Karen's Story

My story starts back in 1990. This was when my boyfriend (who is now my Husband) and I decided that we would like to start a family. I had always wanted a baby but just hadnt felt secure enough in a relationship to go ahead with it. We moved in together and thought that it would happen fairly quickly. We were 20 and 23 at the time. We were surprised when it didnt happen after a year and thats when I went to see my Doctor. I thought that maybe there was something wrong with me as my periods had never been regular. My Doctor sent me for endless blood tests and scans. At one point I thought that maybe he was Dracula in disguise judging from the amount of blood they took from me! With a little help from me, my Doctor then came to the conclusion that I was suffering from Polycistic Ovary Syndrome or PCOS as it is now known. I was told not to worry about my fertility as the drug Clomid would help me to get pregnant. I was referred to another hospital and it was here that I was prescribed Clomid. I started off by taking 50mg for six months. When this didnt work the dose was upped to 100mg. When after six months this still hadnt worked, they upped the dose to 150mg. I was still on this dosage when I was rushed into hospital with severe stomach pains. Apparently my ovary was on the point of rupture which is not good..! I immediately came off of the Clomid and later found out that I had been prescribed too high a dosage. I was told that after Clomid had not worked my best bet would be to try IVF treatment. I left trying for a baby for a year to let my body (and my husband and I) have a rest and then I wrote to my local health authority to request that my husband and I be put on the waiting list for IVF treatment. I received a letter back telling me that there was no way that I would be able to get my treatment done on the NHS, and that I would have to start saving up for it. By this time it was 1998. I had wasted 8 years of my life. We started to save and eventually had enough money by the year 2000.

I got a list of every London and local hospital that did IVF and wrote to all of them for their pregnancy statistics and their pricelists. I wanted to go to the hospital with the best live pregnancy stats to give myself the best possible chance. I found the hospital I wanted to use and booked my first appointment. This was in June 2000. I started having the injections and went in for my egg collection surgery. They collected 14 eggs in all and we were told that they would fertilize them in the morning and that we had to wait in for a phone call. When the phone call came that 12 had been successfully fertilized, we were ecstatic! I went back on the Monday to have the embryo transfer done and thats when things started to go wrong. I began to suffer from severe fluid retention caused by hyper stimulation of the ovaries. My skin became hard to the touch and it was painful to move. Even breathing became painful as I had fluid in my lungs and around my heart. Two weeks later I went back to the hospital for a pregnancy test which involved having a blood test as they said that because I was retaining so much fluid it could give a false reading. We were overjoyed when it came back that I was indeed pregnant. It made everything seem worthwhile. I continued to be very ill for approximately the first 11 weeks of my pregnancy. I had been back to the hospital for a 6 week scan where I was given the double joy that we were expecting twins! It seemed as though my life was on the up. I was booked into my local hospital for my 12 week scan and I had just begun to feel more like my old self, when I went in to have my scan and the nurse said that everything was fine with baby number 1. When it came to baby number 2, she said she wanted a Doctor in the room to come and have a look. This being my first normal pregnancy scan and with the added fact that I was expecting twins, I thought that this was just routine. My Husband however wasnt convinced. The Doctor came in to see us and explained that there was a very high nuchal reading around baby number 2. He explained that the reading was showing as a 10 when it should be around the 2 or 3 mark. He then went on to tell us that this is normally a sign of an abnormality in the baby. He sent us up to Kings College Hospital where they specialise in more intense foetal medicine. We went in to see the Doctors and there were a lot of them in there as it is a teaching hospital and they did scan after scan after scan. They all came to the conclusion that there was indeed something very wrong with our little baby number 2. They explained that baby number 2 was a lot smaller than baby number 1 and that they didnt think that baby number 2 would survive the pregnancy as there seemed to be a lot wrong with it. They told us that there was a high possibility of Downs Syndrome but that the baby also had heart defects and possible renal failure. We were devastated. They told us to go home and to come back in a fortnight where they would see what was happening. The following weeks felt like years but eventually the day came and we went back to Kings. When they did the scans again they confirmed what they had found out before. They said that they didnt think the baby would survive the pregnancy and were worried about what this would do to the other baby. They advised us that a termination of baby number 2 would be the best thing all round as they didnt want to take the chance that if baby number 2 died that it would take healthy baby number 1 with it. I was devastated. I have been brought up as a Roman Catholic and although I agree that every woman has the right to decide what she does with her body, the thought of me killing my much wanted and longed for baby seemed to be too much for me to bear. I became hysterical, telling the Doctors that I didnt care what was wrong with the Baby; I just wanted to keep it. They listened to me rant on and on and eventually calmed me down enough to tell me that the Baby would have no quality of life and that I may end up losing both of them instead of just the one. A feeling of inevitability descended over me and I asked them when they wanted to carry out the termination. They explained that they felt it would be better to do it then and there. I cannot even begin to describe to you how I felt. I was devastated, angry, hurt, sad and bewildered and yet I still felt guilty that I couldnt protect my baby. They carried out the termination by inserting a needle into my stomach and piercing the babys heart. I watched it happen on the screen and cried like I thought I would never stop. My poor defenceless baby had been killed by its own mother. It was a hard thing to come to terms with and even as I write this, the tears are streaming down my face. I had to wait at the Hospital for the results of a rhesus blood test to find out if I had a positive or negative reading and that half an hour felt like a lifetime. They came in to give me my results and explained that they had carried out a chromosomal check on the baby that we had terminated. It was a little girl. I didnt think I could feel any worse but when I found out I had terminated my daughter, I felt like I had been kicked in the stomach. As soon as I was pregnant I had dreamed of having a little girl. I think it is instinctive for a mother to want a girl and for a father to want a boy and thats the way it was with us. Dont get me wrong, a boy would have been just as loved and welcome as a girl but that is just the way we felt at the time. We left the hospital after being told to come back in a fortnight and went home in a daze. We rang our parents when we came out of the hospital and their disbelief at what had happened seemed to make it feel worse. We pinned our hopes on the surviving baby and prayed that nothing else could go wrong. Surely we had had enough? Sadly this wasnt to be.

