Pregnancy loss

Other | | Louise Broadbridge

My pregnancy loss and why I’m so grateful it happened.

By Louise, The Honest Midwife

Notice: This week in October is baby loss awareness week, kindly Louise has shared her own experience and trauma of losing a child during pregnancy. This topic may be very upsetting for those who have also experienced the loss of a child. 

The loss of a pregnancy brings a rarely acknowledged void.

This week is Baby Loss Awareness week and as I stood watching my daughter taking her first riding lesson I was transported back to a time, before she was born, from which I thought I would never recover.

My little boy was two and a half and my partner and I had decided to have another baby. Luckily we never had any problems conceiving and that very same month we were expecting our second child. We were thrilled.

However, unlike with Jack when I experienced some mild tiredness and nausea, this pregnancy left me completely debilitated with sickness. Within weeks I was sporting a significant bump but felt so unbelievably unwell there was no chance of enjoying the pregnancy.

Thirteen years ago you didn't get a nuchal scan and so it wasn't until 16 weeks that I finally got to have a look at my baby. When I look back now I know that I could tell from the second the sonographer placed the probe on my tummy that the news wasn't good. She gave me her heartfelt apologies and confirmed that there wasn't a heartbeat.

Then there was that feeling where the world stops turning...

Because it was classed as a late miscarriage I needed to have surgery which was scheduled for later in the week.

LATER IN THE WEEK!!! I felt so frightened that something would happen at home. Luckily my body didn’t do anything to deal with the situation and I went into hospital as planned.

I went home feeling empty and strangely remember feeling really lonely. Over the next few weeks things slowly started to return to a sort of normal and we started to think about trying again. And then we received a phone call…

It was about six weeks after the surgery. As soon as I answered a voice said "Oh at last, is that Louise?"

I confirmed that it was, and the lady quickly gave me her name, told me she was phoning from the hospital and quite bluntly, but kindly, told me that I MUST stop trying for a baby.

She went on to explain that following the surgery everything was sent away to histology and the results came back advising that I had had what is known as a molar pregnancy and that I had a risk of developing cancer. So, for the foreseeable future I was not to try for another baby.

The next day we went to the hospital and were advised that the pregnancy was actually a twin pregnancy at the start but had not continued due to a partial hydratidiform mole.

So, what is a hydratidiform mole?

A hydratidiform mole is where a group of abnormal cells develops in the womb instead of a baby.

This can present as either:

Complete mole: there is no fetus and just lots of abnormal cells

Partial mole: there is an abnormally developing fetus and cells

Other than what can present as extreme pregnancy symptoms, there is no outwardly visible way of knowing this is happening without a scan and exploration. Treatment is always to remove the pregnancy and cells.

In rare cases some cells remain after treatment and can spread and develop into a type of cancer called: persistent trophoblastic disease - hence why I wasn't able to try for a baby. I had to send urine samples to Charing Cross Hospital each month which were tested for abnormalities. Each month I would get a letter in the post giving the all clear. This continued for 12 months at which point I received a letter telling me I was now clear to try for a baby.

Three weeks later I was pregnant with Isobelle.

I look back at this painful time in our lives, amazingly with gratitude.

Gratitude that we have such amazing clever people that know all about this stuff, and gratitude that it happened. My daughter is, along with her brother, the most precious gift I have ever been given and she was so worth the wait. I know, without doubt, that we would not have had more than two children and had all of this not happened I would not have my Isobelle. And that… is unimaginable because this is the most precious and wonderful girl and would not be here had I not experienced this loss.

There are some great sources of support if you would like to know more, like Tommy’s , Sands and the Miscarriage Association