misCOURAGE, 09/02/2017, by Faye Smith
As many of you will know, following Noah's arrival we had to wait a while before our beautiful Leila came along.
We experienced three early miscarriages in less than a year. The first and third at less than six weeks and the second finally confirmed (after two weeks of repeated scans) at ten weeks.
The second was especially traumatic and ended with a stay in hospital just before the New Year. By summer 2015 we were beginning to lose hope of ever being able to complete our family, and I was struggling to cope with the emotions and the feelings of guilt that followed each miscarriage.
Some people dismiss early miscarriages, perhaps through lack of understanding or just trying to make you feel better - "it's not really a baby yet", "it wasn't meant to be" - but as soon as you know you're pregnant you imagine that baby's entire life ahead.
All I could think about throughout this time was pregnancy and babies. We were so grateful to have our gorgeous Noah, but desperately wanted a second child.
After the third miscarriage we were finally referred to a specialist so I could be tested to find out if there was a reason I kept losing our babies. The tests came back with no answers.
On the one hand it was good to know there was nothing 'wrong' with me. On the other hand it was frustrating that we still didn't have any answers or solutions.
Rachel Small, the specialist midwife at Heartlands hospital, was wonderfully supportive and talked us through some trials that were taking place. We were so pleased that we could do something proactive by signing up to one of them once I was pregnant again.
I found out I was pregnant for a fifth time in late August 2015 just before we were due to go on holiday. I went to Heartlands to sign up for a trial but the pregnancy test they did showed as negative so I was sent home.
I'd already started having similar symptoms to the previous miscarriages so we went on holiday assuming the worst.
The symptoms continued throughout the holiday but the pregnancy tests I did continued to come up as positive. I didn't want to allow myself to get excited after all that had happened.
Upon our return I had a scan and we were shocked and delighted to see something there! I immediately signed up to the PRISM trial - a research study looking at whether progesterone can prevent miscarriage in women experiencing bleeding in pregnancy ('threatened miscarriage'). I was given medication, but obviously didn't know if I'd been given the trial drug or a placebo.
I had regular scans early on - in truth I've lost count of how many we had - I think it was six in the first trimester!
When I first saw there was a heartbeat I broke down! We hadn't seen or heard a heartbeat in any of the three previous pregnancies so this felt like a huge milestone, although there was still an incredibly long way to go. With every scan I felt more hopeful, but also more anxious in case it went wrong again.
This pregnancy was so tough emotionally - very different to when I was pregnant with Noah. I couldn't relax and felt constantly terrified that something would go wrong. At every scan we were shocked and delighted to see that little baby growing bigger and stronger.
After feeling like I'd been pregnant for about three years (!), Leila Iris Smith finally arrived into the world weighing a hefty 10lb 3oz on 4th May 2016 (Star Wars Day - we definitely felt the force had been with us throughout!).
We gave her the middle name 'Iris' as it means rainbow - she is our rainbow baby, arriving after the storm of those miscarriages. We couldn't believe she was finally here - we felt, and still feel, truly blessed.
We won't find out for a few years whether the trial was successful and whether I actually had the trial drug or the placebo. Either way, we were so grateful to have the opportunity to take part in the trial. We now want to do something to give back to those who helped us and help other people in similar situations.
In April 2016 Tommy's opened the UK's first national centre dedicated to miscarriage research. The centre will seek to understand why miscarriage happens, if it is likely to happen again, how to prevent it, and how to provide appropriate aftercare.
Your sponsorship will allow Tommy’s to continue this vital work - helping people like us who are experiencing the pain of miscarriage, and saving babies' lives through research.
Please give generously - as us fundraisers so often say, every donation makes a difference! Your support means the world to us - sponsoring us today and being there for us during this journey. Thank you!
Please note that the opinions expressed by users in Tommy’s Book of #misCOURAGE are solely those of the user, who is unlikely to have had medical training. These opinions do not represent the opinions of Tommy’s and are not advice from Tommy's. Reading individual, real-life experiences can be a helpful resource, but it is never a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment from a qualified health care provider. We strongly advise readers not to take drugs that are not prescribed by your qualified healthcare provider. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor, midwife or hospital immediately. Read full disclaimer