Our first baby was conceived after we had been trying almost 2 years and I had started clomid. The first cycle didn’t work but on cycle 2 I got a very early positive pregnancy test. I had never so much as a sniff of a second line before. I was elated. I thought we had got away with it. 2 days later however I was crunched over in pain on the sofa. This wasn’t normal. I was scared. We rang the GP who sent us via A and E to the emergency gynaecology unit. It was too early to see a pregnancy on scan, I’d barely missed a period, but they could see a massive cyst on my ovary. I had bled into it with my ovary twisted I was at risk of dying – this is called ovarian torsion. The cruel thing was that this same cyst was what would sustain that pregnancy. Operate and we would lose the pregnancy but leave it and we would lose the ovary, risking me getting seriously unwell. I guess there wasn’t really a choice and sobbing we signed the consent forms. 2 days later we were allowed home. The second line on the pregnancy test faded away and so did our hopes of a baby.
Amazingly our daughter was born in 2012 but then we decided a couple of years later that we would like to try for a sibling. We were aware that it had previously been tricky and taken a long time so we weren’t expecting success. 8 months into trying however I felt a bit odd one day and took a test just to rule that out. I was shocked when there were two lines. Two weeks passed and I was starting to feel reassuringly sick and tired. I was working two thirteen hour shifts at the hospital that weekend. Saturday went ok but when I got home there was the tiniest amount of spotting. After some obsessive googling I tried hard to ignore it and decided that I’d go and see the GP on Monday as I didn’t want to let work down. 3 hours into my morning at work I felt a sudden pain and then the bleeding start after I’d been rushing around. I remember sitting sobbing on the toilet at work. Bleeding and in pain. I rang my (female) boss and told her I needed to go home. She asked me to stay until someone could be found to cover me. I then looked down and had bled all over my trousers and she realised maybe asking me to stay hadn’t been appropriate. Deep down I’m sure me being at work wasn’t why I bled, but I wish I had been at home with my husband and for once had put ourselves first.
As it was the weekend I couldn’t get a scan for 2 days. On the Tuesday I sat in EPAU desperately hoping the baby would still be there but knowing deep down it wouldn’t be. I didn’t feel sick anymore, my breasts no longer hurt and I knew my baby was gone. The scan showed I was right.
Physically I was ok within a few days so I went back to work as I hate letting people down. I managed 6 hours before a nurse found me crying at a desk on the ward and sent me home. I couldn’t breathe. I felt so utterly lost and hopeless. Why couldn’t my body keep our baby safe?
Fast forward another 2 years and 2 failed cycles of IVF and still no baby. We were moving cities so we went to a new clinic to go and plan our next cycle of treatment. At the baseline scan the sonographer commented “you’ve ovulated from both sides this month, you could have twins”. At the time I remember inwardly cursing her and thinking what a stupid thing to say to someone in an IVF clinic. I’m sure you will guess what happened next….2 weeks later I started to feel unwell just a month prior to starting our cycle. And lo and behold the test was positive. I’d become one of the annoying people with a miracle pregnancy while waiting for IVF that we’ve all heard about while trying to get pregnant.
This time I wasn’t excited for even a minute. I was just terrified. My lovely GP organised a scan at 6 weeks after I sat in her clinic room crying and that showed one baby in the right place with a heartbeat. I dared to breathe a little. 2 weeks later and the sickness was so bad I was started on medication and admitted with dehydration. Scanned again and baby still hanging on. Because we were about to move across the country we opted for private screening at 10 weeks as we weren’t sure I would get my dating scan slot on time. With a vomit bowl in hand I again saw our baby, this time looking like a like a little jelly bean bouncing around. We also found out from the testing that it was a baby girl. Again we breathed. The odds were now firmly on our side. Over 99% of pregnancies with a heart beat at 10 weeks end with a live baby.