We went back to the hospital in a fortnight and although I was still missing baby number 2 I had hope that baby number 1 was growing nicely. I sat in the waiting room or corridor as it is at Kings and watched as couple after couple came and went. At one point one particular couple caught my eye. The woman was crying hysterically and the man was also crying but trying to comfort his partner at the same time. I watched them and knew exactly how they felt, although I didnt know what news they had been given. I couldnt tear my eyes away. The only way I can describe it is how you feel if you pass an accident and you have to look you just Have to do it. I am ashamed to say that a feeling of slight smugness came over me. Let me explain that. A fortnight before my world had been turned upside down and I had cried and cried, but now I thought I was going to find out that it had all been worthwhile and that in five months time I was going to have my very own baby. We got called in to see the main man at Kings Professor Kypros Nicolidies and he started to do the scan. I was watching the monitor and could see my baby moving around when he turned to me and said Im sorry. I could see his lips moving but couldnt comprehend what he was saying. I looked at my husband who was just as confused, and the Doctor went on to tell us that during the scan he had picked up that the surviving baby had severe brain damage. He had apparently thought it before but wanted to wait until we had passed the 16 week stage to be sure. We were stunned. He went on to tell us that the chances of this happening in a twin pregnancy were 14 million to 1. That didnt make us feel any better. I listened very calmly to what he had to say and when he told us that he didnt think this baby would survive the pregnancy either I knew what was coming. I think I was in shock at this stage as it didnt seem to affect me. He explained that I would be better off having this baby terminated as well as he didnt want me to go through a full pregnancy knowing that my baby was going to be born dead. I asked them if they wanted to do the termination then and there like they had before, but he explained that because I was further along I would have to give birth to the baby. He advised me to contact my local hospital to make all the arrangements and we left the hospital. This may sound like I was really hard and that nothing was affecting me, but to tell the truth I dont think it had really sunk in at this stage. I went back to my local hospital and explained what I had to do and they made me take a pill to start off labour. I had to take this pill in front of the Doctor and then I had to wait around for half an hour to make sure I wasnt sick. The saddest part was that I had to wait in the Ante Natal Clinic, surrounded by happy, smiling pregnant ladies knowing that my baby was dying at that very moment. It was too upsetting for words. I didnt throw up and so they sent me home telling me to come back in a day or two. They explained that I would have to go to the Maternity Unit and that was when I lost my temper. I screamed at the Doctor that there was no way I was going to go and give birth in a Maternity unit surrounded by healthy babies and because I caused such a scene she said she would see what she could do. I went back to the hospital a couple of days later and they admitted me to a Gynae ward thankfully. However this was directly under the Maternity wing so I could still hear the cries of new born babies. It tore at my heart strings. I gave birth to my second daughter at 6:50pm on the 9th November 2000. She was so tiny and yet so perfect. She fit in my hand perfectly. She had already died by this point. Its funny how I hadnt looked pregnant and I hadnt felt pregnant and yet here was my proof. The only sad thing is that no-one else felt able to witness it. I named her Jordan. She weighed 121g. The hospital Chaplin came to see me and Jordan and anointed her with oil and put her in a little basket filled with cotton wool. The tears that flowed in that room that night were unbelievable and I must admit to calling God a few choice names too. Later on that evening a doctor came to see me and told me that when Jordan had been born, the remains of her sister had been born too. Obviously I wasnt able to see that as it would have been too upsetting but seeing as I knew I had been carrying a girl and she in theory had been born too, I wanted that baby to have a name too. I named her Katie. They were buried together along with a teddy bear each and a card from their Mummy and Daddy telling them how much we loved them and how much we missed them.

