I am the One in Four featuring Jo Sharpe
**Trigger Warning – Baby Loss**
Welcome back to my series I am the One in Four. Baby loss has become a huge part of this blog since losing my own baby in July 2016. I have received so many lovely messages saying how reading about my experiences helps them so I wanted to open it all up a bit more and include some very inspiring ladies baby loss journeys today. The charity Tommy’s states that ‘1 in 4 women will experience a miscarriage in their lifetime’ which is a huge statistic yet we still aren’t talking about it as much as we could. So let me introduce you to Jo Sharpe who has very kindly shared her 10 year story.
When I was 31 I started trying for a baby. As the months rolled on and I wasn’t pregnant, because of course I thought it would happen straight away, I went to the doctor and started what would end up being a 10 year process.
After I had seen a specialist at the hospital, I was told that my only hope of having a baby would be to use donor eggs or adopt.
I wasn’t about to accept this diagnosis without a fight! So started private IVF pretty much immediately.
After two round of IVF at the local clinic which failed I decided that I needed to take a way more aggressive approach to this, and took myself off to London and to the world famous ARGC.
I cannot fault the ARGC in any way. Their approach and care was outstanding and resulted in me giving birth to my son in 2012.
By this point this journey had cost me around £30k.
I thanked my lucky stars I had “made it” and had a year off work on maternity leave. The day before I was due to return to work I found out I was naturally pregnant. I absolutely couldn’t believe it! I was that mythical person you all hear about. You know, the girl who struggled to conceive, relaxed and then it happened naturally! I was that cliché!
However, 4 days later I started bleeding and then I miscarried. This was devastating but due to all the IVF I had, had, I felt numb to this whole thing but it did start off a chain of events that led me to have a further 2 rounds of IVF which failed miserably. By now I had spent close to £100k and pretty much spent all my sanity as well.
I struggled to move on with my life as I had spent so many years putting my life on hold. Enough was enough.
However in 2014 I found out I was pregnant again. I had been feeling very unwell and had all but stopped eating in an effort to control the waves of sickness I was having every day. I also was bleeding and passing clots. However. It didn’t occur to me that I might be pregnant and I delayed taking a test for 2 weeks. I only took a test because I collapsed in the train station (good look!) and my husband suggested it might be a good idea to check.
I took myself to the doctors for a blood test and then a call from the doctor congratulating me on my pregnancy. But I knew it wasn’t right. Years of being fixated on my month cycle and fertile days etc made me super aware that the dates just didn’t work out. I went to the EPU and was told that the baby was ectopic.
“How much do you want to know?” the sonographer asked me. “Well, everything” I responded. And she showed me a developmentally normal baby with a heartbeat. A baby that was alive but would never be mine.
I wasn’t allowed out of the hospital and had to sit in the Gynae ward in tears and alone. I had a itchy, fizzy, hollow feeling in my chest. What is that? I kept thinking to myself. It was grief. A physical manifestation of how I felt.
One laparoscopy later, done by a lovely pregnant doctor (oh the irony) and I was sent home.
I didn’t recover that well from this and ended up having a methotrexate injection. The process went on and on, as did the bleeding which didn’t seem to ever stop.
2015 arrived and guess what? I’m pregnant again. And it was another ectopic. I was admitted back into hospital where all the nurses knew my name as I had been in and out of that Gynae ward so many times and over so many years. This time I’m hardened to the process. I deal with it quite well because, I’m not that girl any more, I’m not the one that relaxed and fell pregnant, I’m the girl that goes to hospital so she doesn’t die from her ectopic pregnancy.
I really wanted to step away from this world. Full of heartache and grief. I just want to be happy and enjoy my time with my miracle Son. But I keep being sucked it and its miserable. I’m miserable.
Here I am in 2016 sat at work experiencing a very familiar feeling in my chest. Hormonal waves pulsate across my body and I just know I’m pregnant again. One swift test in the toilet at work confirms what I know. Except this time, I do feel different because this time the dates do work out and I am also not bleeding or making a show of myself by falling flat on my face in Brighton train station!
However, I had to take myself off to A&E and got referred to the gynae ward AGAIN! All of the nurses who I had become so familiar with were fantastic but all of them expected the same as me, yet another ectopic.
The EPU sonographer was off sick. So I get the pleasure of going down to Ultrasound to wait for a scan with 10 heavily pregnant ladies. I am seething at the insensitivity of this. How unfair life is. All I wanted was a baby but for the last 10ish years I’ve been in this world I wish I never knew anything about. The pain and the grief of each lost pregnancy and each lost opportunity to hold my baby in my arms is overwhelming
I get into ultrasound where the Sonographer asks me if I could have my dates wrong. I steel myself, I know what’s coming, she’s going to say that there is no baby or she can see the baby in one of my tubes.
She flips the screen round and shows me my 6 week old baby, in my womb, with a heartbeat.
What? I don’t understand what she is saying and actually have to ask the sonographer what she means. She says, “you are pregnant” and looks at me like I’m a mentalist! Like I’m a timewaster. But I’m in shock. And I’m also really old! I’m 40. I AM the cliché. Turns out all I needed to do was relax and get old and have sex like normal people and I can make a baby.
Beautiful Leah was born at the being of 2017.
The only down side to this was that due to my history my pregnancy was ruined. I spent the entire 40 weeks believing that something bad was going to happen and that I was never ever going to walk away with my baby. But she’s here and she’s real.
It is pretty much impossible to put into words how pregnancy loss and infertility affect your world view. I do feel damaged in some way and I think I always will. The pain is unusual and long lasting. 10 years of my life, filled with tears and grief. My entire 30’s were absolutely horrible. I should have 5 beautiful babies. Instead, I have 2 and I am eternally grateful for that. Those two were worth the fight.