So we moved cities, away from almost everyone we knew and all our support, and I continued to vomit. Everything suggested that ongoing hyperemesis was a really good sign for the pregnancy. We met another EPAU team who looked after me and kept me hydrated. And I tried to hide how I felt from my then 5 year old who was desperate for a sibling but didn’t know we were pregnant. Weeks passed. Feeling pretty ropey we headed off to our scan at 13 weeks. In the car we were discussing how we would tell our family and friends about our baby and working out if I would be well enough to start my new job in 4 weeks as planned.
I remember that when we were called into the room the big screen on the wall wasn’t working. But that’s ok we thought. I’m still being so sick. It has to all be fine. I then remember it just going very quiet as the sonographer did put the probe on my abdomen. My husband wouldn’t meet my eye. And I knew. I remember hearing a moan and then realising that it had come from me. I remember asking over and over – “the baby is dead isn’t it?” and it took what felt like an age for the sonographer to confirm that she thought that was the case but had to get a second person to confirm. I remember them turning the screen around and our perfect baby was there. But she was perfectly still with no heartbeat. We were told she had probably died in the last 2 days. I couldn’t believe she had gone and my body hadn’t even known. I was still so unwell. Again I hadn’t been able to keep her safe.
We were ushered out of the way round the back of antenatal clinic into a windowless room with a box of tissues on the table and told to wait to see the doctor. We waited over an hour not knowing what was going on. The only thing I remember from that consultation was the doctor saying “I’ve reviewed your notes and it’s good that you were able to conceive this baby without IVF”. I don’t think either of us knew what to say – I couldn’t believe someone could be so callous. How was anything about this situation good? Did it somehow mean this baby meant less if we hadn’t had IVF or that it was somehow good that this had been a spontaneous pregnancy? We asked to be moved to EPAU and said we didn’t wish to talk to her any longer.
The staff in EPAU were like a breath of fresh air. The first nurse, Steph, met us at the doors, took us to a quiet room and gave me a hug as she told me how sorry she was. They listened to us and the consultant came and discussed what choices we had. We opted to have surgical management and went in a couple of days later.
On that morning it was like living in alternate universe. It was a beautiful sunny day but I’ve never felt in a darker place. I still was vomiting profusely. My body was very definitely still pregnant. We had had to tell our daughter that I had been pregnant and that the baby was poorly and couldn’t stay. We left her crying at a friends house. When we arrived at hospital I begged for another scan before signing the consent forms. The nurse very gently agreed to do this. I lay there praying there would be a miracle and somehow she would have come back to life. They wasn’t. She was still totally still. She had started to curl up which is apparently what happens when the baby has been dead for a few days. I couldn’t look at her. I still regret not being able to see her, even on the screen for one last time. It’s like I missed my chance to say goodbye.
I had to take a tablet before going to surgery. I think it took me over 30 minutes to be able to swallow it. It felt like I was letting my baby girl down by allowing her to leave me. The only place she had ever known. The place that should have kept her safe and nourished her. Then when the porter came to walk me to surgery it was like my legs wouldn’t work. We got to a lift to go up to where the operating theatres were and I just couldn’t get in. We had to let the lift come and go 3 times before I could get over the threshold. The porter waited patiently and didn’t rush us. My husband didn’t complain as I gripped his hand so tightly.
The staff couldn’t have been kinder or more gentle with me. They were all so compassionate and looked genuinely sad for us. The anaethestist who put to me sleep held my hand the whole time as I asked though tears for them not to have to do this and when I woke up the recovery nurse was holding my hand too.
I’ve kept a list of all the staff from that day because of how kind they were. I wrote to all of them. So here I would like to thank Debbie the healthcare assistant, the nurses Lorraine, Sarah, Steph and Karen. Karolina the student nurse on the ward. Mr Hooper the consultant. Oli, the anaesthetist and the team in theatres – Katie and Leanne. And finally Jason and Richard the porters. Lots of people complain about the NHS. I personally could not fault the care and compassion we received on the hardest and saddest of days.