After that, things were slightly surreal. I remained off work trying to make sense of the bad things that had been thrown our way, but just couldnt seem to get my head around it. I eventually went back to work in January 2001. People at work were very kind to me, well all except one person and he knows who he is, and things seemed to carry on as normal. I even had some counselling but it didnt seem to make much difference to me. I had always prided myself on having strong friendships and it was my friends that I turned to when I needed to talk and let of steam. My need to be a mother was as strong as ever and so we went back to the Hospital that had performed our IVF treatment for their advice on what we should do. After looking at all my notes, they told us that we had had very bad luck indeed and that they didnt see a problem with us trying again. Once that hurdle had been passed I felt slightly happier but did not want to start treatment at that point. It was to be six months before we started our second course of IVF. Like before, this began in the summer of 2001. Because I had frozen embryos from my last attempt, the treatment didnt take so long and I kept my health in tact. In fact it was all very straight forward. Both my husband and I were terrified and went ahead very cautiously. After the embryo transfer we had a two week wait to find out if I was pregnant. I was to do my test on a Monday and the Sunday before we were so nervous we both felt like we were going to be sick. We went to bed but we couldnt stand it any longer. At 4am in the morning I went and did a pregnancy test. It was positive! We were ecstatic. I rang my parents at 4:45am to tell them our good news. I felt very nervous but wanted to carry on as normal and so I carried on working. Things got a bit bad when I started to suffer from morning sickness..although why they call it morning sickness I have no idea. I was ill from morning till night. At six weeks we went for our first scan and the Doctor gave us the news that we were expecting twins again!! We were thrilled and felt as though we had been given a second chance. I was warned however that because I was expecting twins my sickness would probably be double. I didnt care. We waited six long weeks for our 12 week scan date to appear and when we had the nuchal scan they said that both babies were fine. We were so relieved and thats when we started to tell our family and friends that we were pregnant. I went to my local hospital to book in there and after reading my history they said that they would scan me every month to make sure that everything was ok. I was thrilled at this. Our scans went along quite nicely and I was just beginning to feel more relaxed. I had just started to read all my maternity books that I had bought for the first pregnancy but that I had never got round to reading. I will always remember the day I felt the first kick. I was having a bath and was alone in the house when not only did I feel the baby kick but I saw it too. I cried with joy and jumped out of the bath and went to ring my husband. This had happened when I was 22 weeks pregnant (quite late for a twin pregnancy so Im told). I had a date in mind the 24 week day as being my big milestone. I kept thinking if I can get to that then if anything did go wrong the babies would be viable for life (as I had read in my books). I was 24 weeks exactly on Monday the 10th of December 2001. That morning started like every other morning had started.with me being sick and then travelling to work. Once in work I got down to the day to day business and then popped out to the loo. Once in there I wiped underneath and saw the tiniest spot of blood you have ever seen in your life. Being a normal person I wouldnt have panicked but because of everything that had happened to me previously I wanted to check it out. I rang my local hospital and they advised me to come into the labour ward just for a check up. I left work and made my own way there. With problems on the tube etc it took me well over two hours to get to the Hospital. My Husband met me there. They did scans and then they did an internal. It was then that they gave us the bad news. They told me that I was 2-3cm dilated. Because I hadnt got that far with my previous pregnancy I didnt quite understand what this meant. They explained that my body was getting ready to go into labour. I asked them what they could do to stop it; thinking that it would be easy to stop and that all I would have to do would be to stay in hospital until their due date. How wrong I was. They explained that they couldnt stop it only my body could stop it of its own accord. There was an added complication in that my local hospital did not have two incubators available. They started to ring round hospitals and found only two that had two incubators available. I live in Essex and one of the hospitals was in Brighton and the other one was in North London. I chose to go to the North London one as I thought at least if I am in for four months there I will get visitors. I was transferred by ambulance the next day. For the rest of that day and most of the next I had no pain and no bleeding. I was lying flat and was bored out of my mind but knew that this was what was best for my babies. On the Wednesday evening I woke up to go to the loo and once there I started bleeding. Not just a little bit, but lots of it. I made my way back to bed and rang for a Nurse. They came and did an internal and advised me that I was going to the Labour Ward. Things went a bit manic from then on as one of the babies was breach and the other one was transverse. They told me that I would have to have an emergency caesarean. I was wheeled into theatre and luckily my husband made it just in time. On Thursday 13th December 2001 our son was born at 8:46am weighing 1lb 10oz and our daughter was born at 8:48am weighing 1lb 8oz. We named them Jake and Molly. Jake even managed to give out one scream as he was born. They were whisked away by all the staff in the theatre and my husband was taken over to see them. He came back with tears in his eyes telling me that they were fine, they were being looked after and that they were really tiny. I was taken back upstairs to recover and the babies were sent straight to the Neonatal Unit. The hours passed and all I wanted to do was to see my babies with my own two eyes to make sure that they were ok. A nurse brought me down a couple of Polaroid pictures but by this time the babies had been wired up and had hats on and all I could see was a blurry mess. Finally at about 6pm that evening I was taken to the Neonatal Unit to see them. Their incubators were opposite each other and I looked in on Molly first as she was nearest the door. She was so tiny and extremely bruised but was doing ok. I then went to see Jake and he looked good, not as tiny and nowhere near as bruised as his sister. What was to follow was to be the biggest emotional roller coaster I have ever experienced. Time in a neonatal unit goes by so slowly and with a premature baby every minute is precious. My babies were so ill that we literally counted every second as a good thing. I sat by their incubators for hours at a time. Most of the time I felt like I was in the way, although this isnt how the Nurses made me feel. I think it was more in my head at that time. By the Saturday we were told that Molly was seriously ill. Her premature lungs just werent able to cope. Her being a very strong, feisty baby helped her to survive for a week. She passed away exactly a week after she had been born on the 20th of December 2001. One again we were devastated, but more so because we had seen this baby battle for life. The loss of another precious daughter was too hard a blow to comprehend. I dont think we fully grieved for Molly as Jake was still on the critical list, and I think that both my Husband and I felt that we had to remain strong for Jake, although we didnt talk about it. While other parents at the Hospital had their Christmas Day cuddle with their babies, we werent able to hold Jake as he was too poorly. This was heartbreaking too. For months we had dreamed about holding our children but here was our son and we still couldnt comfort him. We came back to the Hospital on Boxing Day and we had a lovely surprise. Apparently Jake had had a really good night and the Nurses thought that the time was right for us to have our first cuddle. I dont think I could have held a more precious thing and the few minutes that we had with him went by much too quickly. On New Years Eve, we were told that Jake would have to have heart surgery. At the time I freaked out but this wasnt as bad as it sounds. Near enough every baby born prematurely will have to have their PDA heart duct closed by medicines or surgery. It normally closes of its own accord when a baby reaches term but our precious little ones had to have a little bit of help. The Doctors had tried anti-biotics to close the duct but this hadnt worked and so Jake was transferred over to Great Ormond Street Hospital. He had his surgery on the 2nd of January 2002. He was only meant to be in overnight but there were complications from the surgery and Jake was dangerously ill. He stayed at Great Ormond Street for one week and he literally fought for his life. I was so proud of him. All this time he had been ventilated and I spent all my days watching the machines that were keeping our baby boy alive and praying for him to be okay. He was eventually transferred back to the Royal Free hospital, but he had to go into Isolation as he had picked up the MRSA virus from somewhere. Even now we still dont know where he picked this up but my husband and I were told by Doctors and Nurses that it was just one of those things that happen and it wasnt anything to worry about. Now we know different. We were told that now that his PDA operation had been done that hopefully all he would need now was to try to take his feeds and grow stronger day by day.

