“Something that people who have been through miscarriage will be able to relate to is that although at every midwife appointment and scan it was good news, we couldn’t allow ourselves to enjoy the pregnancy. I was always waiting for something to go wrong as I couldn’t believe my body was actually doing it right this time”
- Naomi Higby
This photo was from 2015 and that’s where I feel like everything began…
I’ll give you a quick background as to how we got to this point, however up until after our wedding I think our lives were pretty standard.
I finished uni when I was 23 with a 2:1 Degree in Youth Studies at Nottingham Trent in 2010- meeting Kev in my final year, we moved in with each other in 2011. I climbed the career ladder pretty quickly after uni and I was lucky that Kev always had his eyes set on building a good career for himself. In 2012 we bought our Cockapoo puppy- Archie and our first home together. It might sound a bit big-headed, however up until 2015, everything in my life had gone pretty swimmingly. I’d finished school with average grades, studied Media at Milton Keynes college and then worked abroad in France for a couple of years before starting uni in 2007. Throughout uni I worked hard and played hard…. I was lucky to meet Kev who already owned his own property and when it came to 2012, I was only 24 but we managed to buy our first home together. We got used to having 2-3 holidays abroad each year- mainly for Kev to take part in his triathlons and our careers were going well. In 2013, Kev took part in his first Ironman Triathlon in Spain and proposed to me in front of our family/friends at a celebratory meal. I was completely shocked, but we’d always spoken about getting married and starting a family so I knew straight away that we’d start planning when we got home and I was so excited for our future! We set a date of Saturday 23rd May 2015 for our wedding and we had the most magical day! I still look back at our wedding photos and there’s nothing that I would have changed… We had a 2 week honeymoon in a villa in Halkidiki, flying business class with BA and hiring a convertible Audi (spending way too much money!) We were literally on cloud nine! We’d always discussed starting a family and agreed that as soon as we returned from honeymoon that I’d stop taking my pill. We were so excited (and naive) for the future!
In July 2015 we were very surprised and scared to find out that I’d fallen pregnant straight away! It suddenly all became real and we were actually quite scared about becoming parents…I felt awful for the whole first trimester and we had our first scan booked for 10th Sept. I’d already started wearing maternity clothes and told a few people (close friends/family and colleagues) our exciting news. I still remember everything about that day. We’d chosen our hospital and we were so excited for our first scan- I’d started thinking about how we’d announce our news and our predicted due date was 24th March 2016. I remember sitting in the waiting room amongst all the other expectant parents as we were called through to the room. As they scanned me, the sonographer went silent and explained that she couldn’t see what she should be able to for a 12 week fetus. I remember us looking at each other and we didn’t really know what that meant- but they explained to us that there wasn’t a heartbeat and that the fetus hadn’t grown past 6 weeks. All of my pregnancy symptoms had been my body thinking it was still pregnant and we’d had what is called a ‘missed miscarriage’. We’d never heard of this before, I’d only heard of normal miscarriages, but I didn’t know anyone who had experienced one and as we had made it to the 12 week mark we thought we’d made it through the risky part. The options they gave us were to go home and wait for my body to miscarry (which could take ages), have some medication to encourage my body to miscarry or have a surgical procedure. We chose the surgical procedure and the following week I had an ERPC under general anaesthetic. After this miscarriage, although it was a shock- we actually felt pretty optimistic about trying again. I’d put it down to the wrong timing and as it had happened so quickly after stopping my pill, I had all sorts of theories about it being too soon for my body and that we’d fall pregnant soon after.
The one thing that started from that date which I didn’t realise would is that I suddenly desperately wanted to get pregnant again. I felt a huge pressure to conceive and replace the baby that we’d lost and although I tried to not let it take over my life, we couldn’t help but think about when I’d be ovulating and the ‘two week window’ every month became a waiting game… I started researching a lot online about what I could do to make myself more fertile and whether there was anything wrong with me (which can send you crazy!). When I was drinking alcohol during the two week window I was always wondering whether I was pregnant… By early 2016, I still hadn’t fallen pregnant and the due date of our first pregnancy was creeping up on us. I desperately wanted to fall pregnant before 24th March as I felt it would help me deal with the loss better… However the 24th March came and went and nothing had happened. We spoke to our GP in April 2016 and he referred us to the fertility clinic (we were very lucky as usually you have to be trying longer, but I bent the truth a bit to get the referral ) However the process at the hospital was so slow… We both had tests and they concluded that there was no reason for our infertility and that we should just keep trying. I’d researched all the medication they could try on me, but with no firm results they were reluctant to try anything. I started researching herbal remedies and started going for acupuncture and taking supplements- anything that I thought would boost our chances!
