October 14, 2020 8 min read
Kristina’s Rainbow baby story
We started trying just before we got married. I remember whispering to the assistant in the bridal shop that I may be pregnant at my wedding and so I wanted a forgiving dress. Little did I know that wasn’t on the cards for me and that it would take us four years and 4 miscarriages to have a baby in our arms.
The first time I fell pregnant was 6 months later that year. We were so excited. I took more than one test, I kind of became addicted to those little pee sticks! Before we found out, we had booked an appointment to see the GP as we were beginning to worry about why we hadn’t fallen pregnant yet. But it turned out we didn’t need it.
Naturally we started making plans about what being a mother, or a father would be like. I started changing my diet to be more health and followed the guidance. I bought a pregnancy fitness DVD (yes – it was that long ago!). We told our parents our news, but decided to keep it quiet from everyone else.
Six weeks into the pregnancy I started to bleed. I was at work. No-one at work knew I was pregnant. I was sick with worry. I made an urgent appointment at work and had to vaguely describe the need for an urgent appointment to my boss at work. I was assessed by the Dr and they seemed to think everything was ok. Later that night I was in quite a lot of pain. I rang 111 and we were told to go to a&e. We went to a&e and they were worried I had an ectopic pregnancy. Because of the risk of an ectopic pregnancy and the symptoms I was experiencing I had to stay in overnight. It was worrying being in hospital. I was told that the pregnancy hormone levels I had seemed to be within normal range, but without 2 readings they would be unable to say what was happening. I was also scheduled for a scan the next day to see if it was a normal or ectopic pregnancy. The next day I had the scan and they couldn’t see much, there was a pregnancy sac and a foetal pole, but the sonographer told me it may be too early to see a heartbeat. Later that day I was told by a well-meaning Dr that it would all probably be ok and I started to relax a bit. We were scheduled for another pregnancy hormone test later that week. It felt like a really long time to wait. The test was done and we were told to go home and wait for the result. A few hours later I got a call from the clinic and I was told “yes love, it looks like you’ve miscarried.” That was the first time anyone had said that too me. Up until this point I understood the concern was whether the pregnancy was in one of my tubes (ectopic), I hadn’t even considered I could be miscarrying. As such the conversation came as an enormous blow and I felt the world come crashing down around me. The physical pain also continued. We also had the pain of sharing our news with our parents which was difficult.
After this miscarriage I learnt that it can happen in 1 in 4 pregnancies. I didn’t know that at the time, and I think maybe I would have felt better about it all if I knew it was so common. Through sex education at school you kind of felt that if you so much as touched a boy you’d get pregnant and have a baby. Reality certainly hit us when we tried to have one of our own.
We then kept trying and again we fell pregnant. Again we shared it with our parents, but with more anxiety than joy. When they naturally got excited, we kept saying “ lets see what happens” When this one ended in a miscarriage I took it very badly. With 1 miscarriage I felt part of a statistic, but to have 2 in a row I started to worry and as we were both getting older I didn’t feel we had time on our side. There was no explanation for either miscarriage we had suffered and the hospital policy (and I believe national NHS guidance) was that we could not been referred until we’d had three miscarriages, until then it wasn’t strictly considered ‘recurrent miscarriage’. But to us it was. It felt like no-mans land. We desperately wanted to know what the cause was of the miscarriages, we wanted to be able to fix it and move on. Yet we couldn’t as we didn’t have access to the experts that could help us. It felt like we were being forced to face the pain of a further miscarriage to be able to understand why.