He had some terrible things done to him in the time that he was back at the Royal Free. He endured blood transfusion after blood transfusion; he had to have a lumber puncture for suspected meningitis and on top of all that he had to have blood gases done every hour on the hour. This is done via a pinprick into the heel of the foot and his poor little feet looked so sore and cracked that all I wanted to do was to kiss them better. I explained this to a Nurse one day and she looked at me as though I was mad, but she picked him up while he was in his incubator and angled his foot so that it was near the window of the incubator and I kissed it. I dont think Caroline understood just how much that small gesture meant to me but at that time and even now, it is something that makes me smile.

Day followed day and everyday you would find me sitting by his incubator. I would cover the top and sides of the incubator with blankets so that it was dark and quiet in there in the hopes that this would be the only thing I needed to do to help him grow into a big, strong boy. Some days I wondered why I bothered to make the 3 hour round trip from home to the hospital as I couldnt even see Jake through the blankets. Sometimes I joked with the other Mums and the nurses that I may as well just put a blanket over the telly at home and it would be just the same! I was joking of course. That incubator held not only Jakes life, but my life too. I tried to leave him alone as much as possible so that he could just grow and get strong but this is also the time that I remember getting some of the best cuddles I ever had. I remember him being put on CPAP for the first time. I was so relieved that I cried for hours. It seemed as though he was making progress and my heart soared. Ill always remember one night when Jake decided enough was enough and he pulled out his ventilation tube. How he did it God alone knows but he was a strong, determined little boy and if he wanted it out then out it would come. We left the room while they changed his tube as this is not a nice thing to witness, but then a nurse came into the Parent room and told us to come quick. He must have seen the panic on our faces as he quickly reassured us that this was for a good reason not a bad one. We went into the room and there was Jake lying in his open incubator with nothing but a surprised look on his face! There were no tubes, no hats, and no wires just our babys adorable face and we cried and cried. He was so perfect and the spitting image of my husband. This was the first time I had seen my babys face and by this time he was at least 7 weeks old. Terry (the nurse) also put a stethoscope to Jakes chest and for the first time I heard him cry. The ventilation tube presses against their vocal cords so even when you can see them cry you cant hear them. This was to be a monumentous evening for us and I think we came home a bit lighter of step, convinced that everything was going to be ok.