Towards the end of Summer 2016, we still hadn’t fallen pregnant (a year after our first pregnancy) and things really started getting to me. It’s crazy how these things can make you feel, however I started questioning everything- what would our future and marriage be like if we couldn’t have kids? Would Kev still want to be with me if we didn’t have any children? Looking back this was really unhealthy for our marriage, but I felt like my emotions were stuck in a whirlwind. From the outside a lot of people wouldn’t know any difference, but inside my confidence was rock bottom. They say a smile can hide a thousand tears and this is so true- from the outside I was a confident, smiley and chatty person, always posting happy things on social media, but inside it was killing me that we just weren’t falling pregnant and there were no answers. People would ask us when/if we were having children and this killed me- trying to shrug it off and say ‘someday’ but really wanting to scream in their face that it was all I wanted! Kev would laugh at me when I asked him what we’d do if we couldn’t have kids and he’d say we’d be fine just us two- but I didn’t want that for my future and it wasn’t in 'the plan!’
In November 2016, we finally fell pregnant again… I was actually in denial and it was one of my friends that said to me that I could be pregnant. I took a test and couldn’t actually believe my eyes when it said positive. Our predicted due date was 4th August 2017. The clearblue digital tests are great in some ways, but also dangerous because you can find out so early. I was pregnant 1-2weeks, however this meant I knew it was going to be a long first trimester until our 12 week scan. Because of what happened in our previous pregnancy, I spoke with our GP about an early scan and they booked us in for when I was 6 weeks pregnant. At 6 weeks we went for our scan and there was a little heartbeat- we went home apprehensive but also positive that this was our time! The timings fell right over Christmas and I felt awful… not only could I not drink, but we also wanted to keep this pregnancy more secret (as Kev was being superstitious), therefore only a few people knew. I tried to avoid situations where people would find out but it was really difficult to keep it quiet. After the 6 week scan, I booked a private scan for 10 weeks just to check up again- it was booked for New Years Eve. We went to the private clinic and we were feeling pretty laid back. After seeing the heartbeat at 6 weeks I’d felt quite optimistic as we hadn’t got that far previously and online it said that once there was a heartbeat that you were past the most risky part. However we could tell straight away that it wasn’t looking good. The sonographer put her hand on my leg and shook her head… I felt sick to my stomach and frozen to the bed. She explained that it looked as though our little one had only just stopped growing the previous day- that it was showing as just under 10 weeks. I went into auto mode- I knew exactly what needed to be done, but I felt numb. The sonographer was really good and made sure we knew our options before she sent us home. As it was bank holiday, we couldn’t speak to the hospital until Tuesday morning, however I remember making the phone calls and trying to find a hospital that could fit us in asap. I didn’t want to wait, I wanted the ERPC procedure asap so that I could start processing what had happened. That New Years Eve we went home, ordered Chinese and I had a prosecco. I don’t think I even cried that much- I felt like my body had failed us again and we had no more answers. It was the worst start to the new year that we could ever imagine- so much so that myself and my mum booked a short break to Portugal and it was just what we needed!
