I am a mum to a wonderful daughter and a beautiful boy who keeps demanding an audience every time he poos. And I, or rather we, suffered from recurrent miscarriage.
The first time we got pregnant we were surprised at how easy it was. We had only just met and expected it to take a while. Pregnancy was a breeze, I kept running. Having a baby was easy! Then at 13 weeks, just after we'd told everyone, I started bleeding. We went to the hospital and they said we hadn't miscarried.
The next week we went back to the hospital, this time in an ambulance with the blue light flashing. I can't remember much as I was drifting in and out of consciousness but I remember being mortified as my partner was handed an armful of maternity pads, told to change them and monitor my blood loss. We had been together for six months, and still in the honeymoon period, I was wearing matching Agent Provocateur underwear.
There was a car crash that day so we had to wait for my operation, but the bleeding got worse and suddenly I was the priority. When asked to sign the consent forms my partner didn't even know my middle name.
So we lost the baby. It happens. We tried again. Better luck next time.
This time we got to the scan which was perfectly timed for the day before our friends wedding. This would be our moment, obviously it would be rude to upstage the bride and groom on their big day, but when people started asking me why I wasn't drinking, well, it would be hard to hide.
The sonographer positioned us both so we could see the screen as she talked through the scan. First the heartbeat thumping loud and strong. Then the screen was gently turned away.
I can't remember exactly what the sonographer said but she was sorry. Looking back I feel sorry for the couples sat excitedly outside the scan room. Sitting waiting for their big moment as sobbing woman ran through the waiting room with her pants halfway down her legs.
I locked myself in the bathroom and had to be coaxed out by the consultant who explained how unlucky we'd been. Anencephaly is a serious neural tube condition and our baby had no chance, bad luck again. We decided to terminate the baby we so desperately wanted.
The next day we went to the wedding and do you know what? We had a good time. Whilst we were there we were struck by inspiration. We would go away. Have a break from baby making.
The next week we went back to the hospital this time to the Day Treatment Centre (reducing disruption to your daily life) and then we came home and started planning our three months in South East Asia. Six months later we were tanned, full of noodles and ready for third time lucky.
At 12 weeks the bleeding started and third time lucky became three times unlucky. I was beyond angry. With everyone. The hospital and their shitty explanations, my partner and his crappy sperm, my own useless body, people who felt sorry for us, people who didn't know what to say anymore. The whole fucking world.
We were booked in for tests, under a second consultant, lots of tests. Even more than very nearly an armful. And the news was good. We were lucky.
At fucking last!
We were lucky because there was nothing wrong with us. Whoop de do. You're not infertile! Some people can't even get pregnant. You should be grateful. You're lucky. As the consultant sat us down and talked us through how lucky we were he watched me getting more and more wound up. He suggested seeing an acupuncturist. Chill out man, relax!
We were booked in for more tests after Christmas. We had been trying for two years. I had been pregnant for over nine months in total. We were both exhausted. So we took another break, got drunk, went skiing. And I felt sick. This pregnancy we both felt sick.
Every time we went to hospital for a routine appointment both of us would throw up with nerves. Worried our luck would run out. But there was no stopping this baby. She kicked and punched and turned. She is strong and willful and full of life and she is outside bouncing on the trampoline with a fork. (Where the hell did she get a fork from? Put that down, NOW!)
We were lucky.
We are lucky.
And we love her for hanging on in there and never stopping. I'd love to say that after my daughter things were plain sailing second time around but again we couldn't quite get past those magic 12 weeks and it was third time lucky for us. Seven pregnancies for two babies and I don't think our story is even all that unusual. Lots of couples struggle with fertility issues and miscarriage is very common.
So what have I learned from it all?
I've learnt that I didn't want to hear people say that there'd be another baby. I wanted that baby. The one I was grieving for - even though no one else in the world had got to know them. If you are reading this and hoping to find out what you should say in this situation then I'm afraid I can't help. There are no magic words.
But there are positive things that I have taken from my experiences.
Before I tried to start a family I thought that with hard work and determination I could do anything. I attacked the problem like I was at work researching, organising, controlling... and it had no effect whatsoever. Struggling to have a baby taught me a huge lesson about parenting:
You can plan and organise all you want - children don't do what you want them to. Not mine. Not ever.
I think had our first pregnancy been successful I would have been a very different mother. I think I would have been more stressed and less happy as a mother. Although probably the house would have been tidier. My experiences also helped with the whole messy business of giving birth. Whatever happened I reasoned it would be over in, say, three days max. And I would be a mum.
I would happily have had the baby yanked out of my nostrils, if it meant I could be a mum. I also learnt that my boyfriend is amazing. So is the NHS.
And I am very, very lucky.
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