Another couple of weeks passed, but Jake still had problems with feeding. He would only take a minute amount of milk and it wasnt enough to help him put on weight. The Doctors decided that there was a problem with his stomach and so they arranged for him to travel back to Great Ormond Street where he could have extensive tests. He was given his own room at GOSH and they started testing on him straight away. That poor baby endured some horrible things, that I cant even bring myself to write about, but eventually the Doctors agreed that he needed a Bowel Reconstruction. The surgeon came round the morning of the surgery to talk to us about what would happen and all I could think about was how big this man was. He was a huge man well over 6 foot and his hands were massive. I remember thinking to myself how on earth is a hand that big going to work sensitively on my tiny baby boy. I shouldnt have worried. We got a phone call later that afternoon to say that the surgery had been successful and that we were allowed to come and see Jake. He looked awfulbut then I dont know what I expected.he had had major surgery after all. It was later this evening that the surgeon came in and told us that Jake had been very lucky to survive. Apparently he had suffered two heart attacks on the theatre table. It had taken them a while to bring him back but eventually he did and they decided to carry out the surgery then and there.

It was a long and slow recovery for Jake and just as we started to breathe normally he would have a little set back and we would all be back to square one with him. Eventually the staff at GOSH decided to increase his milk feeds and for the first time ever we actually started to see our baby put on weight. We were over the moon. This went on for about three to four weeks with not really much to tell. While he was still at Great Ormond Street, Jake was to celebrate his 100 day anniversary. This is a massive big deal in a premature babys life and usually means that they will be going home at some point in the near future. I arrived on the morning of his special day to find that Jacqueline (his nurse) had decorated his room with banners and balloons. One of the nurses from the Royal Free came to visit him and she had even made him a little crown. He had presents and cards that day and it was a Good Day a Celebration. We hadnt had many of those. This was on the Saturday and then we were told the great news that Jake was going to be transferred back to the Royal Free the following Monday. We thought to ourselves it doesnt get better than this. We had made a really good friend of one of the nurses at the Royal Free Carrie and all we kept thinking about was yeah, send him back to Carrie shell make him better. Silly, I know but that was how we were thinking. Thats not to say that the Nurses at Great Ormond Street werent fantastic because they were especially Sam, Jacqueline and Yvonne and they looked after my husband and I as well as our son, but we just couldnt wait to get back to our hospital. By this point Jake had been at Great Ormond St for over five weeks.

The weekend before he was due to go back to the Royal Free was to prove to be extremely sad. Everything was going normally and he was being fed via a tube that went through his nose and straight into his stomach. While feeding, He suffered a reflux which is where the milk comes out of his stomach and flooded his lungs. Again it was just one of those things but it knocked Jake for six. We had to leave the room while they worked on him and seeing them do heart compressions on our baby boy yet again was awful especially seeing as we thought we were out of harms way. A doctor came to see us about an hour later and explained that Jake was very poorly again and had to be put back on the ventilator as he had suffered another heart attack. We couldnt believe it. Our brave little boy seemed to take five ginormous steps forward only to be pushed back by about five hundred. Again we sat round his incubator and I prayed like I have never prayed that he would be alright. The week progressed but sadly Jake didnt. By the following weekend I think we all knew that he had had enough and that he wasnt going to make it. By this time he had been put on an oscillator and every day when I walked in I saw that the pressures had increased a little bit more. They should have been coming down. By the Saturday, I knew things were bad. I didnt want to leave my Baby but was no good to him as all I did was cry. I couldnt even talk to him properly as I was so choked with emotion. I just sat next to him stroking his forehead and praying to God to save my boy. Sadly this again wasnt to be. He was really ill the next day and by the Monday we had Doctors looking at us in the way that we had come to know meant bad news. A doctor sat down with us and told us that Jake was dying and that it was just a matter of time before he left us for good. He gave us the option of turning of his life support machine and we eventually made that heart breaking decision because he was suffering too much. Again, as with his sister, I held Jake as the life ebbed out of him. The ironic part of all this, was that he passed away on his official due date. On his death certificate it rates organ failure as the cause of death but I truly believe that my brave little soldier had just had enough and had decided that however much he wanted to stay, it just wasnt worth the fight. And who can blame him? I heard nurses say that an adult wouldnt have put up with half of what Jake did and my heart soared with pride for my baby boy.

I feel so proud of our little boy I want to shout it from the roof tops. As long as I live I will never know anyone who was as brave or courageous as him or someone who touched peoples lives as much as he did. He was loved by doctors, nurses and parents of other premature babies at both hospitals, but most of all he was loved by his parents. Our world will never be the same again and we miss our babies every second of every day. I dont think we will ever get over losing them but we have the hope that one day we will be parents to another baby and that hopefully the next time God will look at us and decide to let us keep our much wanted and longed for baby. Who knows? At some point in the future I hope to be able to update this story with some nappy news but even if I have another baby I will never forget the children who have been through our lives and the way we loved and cared for them. We miss them terribly and will love them forever and a day for eternity. 