After our second pregnancy, I pretty much gave up on falling pregnant. Work was really full on with lots of changes, I was excited to get stuck into my new role and I’d resided to the fact that we probably wouldn’t fall pregnant again for another year or so. We also had our house on the market and had decided to look for a larger family home with more land. In April 2017 we went for our annual trip to Lanzarote for the Volcano Triathlon which Kev had taken part in for the past 5 years. We love going to Lanzarote because it’s such an easy holiday and as it falls in April we feel like we’re getting some early and much needed summer sun! On the Thursday of the holiday, I woke up with a banging headache and feeling a bit dizzy- not unusual when I’m abroad as I normally lay in the sun too long and get dehydrated. Kev joked that I could be pregnant, but I shrugged it off laughing that it would never happen so quickly after the last one. It was a boiling hot day and we decided to walk to a rooftop crazy golf place, but after the walk and having some food/drink, I still wasn’t feeling great so I joked that maybe we should buy a pregnancy test. We went to a Spanish pharmacy and I bought a digital clearblue test which we did straight away. The screen came up with embarazada 1-2 weeks. We had to google the word but I’d done enough tests to know that 1-2 weeks was a positive test! However this sent me straight into meltdown… panic struck me because I knew I didn’t want to go through the same heartbreak again. I felt sick to my stomach. We tried to enjoy the rest of the holiday, but I remember laying in bed literally having panic attacks and not being able to breathe because I didn’t feel ready to go through the stress again. When we got home I let my manager at work know straight away as I felt like I couldn’t go into work- they were fantastic and understood my anxiety issues and let me work at home. I was adamant that this time the pregnancy was going to be a success, so I started googling private miscarriage consultants. We found a consultant based at The Spire, Harpenden. Her name was Neela and we first saw her when I was 4-5 weeks pregnant. She was so positive and calm from the first appointment, scanning me and saying everything looked good. We saw a heartbeat from that early on and she prescribed me Progesterone pessaries (Cyclogest) to use twice a day. I felt awful from the side effects of the progesterone (they exaggerate every pregnancy symptom) and I found controlling my anxiety really difficult. Luckily my workplace allowed me to work at home a lot and we were in the middle of moving house which managed to help keep my mind off things. When I was 9 weeks pregnant we moved into our new family house. Because of the previous two pregnancies I became a bit obsessive about having early scans. In the end we had scans at 5 weeks, 8 weeks, 10 weeks, 11 weeks and then our 12 week scan fell when I was 13 weeks pregnant. In between this time I had my 30th birthday and we went to Ascot Races when I was 12 weeks pregnant. I felt absolutely awful all day but we really wanted to have a good time. Every early scan had gone well, but we were still very sceptical about getting over excited. At the end of our first trimester, we had our scan and they confirmed that everything was looking good and our due date was 6th Jan 2018. I finally felt like we could announce it to everyone (something I’d waited to do for over 2 years), however I still felt like I couldn’t allow myself to enjoy it. Neela prescribed me the Progesterone pessaries to use up until we were 20 weeks- this is longer than usual, but I was petrified to stop using them because I felt like they were the only things helping the baby to grow. I booked another scan for 16 weeks (a private gender scan) where they confirmed we were having a little boy and it finally felt like we actually might get our family this time round. Our 20 week scan went well too and I started to get a little bump.
Something that people who have been through miscarriage will be able to relate to is that although at every midwife appointment and scan it was good news, we couldn’t allow ourselves to enjoy the pregnancy. I was always waiting for something to go wrong as I couldn’t believe my body was actually doing it right this time. I really wanted to be optimistic and positive, but I didn’t want to allow myself to look ahead too much as I felt like at any point it was all going to come crashing down. I felt like this up until the point when Harrison was born. Until I’d actually given birth and he was here, I still didn’t believe we’d get our little boy and our family. That’s the awful thing about miscarriage is that it taints everything for you. It steals the happy experiences and places negative thoughts in your mind the whole way through because you want to protect yourself from being hurt again. With this pregnancy, I can’t thank the private consultant Neela enough (website details below). She was our starting block and I really believe without her prescribing me Progesterone from the start that this pregnancy wouldn’t have been successful. We’ll never actually know whether it would have been or not, but I wouldn’t risk it again in the future. I am also extremely lucky to work for a company who supported me fully throughout the pregnancy. I know I was a real pain because I didn’t cope well with the pregnancy the whole 9 months, but I needed to take a back seat and focus on making it a success and being able to work from home helped so much.
If anyone is reading this is going through some of these things at the moment, I’ve put together a list of things which I felt helped me through this pregnancy. I can’t guarantee they will help you as it could all be coincidence, but if it helps you feel more in control or feel more positive then I think it’ll help:
- Be open and honest with your workplace. Stress plays a big part in pregnancy and any flexibility they can give you will help ease your mind and help you focus on the pregnancy.
- Take a back seat with everything- don’t overload yourself with anything and take it easy. Pregnancy yoga and meditation can help you chill.
- I used Cyclogest Progesterone pessaries and I’d recommend asking about them. There’s been lots of research into their use in recurrent miscarriage. Also there’s no harm in trying them.
- Our private consultant was Neela Mykhopadhaya: www.neelamukhopadhaya.co.uk
- Private scans will help keep you sane.
- The month I fell pregnant I started using the Seven Seas 'Trying for a Baby' supplement. Might be a coincidence, but I stuck to their prenatal brand the whole pregnancy. If you google them, they have a lot of positive reviews.
- I also took serrapeptase after the second ERPC which is a herbal supplement which helps scar tissue recover and has positive reviews around endometriosis.
- I attended Daisy Birthing classes throughout my pregnancy and met a fab group of girls. They have been a great support network!
We now have a very lively 9 month year old baby boy who brings us so much joy and mischief every day!