When Abi and husband Scott found they were pregnant naturally, they were ecstatic.
“I felt as though everything had fallen in to place,” recalls Abi. “We both really wanted children and as far as we were concerned that was that. We would be having a baby in a few months time.”
Sadly just a few weeks later Abi miscarried and it was a real shock for the couple. “Most people around us were either pregnant or having children so we hadn’t really expected something to go wrong. We were devastated,” she says. It was to be the first of eight miscarriages.
Reasons for recurrent miscarriage
It is estimated that one in six pregnancies where the woman knows she is pregnant will end in miscarriage, and it is thought that most are caused by abnormal chromosomes in the baby.
While the majority of miscarriages sadly cannot be prevented, the NHS Choices website does list a number of steps which women can take to try and reduce the risk including maintaining a healthy weight prior to pregnancy and eating healthily.
However, Abi has always been very careful to look after her health and body, following a bout of ME when she was in her twenties that developed after she contracted glandular fever. It is very rare for a woman to experience more than three miscarriages – only 1 in 100 women do – but Abi went on to lose seven more pregnancies.
Baby loss is a hidden grief
“Every time I got pregnant we got excited, but there was always this fear at the back of our minds,” says Abi.
“And because everyone else we knew had started their families it was quite hard to sometimes mix with them.
“It was only when we started to talk about what we were going through, that other people would tell us they had suffered miscarriages in the past. Unfortunately it is one of those things which doesn’t get talked about but it really does need to get talked about more. As with anything else if you are going through something which is different to other people you can feel isolated.”
Abi admits that she and Scott delayed going to see their GP. “It took us a long time to get our heads round what was happening,” she says.
After tests the couple referred for IVF treatment and chose Bourn Hall for their treatment. The clinic treated Abi using a procedure called ICSI which involved removing some of Abi’s eggs and directly injecting one of Scott’s sperm in to each egg to help fertilisation occur. The best quality embryo was then transferred to Abi’s womb.
Therapists supported the IVF journey
During her IVF journey Abi gained support from two therapists, one offering reiki reflexology and visualisation, the other energy balancing and healing techniques.
When the couple found out Abi was pregnant after the ICSI treatment Abi stayed off work for a few weeks to rest and then went back to work on reduced hours to ensure her body and mind were not overstressed.
Getting past being ten weeks pregnant was a big hurdle. Abi had a number of scans throughout her pregnancy. Happily she went to full-term and son Elliott was born in March 2015.
Natural conception a complete surprise
When Elliott was 11 months old Abi fell pregnant again naturally but because of her history of miscarriage welcomed the news with ‘cautious optimism’. Happily her pregnancy went to full term and in November 2016 she gave birth to daughter Willow.
“Willow was a complete surprise but throughout all the years of anguish I always knew that I was going to have a little girl so it felt like the right thing,” she says.
Abi firmly believes that therapy played an integral role in her personal fertility journey:
“My therapists helped me to remove my fears,” says Abi. “They gave me confidence and trust in my body’s ability to maintain a healthy and successful pregnancy, despite our history,” she says. “It enabled me to maintain a positive mindset which was totally invaluable before, during and after my IVF as well as during my current natural pregnancy.”