I wasn’t prepared for how physically empty I would feel immediately when I woke up. The sickness was still there but I felt hollow. I knew she was gone. I continued to be sick for another week while my body adjusted to realising I wasn’t pregnant anymore. We had some tests on the baby and it confirmed that she was perfect and again my body had failed her. We haven’t found out why.
We had another cycle of IVF but got hardly any eggs and again it was unsuccessful. Following this I discovered that I was entering a premature menopause at age 35. That baby girl had been our last chance for a baby that was genetically related to me. That loss seemed even more cruel in the light of this information.
We have since had a baby using donor eggs who has started to help me heal. And I know without the loss of the other babies she wouldn’t be here and I know I’m meant to be her mum. But I hold that truth in parallel with still grieving for all 3 of my babies, but most especially the last one who my daughter named Muffin (after a summer of making apple muffins). As time has passed the world has forgotten my lost babies. To the outside I look like a mum with two children and on paper I have everything I wanted. But I am forever changed. There are tiny footprints etched on my heart and my soul that have changed the person that I am. And I’ll carry those babies safely there, always with me, until we can all be back together again.
“The Beast from the East”; the unseasonal spring snow. It fluttered to the pavement in thick flourishes, burying the daffodils and the freshly cut grass. It was almost March, the hint of Spring was supposed to be teetering on the breeze. Instead transport creaked to a stop and street lights wavered in the white fog. We held each other and looked out of the window in disbelief. I squeezed him tight as we looked down once more at the undeniable pink lines staring up at us: “We’re having a baby, Willem.” In the coming days and weeks I began to fall in love. For as long as I can remember, I’ve never not hated my body; I’ve been cruel and unkind and treated it in ways I would never dare treat another person. But finally, aged 25, I was in awe of the wonder of it; of what it could do, how it could change, how it could create. I began nourishing my body with everything it needed, I gave up booze, chocolate, bought decaf teabags. I ate vegetables! I hugged and rubbed and squeezed it, I stared naked in the mirror and smiled with pride. I was amazing.
Spring was in the air and we started sharing the news with close family. We began planning and dreaming: ultrasound scans, maternity clothes, my voluptuous bikini body, the big reveal, the birth, the night feeds, our first Christmas. This year was our year. Finally! And then the weather dropped. The snow was rumoured to return. “Spotting is perfectly normal”, they said; the midwives and the online forums, the doctors at A&E, and the nurse who did the blood tests, the Sonographer who showed us the tiny 6-week heartbeat. It’s perfectly normal. We breathed a sigh of relief and went home to the South Coast to escape London and celebrate my Birthday. To share our good news. Mid-March. Spring. “The sunniest town in England.” And the snow fluttered down, and the beast returned. And I knew that this amount of bleeding was not “perfectly normal”. My Birthday came and went – I turned 26 in a blur of exhaustion and sanitary towels and tears. We forced ourselves back to London and back to the hospital. But I already knew. I knew before she even said that there was no heartbeat. I knew before the second opinion that it had stopped developing just hours after last week’s scan. I knew before they listed the options that I would choose number three, the surgical procedure. And I knew before I even looked at Will that his heart had shattered in exactly the same places as mine. The Spring snow had turned to sludge; our little bubble had burst.
And now it’s three days after surgery, and my heart feels as empty and violated as my vacuumed uterus. The morphine buzz has fizzed away, and the bleeding and the cramps have subsided. And now I’m left with the heavy, empty, sadness that dulls the colours and dims the light. I was built for this, I used to think; my child-bearing hips and my mumsy patience and clockwork periods: I was born to have children. But I’ve failed. My body, that I had finally forgiven and apologised to, that I had, after all these years finally fallen in love with, had failed. My body has broken my heart. And I don’t know whether to hold it tight or tear it to pieces. So I curl up and cling to my hot water bottle, I close my eyes and hope that I can sleep until it’s not today anymore. Because maybe tomorrow my heart will hurt a little less, maybe tomorrow the day will seem a little brighter and I’ll feel a little lighter. Maybe tomorrow.
