On 8 September 2019 Rachel took on the Great North Run for Tommy's. After suffering recurrent miscarriages, Rachel and her partner got their pot of gold at the end of the rainbow - their daughter Willow. This is their story and Rachel's reason for running.
After trying for a baby for some time, I went to the doctors where tests showed that we would have difficulties. This left me devastated. You always think that it will happen straight away, you never think or are even aware of what people go through to become parents.
We were referred to a fertility clinic. After your first appointment you want to get the ball rolling straight away, but the biggest thing I have learned to do over the past two years is to be patient.
A week after our first appointment, I was feeling extremely ill, which led to a trip to A&E. It was to our amazement and shock that we found out I was pregnant. Because of how ill I was they did an initial scan, but because my dates were all over the place, we were told to go back for a check-up scan.
The next week we went back and were told the news that they could see twins, but to come back again as they still were not sure about the dates. We carried on life as normal and tried to stay optimistic, a few weeks later we went for another scan, when we thought I would roughly be 11 weeks, and were told the devastating news that we had lost the twins and it was classed as a missed miscarriage.
We had been on the highest of highs and now we were on the lowest of lows. I decided to choose a managed miscarriage as they could not tell me when my body would start to reject them. This was the hardest decision I ever had to make.
We were lucky enough to fall pregnant again a few months later, but unfortunately this ended in an early miscarriage. We were completely deflated, lonely and heartbroken again. It was at this time we found Tommy’s and were able to gain a wealth of information on miscarriages and multiple miscarriages.
We were at a loss as to what to do or decide and the website helped us make decisions going forward. We tried again, as you do not receive any further investigations until you have had 3.
We were lucky enough to fall pregnant quickly again. This time we did not get excited or celebrate. Why would we get excited again and make plans when they have already been taken away from us twice before?
I was able to book an early scan due to my history and at 7 weeks we were told there was a clear heartbeat. We still did not feel like we could relax. At our 14-week scan, we could see our baby.
It was the biggest relief I have ever felt. It was an even better feeling at the 20 weeks scan and everything was fine once again. We did not take anything for granted and there was always a constant worry throughout the entire pregnancy.
Around the 30-week mark, I started to feel some symptoms I wasn’t too sure about. After looking them up on Tommy’s website and speaking to my midwife, I was sent to the hospital for tests, where I was diagnosed with OC, obstetric cholestasis, which is a liver condition brought on by pregnancy. I had to be monitored weekly and put on medication to try and stop my levels rising.
I was induced two weeks early, as there are higher risks of stillbirth and complications.
Had it not been for the information on Tommy’s, I would have put myself down to being over the top and would have never got it checked. I always tell people always get anything you feel isn’t right checked out. No matter how small or big you think it is.
It was also during this time where they had found out I had contracted CMV, a common virus, during my pregnancy. At the time they thought I had caught it, my second trimester, there was a chance our daughter had caught it and it could have a lasting impact on her hearing, sight and development. Another setback to deal with.
Once again, the Tommy’s website provided us with the information we needed to deal with this second set of news. After our daughter was born, she had a brain scan, ear test and eye test and we are pleased to say they all came back clear.
Our daughter Willow was born on St Patrick’s Day, so she truly is our pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. I remember being in shock the first time I saw Willow and feeling both relief and disbelief that she was finally here and safe.
All the months of worrying and hurdles were all worth it. From going from feelings of having no hope, disappointment, sadness and loneliness to pure joy, happiness, and excitement was one bumpy ride. Willow is our little symbol that anything is possible.
I have done the Great North Run before and wanted to set myself a personal goal after a difficult two years. It was important to me to do something positive for myself as well as others and can’t think of a better way than to get my running shoes back on. I may have been adventurous with my goal as it will have only been six months since my daughter was born, but I have realised anything is possible if you put your mind to it and don’t want people to give up.
I think the best moment of doing the Great North Run this year will be completing the run and getting a cuddle from my daughter knowing we have helped others and raised some money for research to stop others having to go through the same.
Tommy’s is an extremely worthwhile charity that has a great deal of information that was so helpful while we were going through our difficulties. They've also been a continued support during my training for the half marathon and to be able to give something small back is a good feeling.
They are continuously trying to help people out through their important research and I’m pleased and grateful my husband and myself found them.
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Our beautiful baby girl was so perfect, I looked at her little face and waited for her to cry to prove that they were wrong, but she couldn’t.
'No one expects this to happen to them and no one can tell you how you’re meant to act. My pregnancy and birthing plan had disappeared over night and I had two sick babies who I was unable to care for. I felt totally alone with my own feelings and felt I had nowhere to turn.'
1 in every 250 pregnancies ends in a stillbirth in the UK. That's 8 babies every day.
A preterm birth is one that happens before 37 weeks of pregnancy. Globally, more than 1 in 10 pregnancies will end in preterm birth.
Statistics about early miscarriage, late miscarriage, recurrent miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy.