Tommy's guest blog, 20/01/2017, by Lauren
For as long as I can remember, I’ve dreamed of the day I would have a family of my own. The day I would be a wife and a mom. I fell in love in college and after eight years together we got married.
It didn’t take long after we said, ‘I do’ that I began asking my husband if he was ready to start trying for a baby. I didn’t want to pressure him but in my heart, I was always a bit worried it wouldn’t be easy for us.
When the time felt right for both of us we began trying, though I told no one. That’s what I felt like I needed to do - keep it a secret, just in case.
After ten months and no luck, I started to worry. It was at this point that trying stopped being fun and started to turn stressful. I was taking my temperature every single morning and I was checking every app I could find to analyze my body in hopes of conceiving.
Each month brought hope as the start of a new cycle grew closer. I wasted more money than I’d like to admit on pregnancy tests. I would stare at them each time hoping for the second line to appear.
The day arrived after about a year and a half of trying. I took a test and a very, very faint second line was there in front of me. I told my husband in the sweetest way that I had always dreamed of and just like that we were filled with so much joy, love and gratitude for this little baby of ours growing inside of me.
I remember being so excited and filled with hope. I remember thinking of names and starting nursery boards on pinterest. I’d never been happier.
In fact the best moment of my life was watching Jeff’s face as the ultrasound technician turned the screen so we could see our little babies profile and hear it’s beating heart. The most beautiful sound I had ever heard.
We asked for a picture to take home and to share our news with family. I’d seen so many of those little black and white photographs of friends’ babies. Now we finally had our own!
Then just like that, all of my excitement was suddenly ripped away from me. Somehow, the best moment of our lives was transformed into the worst. Jeff and I were sitting across from a doctor that told us she had some concerns with the scan.
I remember hearing words like abnormality, fluid, problems. All I could think of was that this was my worst nightmare.
We were directed upstairs to the Fetal Care Centre and had another scan. It showed a large black spot in our baby’s lungs, which was the fluid from what’s called a Pleural Effusion. This was not a good sign and we were told to be prepared for the worst.
We were asked to come back in a few weeks. A few weeks? We were absolutely devastated and in complete disbelief. There was something wrong with our baby and all we could do was wait and hope. Time passed so slowly.
The next scan of our baby showed that it’s heart stopped beating a few weeks earlier. I had a missed miscarriage.
I felt empty and that emptiness quickly filled with feelings of grief, loss, heartbreak and self-doubt.
I wondered if there was something I could have done differently, or better that might have prevented the loss. Even though my doctors told me there was nothing I could have done, there was always this part of me that wondered.
Since my body wasn’t naturally miscarrying I was scheduled to have a procedure called an ERPC. I remember lots of tears and heartache. No words could describe what we went through.
As time passed, I processed through the emotional and physical pain and healed as much as I could. We reached the point where we thought we could begin trying again. Our doctors kept reminding us that the good news was this experience showed I could get pregnant.
It was absolutely terrifying to be pregnant again after our first miscarriage. I was so much more cautious. I wouldn’t allow myself to feel that excitement and hope that I’d once felt. I’d catch myself in thoughts of joy and quickly snap back to a dark reality of worry and doubt.
I didn’t let myself think about names or dates. I didn’t tell my husband in a sweet thought out way this time. I was having nightmares and panic attacks. This is not what I imagined pregnancy to feel like.
I always knew that my family and friends were there for me but it was so hard for me to talk about what we were going through. Nothing anyone said could reassure me. All I wanted, all I needed was a healthy baby.
I discovered a close friend going through similar struggles. I needed that friend who understood what I was going through, because she was also feeling that same frustration, the disappointment, the anger. All of it.
My friend had told me about a miscarriage and early pregnancy loss study she was involved in at the miscarriage clinic at Queen Charlotte Hospital, London. She told me about Dr. Maya, the routine ultrasounds she was getting and I knew that I wanted to get involved.
Our first scan looked normal. Many women would feel relief at this point but I only felt worry. I counted the hours until the next scan and held my breath waiting to hear the beat of our baby’s heart. Once again, it wasn’t there. Another miscarriage.
I started to give up hope. It started to feel like maybe it wasn’t meant to be.
Long months passed with lots more physical and emotional healing. I was so lucky to have such a supportive partner by my side through all of the ups and downs. Jeff never lost hope.
Over the next few months, I know that I got pregnant at least two more times. Both were chemical pregnancies - meaning when I took a pregnancy test I was pregnant but then got my period a week or two later.
While all of this was going on, it felt like everyone was announcing their due date on facebook, walking around with a growing belly, getting pregnant without even trying. While I felt happy for my friends and their growing families, I was too overwhelmed with sadness for our dreams. My thoughts felt selfish because all I could think was that it wasn’t fair.
As the months continued to pass, I became resolved to do things differently. I decided I wouldn’t calculate my ovulation date anymore. I deleted all of the apps on my phone and decided to make trying fun again.
After a three week camping trip through Germany, Switzerland and Belgium, we returned home and I realized I was several days late. After multiple pregnancy tests, I wasn’t overwhelmed with joy like I was with our first pregnancy. I wasn’t taken over with doubt like our second pregnancy.
This time, I just felt numb.
I decided to again sign up to be a part of the miscarriage and early pregnancy loss study with the miscarriage clinic at Queen Charlotte Hospital. This was the best thing I could have done.
Dr. Maya seemed to understand how I was feeling. She made a personal connection with us and gave me the reassurance I so desperately needed. I can’t say enough about how important this support was for me.
I truly believe I enjoyed my pregnancy because of the care we received from the clinic. Each time we showed up for a scan, I would look at the wall of cards and pictures from thankful parents. I never lost hope and dreamed of the day I could send our family photograph thanking all of the staff for their help and support along the way.
Many months later, I mailed a photograph to the clinic of us with our healthy daughter. I was overcome with emotions. Although my dream had come true, I know that I am one of the lucky ones.
I am thankful for our daughter every single day. I know that women have gone through many more years of heartbreak than I have. I know that some women are still dreaming of the day they will get to hold their baby. I also know that I would go through everything we went through, a million times again to end up where I am right here, right now.
Unfortunately, miscarriage and struggles to get pregnant tend to be a silent part of our lives. For some reason, we feel like we can’t talk about these challenges at the time when we need the most support.
This experience is so much more common than any of us realize. When we share these stories of hurt and pain, we realize how many of those around us have been through something similar.
Instead of suffering in isolation, if we open ourselves up, we can create a network of support to be there for other women. That’s why I’ve felt compelled to share my story.
The loss experienced in a miscarriage never completely goes away but I would like to tell women who’ve experienced this that you’re not alone.
No one can tell you what to feel or how to feel. Don’t let someone tell you it isn’t okay to grieve or that you shouldn’t feel a loss. You need to process everything you are feeling to move forward. Life does eventually go on and with time, comes healing.
This burden is yours. Yours to go through, and yours to carry. But it doesn’t have to be yours alone.
Share your story and let's stop being silent because your story can empower someone else. Take hold of the hands that are reaching out for you. Take comfort from those that offer it and know that you are not alone.
"I truly feel without the support of the EPU and the peace of mind given to us through the Tommy's study we would not be where we are today."
Little Anderson was born under the care of the Tommy's Early Miscarriage Research Centre at London Imperial.
'Having Elsie involved in the fundraising was so special to me, because at one point I couldn't have imagined her ever being here with us.'
Lianne & Elsie took part in Sensathon 2016. Here's their story...
We wanted to help babies who aren't as healthy as Lara by raising as much money as we can.