“Snow Bubble” is the first chapter of Jade’s blog, Collected Thinks following her miscarriage and infertility struggles, which includes advice from The Miscarriage Association about how to help support a loved one going through a pregnancy loss. She also writes scripts and short children’s stories, a selection of which can be found on her website. One of Jade’s pieces about miscarriage will be featured in the female friendship anthology, ‘Let Me Know When You’re Home’, which will be published in February 2020. She’s hoping that by writing and talking openly about miscarriage and infertility it will open up conversation and make these topics a little less taboo. Say hello over on instagram or twitter (@collectedthinks). x
In our seven years of trying to start our family, we’ve suffered three devastating losses. Each completely different, each utterly heartbreaking.
After two and half years of trying naturally, pleading with the GP and finally having a years worth of invasive tests and operations, we fell pregnant – our only natural pregnancy. It was Thursday 9th July 2015, 2 weeks before our first IVF appointment. We were newly engaged and planning our wedding and that day, we were the luckiest couple in the entire world.
Everything was great, no problems, no scares. Four close friends were also pregnant, we all made so many plans, had so many dreams. Life was pretty perfect.
22d August, I remember it was a really warm day. My Mum and bridesmaids had a day of wedding dress shopping hard of us and I was trying to find something cool to wear. I popped to the loo before we left, at 11 weeks this was already a regular occurrence.
There was blood. I remember screaming for Lee.
We were shocked, terrified.
He drove me and a friend to A&E, but then like most weekend, he had to leave me to go shoot a wedding. Can you imagine how scared he was? How he got through that day I’ll never know.
After a brief checkover and internal, A&E sent us home with the promise of letting the EPU know to call us the next day. See A&E can’t really help you if you think you’re miscarrying, sadly my first but not last experience of this.
A scan was arranged for the next day, and despite being scared on the drive to Addenbrooke’s, I remember lying on the bed feeling excited that we’d see our baby for the first time today. But we never got that chance. A missed miscarriage they said, no baby to be seen. We called her Ivy, not that we ever really knew for sure.
We were taken to a room off the waiting area, past heavily pregnant women. I don’t remember much about what anyone said that day, just being handed a pile of leaflets and trying to get out of there as soon as possible. What followed over the next week was horrific. From the terminology used, to the effects of a medical management. An emergency D&C after haemorrhaging in our bathroom at home, a trauma that left us with lasting mental scars.
That loss was my first experience of isolation, both out of choice and circumstance.
I found it increasingly difficult to be around anyone pregnant. Friends who were shared their time, their experiences, there were weekly meet-ups I couldn’tgo to.
We were lucky to receive counselling from Petals, a charity that supports bereaved parents, but I wasn’t ready to talk – I let everything go inward instead. I cried for days, and when the crying became too much for everyone else, I’d cry in the shower or the car on the way to work – anywhere no-one could see me.
We tried again when we could, but nothing happened. By March 2016 we’d already had 3 months messing around from various NHS departments, before finally being declined for any IVF funding.
We self funded our first (and subsequent rounds), but by August we’d had our first failure. It had been a disaster all round. 3 eggs collected, 2 fertilised but low quality – a day 3 transfer ended in a BFN.
Our consultant started the conversation about using donor eggs – I didn’t seem to be a good responder. Everything felt so rushed, so overwhelming, we couldn’t get our heads around it at all. We agreed to proceed with a double round of stims, freezing as many embryos we could. As October started, we suffered another blow. 4 eggs collected and just the 1 fertilised.
This was a low point for us both, and all the pain from the miscarriage came flooding back to the surface. Both of us were struggling and our mental health was suffering. I was diagnosed with PTSD, having daily flashbacks and crippling anxiety. Some days my whole body felt like it was shutting down, I’m sure that played a part in how I was responding to the IVF drugs. Counselling started to ease the challenges, but it was a slow process. I started to blog about our experiences in the hope it would give me back some kind of control, or at least somewhere to get more thoughts out of my head.
We had our third round of IVF in January 2017.
Maybe speaking out about it helped, maybe being in a better place mentally did too, or maybe its just pot luck how this stuff works (more likely), but we collected 5 eggs and got 5 brilliant blasts for the freezer. In March two of those embryos were transferred and in April we received the most incredible news we were pregnant with twins. I think my heart could have burst with love that day, seeing them on the screen.
It wasn’t an easy pregnancy. A series of frightening, recurring bleeds gave us sleepless nights, and by 15 weeks, although the twins were measuring fine and genetically perfect, things just didn’t seem right. I went to see a cervical specialist who diagnosed a short cervix. There would still have been time to do something about that to support the babies, but time wasn’t on our side.
To this day, I’ve struggled to write in any great detail about what happened on Friday 30th June. I had travelled into London with a friend to watch Phil Collins perform in Hyde Park. We’d met another friend for lunch and I just didn’t feel right. I felt uncomfortable, my back was hurting and I felt heavy. I had no idea I was in the early stages of labour, and the things that happened later that afternoon I cant bear to type.
Our baby girl Lily May Allison was stillborn at just 16 weeks + 4 days. She was perfect in every way right down to her tiny fingernails. Our other little one seemed to be a fighter, but she was always at huge risk. Sadly she just wasn’t strong enough to make it. Ava Allison slipped away 9 days later, stillborn at 18 weeks.
A part of us died with them that day.
The days and weeks that followed were a blur -agreeing to postmortems, arranging their cremation. Midwife appointments because my milk had come in and I didn’t know what to do. Consumed by grief, we had no idea what to do, what to think. In a frenzy of trying to understand or piece together how this could have happened, I remember spending two whole days trawling through every piece of paper-work I had, every test result, every scan. I created a timeline of everything we’d been through since we started trying for a family in 2013. Every test, any tiny little thing that might help someone help us, tell us why. I was out of my mind.
I look back now on my blog posts and it makes for dark reading.
No. Not better, just different. There’s a sadness hanging over everything we do.
I still cry every day.
I still don’t sleep.
I still wake up and think they’re here.
I still haven’t seen my friends with children or friends that are pregnant.
I still don’t respond to most texts or messages because I don’t know what to say.
I still blame myself.
From Oct 2017 to Nov 2018 we transferred our remaining embryos, all of them failed.
With every failure the grief flooded back the surface. We looked at our life and knew something needed to change. We put our house on the market, the house that should have been our family home, and made plans to move to a new town.
We began to talk about the option of using donor eggs and contacted Serum IVF in Athens. We’d heard great things about them and our first Skype call with Penny confirmed everything we’d heard – there’s a warmth there we’d never felt at CRGH.
Serum thought there was still a chance to try one last go with my eggs, and that felt exciting. We felt like there was hope again after so much disappointment and we decided to go ahead.
If we’re both completely honest though, I don’t think either of us expected it work – in many ways it felt like closure. If it didn’t work, we decided that would be the end of our ‘journey’ (ugh). Neither of us were against using donor eggs, but both of us were exhausted and wanted to live again. In a weird way, it felt like Serum had given us permission to stop.
But unbelievably, 1 of the 3 embryos transferred stuck around, and early July we were pregnant again. The most perfect news, new home, new baby. It was our time.
It was a dream pregnancy as far as any of our others had been. I loved every minute of the nausea and tiredness, it felt like a gift. Early scans went well, and aside from an anxiety ridden bleed at 11 weeks, everything was perfect. I was booked in for a cerclage operation just after 12 weeks, so we knew our baby would be safe after that.
But our 12 week scan showed a nuchal translucency of 4.8mm, which combined with blood test results put the baby at a very high risk of chromosomal issues. After an agonising 4 day wait, we were told the news that our baby girl had a very rare mix of chromosomal conditions, so rare the genetics team struggled to explain the severity of her challenges, if in the very unlikely event she made it to birth.
We made the devastating decision to terminate the pregnancy, taking her pain away forever. We know it was the right decision, but it’s something we have to life with for the rest of our lives.
I will never forget being asked what we wanted to do with the ‘product’, and telling the nurse that she meant our child, Molly.
There are so many wrongs with this process and terminology, so many things we’ve had to experience that no parent should. The lack of compassion shown to us from Marie Stopes is a whole other story, one day I’ll find the words to write it all down. But not yet, its all too raw.
Looking to the future
It’s just three weeks since the termination and it’s a daily struggle to get out of bed each day.
We’re back in the time where no-one really knows what to say to us, and we barely know ourselves. There’s a long, long road for us to get back to any kind of normality – whatever that even means.
I ask myself often if we’re destined to be the unlucky ones, if this is it, this is our narrative?
We have a good life. Both lucky to have careers we love, a beautiful home, loving families and of course Doris and Ralph, but by god we’ve had so much pain, more than enough to last a lifetime and enough to have changed us forever.
So, as difficult as it is to acknowledge, I have to remind myself that we have been lucky to be pregnant in the first place, and that in itself is a privilege within this community and one I wish for you all.
We have been lucky to witness the incredible feeling of seeing our children growing, albeit only on a screen, and to experience the elation of seeing that blue line appear and telling our parents they’ll be grandparents.
And we have been lucky to have all our children, because each of them has left us with a gift.
The gift of bravery to keep trying for our dream.
The gift of courage to speak out about our story.
The gift of resilience to pull us through the darkest times.
And the gift of undying love.
We don’t know what happens next, but I hope that hope returns to us soon.
I met and then married my amazing husband, Ric on the bonnie banks of Loch Lomond 5 years ago. I still remember his speech at the wedding and him mentioning hopefully us having a family one day. If only then we knew then how hard that was going to be. We started trying to conceive after our wedding and I guess given we were both in our mid-30’s age wasn’t on our side. After 6 months we visited our GP and so began a conveyor belt of tests leading eventually to the IVF clinic. After negative results on two fresh and one frozen transfer we finally got our much longed for BFP. We named every embryo and this was no different.
We called this embryo Penny as Ric had bought me a lucky penny necklace during the two week wait. I couldn’t believe our luck and that the penny worked and in nine months we would meet our lucky baby Penny. The morning of test day will never leave me. The feelings of shock and joy. We did two tests at home then jumped in the car to our clinic for them to also confirm. The staff were delighted and we were on cloud nine. I had never felt this excited before and to see the staff and our closest family so delighted for us was a dream come true.
We waited a few weeks for a six week scan. To see our baby was so emotional, we were told we may not hear a heartbeat so early but there it was…loud and clear. We were elated and were allowing ourselves to start to believe that we may have our own baby. We booked in for a scan at just over nine weeks – our baby had grown and their heart was still beating away. It was magical. The twelve week scan finally came, after it felt like time was really dragging. I woke that morning feeling nervous and for some reason a bit low. It was our NHS scan and we waited patiently with other expectant mothers. Straight away when she placed the scanner on my tummy I just knew. We couldn’t see what we had seen before, her face said everything then the words “I can’t detect a heartbeat”.
I honestly felt like my life just paused. I screamed but nothing came out. Our lives, hopes and dreams fell apart in an instant; our baby had died. The next few weeks were a blur. I had to have surgery, after which we opted to keep the remains of our baby. I remember clearly driving to the morgue to pick up a tiny box. We should have been bringing Penny home in a car seat. My heart was broken. We chose to place our baby in beautiful Loch Lomond as it is such a part of our story that it felt so right. One and a half years on Penny is a huge part of our lives and has made us stronger. After our tragic loss I became so passionate about raising awareness and sharing. Partly to help others but also to honour our baby that did live and deserves to be acknowledged.
We have now taken the decision to stop treatment and are progressing with the adoption process. Hopefully one day we will become a family of four with our beautiful fur baby Ozzy, he was by our side throughout and we will forever have Penny in our hearts as our angel baby. Baby Loss Awareness Week is so important and I share our story in honour of Penny and our other 5 embryos, as well as all loved babies taken way too soon. Forever in our hearts.
