Our journey began 7 years ago in late 2015. I had recently been diagnosed with Hashimotos Thyroidisitis (severely underactive thyroid) and my GP had suggested we hold off starting a family until we were able to stabilize my thyroid hormone to give us the best chance at a healthy pregnancy.
After months of blood tests and medication balancing, the day finally came as my GP gave us the green light to start trying!
Well, 2 nights of birds and bees was all it took to have our very first BFP! We were absolutely shocked at how quickly and easily we had gotten pregnant and beyond ecstatic – we were euphoric, but that was the last time we were truly happy.
2 joy filled weeks later, whilst basking happily in our sunny future, holidaying at a family friends beach side apartment and daydreaming about the life that was ahead for us, a casual trip to the bathroom changed everything.
I remember being on the phone to our GP and mentioning what I had found in my underwear, I remember the change in her tone, the long pause, the words “we will need to re-check your hcg and run an ultrasound – what’s the soonest you can come in?”. The first clouds started across our sunny future – clouds that would settle in for the next 7 years of our lives.
A day later, laying on the ultrasound bed with my recently blood drawn arm carefully laid alongside me, the sonographer said 6 words that would haunt me forever and would be the first of many times I heard it -“let me just get the doctor”.
That night in the emergency ward at my local hospital, as the ED doctor explained what an ectopic pregnancy was and carefully instructed me on when and where to get to the EPAS unit, I could barely understand her kind and careful clarity through the fog of tears and sorrow that seemed to come from the depth of my belly, so strong it felt as if it could physically break me in half.
I was treated with Methotrexate, 2 rounds when the first didn’t entirely work – and 9 weeks of waiting for my hcg to fall to below 6, and be deemed back to normal and able to try again.
The anxiety had been so intense that we didn’t try again for over a year.
February 2018, the baby bug had chased away our anxiety and we were ready to try again. After months of ovulation tracking and heartbreaking single lines, our BFP arrived one December afternoon. We had moved back in with my parents to try to save money. My mother and I both emerged from the 2 bathrooms in the house at the same time – despite my period being a week late, I still wasn’t bleeding – Mum (at age 63) however, was.
This turned out to be a bittersweet time – my uterus had a baby in it, Mums had cancer.
2 weeks later, on my last day of work for the year, while Mum prepared to have investigative surgery for herself, I once again found myself in the bathroom with that tell tale sadness in my underwear again.
Being the holiday period, blood tests, scans and results were delayed, leaving us with no answers and only anxiety to carry us through the so called “happiest time of the year”.
New Years Eve 2018 it was confirmed we were miscarrying. While I was relived it was not ectopic again, our hearts broke just as hard.
Fast forward to May 2021, Mum was fully recovered from her hysterectomy, and was cancer free. We were in our new(ish) little apartment having put our family plans on hold during the craziness of covid, and once again holding the only good positive test one could get in 2021!
This ended up being our physically easiest loss, but emotionally just as hard.
The typical bathroom trip, followed by the dash to emergency – only no follow up was required. My hcg had already dipped below 6. We were once again miscarrying.
I’m forever grateful to the kind nurse, who found me and my beautiful husband a quiet room and bed to break our hearts in privacy. Even so, the sound of my gut wrenching cry still travelled as far as the nurses station, and I was told drew tears from the incredible nursing team on duty also.
Nurses truly are saints and angels on earth.
It was time to get in touch with a fertility specialist. We had been in touch with a wonderful woman from Westmead IVF in Sydney Australia, Dr B.
She took the time to listen to us not just as a medical professional but as a mother and a woman. She ran a number of tests and provided invaluable support. The outcome of these tests yielded a possible answer to our recurring losses. Factor V Leiden, a genetic blood clotting disorder. I had the heterozygous type which was the milder of the two – but believed to be possibly causing clotting of my tiny embryos, starving them of what they needed before they’d had a chance to grow.
Together with my existing high blood pressure, it was decided I would need to be on blood thinners for pregnancy – Clexane injected into my belly during the two week wait, then aspirin and calcium tablets would join the party upon a BFP.
Just 9 months of daily Clexane needles, tablets, a growing bump and me.
Meanwhile, our world was being rocked again, as my mother in law was diagnosed with motor neurons disease. This once vital and energetic neo-natal nurse, withering away to nothing before our very eyes.
She said her last goodbye to us in February 2022 – and the day after her funeral, with a belly full of needle bruises, one goodbye turned into another hello.
It felt like a miracle – a gift sent straight from heaven to us. My mother in law had been wanting this for us so much, and this positive test felt as though she was still here. We had only arrived home from the coast having farewelled all the family who had been grieving with us the day before. My period was once again a few days overdue, but having had cramps and negative tests only a few days before, I did one last test before giving in and treating myself to a cheeky rosé. But the wine would have to wait. My husband had not even finished unpacking the car when I held the positive test in front of him, completely stunned.
Both of us, deep in the fog of grief, stood in disbelief at how this miracle could have occurred!
How could it not be from her!!
A minute later as we stood in shock, the radio began to play “A little ray of sunshine” – it had to be from her.
This time felt different, I had my blood thinners, I had my plan and we had our guardian Angel who had very clearly sent us this one – and boy did heaven deliver fast.
The first hcg blood draw wasn’t exactly perfect, but wasn’t cause for concern. The next few looked better and better.
Then one overcast Monday afternoon after waiting patiently (ok, fine, not patiently at all) for my GP to tell me todays readings – our miracle turned once again, into a nightmare.
A plateaued hcg reading is a tell tale sign of an ectopic pregnancy – and here we were again.
2 days later in the EPAS unit, for the first time we saw a baby – between my left ovary and tube, the very same spot a cyst had been in 2015 that turned out to be our first baby.
The nurses gave me the option of methotrexate again, or surgery.
Methotrexate would take weeks to resolve, leaving me at risk of rupture until my hcg would reach below that famous 6 and would not solve anything long term.
Surgery would be more invasive (my first surgery in fact! With medical anxiety and one of my biggest fears!) but would remove the repeatedly offensive tube and while halving my fertility, also halving my already elevated risk of another ectopic, particularly with IVF (which we had now decided would be our next step).
Months have now passed, and my broken body has healed from the surgery.
I’ve since learnt that I’m a hoot on anaesthetic drugs, and while one tube down, I have been left with two perfect and beautifully functioning ovaries, one happy open right tube, and the Taj Mahal of uteri!
But we are broken in so many other ways, so we have decided to put our fertility in the hands of medicine and science.
As Dr B so kindly put it – “you rest now, let me carry this for you from here”
Each baby we have sent out into the universe, by writing their name in the sand at sunset and letting the waves take them away. We are hopeful that only 4 names will be the last of what the ocean holds for us.
The future is full of needles for me, but every single one gets us closer to those clouds finally drifting away, for us to see the sun again, and for that warmth to warm our hearts and our arms with our little one, earthside, finally ………so our life can begin again.
Dedicated to our 5 angels:
Button – 2015
Bean – 2018
Pip – 2021
Dot – 2022
Christine – 18th May 1950 – 9th February 2022
Read more about Hashimotos Thyroidisitis here.
Photos taken by Real Men Shoot Things With a Camera.
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