Hope - it is the one word that suddenly produces a light at the end of what can be a very long tunnel.
No matter how many miscarriages a woman has suffered, or the immense fears that suddenly develop the moment they find they out they are pregnant again, it is this one word that helps us all get through this and ultimately, eventually gets us the baby we all desperately want.
At the age of 38 and recently married, the dream almost every couple have - of wanting to start their own family - is definitely not working out as I’d always dreamed it would.
Within the last 18 months I’ve suffered a miscarriage at 6 weeks, two ectopic pregnancies at around 6-7 weeks, and a missed miscarriage at 10 weeks.
At times during this period, it has all sent my husband and I into the darkest places of our lives.
I feel there is no emotion I have not felt throughout all my losses, from the sheer excitement at seeing that positive test, to seeing a heartbeat and planning the future of all my babies and our future lives in my head, to the despair, devastation, depression, guilt, loneliness and unpredictable emotions at losing all four of our wanted and longed-for babies.
Along with all that is the constant self-questioning - the “what if's” and “is it because I did this/that??” that are constantly going round my head. I’ve spent hundreds of hours googling the causes and crying uncontrollably at the stories I have read.
I class myself as an emotionally strong person, but miscarriage breaks people far far deeper than any outsider will ever know.
It makes you feel worthless, guilty, and a failure all mixed with a grief that only the couple going through it understand.
If a person dies, people all grieve together for the loss of that person. But with a miscarriage, it’s only the couple who can grieve and ultimately, mainly the women as they are the ones that felt their body changing and knew their baby was growing inside them. That’s why I feel it suddenly becomes a very lonely and dark place.
I’m fortunate in having good friends, some who have also experienced miscarriages. It has been the support of these friends and knowing I'm not alone that has got me through it. Along with that now-special word, HOPE!
I think one of my lowest points (apart from paying for a private scan and seeing just a dark mass with no heartbeat on what seemed like a huge plasma screen) was having a D&C. Because it was my third they agreed to send off the foetus for chromosome testing. A couple of months later, I visited the miscarriage clinic to be told I had just been extremely unlucky.
I wanted to scream at the doctor and shout “there must be something more you can do”; but I didn't, I sat there, nodded and smiled, then she dropped the bombshell of asking me if I wanted to know the sex of the baby I had just lost.
I suddenly felt numb and scared, to find out the sex was something I had never thought I would be or could be told.
In that pause before I answered, my mind flashed with hundreds of questions, but I just blurted out 'yes'.
She looked up at me and said, “it was a girl”. In that one moment I felt like I'd been hit by an immense force. I got up, walked out of the room and sat in my car sobbing. Those few words had suddenly multiplied my grief ten-fold, as it all suddenly became so much more real.
It wasn't my husband and I guessing what sex our baby would be, it was someone else confirming our lost baby was a girl. This took me months to come to terms with, and is something I still don't talk about even now.
For all my losses, the only reminder I have is the one scan at 7 weeks of our baby girl with her heartbeat - which I look at regularly.
So, at the moment of being told my baby would have been a girl, I was also discharged from the miscarriage clinic being told there was nothing wrong with me, and that she'd hopefully see me in the labour ward! This alone I could never imagine. I felt let down that I was still no further along.
In September, I thought I had started my period early. I went to see my doctor to discuss why my periods had become irregular. She told me to come back a week later so she could do an examination.
A week later I returned, still bleeding. She asked me if I was pregnant - to which I replied I didn't think I was. I was told to go home and do a pregnancy test and to my surprise it was positive, albeit a weak positive. I was admitted to hospital, where it was confirmed I had another ectopic.
The male doctor who assessed me was amazing. I was distraught and shocked and I pleaded with him for help.
After a very long day it was agreed I could be referred to the fertility unit. I know I have the male doctor to thank for that, he showed amazing empathy and I knew he could see the sadness and pain behind my tears.
Although my 4th miscarriage was another deep blow, I look at the positives from it and know if it hadn't of happened I wouldn't have been referred to the fertility unit.
We have been for our first appointment recently, and they were amazing.
We were in there over an hour and a half. I've had several more blood tests done that the miscarriage unit didn't do - including paying £50 for a test to check my egg reserve.
IVF has been discussed as an option if my egg reserve is low, along with testing my tubes. I have also agreed to pay to be tested for the Natural Killer Cells test in January, and once all the results are back, we’ll discuss which is the best route to take.
I cried with relief and happiness after that appointment, as finally I felt like we were being listened to and people genuinely wanted to help us. It felt like a huge weight had been lifted.
As much as I wish I had a crystal ball to look into and tell my future, sadly I haven't. But I now feel like we are moving forward and above all else, we have HOPE, and that HOPE feels more real than ever now.
Here's HOPING 2016 will bring us the babies we all desperately want and deserve.
I can't tell you how awful it feels to suffer the loss of a baby; but to go through this three times was unthinkable.
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By Joanne (not verified) on 29 Aug 2016 - 21:47
What is an egg reserve test? Have never come across this? Even after visiting more doctors than I can even count x
By Midwife @Tommys on 1 Sep 2016 - 15:40
It is more commonly referred to as ovarian reserve and it is usually offered in conjunction with IVF. It is a way of investigating how many eggs are in you ovaries and their quality, and then this can be used to estimate how your ovaries will respond to IVF treatment. This can be done by a blood test which looks at the level of a certain hormone or via scan which counts the number of egg-containing follicles. I hope that helps, if you need any further support then please do ring to talk on 0800 0147 800 or email [email protected]