Karen: Update – January 2006

I debated long and hard about whether or not I should update my story for reasons I shall explain later on but I decided that “My Story” wasn’t complete without it so here goes.

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After Jake passed away in the April of 2002 my husband and I decided to give ourselves a break and to not go in for any more IVF treatment until we both felt we were ready.  I used to work for a big organisation which had their own type of private healthcare.  Although I left the company I was allowed to keep this health care service open.  I made an appointment at the beginning of 2003 and got an appointment through fairly quickly. 
I went along to Wimpole Streetin London and saw a fantastic doctor by the name of Mr. Hefni.  We had a chat about the causes of PCOS and then he decided to prescribe me the drug Metformin.  He advised me that I needed to lose weight (when don’t the health profession prescribe that?!) and he also said that the tablets would help me to lose weight as long as I tried too.  Considering I had tried for years to lose weight I didn’t hold out much hope. 

Anyway, I started on the course of drugs in January 2003 and they made me feel very sick.  I decided to join a slimming club in the hopes that at least if I could see the weight coming off it would give me an incentive to continue.  It worked.  Within the space of a year I had lost three stone.
During this year I was on a course of fertility drugs and I had to go and have scans every month to see where I was within my cycle.  I was then told the best days to try to conceive and had to go home and “do what comes naturally”!!  Only the trouble with this is that when you are told to do “it” you just don’t want to and the pressure starts to build.  Not only was this frustrating but it was disappointing too.  Every month I would think “this is it!  We’ve cracked it!”  only for my period to arrive and upset us all over again.  We tried this for a year and a half but we were not having any joy so we made the decision to try IVF again. 
As with all my treatments before, again this started in the summer of 2004.  Because I still had frozen embryos we decided to use them.  I started to take my drugs that would get my body ready for implantation and then the time came for the embryos to be thawed out.  I had two in one batch waiting to be thawed.  This doesn’t always work and so we waited tensely for the phone call which would tell us if either of them had survived.  The phone call came and we were told that only one embryo had survived.  They wanted to thaw out our other batch of two embryos so that they could put two back and give us a better chance but we had already decided that we only wanted one embryo put back.  I don’t think we could have stood it if we’d of had another twin pregnancy.  They told us that the surviving embryo was a good quality one – 7 cells and a grade 3/4 so we were really pleased.  I was admitted to hospital on the 8th of July 2004 for my embryo transfer.  This went like clockwork.  It’s weird at that moment when they put the embryo(s) back and technically you know you are pregnant but you still have that horrendous two week wait before you know for sure if you’ve been successful or not.


Finally on the 20th of July 2004 I took a pregnancy test.  I was over the moon, but also terrified, when it showed up as a positive result.   I think I had convinced myself that I was going to be pregnant so I wasn’t sure if it was all in my mind or not!  I rang the Hospital to tell them I had a positive result and they booked me in for my first scan on the 10th of August.  I don’t think I could quite believe the good news so I looked forward to that date like you wouldn’t believe.

But things went pear shaped on the 25th of July when I started to bleed.  I rang my friend Jo in a panic and we debated over the phone all the reasons why I might be bleeding and whether or not we thought it was good or bad news.  I didn’t tell my husband as I didn’t want to panic him.

I rang round hospitals and spoke to countless nurses and medical staff who said it was a good sign that it was brown blood or old blood and that I wasn’t in any pain and they said that I should get myself to a hospital if the bleeding became bright red, if there was more of it and if I had any pain.

I had my first IVF scan booked for 9am on the morning of Tuesday the 10th of August 2004.  I was so looking forward to it as I hoped it would set me mind at rest once and for all that the bleeding (which was still happening) was nothing and that all was well.

I held my breath while they scanned me and when the Doctor finally said “look, there’s the sac and there’s the heartbeat” I nearly cried with relief.  Sadly our joy was to be shortlived.  That evening at 6pm I started to bleed very badly – bright red and lots of it.  My husband drove me to the hospital and I went into a Gyny clinic.  A doctor saw me and did an internal and it was like a physical blow when he told me I was miscarrying another longed for baby.  I delivered this baby at 9pm.  It seemed ironic.  In the short space of twelve hours I’d seen my baby alive on a screen and now it was gone – just like that.  And with it all my hopes and dreams seemed to fade too.  It just seemed unbelievable to us.  How could we have had such bad luck again?  Fate seemed to have dealt us a very harsh blow indeed. 

