Welcome to my first blog; my baby loss and secondary infertility story and the inspiration for Bide & Bloom. It’s been hard to reflect upon and sum up my experiences and so I thought it simplest to start with where I am today.
Here and now
Today marks six months since our fourth consecutive loss. Since I had to undergo surgery to remove our baby. Since we said goodbye to a second son.
I’ve been finding it hard to cope lately, partly because I’ve been reflecting on our losses, on that empty, hollow and all too familiar feeling inside. But I’ve also felt hopeful because today marks the start of a new journey. A six-month plan to improve our health in readiness for another pregnancy. Another attempt following four very difficult farewells.
From where do we find the strength and the courage to try again?
But how do we do it? From where do we find the strength and the courage to try again? The weight of our experiences has truly hit me this week. Over the last year, I’ve put so much energy into fertility testing, interpreting results and creating plans. On the one hand, I feel determined, positive even. On the other, I feel grief-stricken, and my heart aches at the thought of having to go through this again. It’s been overwhelming and all-consuming.
I’m also approaching my last due date, which feels strangely significant, as it seems like we’re still a long way from giving our daughter a sibling.
Looking to the past
Welcoming Cora into the world was the most life-changing of experiences. It was April 2014 when I found out I was expecting and I was in my second trimester. Baby loss had touched our family so believe me when I say we knew how incredibly fortunate we were. Less than six months later we were holding our daughter and it was a whirlwind year, to say the least, one of the most challenging and rewarding times, and I’m eternally grateful for those happy memories and for our miracle baby.
I’m eternally grateful for those happy memories and for our miracle baby
Fast forward to June 2016 and I was 16 weeks pregnant with our second child. Waiting for a private scan, I was filled with hope and fear. Hoping to give our 18-month-old her ‘big sister’ tee when we got home (I still hold onto it) but fearing the worst given some of the symptoms I was experiencing.
The sonographer asked if I had any gut feelings. “Boy or girl?”
My only gut feeling was that something was very, very wrong and I just needed to know that our baby was okay.
But as I watched the screen it was apparent that our baby wasn’t okay. The little arms and legs we’d seen wriggling around just a few short weeks before seemed lifeless. I stared at the image for what felt like an eternity, at the still and delicate curve of my baby’s back, praying to something, someone, somewhere for that flicker. A hand covered mine, a kind gesture, and one that no longer needs the words “I’m sorry, I can’t find a heartbeat.”
It’s quite difficult for me to describe how I felt in that moment. The shock and the grief and the fear were competing with each other for my attention. The shock that my body had failed. The grief that my baby had died. The fear that I’d have to give birth. Nothing could bring us back from this.
I delivered our beautiful little boy, Harris, on Thursday 30th June 2016. His special day.
Looking to the future
In the months that followed we received our initial test results and, sadly, they offered no explanation as to why we lost Harris.
There were fewer answers following our second and third losses and, while we underwent some investigations at a local private clinic, which resulted in an MTHFR gene mutation being uncovered, my diagnosis was ‘unexplained secondary infertility and recurrent miscarriage’.
Tired of hearing the same things over and over; “bad luck”, “no pattern”, “try again”, we embarked upon more private tests following a fourth loss, this time with clinics in London and Athens. It’s been expensive and exhausting. But every appointment, every scan, every test, has been worthwhile. While we still have a trip to Athens and final investigations to arrange, I know I’ve done everything I possibly can at this point in time.
I know I’ve done everything I possibly can at this point in time
Until we have a firm and final treatment plan, my aim is to look after and listen to my body and mind so I can keep being the best mum I can be to Cora, and to give ourselves the best chance of one day growing our family.
Meanwhile, my hope for Bide & Bloom is that it can become a place for people to find positive information and, to some extent, the strength to carry on. As while our journey has been a difficult one, we do have a chance. There are of course no guarantees for the future but in sharing the process we’ve gone through, and the various tests we’ve had, someone might just gain something from our experience of secondary infertility and recurrent loss.
Thanks for reading.