Claire Burdett suffered her first miscarriage when she was 18 years old and had fallen pregnant with her boyfriend, Stephen.
'We were shocked but happy, but the happy feeling was taken away by our first miscarriage. We decided to pick ourselves up and enjoy being young, but I couldn't shake the feeling of wanting to be a mother. It felt so right even though I was so young, but Stephen wanted us to wait a few more years before we started trying.'
This first loss was the first of many as Claire and Stephen experienced the pain of recurrent miscarriage over 13 years of trying for a baby.
'I couldn't believe it. Not again, why us? Why is this happening? I want this baby so much. Off we went to deal with the upset and decided to wait six months before considering trying again. Three months later, my period was one week late. Off we went for a pregnancy test and there were those all-important two lines, we were convinced this was going to be third time lucky. But yet again we were faced with another miscarriage, and two more after that.'
Claire was referred to a specialist who confirmed that she has a heart shaped womb (bicornuate womb) and sticky blood.
Having a heart-shaped womb does not cause extra difficulties with conception in early pregnancy, but it does increase the risk of miscarriage and preterm birth.
Claire and Stephen hoped this would be the answer to all their miscarriage heartache and that the medication they were given would help them get their rainbow baby.
Sadly this was not the case and Claire went on to suffer two ectopic pregnancies,
'I held Stephen’s hand so tight. He was laughing because he was so nervous. Next thing, the lady who was scanning me said, ‘one minute and I will be back.’ Then she came back with two other doctors who broke the news to us that in fact our baby was in my tube and they needed to get me down to theatre asap as my tube was erupting. By this time none of this was registering in my head, a yellow form appeared within minutes I had to sign it and off I went to theatre in floods of tears. Petrified and in shock poor Stephen was left on his own to deal with it and to explain to our families what was happening.'
Around 1 in 90 pregnancies in the UK are ectopic which creates a potentially life-threatening situation for the mother so it is very important that it is treated quickly.
After a period of time, and with Stephen’s support, Claire managed to pull herself out of the “big black hole” of depression she had fallen into following these losses. She went on a health kick to meet the required BMI to be eligible for IVF.
'One year later I was five stone lighter and ready to do this, we had been accepted for the treatment and we were ready to tackle this 100%. After both of us having tests done the hormone injections were prescribed for me and we were finally on our way to making our dreams come true. Stephen was loving giving me the injections every day and life was starting feel good again until we were told at a scan that my ovaries weren't stimulating and the cycle was abandoned. I wasn't going to let this get me down though, I wasn't prepared to throw myself back into that black hole again, I had worked so hard to get accepted for this treatment and I was so head strong I picked myself up.'
After a second failed cycle Claire and Stephen took some time away for themselves and got married in Cyprus.
'It was the happiest day of my life and I have the world’s best husband. For somebody to stick by me like he has means the world to me.'
After another failed transfer Claire and Stephen were down to their final frozen embryo.
After seeing a new consultant, the couple were offered the opportunity to meet with Professor Siobhan Quenby who specialises in recurring miscarriage and implantation at a Tommy’s National Centre of Miscarriage Research clinic in Warwick University Hospital.
'We snatched this life line with both hands and went to see Professor Siobhan Quenby. I have never met such a caring kind hearted lady. After she read through my file she looked at me and Stephen and asked us, ‘How are you two still smiling? You have been through so much!’ She offered us every test possible so we can hopefully get our miracle.'
There was concern that Claire may have a high level of Natural Killer cells which could be attacking the embryos.
Scientists have been uncertain about how the cells could contribute to miscarriage but a recent study has provided an explanation for how they could be linked to recurrent miscarriage.
Claire had to have two biopsies taken due to the fact she has a heart shaped womb.
'To cut long story short I cried like a baby. It was so painful getting it done that I was given gas and air which didn't help. It just made me feel sick and dizzy and I couldn't inhale it as I was that upset, poor Stephen couldn’t do enough to help me feel at ease. But 30 mins later two successful biopsies have been taken and I now have to wait 4 weeks for the results.'
The results of this biopsy have revealed that Claire does not have NK Killer Cells so she will now be given a treatment plan to go forward with.
We are so impressed by Claire and Stephen’s resilience and strength in the face of knock after knock on the road to becoming parents.
We have got everything crossed for Claire and Stephen who are embarking on the next stage of their journey with their final embryo transfer this month.
Read more from Claire at her blog, The Ride of Our Lives.
Losing a baby at any stage of pregnancy can be a devastating experience. Today we recognise the parents who have endured this heartbreak and honour the little ones they have lost, because every parenting journey is unique and we are all mums.
Losing a baby at any stage of pregnancy can be a devastating experience. Baby Loss Awareness Week occurs every year to recognise the parents who have endured this heartbreak and honour the little ones they have lost.
'You never know what pages you might find, or people you might meet that could make this journey a little easier.'
'I wanted to share those stories and feelings to encourage other fathers to talk about their experiences and not feel alone.'
Read more about Baby Loss Awareness Week 2016
If you need support, please don't suffer alone. We have details of organisations who can help.
You and your partner have both experienced a miscarriage but you may react to it very differently. Everyone has their own way of grieving and it helps to accept and respect those differences.
You might be eager to try again, or not quite ready to think about the future – here are some things to consider when planning your next pregnancy.