This time the miscarriage hit both me and my husband very hard.  I asked the Nurse how long we should wait before we could start IVF again and she said I should have at least two cycles before we even contemplated it.  My husband told me that he didn’t want to go through IVF ever again and for the time being I agreed with him but in my heart I knew that I would never let it drop.  I thought to myself I’ll wait for the two cycles to clear (which with my menstrual cycle could take anything from three months to a year!)  and then in the New Year I’ll bring it up again and take it from there.

However what we didn’t know was that fate was already planning our next move.

My days plodded along and we went about our daily business.  One October morning in 2004 I was sitting at this very computer when I realised that my period hadn’t arrived.  Nothing unusual in this, especially after having the miscarriage but I thought it needed investigating just to rule it out.  I always had a pregnancy test in the house (well you never know your luck) and I took one that morning.  I left it in the bathroom and to be honest completely forgot about it.  Went back about half an hour later and there was a positive line on the test!  Well I nearly freaked out and passed out with shock!!!!  Because the test I bought was hard to read, I literally threw my jacket on over my PJ’s, got in the car and drove down to my local Sainsburys!  Bought a double pack of pregnancy tests and came home.  Did another test, positive!  So I did the other one……positive!!!!!!!  By now I was nearly beside myself with shock. 

Before I got my hopes up though I decided to ring the Pregnancy Helpline number on the pregnancy box.  Spoke to a lady there and asked her if there was any way that the test would show up a “false positive”.  She said no and asked me if this baby wasn’t wanted!  I nearly shouted at her no in fact it was completely the opposite and explained my situation – that Doctors for fifteen years had told me it was very unlikely that I would ever conceive naturally.  She then said actually there is one way that the test might show a “false positive” and that was if I had had a miscarriage within the last ten weeks.  Well by that point it had been twelve, but I wasn’t taking any chances. 

I then rang the hospital where I’d had my IVF treatment and I spoke to someone there.  Again I explained my situation and she asked me loads of questions mainly: after your last miscarriage did you have a D&C.  I said no, I hadn’t wanted one and had done it naturally so then she asked me if I had had a period.  I had (miscarried on 10th August, then bled on 15th Sept).  She then asked me if I had then had a scan to see if “everything” had gone from my previous period and I had that scan on the 26th August and everything was clear.  She said in that case she would say that “congratulations” are in order but to be sure it would be best to come in and have a blood test done.  I thanked her and hung up without booking an appointment.  Too shocked!!!!!!!!! 

Still shocked, I then rang the Early Pregnancy Unit at my Local Hospital.  They were the people who had dealt with me when I had the miscarriage and one of the Nurses had given me her number – just in case!  Spoke to a lady there called Lynn who was most helpful and who virtually said the same as the lady at my IVF hospital.  She asked me all the same questions and obviously she got all the same answers!  She said to be sure she would book me in for an early scan on the 9th November.  Was a bit choked as this was my second daughter’s “birthday” but agreed just because I really need to know.

I felt very special knowing that there could be a baby growing but don’t want to build my hopes up until I had had that first scan.  I didn’t even tell my husband that a new baby could be a possibility.

Two days after this and it was no good!  I could think of nothing else and I just needed to know – one way or the other.  I couldn’t wait until the 9th of November – it was too far away.  Rang the IVF hospital that morning and asked if I could book myself in for a blood test.  They told me to come in straight away.  Got to the Hospital at 11am and had the blood test.  I thought they would tell me within half an hour like they had done before but then Mary (the lady who took my blood) told me that they would call me within two hours!!!!!!!!!  The call I was waiting for came through at 1pm and Mary started going on about BHCG blood counts and about how high mine were, which if the truth be told meant absolutely nothing to me.  I just needed her to say either “yes you are” or “no you’re not”.  I think judging by my silence she knew I hadn’t understood what she was telling me and so she just came out with “congratulations.  It’s positive.  You are pregnant”.  I put the phone down in complete shock.  I now knew I had to tell my husband!  That night we were at his Sister’s house.  When he got there after work there were just too many people around to tell him as this time I knew I just wanted to keep it to ourselves until we’d had our 12 week scan.  We finally left their house at about 9:30pm.  I was driving when I just pulled over to the side of the road.  My Husband asked why I’d stopped!  I took him all round the houses (verbally!) and then I finally told him that I was pregnant!  He looked at me in disbelief but didn’t say anything.  I just nodded my head up and down and then told him all about the pregnancy tests and about the blood test.  I then started to drive us home and he was extremely quiet all the way home.  Explained to him about the scan for the 9th November and he was still really quiet.  We drove home in silence as he was still in shock and when we got home I showed him the pregnancy tests.  We went to sleep very happy that night I can tell you.

The next day we set off to Newquay for a long weekend with our friends Jo & her husband (Jo being the Jo from 24 Weeks Plus).  On the drive down there we decided that we would share our good news with them just so that if I didn’t want to go off for long walks, drink alcohol etc there would be no questions!  They were thrilled for us. 

