The “shame” of infertility

Claire Burdett’s story spans thirteen years of repeated loss and disappointment on her road to parenthood. It sadly shows that in 2016, people still struggle to support someone who has experienced baby loss.

Claire and Stephen

Claire Burdett has recently hit headlines with her heartbreaking story of multiple miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy and IVF. Claire and her husband Stephen experienced their first miscarriage when Claire was 18 and went on to endure years of disappointment and heartache in their attempts to become parents.

Since publically sharing her story, Claire has received messages from women all over the country,

“I’ve had some lovely feedback. I’ve had people messaging me asking about procedures and how I’ve emotionally coped with everything, commenting on how brave I am and how long I’ve gone through it. Lots of questions and some really lovely messages saying fingers crossed, they hope it works for us.”

Claire has also been approached by various members of the press wanting to cover her story.

“The woman I spoke to said ‘it’s not something you see women go on TV and talk about, and there could be so many women sat at home in your position who would be grateful to hear what you’ve been through, and understand that there is help out there.”

Sadly, this is true. Many women still suffer the pain of child loss in silence as they feel unable to talk about it. Claire described how she felt family and friends were sick of hearing about her problems when she was experiencing fresh disappointment every few weeks.

When a loved one or friend has had a miscarriage it can be extremely difficult to know how to help and what to say, so many people skirt the subject entirely or worse, begin to avoid seeing the person suffering this loss.

“It was something that people couldn’t approach me and talk to me about. I don’t know if that’s because they didn’t want to upset me or if they didn’t know the right angle or how to ask me something. It got to the stage where my friends wouldn’t even see me because they didn’t want to upset me. ”

67% of women surveyed by Tommy’s feel that they can’t even talk to their best friends about their miscarriage.

For Claire, Stephen has been a rock, supporting her on every step of their journey. After being diagnosed with a heart shaped womb and sticky blood, Claire suffered an ectopic pregnancy which triggered depression and difficulties for their relationship.

“I’m not going to lie and say it was smooth, we had our ups and downs. The problems were with me, there was nothing stopping my husband from going and meeting someone else and having children.  We’ve been together for sixteen years and through all those years, he’s patiently waited. I don’t think there are many men that would do that. I’m really lucky that he’s stayed with me and supported me through it.”

Claire and Stephen began a course of IVF which they hoped would be the answer to their problems. This new goal helped Claire’s depression, but sadly the IVF resulted in another miscarriage.

In her story of #misCOURAGE, Claire shared the fact that she and Stephen are down to their final frozen embryo.

“I had a cycle of IVF in February and when that didn’t work, we were absolutely devastated. We knew we had one embryo left and that was the last one.”

Claire saw a new consultant who referred her to Professor Siobhan Quenby at the Tommy’s National Centre for Miscarriage Research, at Warwick University Hospital.

“We were taken aback by our meeting with Professor Siobhan, she’s such a lovely woman. We can’t thank her enough; she said she would give us every chance possible. We nearly had her in tears because she couldn’t believe how much we’d gone through and that we were still managing to smile through it all. I just said to her, I have to smile or else I’ll cry!”

After everything they’ve gone through, Claire and Stephen are still doing their best to stay positive. They’re waiting on tests to come back from the clinic so they can work out how best to progress with their final frozen embryo.

“At the moment, we are staying positive. We’ve got two weeks to wait for the results and hopefully they will be the answer to what has been stopping us all these years. If it wasn’t for Professor Quenby and the Tommy’s centre, I’d still be banging my head against a brick wall and getting no further. It’s taken so long for it to come to this.”

Read Claire's story of #misCOURAGE here

Read more from Claire at her blog here

Read more about supporting someone after miscarriage here

Read more Tommy's news and views

Read more #misCOURAGE stories

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