Thinking back to when we saw that second pink line on our First Response test, I still feel butterflies. We just could not believe it and were just so over the moon. The evening before we tested, we had taken our beloved dog, Teddy, for a walk and I spotted a shooting star in the sky. It felt like that shooting star was a sign to us and when the test was positive we truly believed our miracle was making its way to us.
My pregnancy was straightforward but because I had been part of the IVF/TTC community for so long, and because I am a natural-worrier; I was still anxious and knew that we couldn’t take anything for granted. On top of the regular scans through the NHS, we also had additional scans at the Early Pregnancy Unit and paid privately for some too. Thinking back, don’t think we ever went longer than a week without a scan just to ease my mind, I am so glad now that we saw Dylan as much as we did.. I recall that at a 12 week scan one of the nurses, who was also pregnant herself, told me I could stop worrying now as I was in the ‘safe zone’.
At around 13 weeks, I started to get pains in my pelvic region and lower back. I spoke to friends who had had babies and they all assured me it was normal. I went to the doctors and they diagnosed me with SPD and referred me for physio. Nobody else seemed worried, so I tried not to be. Just before we reached 15 weeks, we went with friends to see a Michael McIntyre at the o2 in London. We walked around lots and I was in so much pain that we cancelled our hotel that evening and drove home, I lay down the whole way home.
Looking back, I think I tried not to complain about any symptoms of pregnancy, because I was so grateful to be having them. A few days later I woke up and went to the toilet and noticed that there was blood. I recall screaming for Ryan to come to the bathroom and we quickly went to the A&E at the local hospital.
The next few days were a blur, A&E originally sent me home but within a few hours the bleeding had intensified and I was back. I was admitted into hospital and the doctor concluded that the neck of my womb was now open and I was at a risk of miscarriage. I recall not knowing how that could be possible as surely we were in the ‘safe zone’?. In the hospital I was put in a small ward within the maternity wing and I would be taken for scans down sitting in the waiting room alongside other pregnant women. It was dreadful to sit amongst all of these happy carefree women, but also it must have been hard for them to see me.
The doctors were unable to explain what was happening but did say that my cervix was measuring at 2.6cm and should have been at around 5cm. They said that this was possibly because I had had some cervical cells removed a few months prior. I pointed out that this was at the same hospital, in the same department so why wasn’t this checked? I was informed that they don’t check a woman’s cervix as standard during pregnancy even if research shows that such treatment can result in short or weakened cervix.
I was placed on bed rest and after 3 days I was taken to surgery to have a cervical stitch in an attempt to keep our baby safe, I was put to sleep and when I came round I knew something was wrong. The nurses in the theatre would not give me answers and kept insisting I had to wait to speak to a doctor. I was terrified and enraged all at the same time, convinced something had gone wrong in the surgery. After what seemed like hours, I was eventually taken back up to the ward where Ryan was waiting. I told him I didn’t know what had happened but something didn’t feel right. To our surprise, when the Doctor returned to brief us she said that the baby was still okay, but that the surgery did not take place as I was bleeding too much internally. On one hand we felt huge relief that our baby was okay, but knew that the fact the surgery had not happened meant we were at risk. The doctor suggested that we go home and I rest as being in hospital would not make any difference because even if the baby was born, it couldn’t be saved. This was so hard to hear. But we went home, I felt like home would be a safe space for us.
The following day, I returned to the hospital as I had started to bleed heavily again. The same doctor scanned me and confirmed that the baby was still okay and we were able to see his heart beating. I asked the doctor what she thought could happen next and whether I would lose our baby. She was very matter of fact and said it could go either way. She said we should “go home, hope for the best, and prepare for tragedy”. I’ll never forget those words. That night as I went to bed I was in a huge amount of pain down my back and took some paracetamol to ease the pain.
