As we wait to see the doctor to check the baby we know what’s coming. My pregnancy hormone levels had dropped. As I position myself to have an internal scan Alex holds my hand tightly. The doctor's silence tells me everything I need to know. Eventually she’s clears her throat and calls another IVF specialist for a second opinion. “I am really sorry Nicola and Alex the baby has stopped developing. There on the screen in front of us I can make out the form of a tiny foetus and, where a few weeks earlier, its heart was beating growing into a beautiful baby now it lays still, small and curled up which the doctors call another missed miscarriage.
You would think it gets easier after each miscarriage, that I could just pull my big pink knickers up, suck it up and ask what’s next. It really isn’t the case. Every single loss has felt so hard and each loss tells a different story.
I should be a mum to 5 children. A 6 year old, twins who would be 3.5 years old, a 18 month old and I would be due to give birth in April 2020 for my next baby.
I have a very special friend called Sarah who I have known for 22 years! That’s a very long time and the friendship we have is more like a sisterhood kind of friendship. We have been through a lot together from break ups to both travelling, her to Dubai and me on cruise ships, to finding love again to buying properties and behaving like grown ups. Never did I think we would be there for one another for a game of miscarriage tennis.
I fell pregnant before she did. She was lucky enough to give birth to the most amazing little girl called Riley. Whilst she was raising beautiful Riley I was trying again and miscarried my twins. At this time I was at East 15 Drama school, she was amazing and showed up on my lunch break with a large bunch of flowers and chocolates with beautiful little Riley for cuddles. Sarah always wanted a sibling for Riley so tried again. Whilst she was trying I was back to injecting for another cycle and then boom! We both fell pregnant again weeks apart both so excited. Then the dark news - I miscarried my whole world turned upside down, my dreams of being able to call myself a mum was shattered, I was depressed for weeks in bed and was mess, my body looked pregnant but my baby wasn’t growing. Then Sarah called me with the horrific news she miscarried. I coached her through what I just went through. Surgery to remove the pregnancy. In a really strange way I am glad I had someone like Sarah to go through this trauma with again it felt a little easier. I didn’t feel so alone. We helped each other out of a really dark place. We both dealt with the sadness and just both carried on living. Sarah because of Riley and for her sanity to lead a normal life and for me it was because I just wanted to try again and not give up. I felt that I had my sad few weeks and was stronger than before to give this IVF malarkey another shot (Excuse the pun).
Again I had the call from Sarah she was pregnant I was so excited for her! It was amazing and I told her my transfer date was coming up. Just like that BOOM we were pregnant again! So excited I have someone to grow fat with, someone who I can talk to about morning sickness, a friend I can go for walks with and waddle back to the car after pregnancy yoga. Life was amazing till I got the call from Sarah. She has had a missed miscarriage again and was booked to have surgery to remove the baby. I was heart broken for her and tried to be the friend she needed. Three weeks past Sarah was doing ok, she was trying to just focus on moving forward as best she could. I felt guilt because I was pregnant and didn’t want to speak to her about my baby growing or discuss my excitement. And then just like that I needed to call her, “I lost my baby, I’m broken, I can’t do this Sarah I give up”. She told me to have some time away from just being an IVF walking talking machine, have a strong coffee have a cigarette and do what makes you happy. So after I had surgery to remove my baby I recovered at home, went on holiday with Alex as it was so needed and had a few glasses of wine...
6 months later and I get the call from Sarah she’s pregnant again at the same time by chance I start IVF. By then she was around 4 months pregnant, the amazing story behind Sarah’s pregnancy is that she wasn’t even thinking of trying, she was running a marathon to raise money for Tommy’s a miscarriage charity!
Ring ring ring ring “Sarah I’m pregnant” we met up in the park for a walk and were calculating the age difference of the baby bumps growing inside us. As we reside to a bench watching Riley play on the swings we take out the baby name lists we have. “I like the name Orli for a girl” Sarah says, “I like the name Bertie for a boy” give me that phone right now Nicola, you are not naming your child Bertie” deleted! Hahahaha
8 weeks later I had to tell Sarah my baby had stopped growing and I was back to square one. Heart ache all over again. I had what is called a “missed” or “silent miscarriage.” Again, even though the pregnancy had stopped developing my body was still producing pregnancy hormones. I didn’t have any traditional signs of a miscarriage, like cramping or bleeding. I was still getting morning sickness and I was told it could take a month or more for my body to figure things out, there was no way that I was going to wait to bleed this pregnancy out naturally. I was recommended to not have surgery this time as I already have had so many procedures from removing the other pregnancies via surgery to being operated on and removing the eggs for IVF to removing scar tissues on the womb which was due to previous surgeries from removing the miscarriages. The safest thing for me was either to let it happen naturally or take a pill that expels everything and puts you into labour. So I chose the pill! It was horrific, I was so sad, in so much pain, I was having contractions and was crying because deep inside I was thinking is this what it feels like for a woman to give birth and will this be my only way to find out.
Miscarriage is a real mind fuck. There are so many levels to what you feel. For me, it was just one large emotional bubble that burst. Sitting in the early pregnancy ward watching couples hold hands with a baby scan and me sitting with Alex waiting to see a doctor to discuss what happens next. The exhaustion of another cycle and the dread of starting all over again; the feelings of shame for not being able to carry out my "role" as a woman, the questions of what went wrong, the grief for someone I had never met but loved so very much; and the reality that Sarah will be giving birth to little Orli and it was all going well for her and I felt selfish for even thinking this way but I was left all alone to try again and for a few weeks I felt like the victim “poor me” which is not in my nature! I’m very much a warrior! A IVF Warrior!
But as I always say with every storm comes a rainbow and just like that my dear friends Sarah and Martin welcomed a little rainbow miracle baby in to the world. Orli Brooke Sales on the 6th January safely at 05.34 am weighing in at 8lbs 5!
For me and Alex we still are on this road to fall pregnant. For us choosing Harley Street Fertility Clinic was the right choice. They are experts in this field and deal with couples like us who have unfortunately had recurrent miscarriages.
This blog is about not giving up, look at Sarah and look what she has achieved and also watch this space because I can not wait to write about my happily ever after rainbow baby. Bring on baby Reid 2020