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How baby loss led us to surrogacy

In honour of Baby Loss Awareness Week and Mental Health Awareness Day, Sophie & Jack have written a post about their experiences of loss over the past 6 years…

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Soph:

“I think you need to go straight to a and e. From this scan we can see you have an ectopic pregnancy in your left tube”. 

That was the first pregnancy we lost back in 2013 and our first experience of losing a baby. I vividly remember looking at J’s face when I explained to him what an ectopic pregnancy was (I don’t really know how I knew because I’d never known of anyone who had had one before) and his pain in that moment is something I’ll never forget seeing. Isn’t the first planned pregnancy anyone experiences meant to be magical and exciting? We would never get that moment back again. I started googling whether it was possible to somehow move the pregnancy into the right place but unfortunately science hasn’t got that far yet. The medication I was given to ‘expel’ the pregnancy didn’t work and I had surgery to remove my left tube. 

We went on to get pregnant again a few months later but I started bleeding at 6.5 weeks so that was our second ‘baby’ we lost. Number two down. 

After that we went to a private doctor and tests showed we needed to go straight for IVF so a year after loss number two we went through the IVF process and transferred two embryos. A positive test and a bit of hope but after an early scan (in the same room as the last two miscarriages) it was confirmed that the pregnancy had stopped developing at 7 weeks. This was unfortunately a very different miscarriage to the others as we hadn’t realised my body had held onto the pregnancy for another few weeks after the scan and on holiday in Marbella I suffered quite a traumatic miscarriage in a restaurant toilet. The pain was excruciating and I panicked because it was sudden but it then instantly stopped when I passed the pregnancy. If this has ever happened to you it doesn’t need much explaining!! Three losses, surely that’s it now?

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We were now three years into the journey and about to start our next round of IVF. But it wasn’t going to be simple. Next thing we know we are having two very early pregnancy loses (one natural and one iui transfer) on consecutive months and you then have loss number four and five. 

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By this point I had a lump permanently in my throat and it became so painful to hear someone else get pregnant and to hear that they had seen a heartbeat on a scan. The envy and jealousy was immense. Then the guilt about feeling this way would set in and the vicious circle continued. Some moments the ache was so great for the loss of all our pregnancies that I began to not think very clearly. I became pretty depressed my mental health definitely took a nose dive. I felt like I was just surviving life watching everyone else move on and have babies of their own. The grief was so raw. Why them and not me? What was my purpose in life if my body couldn’t do the one thing I needed it to as a woman. Grieving for babies that never made it to this side of the world whilst praying every month that your period wouldn’t arrive - the hormones and emotions mixed together can create such desperation. 

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A bit of a break and another year later we got pregnant again through IVF and once again the pregnancy lasted only a week. Numero six.  Wow had it really been six? I had nearly lost count. 

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Final straw to this part of the journey came after our seventh loss. Another ectopic in my right tube this time. I mean they say one is unlucky, but two, well thats a bit of a joke from above. My body had failed again. 

I know physically I have never lost what others would class as a ‘baby’ as we never got past the first few weeks and never saw a heartbeat on a scan, but I believe for any woman who takes a positive pregnancy test, they feel like a mum as soon as they see those two lines and want to protect that pregnancy/baby from harms way. I have often thought in the past that I had no right to feel as unbelievably sad as I did after every loss when there are women and men out there who lose babies at much later stages in the pregnancy or have stillborn babies (which is unimaginable), but every person has a different story and a different level of grief. I may never have got to name our babies but they were still very much a part of us. 

Our baby losses have changed both of us as people in positive and negative ways and affected our mental health on many levels,  but luckily has also made us pretty strong and resilient. My heart has been hurt for so many years and sometimes I’m so busy trying to keep busy that when I do catch my breathe and remember what’s happened it really does hit me. Losing a pregnancy can be the loneliest place in the world and all you need is someone to say ‘I understand’ or ‘I don’t personally understand but I’m here to listen’. When our journey started I didn’t know anyone who had experienced loss but have had family members and friends also now suffer miscarriages. So for me being open and talking about our past, present and future journey to holding that longed for baby is an absolute must to help myself and also others. 

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Jack:

I remember not really knowing what an ectopic pregnancy was until I looked at Sophie’s face in the scan room and realised that it obviously wasn’t good news. Obviously once we understood the severity of the situation and that it could be life threatening to Sophie we went straight to A and E. 

As Sophie has said, the next few years seemed to be one disappointment after another and I ended up losing count of the amount of pregnancies we lost. The feeling that i couldn’t do anything to help Sophie’s pain was where I really struggled. I could just about cope with my own grief and wanted to fix the problem to enable us to have a baby. Although I definitely did get to the point where I thought it would be easier to just accept that it would just be the 2 of us (and our dog Lola) because mentally, financially and emotionally we were exhausted. 

I’ve never found it easy to express my feelings and always try to be the strong one but there were times where I did open up more (usually after alcohol!) and have learnt how important it is to talk to people as it may have made it easier had I done this. 

Even though we are incredibly lucky to be at the point of getting to 12 weeks (thanks to a very special friend) I still haven’t let myself believe it’s going to happen and I’m sure this comes from the amount of loss we have experienced. But hopefully as things progress this will change. 

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Emiliana Hall