The following morning, Ryan stayed at home and my Mum came round to help me wash my hair as I knew I had to take things easy. After my bath, I snuggled up on the sofa as my Mum and Ryan made some tea and tidied up the house around me. Out of nowhere, I felt an intense urge to push, I was terrified and screamed for Ryan. It all happened very quickly but within moments Dylan was in my hands, I could feel him warm and moving around for a few moments and then he stopped. He was still connected to me by the umbilical cord and I was scared to look down and just stood there in shock whilst Mum and Ryan ran around looking for towels and called an ambulance.
I was stood in the kitchen and looked out of the window and saw the postwoman doing her rounds. It struck me in that moment that she was just having an ordinary morning whilst my life had fallen apart feet away from where she walked, I wanted to scream but I couldn’t speak. The paramedics arrived and were brilliant, they cut the cord and I was too frightened to see Dylan so they put him in a box. They could see I had not delivered the placenta so needed to call a bigger ambulance to take me to hospital.
Everything from that moment seems like a blur, but there are parts I remember vividly. I remember how kind the other paramedics were. I remember that as they wheeled me into the lift of the hospital a pregnant lady came into the lift and spotted the box in one of the paramedics hands and she looked horrified. I remember being wheeled through the maternity wing to the ward that I had been on a few days prior and the nurses and paramedics disagreeding about where I should go. Eventually I was put into a temporary room where I stayed for the next few hours. A lovely lady called Lucy came to see us, she was the same nurse who I had seen a few weeks ago who was pregnant herself. She tearfully apologised for telling me to relax and I assured her it wasn’t her fault. For hours she stayed with me helping me to try and push the placenta out to avoid surgery and so I could go home. Unfortuantely it was not possible and it was agreed I’d need a D&C. I just wanted it over and done with and to go home but we were told that the surgeons were tired so it would have to wait until the morning, I couldn’t go home due to the risk of infection so I was kept on the ward. It felt like a nightmare.
Lucy gently persuaded us to see Dylan and she wrapped him up in a blanket for us. We didn’t know at that point whether he was a boy or a girl so she told us as she brought him over to us. We all cried as Ryan held him for the first time and eventually I felt strong enough to hold him too. We read him a book called ‘Guess how much I love you’ and we eventually put him in his box along with a little teddy bear and said our goodbyes.
The following day I was taken to theatre and put to sleep to have the placenta removed. Once back on the ward we were quickly discharged and sent home with nothing but a leaflet from the Miscarriage association. I felt then, and I still do that the physical process of a second trimester loss is greatly misunderstood. Most people don’t realise that beyond 12 weeks you will go through a labour or have to have a D&C if the baby dies. Or that the baby will be formed, albeit very small. I have even had one medical professional ask me “so it was actually a real baby then?”
I am not for one second implying that any loss in pregnancy hurts less or more but physically after losing Dylan I had many of the same symptoms that any other woman would post-labour. My milk came in and I would wake up convinced I could hear a baby crying. I wasn’t prepared for any of that and had no contact from the doctors or my midwife apart from a text reminding me to go for a scan, another painful reminder and something I know happens to lots of bereaved parents. I wish the NHS would just sort that.
One year on and we have had two failed IVF cycles, one ending in chemical pregnancy. We have one frozen embryo at the clinic and have also started to look into adoption. We speak about Dylan every day and not a moment passes where he isn’t in our thoughts. I know that for many it may seem self-sabotaging and possibly pointless to keep talking about Dylan but we don’t know how else to navigate through his loss. We have no memories of him in this world, we don’t have a special place or an item of his clothing to feel him near. All we have are the scans, remembering how he looked on the day he arrived and thoughts about just how much of a gap he has left in our lives.
We don’t know if I will be lucky enough to fall pregnant again, or if I will ever carry a baby to term. What we do know is that we want there to be changes in the way pregnant womens’ concerns are dealt with, we want for every woman to have their cervix checked early on in pregnancy and we want there to be a greater aftercare for all bereaved parents regardless of the stage at which they lose their baby, included in this we want the NHS systems to be updated following a loss to ensure that people do not receive painful reminders for scan appointments.
If this is achieved, then in a very small way, Dylans life will not have been entirely in vain.
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