If you walked past us, you’d think we were an average family of 4. You wouldn’t know that we are missing our eldest son. You wouldn’t know how much it has taken for us to enjoy the everyday happiness of a busy, noisy house full of children.
Love and loss
Our first son Altair was a much longed for baby, conceived after 4 rounds of fertility treatment. Things started going wrong soon into our pregnancy – he wasn’t growing properly. At 21 weeks my waters broke, and I gave birth to Altair soon after.
He never opened his eyes, or took a breath, but was and continues to be loved beyond measure.
Searching for answers
By this time I’d been diagnosed with the rare placenta condition Chronic Histiocytic Intervillositis. We’d been told by a few doctors that it wasn’t treatable and that we should consider surrogacy, but we were determined to find an answer.
Luckily we were put in touch with the Tommy’s Maternal and Fetal Health Research Centre in Manchester, where Professor Alex Heazell immediately gave us hope. His research had allowed him to develop a treatment that seemed to work for some women like me.
Pregnancy after loss
Under his care and guidance, we welcomed our rainbow, Faris, safe and sound in December 2018. When they handed him to me it was overwhelming, an incredible miracle. I’ve written more about that before, which you can read here.
But life had another twist in store for us. Last summer, we found out I was pregnant again – miraculous really as I had been told I’d never get pregnant naturally. We were terrified. Our son was only 7 months old; I was exhausted by IVF, grief, pregnancy and parenting a baby.
I wasn’t sure I could cope physically or emotionally with another high-risk pregnancy. Off we trekked to Manchester to see Alex again. The Rainbow Clinic is such a safe and nurturing space; the team really understands the complex emotions that come with pregnancy after loss.
For me, pregnancy feels like I’m made of the very thinnest of glass that could crack or break at any moment.
Expert care and support
But this pregnancy (my third in 3 years) felt joyful and straightforward. Having managed to carry Faris to term, and with the support of Alex and his team, I finally had the confidence that my body could do this.
Lyra Joy, our second rainbow, was born on 1 April 2020 at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. She is perfect. All 3 of our babies are. We really are the luckiest family of 5 and we can never thank Tommy’s enough.
“Grief is tidal. In time, it can recede and leave us with feelings of peace and advancement, only for it to wash back in with all its crushing hopelessness and sorrow. Back and forth it goes, but with each retreating drift of despair, we are left a little stronger, more resilient, more essential and better at our new life.” Nick Cave, The Red Hand Files #23
Sabrina is 33, lives in Birmingham with her partner and works as a Multi Systemic Therapist. After falling pregnant in October 2019, they waited until the twelve week scan to announce their news, believing that once they had reached this mark, they were in the ‘safe zone’. Unfortunately, they soon realised that with pregnancy there is no such thing as a safe zone.
Support from a charity like Tommy’s would have made the world of difference when I lost my babies all those years ago
Eileen from North Wales married the love of her life, Arthur, on Boxing Day 1956. They were both very excited when she fell pregnant soon after. Sadly, their first daughter Anne-Marie was born prematurely and died soon after birth. Eileen also experienced a late miscarriage and 2 early miscarriages in between 3 successful pregnancies. This is Eileen and Arthur’s story.
Beth and Sean from Lancaster have experienced 9 losses in total. After her first living baby was born in 2017, Beth was diagnosed with Chronic Histiocytic Intervillositis (CHI), a rare condition that causes placental failure. With support from Professor Alex Heazell at Tommy’s Rainbow Clinic, Beth’s second living baby was born prematurely at 35 weeks in March 2020, during the height of the pandemic.
Katie, 31, works in recruitment and lives in Kent with her husband and their beautiful rainbow baby Maximus. Katie experienced two late miscarriages back-to-back in the past 3 years - both on the same day, exactly a year apart.