“I knew I was ready to try again”

Claire Gale, 30, and husband Mark, 32, from Bournemouth always wanted a family. Last year and 8 weeks into her pregnancy, Claire miscarried, but she trusted her body to tell her when it was time to try again for a baby.

Mark and I have been together since university so, when we got married six years ago, I think everyone expected us to start a family straight away. But we felt too young, we enjoy travelling, there were things we wanted to do. 

A perfect moment

It was the year when we bought a flat that we really started talking about trying for a baby and we got excited about the idea. We were ready. So, after 15 years, I came off the combined pill in December 2017 and started taking folic acid and vitamin D.

At first, we were using an app called Natural Cycles, taking my temperature every day. Then, after a while, I started using an ovulation test.

It took almost three months for my cycle to regulate after the pill, but it had done so by March. Two months later, we got a positive pregnancy test.

We were so happy. We found out the day before my Mum’s birthday so we ‘accosted’ her on her way to work and her face was an absolute picture. It was a perfect moment and lots of tears and smiles.

But it didn’t go to plan.

We accepted this pregnancy was going to end

At 8 weeks I had some bleeding and at an early pregnancy scan they said the baby was still alive but not big enough to see whether it would continue to live. We came back a couple of weeks later and there’d been progression but not enough. They suggested my dates could be wrong but I was confident they weren’t.

Two weeks later we returned and again there’d been some development of the foetus but not what they wanted to see.

They told us we’d have to wait and see what happened. My mum works on a maternity ward, so she was able to ask consultants she knew about the situation. I talked to my mum and a friend who I knew had been through the same experience. I asked lots of questions, ‘What would happen next?’ ‘How would we get through?’

At that point I think Mark and I kind of accepted that it was going to end, it was just a matter of when.

It was one week later.

I lost our baby at home. It had been a very busy day at a family barbecue and I was bleeding. It got heavier and heavier I remember sitting on the sofa and being overcome by pain.

I felt like I was going for a wee, but I now know I was haemorrhaging. I had to get on my hands and knees. That’s when it dawned on me what was happening, that’s when I lost all hope.

Work were really supportive, they gave me the time and space I needed to try and cope with all of this.

Advice from Tommy’s

I’ve had amazing support but slowly over time realised I was suffering huge anxiety about everything. I couldn’t handle social media. So I quit lots of chat groups on social because I just handle hearing lots of talk about work, dinner or anything.

I went online and used the Tommy’s website quite a lot to try and understand why I’d miscarried, to understand why there are so many losses. It opened my mind to the potential problems women face.

I struggled with what I found. All I could think was, ‘How are one in four women walking around, functioning, after this?

I felt grief, I didn’t know what to do. I felt guilt, was it my fault?

I needed to do something, so I focused on detoxing in general. I started meditating every day for a month. I quit lots of group chats on social media because I just couldn’t handle hearing lots of talk about work, about dinner. My friends were supportive.

Ready to try for a baby again

Slowly, as my body healed, I got better.

At the time my bereavement counsellor had reassured me that my body would tell me when I was ready to try again. She said the rest was up to me.

I still kept a track of my body temperature and carried on using ovulation tests, so I knew when I was physically ready.

With that first period, I felt I was getting to that point. I’m a strong, independent person, I don’t like to dwell although I knew I would never, could never, forget the baby we lost.

But a family was something we really wanted so we decided to see what would happen.

It must have only been my second cycle after everything settled down when I fell pregnant again in late September.

We felt so nervous before our 12-week scan. I felt paranoid and kept wondering if I would even get to 12 weeks – thankfully there was no bleeding and lots of morning sickness.  I just felt a little bit more pregnant.

I’m coming up to 25 weeks and I feel really good, I now feel really hopeful.