I am touched to be able to share with you the story of Emma and Aisha’s family, and their journey through to today of recurrent miscarriage, heartbreak and the strength to continue to hold hope.
I was 18 years old when I lost my first baby. Just a child myself. I didn’t know much about pregnancy, or labour, and hadn’t really stayed in hospital. But she was mine, I knew that I loved her, and that I would make our lives work as best as we could. The baby wasn’t a mistake, a problem or an inconvenience. I knew I always wanted to be a mummy and despite the fear of the unknown, I was excited. Weeks went by and I started to buy her things, a Moses basket, clothes, teddies etc. It was all coming together, until it all fell apart. I woke up on the 26th October 2010 and started to bleed. I knew what it meant. It was too good to be true. I could never really picture myself as a mum, with a baby, and I didn’t know why, and now it all made sense. It was never meant to be.
This miscarriage broke me, mentally and it also broke my relationship. I was so distraught, I couldn’t think about anything else, not even my partner and our problems. I moved back in with my mum, and concentrated on myself, my health.
I always knew I was bisexual. I had experimented with girls before but that’s all it really was. Fast forward a couple of years and I met Aisha. She was beautiful, funny, and had the kindest nature. My life was exciting again, and my family loved her which was the most important thing. We had the best adventures together and she made me feel so worthy and loved. In 2014 we got married, two months after the equal marriage law was passed in the UK.
We spoke about how much we wanted a family together and started doing the research straight away. In July we met our sperm donor via an online agency and started doing Artificial Insemination. She fell pregnant straight away and we were over the moon. She had an amazing, healthy pregnancy and in March 2015 our baby boy Jaxx was born. He was perfect. It made my love for Aisha stronger, she gave me the most amazing gift I could ever have asked for.
A few months after he was born, me and Aisha spoke about having more children, and I was going to carry the next one, but I was petrified. I didn’t want to have another miscarriage as I barely survived the last. Aisha was also concerned, but we decided to give it a go, as there was no real cause to my miscarriage, I was just the 1 in 4. We met with our donor again and he also expressed his concerns, but after much discussion he was more than happy to help us try and conceive another child. We wanted a close age gap between our children, so started trying once Jaxx was a few months old.
I was so excited to start. We did the artificial insemination and waited two weeks. I was so hopeful that it had worked. I got all the positive signs that it had. I rushed out to buy a pregnancy test, waited until the next morning and took it! Negative.
I was sad, but it was only our first go. I told our donor that it hadn’t worked, and he wished us luck for the next month. I tracked my ovulation again, and we did the 2nd round of Artificial Insemination (AI). two weeks later, negative. I felt down again and did a bit more research into pregnancy aids. We brought something called preseed. A sperm friendly lubricant that helped it ‘swim’. It had fantastic reviews from people who had been trying for a baby, and was really cheap too.
We did our third lot of AI, bought the pregnancy test and…..POSITIVE!!! We were absolutely ecstatic. I told my mum who had also been waiting to hear the results and she was excited too. I was so relieved. But it was short-lived. Just two days after getting the positive test I had cramps and started to bleed. I was devastated but also felt a sense of relief that it was such an early miscarriage. The doctor called it a missed miscarriage. I told the donor and he was sad for me, especially as this was the second one I’d had. I asked my GP about having a test done to find out if there was anything wrong with me, but he told me there was nothing they could do unless I’d had three.
We waited a month, and let my body have a normal cycle before we started trying again. Aisha asked me if I wanted to keep trying but I told her that it made me even more keen.
