertility route instead, but eventually I got pregnant, only to lose it again at 5 weeks. At this point it felt totally hopeless, my initial reaction was to just forget the whole thing, run away and start a new life somewhere away from this hell I was stuck in. But I picked myself up and then became determined to find out why this was happening.
Now that we'd finally made it into the minority of having 3 miscarriages in a row the NHS took us seriously and offered a few tests, but we also decided to go private where more tests could be done. It was expensive and painstaking but worth it. They discovered I have a high level of natural killer cells, which means my body can reject the embryo. This was devastating news and horrible to accept but also some relief, as we had an answer and seemingly a way forward. The theory of this isn't supported by the NHS but there is a lot of growing evidence around it and treatment is available through private fertility clinics, with lots of success stories. In preparation for getting pregnant again I also started to have acupuncture, completely changed my diet and took some natural supplements which can help to reduce the cell levels.
I was feeling much more positive and we got pregnant easily. Surely this was it, I started all the medication and a scan at 6 weeks confirmed that it seemed to be developing. I hadn't felt so happy in 3 years. I started writing this story on the day I had my d&c operation, it hadn't developed further when we had the 8 week scan. They are now going to test the embryo to see whether they can establish a reason for it. I know the tests can often be inconclusive though so I am not pinning too much hope on the results giving us a clear answer. We still always have the same standard chance of miscarriage that every pregnancy has regardless of whether the medication works or not, so who knows.
Somehow, in amongst the pain and tears I am holding it together. This is my life, it's happening and I have to deal with it, sink or swim.
I'm a completely different person to when I started this journey. I'm a lot stronger, I view the world differently and I have developed a better ability to take life as it comes. In fact if it wasn't for this situation I think I'd be a happier person than I used to be due to how this has all changed me. One of the things that has been very difficult for us is that lots of our friends and some family members have had babies during the time we have been going through this. Most of them their first babies, we are all of a similar age and all had the same kind of plans. I'm genuinely happy for them but it's made it impossible for us to carry on fitting in with their lives a lot of the time and I can't help or change the sadness I feel watching them all from the sidelines, wishing it would happen to us. We are missing out on sharing the experience of having children with the people that are closest to us and that is very painful.
There are times when I simply have to avoid certain situations in order to protect my own sanity and I just have to deal with the fact that might make me look rude or strange to others. There comes a point where you have to try and stop worrying about what other people might think of you as that's just an extra stress on top of everything else. Though that is particularly difficult to do when it's very close family or friends. One area that could definitely be improved is mental health support for couples like us. Whilst I don't suffer from clinical depression I now know what it must be like. We do have great friends and family that are very supportive, but people often just don't know what to say to us about it all. I don't blame them for that but I hate the fact of it.
I am a normal person going through a very real challenge and I want the taboo to end. The same as things like illness or bereavement, this is real and happening to lots of people and it could be a much more accepted subject in society. When I get asked the question whether I have children I usually just say no and smile politely, so as not to subject the other person to the awkwardness of my story.
Sadly because of the medical system around miscarriage and infertility it takes years for most couples to get to the bottom of it all. I was 33 when I first got pregnant, now I'm 36, time isn't on our side anymore. We haven't given up hope though and are not ready to give up trying. We will stay as healthy as we can, keep working with the doctors, and pray that it works out for us in the end.
If I could give advice to others it would be to seek alternative options that the NHS don't offer, try and find some acceptance of the journey you are on and if you want to talk about it try and find a way. Oh and get a pet if you don't already have one. Out of the blue last year we took in a rescue cat, Frank. He is so cool and the best therapy we have found so far!
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