by Sammie Vale
In May last year, Duncan and I decided that we were ready to grow our family and wanted nothing more than for Grace to become a big sister. We were delighted when on Father's Day 2015 we discovered that I was pregnant with our second baby. At eight weeks we attended our first midwives appointment, got given our blue folder and were booked in for our 12 week scan on the 12th August; the day before our third wedding anniversary. We were all so excited, and as the date got closer we began to talk to Grace about the prospect of becoming a big sister. However, over the weekend of the 1st August I began bleeding and a scan on the 3rd August revealed that our baby had stopped growing at around seven to eight weeks gestation. We were absolutely devastated.During the week that followed I miscarried our baby at home.
The physical and emotional pain that I went through is some of the worst that I have ever experienced, and nothing had prepared me for just how traumatic it would be.
At a follow up appointment the next week I was told by the sonographer that my uterus looked 'nice and normal', which is such a hurtful thing to hear when all you want to see on the screen is your baby. In the appointment with the consultant that followed were told that it was 'just one of those things' that was 'very unlikely' to happen again. We were told begin trying again the following month. We pieced ourselves back together with the support of family and were absolutely over the moon when we discovered that I was pregnant again at the beginning of November. Although we were apprehensive, I felt so sure that this time everything would be OK; after all we'd been told that the chances of us losing another baby were exceptionally slim. Again we attended our 8 week appointment with the midwife where we were told that my feelings of nausea were a very positive sign. At 8 weeks and one day I started suffering from horrendous sickness. I'd suffered when pregnant with Grace, but this was far worse than anything I'd had whilst carrying her.
I telephoned the midwife and saw the doctor and both times I was told that this was a great sign that my pregnancy hormones were high and supporting a healthy baby. We were so excited when we arrived at our 12 week scan on the 22nd December; we were going to meet our baby for the very first time! The sonographer placed the wand on my tummy and a silence fell over the room. I couldn’t see a baby, and I knew instantly that something was wrong. The sonographer told us once again that we had lost our baby. This time, they could see a sack that measured approximately 9 weeks but there was no baby inside. The pain of hearing those words for a second time is indescribable and absolutely nothing could’ve prepared me for the news.
We were diagnosed as having had another missed miscarriage and sent across to see the consultant again. I was told that as Christmas and New Year were coming up it would be nearly impossibly to get me in for a D&C very quickly as I wasn't considered a priority. Therefore, I booked in for the earliest surgery they could offer me on the 4th January. The following two and a half weeks were absolute agony. My body was still behaving exactly as if it were pregnant, including vomiting several times a day and having a little bump that wouldn't fit into my trousers but we knew that it was never going to amount to a baby. We dragged ourselves through Christmas for the sake of Grace, but it was a very bleak time.The grief at losing our first baby resurfaced whilst also dealing with the fresh wave of loss. It was absolute agony.
Following my surgery on the 4th January, we were told that in the UK anything less than 3 miscarriages is not considered recurrent and therefore we would not be sent for any further tests. We were told to try again as soon as we felt ready to do so. At this time, Duncan and I decided that we would spend some time giving ourselves chance to grieve and ensuring that we were in the best possible health both physically and emotionally to face another pregnancy. And thank goodness we did because on the 26th February I was called in for an appointment with the gynaecologist.
At this appointment we were told that I had in fact had a Molar pregnancy and would be referred to Charing Cross Hospital in London for further monitoring over a period of six months.
Having been given no more information that this, I turned to the internet to find out what this meant and found that my placenta had not developed as it should which had resulted in abnormal cells. These cells are considered to be pre-cancerous and can ultimately grow and spread as a cancer would if left untreated. The good news is that in the majority of cases, most of the mole is removed during surgery and any remaining cells are taken care of by the body. However, in around 10% of cases, this doesn’t happen and the worst case scenario was that I will need chemotherapy treatment at both Charing Cross and locally, hence the need to monitor my HCG levels over the months that followed.
Having just lost another baby, this news was almost too much to bare. I have never felt so frightened in all of my life as the reality dawned that something that should've been so wonderful could result in me being very, very unwell. The good news is that in April I was given the all clear early and I have therefore been discharged from any further tests. The bad news is that the molar pregancy could affect any future pregnancies that I may have. I am now at a slightly increased risk of having another of molar pregnancy, and I am also at an increased risk of developing abnormal cells following any future pregnancies whether they are successful or not. I will therefore have to be retested at 6 and 10 weeks after any future pregnancies end to check that my HCG levels have returned to normal. If not, I may have to have the treatment.
Grieving for two babies that you were never lucky enough to meet is a hard thing to explain to people. When people say things like 'at least it happened now' and 'well it wasn't ever really a baby' it makes me want to scream. They may not have been babies that I could physically hold in my arms, but they were just as real as Grace is in my heart. We have to grieve for the children that we thought we were going to have. We have to grieve for the big sister that we thought Grace was going to be. And that is the hardest grief of all, because what you are grieving for is hope.
So in answer to your question, yes, I want another baby. But first I must grieve for the two that I have lost, and I have to be strong enough to face the possibility of losing another. I have to be strong enough to make my feet walk into a scanning room and not want to run in the other direction. The prospect of pregnancy is no longer full of joy, hope and expectation. Instead, it absolutely terrifying. I only hope that one day we will be blessed with our rainbow baby so that I can give it all of the love that I have stored up for the babies I will never meet.
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