We did our 4th lot of AI and it didn’t work. Maybe that was for the best though, I thought. We missed another month due to other commitments, but tried for the fifth time. POSITIVE AGAIN. I ran downstairs half-naked to tell Aisha. I was excited and my heart was racing but Aisha wasn’t excited. She told me that she was happy I was pregnant, but she didn’t get her hopes up. I rang my doctor and expressed my concerns so she sent me to the hospital for a beta HCG count. This tells you if 1, you’re pregnant and 2, how far along. If the count doubles in 48 hours, then the pregnancy is progressing, of it’s not doubled, or decreases then the pregnancy isn’t progressing and/or you’re miscarrying. I had the blood draw, then two hours later got the results via phone all. It was 13. Extremely low, but positive. I was pregnant, but not even fully implanted. I waited two days, then went back to the hospital for my second draw. Again, a few hours later I got the phone all with the results. 17. My heart sank. I felt like I was going to throw up. How can this be happening!! Why me? All I have ever wanted was to produce a baby of my own and I’m finding it SO difficult. I sobbed and sobbed. In devastation we called my mum. Her heart broke for us too. I didn’t know how I could continue. My heart couldn’t take another loss and I was petrified of the heartbreak after heartbreak.
Three days later I got that dreaded cramps feeling and lo and behold the bleeding started. This time, it was agony. I couldn’t move with the cramps. It was horrific.
I did some research into when to try again after a miscarriage, and after speaking with a friend of mine who had also suffered a miscarriage, it was best to try again the following month as the hormones left in your body from the last pregnancy make it easier for your body to get pregnant again. So we tried again. She was right. The following month I got pregnant. I called my doctor again who ordered me another beta HCG. 23. Again, positive but very low. By the time I had my second blood draw, I already had started to get cramps. I knew that feeling, it was like no other. I got the results from my second draw. 22. I had already told myself not to get my hopes up when I got the positive test, but it didn’t help. No matter how many times you tell yourself it might not work, the heartbreak was the same.
Our donor was concerned and asked me to go for investigations. My hospital did scans, bloods and other investigations but everything came back normal. I was so angry with the results. I secretly wished there would be something wrong so they could fix it with either drugs or an operation. If there was nothing wrong, there was nothing to fix.
We waited a few months again, whilst I was having the investigations and then after a long debate between me and Aisha we started trying again. There was no cause for my miscarriages so I told myself that I WOULD get pregnant and I WOULD carry a baby to term. I had made it a mission of mine. We did five rounds of AI before I fell pregnant again. During this time it seemed the whole world and her dog had announced their pregnancies, each one as heart crushing as the other. The test line was incredibly faint. I told myself that I wouldn’t get a HCG count. I would let nature run its course and of course, it did. I miscarried. Number five. I was numb. My mental health was like no other. I went through suicidal phases, phases of feeling selfish for wanting to keep trying. The only thing that came of these losses was mine and Aisha’s relationship. Each one made us stronger and stronger, and each one for me made me even more determined. We stopped trying for two months, and then started trying again. I lost another. No beta HCG. Just a very faint line, and then the bleeding. I kept all my positive pregnancy tests because that’s all I had of them. A small pink reminder that left a huge imprint in my heart. I was discouraged. I gave up. I told myself that I wouldn’t be a biological mother and that was it.
I spoke with the donor and he told me to try one last time. I HAD to, because he had hope. Hope that I couldn’t see, but I believed him. If I wasn’t doing it for me, I was doing it for him, because I didn’t want him to feel that I had given up on hope. He felt so strongly that this time would work and his encouragement made me feel that excitement that I felt the first time we tried AI.
We did our last round of AI. I truly did feel excitement, because he was so determined. I didn’t wait two weeks before taking a test, I only waited 8 day, and to this day I don’t know why. I woke up on the Monday morning and my mind told me to take a test. I did it with my first wee, left it in the bathroom and forgot about it. About 45 minutes later I went into the bathroom and saw it on the edge of the bath. I turned it over thinking to myself “you stupid idiot, why on earth did you do that? It’s only been eight days since ovulation!!” It was positive. BLAZING positive. The test line was almost darker than the control line. What the hell? I’d never gotten a test that dark before.
