Sadly, 684 babies are miscarried and 10 babies are stillborn every day in the UK in 2016. That’s why it is always great news when we hear about someone who has gone on to have a healthy pregnancy while being looked after at one of our research centres, where the work of our clinicians is helping to change the statistics.
Jennifer Greenham shared her experience at Coventry Hospital with Tommy’s Professor Siobhan Quenby.
Like one in four women, Jennifer has sadly suffered the pain of miscarriage.
“When I was 27 I had my first miscarriage. I was 5 weeks pregnant and had no idea what was going on. I went from absolute excitement, to utter hopelessness within a week of finding out I was pregnant, a very surreal experience.”
Jennifer went on to have another miscarriage before having her first daughter Poppy. After giving birth to Poppy, she experienced yet another miscarriage which she now reflects that she naively accepted as a “part of life.”
In June 2010 Jennifer was 21 weeks pregnancy when her scan showed abnormalities with the baby boy she was carrying.
“I knew something was wrong instantly. Freddie had skeletal dysplasia, and the consultant feared he would not be able to go full term. He had a bell shaped chest, fluid on the brain and all his long bones were much shorter than they should be.”
Following this diagnosis, it was decided that a termination would be the kindest option.
“I have never experienced emotional pain like it. I went from carrying a baby I could feel moving to nothing. I had to deliver something that would never exist.”
Jennifer was supported throughout her pain by her mother, Penny who she referred to as her “rock.” This support was vital as little support came from the medical professionals she encountered, even though Jennifer was struggling to cope with day-to-day life and experiencing jealously when looking at other mothers.
“I was referred to a geneticist whom told me I had a 1 in 4 chance of this happening again, but could offer me no further support.”
After a period of counselling and cognitive behavioural therapy, Jennifer decided she was ready to try again. She fell pregnant easily and the initial scan was encouraging. In spite of this, Jennifer experienced a great deal of anxiety,
“Every time I went to the toilet I was scared, what’s going to happen? Will I bleed, will it end? I sent myself crazy.”
Despite experiencing pregnancy symptoms such as sickness, Jennifer’s 10 week scan showed no heartbeat. It turned out that it was a molar pregnancy.
“It was ‘never a baby’, ‘abnormal cells’, creating a tumour. I was then referred to Sheffield hospital, here I had to have my hormone (HCG) levels monitored for 6 months to ensure they didn’t rise, as if they did I would need chemotherapy, as my body had created tumours instead of a baby!”
It was this point that Jennifer contemplated stopping trying. Her partner, Jody, was concerned and didn’t want her going through anymore.
“As Jody had no children of his own, I was torn. I was scared, and emotionally unstable. It was an incredibly difficult time.”
After 6 months, they decided to try again. Tragically, this resulted in another missed miscarriage. Jennifer was referred to an obstetrics consultant and the recurrent miscarriage clinic.
“The initial appointment with the obstetrics consultant went badly, she advised us to stop, and said the only way I could have a child was with an egg donor, or to consider adoption. At this point I broke; I couldn’t physically or mentally take anymore.”
A fortnight on from this experience, however, Jennifer had a positive experience with a consultant at the recurrent miscarriage centre who urged her not to give up and referred her to Professor Quenby in Coventry.
“I have never met anyone so full of life and upbeat. She instantly made me smile. She advised me I was unfortunately someone they called ‘super fertile’. My endometrium took ‘anything’ which probably should have been a period. All the things that had happened to me shouldn’t have. The average person takes at least a year to get pregnant, and I was getting pregnant and shouldn’t have been. I had never had anyone even give me an answer as I was always a ‘mystery’. She was so helpful, and offered me a test to check for a condition called natural killer cells, but most of all she offered me hope.”
Earlier this year with a lot of support from her family and further counselling, Jennifer and Jody went on to have a healthy baby girl, Kiki.
“All I want now is to share my story; as if I can help just one person, or just give hope to someone I would be happy. I just want people to believe there is help now, and people like Professor Quenby, who take miscarriage seriously.”
Jennifer was looked after by Professor Quenby at the Tommy’s Centre for Miscarriage Research at Coventry Hospital.
Read more Tommy’s Centre for Miscarriage Research here
Read how to take part in our clinical trials here
Read more about coping after miscarriage here
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I didn't need ten days, I passed my baby the next day, I knew I was no longer pregnant, the second scan confirmed a blighted ovum, but to me that wasn't a blighted ovum, that was my baby.
On that Monday I remember saying to the nurse, "I'm worried it might be ectopic." Her reply was that it probably wasn't. And that was that.
The best thing anyone said to us was that parenthood is a roller coaster, sometimes right from the start - I think it sums up our experience perfectly.
I have always been someone who believes in everything happens for a reason but when something happens THRICE I can only try to be positive.