My grief is competing with grief

All tests indicated Claire was healthy, and her egg count numbers were high enough for us to embark on the egg sharing programme

Baby loss submission

Story by Sarah,

My wife and I started our fertility journey in November 2017. Two months after we lost her dad to cancer.

All tests indicated Claire was healthy, and her egg count numbers were high enough for us to embark on the egg sharing programme. My wife and I wanted to help others that have difficulty conceiving and we felt this was a way to do that.

Following on from this, a scan revealed Claire had a polyp that would need removing before going ahead. Unfortunately this is a £2000 procedure done privately and we just didn’t have the funds. The NHS is a marvellous institution, but in the climate of limited funding and resources, having a polyp removed was not seen as a priority. It delayed things considerably.

More scans with a sonographer, who incidentally joked we were having twins, which felt rather insensitive, it was still unclear if Claire had a polyp or not, meaning more waiting.

Finally in May 2018, Claire had her procedure. That very same week my mum was diagnosed with terminal cancer. My world began to crumble around me. The longing to become a mum, whilst losing my own was overwhelming and at times I am not sure how I even coped. But we did. Just!

In October we returned to the clinic. Ready to start again, however tests now showed Claire’s egg count had dramatically reduced. The consultant believes the decline could possibly be due to age, but the stress we’d experienced had understandable taken its toll. We could no longer be consider for the egg sharing programme. Both Claire and I were disappointed as this was something we both felt strongly about and wanted to do, but it was no longer an option.

After some consideration, we opted for the less invasive procedure of IUI, although we knew success rates were much lower. Claire was also having weekly acupuncture to try and increase our chances.

We completed our first cycle. Waiting 11 days before doing our test. NEGATIVE. My world stopped for a brief moment. Trying to remain upbeat, I convinced myself the second cycle would work.

Back to the clinic we went. This time, mum was becoming more and more unwell. I knew she wouldn’t be with us much longer and I wanted desperately more than anything to tell her I was going to become a mum. Which was completely bitter sweet, because I knew she wouldn’t be here to see that.

27th December 2018, cycle two. Claire and I argued on the way to the clinic. The stress of mum being in hospital was just too much. I was angry, sad, broken. I began to question if I even deserved to become a mum and how good would I really be. May be this was fates way and that’s why the first cycle hadn’t worked. I cried in the procedure room. My wife doesn’t know that.

Following the procedure, we waited the full 14 days. In my heart I knew Claire was pregnant the moment she told me she had eaten a chocolate bar and it didn’t taste nice. I knew my chocoholic wife would not say something like that. I knew this was our time. But my head remained calm until it was time to do the test.

10th January 2019. I asked Claire if I could hold the test this time round. She agreed. We waited for what felt like a lifetime. PREGNANT. My heart missed a beat. I was unbelievably happy but it was tinged with sadness because of mum. I didn’t want that and I know mum wouldn’t have either. But it was what I felt.

Claire and I wanted to tell our mums together. I waited all day until she returned home from work at 8pm. We sat together in mums room and shared our happy news. I’ve never seen my mum smile like that. I told her what we would name the baby if we have a girl. Mums smile doubled. It’s a moment I’ll cherish forever.

6 days later. Mum passed. It was her time. I was numb. Overwhelmed by the whole experience. The days following are a blur apart from one experience that occurred two days later. Claire had complained of stomach cramps. I didn’t think anything of it. I’m unsure if this was because I was so caught up in the passing of mum or because I genuinely did not ever consider anything bad could or would happen.

Claire was spotting. I tried to reassure her that everything would be ok. I was desperate to make her feel okay. I contacted the clinic for guidance. In 30 years the nurse had seen everything. But what I was describing could indicate a miscarriage and I was told we ‘need to prepare ourselves’ I didn’t think much of that sentence at the time. But looking back. How do you ever prepare yourself for the news that your unborn child has died.

We were advised to go for a blood test the following day and then to repeat this two days later. Hormone levels would indicate if Claire was still pregnant or not.

Claire began to bleed quite heavily that night but in my heart I still held on to some hope that our baby was okay. ‘This happens’. ‘It’s going to be fine,’ I told myself. It wasn’t! Tests revealed that Claire had a miscarriage. In the space of two days, I lost two of the most important people in my life. One of them I wasn’t lucky enough to meet, but for the shortest of time brought light in the darkest of times.

But now my grief is competing with further grief and I feel suffocated by it all!

I don’t know what the future holds for us, no one does. But for now, we take each surviving moment, one by one. But one thing I do know is we will love our little ‘Russian Doll’ for all our remaining seconds, minutes, hours and days.

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