I rang the hospital and asked for another blood draw. They told me that they wouldn’t do a 48 hour blood draw and that they would wait 8 days to do the second one, given my history. Basically, we will give you your blood draw, but you’ll more than likely miscarry again, but I went along with it anyway. I got my first results. 47!!! I was so excited! I messaged the donor and told him, to which he smugly replied – “told you!”
Eight sloooow days later, I got my second draw. 1,525. WHAT THE HELL?! The lady on the phone told me that she would like me to go for a scan as she wanted to make sure that I wasn’t carrying multiples. Me and Aisha danced around the room. We were so happy, beyond words. We had waited so so long for this. We has definitely earned it!!
We went to the scan a few days later, and low and behold there was a beautiful, fully attached egg. We couldn’t see a heartbeat yet because it was very early days but they advised us that if we go back in two weeks, we should be able to see one.
We did. Two weeks later there was a heartbeat. I sobbed and sobbed and sobbed. I was so happy, I couldn’t believe it.
We waited until I was 12 weeks before the pregnancy was announced to friends and family due to sheer fear, but we got our announcement. Everyone was over the moon for us. They all knew how hard we had worked for this, the devastation that we’d faced. I couldn’t wait to find out what we were having so I booked a gender scan for 16 weeks. We were having a girl. How perfect? One of each. That’s all we wanted. I knew I wouldn’t be having anymore, and I couldn’t have wished for more. I went to my 20 week scan after that and we were told she was small, but not scarily small. They told me that I would have another growth scan at 30 weeks.
In September, when I was 26 weeks I won a 4D scan with Babybond close to where we lived and was ecstatic!! Another chance to see our beautiful girl. It was amazing. She also told me that our baby was small, but once I saw the notes, I saw that she was off the chart small. I told myself not to worry and in only 4 weeks I’d be having another scan. Little did I know things were all about to go pear-shaped. At my next midwife appointment, she picked up on a few abnormalities. Major abnormalities. My blood pressure was through the roof, I had swelling all over and I had 4+’s of protein on my urine. I felt sick. She called for an ambulance straight away which picked me up from the surgery and blue lighted me to hospital. I was there diagnosed with severe pre-eclampsia.
I. Was. Petrified.
The hospital assured me that they had picked it up fast, which was great, and that the outlook of our baby was good. I was 27 weeks pregnant. They tried hard to treat my pre-eclampsia, but were unsuccessful.
On the morning of the 16th September 2017, our daughter was born via emergency c-section. She weighed 1lb 13oz. Roux Elizabeth.
I was so relieved that she was okay, but needed a lot of help. She was ventilated straight away, but they did tell me she tried so so hard to breathe, but just gave out. Her body was so small, and she just didn’t have the energy. After seven hours I was able to go and see her. My midwife took me over to NICU on my bed.
She was beautiful. I don’t remember what the nurses were telling me, it was all a big blur, but she was beautiful, and strong. So so strong.
She remained ventilated for 11 days and then was put onto a c-pap machine.
Our poor girl suffered a bleed on the brain and had an open heart valve which they called a PDA. They advised us that the bleed was small and they were sure it would resolve itself which it did. Everything resolved itself. She was a fighter.
Nine weeks went by and she was strong enough to come home.
Since coming home we have had our ups and downs, she went back in due to RSV/pneumonia, and had to be re-ventilated, but she overcame that in her own time and again came home fit and fighting.
Now at 20 weeks old she weighs a tiny 7lb 1oz and has two extremely lucky, doting mummies and an incredibly caring big brother. She was more than worth the wait, they both are.
I love my children and my wife with all my heart and couldn’t dream of my life being any other way. I will never ever forget the children that I lost, but the journey has made me even more grateful. Everything happens for a reason. The reason – my beautiful, strong, amazing family.
This post is shared as part of the #LGBTBabyLoss Blog Series. To read more, or to submit your own experiences, visit the LGBT Baby Loss Blog Series homepage here.