We went out the next night for a nice meal and although none of us said it I think we all knew we were looking on it as a celebration of our news.  It was a lovely evening.  We got back to the caravan at about 11:30pm and Jo and I took ourselves off to bed while the boys decided to stay up.  It was while I was lying in my bed when I felt a “pop” down below.  I put my hand down there and when I pulled it up and looked at it, it was covered in blood.  I burst into tears.  I couldn’t believe it and I went outside to the toilet and called my husband over.  By this time I was crying so badly and my teeth were chattering so loudly with shock that I don’t think he knew what I was saying at first.  I went into the loo and I was losing quite a bit of blood and quite a few clots.  I was worried sick and was sure that I had miscarried again.  We eventually drifted off to sleep and woke up about 7am.  Went to the loo and was still bleeding and so we made the decision to come home a day early.  I have never experienced such a silent journey home.  Danny was trying to keep my spirits up but it just wasn’t working.  We stopped off to get something to eat from a Service Station and some poor guy working in the Wimpy Bar there got the full force of my frustration.  For that I would like to apologize to him.  It’s not something I am proud of but I just blew!  Got home, sat around moping and watching TV and eventually went to bed with the plan of getting up early and going to the EPU (Early Pregnancy Unit) first thing the next morning.

On Monday the 1st of November 2004 we arrived at the EPU at 8:30am and saw Lynn.  Explained who I was and she said she would scan me straight away.  I laid down fearing the worst and could hardly believe my luck when she said the baby was ok and that she could see a heartbeat!  In fact she then played me the heartbeat so that both my husband and I could hear it.  I grabbed his hand and burst into tears.  I just couldn’t believe it.  I had convinced myself that this baby was no more and yet there it was on the screen – no bigger than 4mm but with a strong, pumping heartbeat!!!!!!!!!!!  She said she could see where I was bleeding from as I had a blood clot below the baby.  They don’t know where it came from or why it was there but it was a problem as they were worried it could “pull” this miracle baby away from me at any time.   We left there worried but floating!  If that makes any sense?! I needed to go to the Doctors the next day and Lynn had told me to take it easy.  My husband took her at her word and had me tucked up in bed for the rest of the day!!!!!!!!

To cut a very long story short I had to have complete bedrest from the 1st of November until Christmas Day 2004.  After that I took things very easily but at least I was allowed out every now and then! 

I went along for my normal scans but also had to have TVS (trans vaginal scans) to check the neck of the cervix.

I didn’t stop bleeding until the 19th of November and that felt like a lifetime.  Everytime since then whenever I went to the toilet I would hold my breath for fear of seeing blood but thankfully that didn’t happen.

When I hit 24 weeks – I was a nervous wreck.  For about six weeks after that I panicked but when I hit 30 weeks it was like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders.  Every week after that was a bonus and I found myself feeling a little bit happier with every Wednesday that passed.

Finally, after talking to my consultant, they arranged for me to be induced on the 25th of May 2005 when I was exactly 36 weeks pregnant.  This was because with my previous c-section for the twins they had had to perform an emergency c-section and this was a classic cut so with this pregnancy they were worried that if I went into labour of my own accord, then something could rupture and I could haemorrhage.

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At 11:04am on Wednesday the 25th of May 2005 our little girl Holly was born by normal c-section.  She weighed in at 5lb 9oz and was absolutely perfect. 

Today she is a bonny eight month old who has just started to crawl and make bur-bur sounds.  She is a very happy and contented baby and she is the light of both mine and my husbands lives.  She has made us and our family and friends very happy and in some way she has completed my life.  I know that’s a lot of pressure on a little girl but it’s the truth.  She was the piece of the puzzle that was always missing and we love her to death!   She completes us and makes us a family.  The day we brought her home from the hospital was so happy, I thought I was going to pass out with sheer pleasure.

You see we’d left so many babies behind that even when I had her in my arms I was still worried that she wouldn’t make it out of the hospital.

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At the beginning of this update I said I wasn’t sure whether my story needed it or not and I feel that that needs further explanation.  I was worried that for every woman and man who has experienced a premature birth there is not always a happy ending and I didn’t want to appear to be rubbing anyone’s face in my joy.  I know when we were on our journey to start a family, when I would see magazine articles that said something like “I had 12 miscarriages but now I have my baby” it didn’t make me feel better.  However sad their story at least they had a baby at the end of it.  At that time, with no baby of my own, it didn’t offer me any hope it just endorsed my feelings that I was a failure. I didn’t want to make anyone else feel like that.   

You see the reason I got involved with 24 Weeks Plus was because of my beautiful babies Jake and Molly  and initially I felt as though” My Story” should have ended with them but then after talking to people and thinking it over myself, I realised that for most people their journey doesn’t end there and so I wanted you all to know that although I got there in the end it wasn’t an easy ride.  I also felt as though if I had just put a P.S. at the bottom of the page saying that Holly had arrived safe and sound then that would have taken it away from not only her but also you, the people who are reading “My Story”.