And that’s exactly what happened, albeit this time it took us quite some time to fall pregnant and so we sought the help of a fertility clinic. Through this route we were able to get some tests done and they all came back with no explanation for our previous loss. We went through the whole IVF process. I remember being called each day with our fertilised egg count and feeling like I was receiving the most important exam results of my life. All was good. They put one egg back in and we nervously waited the two weeks before I did a pregnancy test. The test was positive. We were so excited. It felt it would be different this time round as it was IVF, like the embryo had already proved itself in some way (thoughts not based aboslutley no grounding in science). At 6 weeks we had our scan at the fertility clinic. There was a pregnancy sac and a foetal pole, but no heartbeat. We were told that it may just be too early, and we were scheduled to come back for another scan a few days later. The wait between the scans felt like forever. We both tried to keep positive. We had the next scan and there had been some growth, but still no heartbeat. The scan was inconclusive we were given another scan date a few days later just before Christmas. Unfortunately, this scan was conclusive, we had had another miscarriage. Again, we were heartbroken. What made it worse was that it took a long time for the pregnancy to pass. In fact, it didn’t pass naturally which is what I had wanted. As awful as it sounds I remember having Christmas knowing I was carrying my dead baby around with me (okay embryo, but to me it was a baby). But, I wanted to make sure the scan result was right as I had been googling like mad and seen lots of posts about missed viable pregnancies. I felt that if it happened naturally then it was definitely not meant to be.
It didn’t happen naturally. A few days before New Year’s Eve I went to the clinic and discussed options with the team. I was scheduled for treatment on the 2nd January. On New Year’s Eve I had lots of pain. I was advised to go to the early pregnancy clinic. They told us that the pregnancy was coming away naturally and gave me some medication to help it along. I was convinced I was still going out to dinner that day. I wanted to do something nice to take my mind off it. But as soon as we got home I was in the most pain I had ever experienced. I couldn’t sit still, I had pain killers, but I could not escape the pain. I was literally climbing the walls. We rang the clinic back and they said I needed to come back as soon as possible. My husband drove me back to the clinic. They gave me gas and air, pethidine, and morphine, none of which dulled the pain. They did an assessment and tried to remove it manually. The outcome of the assessment was that they couldn’t remove the pregnancy and I was scheduled for an operation.
I had the operation and remember coming around in recovery just before the new year rang in. In fact I watched the fireworks from the recovery bay. My husband was able to stay with me over night and we had to spend the majority of New Year’s Day in the hospital. Whilst it was the worst new year of my life bizarrely I found comfort in that it all happened in the prior year and that we could start afresh in 2018.
We both felt crushed by this experience. We had certainly lost almost all hope of having a family and started to picture our future without children, or at least children of our own.
After the third miscarriage, we were reluctant to try again until we knew what could be the cause. Given I’d had to have surgery this time it felt like the stakes were much higher to try again. At this point we were referred for more tests. Some tests we had privately. Nothing really stood out. I was told losing weight may help. So that gave me something to focus on. We were still scared to try. We then got referred to a fertility consultant I had worked with in a previous job. He was also a friend of mine. He looked through all our test results and said there still wasn’t anything that stood out. The fact our miscarriages were unexplained felt worse to us than having an identified cause. We have both managed to achieve things we set out to do in life. I did and still do consider myself to be a problem solver. But without an explanation I didn’t know where to start to fix it. However, this consultant did say to us “ it’s like flipping a coin. Each time you try you give yourself another chance of winning. Keep trying”. The lack of control over all of it was stressful and frustrating.
We talked about trying again at length. It didn’t feel an easy option. I didn’t want to have to go through it all again. But we decided that if we never try then we most definitely won’t have what we so desperately wanted. So we did.
At the same time I also changed roles at work to one that was less demanding. Whilst I enjoyed my job, it was a naturally stressful role and I felt I wanted to give myself the best opportunity for a family. I found the experience of having IVF treatment whilst in a demanding role just couldn’t work. In fact I was told by the clinic I needed to do everything I could to reduce my stress levels. For anyone who has been through IVF, you will know how stressful IVF can be on it’s own.
I fell pregnant quite quickly this time. So, we both felt that maybe this time it would work out for us. Again, this time we had a number of scans. We had an inconclusive one at 6 weeks and a hopeful one at 7 weeks and then at 8 weeks we were told I miscarried. The wait between each scan felt like an eternity. I was so anxious during that time and my stress levels started to rise again.
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