The journey to make a family is different for everyone, so to show the amazing diversity, brave women, men and couples are sharing in this new series “My Hope Squad Stories”.
Together, we need to change how others view the diversity in making families. To let them know it’s something beautiful, and if they are looking at their own options, they are’t alone. The Hope Squad have got their back.
Today’s story is from Bex. A lady I followed on YouTube for a while now. A story of pregnancy after Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, traumatic miscarriage, being your own health advocate and finally a dream come true…
The harsh reality that motherhood doesn’t happen for everyone hit me when I was 26. I was sitting in a room full of beautiful, pregnant women, waiting to have my ovaries scanned for any obvious signs of PCOS. I had been having various symptoms that were markers for PCOS/Endometriosis and my GP wanted to rule them out. Although the scan and a later laparoscopy came back clear, I had to have a procedure to treat some abnormal cells found during a smear test. It dawned on me that my path to motherhood may not be easy.
We started TTC in November 2014, shortly before our first wedding anniversary. We were initially giddy and excited, but by June 2015, I was starting to panic, as I was 33 and Dan, my husband, was 34. I knew it could take up to a year to conceive, but my instinct was telling me we should go the GP to get the ball rolling on initial fertility investigations.
It was during this stressful time of waiting for tests and fertility referrals that a steady stream of pregnancy announcements started. They continued every month for the whole time we were struggling to conceive. It became particularly painful when three close family members announced their pregnancies, in quick succession. Each announcement seemed to coincide with the arrival of my period and the grief and jealousy I felt was physical. Each announcement made my heart pound, my stomach lurch and my heart ache. I felt burning stabs of jealousy and fury, and an overwhelming sense of emptiness and shame that my body couldn’t do what it was supposed to do.
Shortly after being diagnosed with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, an autoimmune condition that, if left untreated, can affect fertility and cause miscarriages, I found out I was pregnant. Ironically, I found out on the eve of our first IVF referral appointment, and 14 months after we initially started TTC.
I had my first pregnancy scan at 8 weeks, as my thyroid condition meant my pregnancy was classed by my midwife as high-risk. We saw our baby’s heart beating and learned that my due date was 6th October 2016. We nicknamed the baby Baby Bean, as he or she was the size of a kidney bean.
We had decided to tell people about Baby Bean on Easter Sunday, as the 12wk scan was booked for the day before Good Friday. We had told our parents a few weeks earlier on Mother’s Day, but had kept it secret from everyone else.
I remember sitting in the waiting room, excited for the moment when we would get to see our baby wriggling about on the screen.
Once I was settled in the scan room, the sonographer explained that it would just be a quick progress scan as the dating scan had been done. The monitor was turned towards us, and I remember the image shooting up on to the screen. Although the sonographer had to zoom in to the image, Baby Bean was clear and looked perfect, but was still. My heart lurched and the sonographer was silent.
After asking me to confirm how many weeks pregnant I was, she said that the ‘pregnancy’ had ended. She said she would need to confirm it with an internal scan. I had to use the toilet across the corridor and I remember my legs shaking violently and saying over in my head, “Please don’t do this to me.”
I don’t remember much of the following hours, other than I was handed some leaflets on surgical and conservative management of miscarriage and asked to decide how I wanted to proceed. I found the whole process overwhelming, clinical and lacking in sympathy. When we got home, Dan and I just crawled into bed, held each other and sobbed. I have never, ever, felt such an overwhelming sense of devastation and hollow emptiness.
A few weeks after my miscarriage had completed, I rang the IVF clinic we had been referred to as NHS patients, to rearrange our initial IVF consultation. We were told that we no longer qualified for NHS funding as I had managed to conceive, even though the pregnancy didn’t result in a baby in our arms.
I felt so confused and very vulnerable, as though the rug had been pulled from under us, with no obvious direction to go in. We had been signed off from the fertility clinic at the hospital and no one seemed open to helping us. We appealed the CCG’s decision to revoke our funding, but their decision was absolute.
Complaints and fertility plans
We lodged a complaint with the hospital as there had been unnecessary delays in treating my thyroid condition that may have played a part in my miscarriage. I also requested a change of fertility consultant and a clear plan of action to treat us. Thankfully, this happened and we were referred to a new consultant, who carefully monitored my thyroid levels and referred us to a specialist in Coventry who she thought could help.
Two days before my 34th birthday, just over a month after my consultation with the specialist in Coventry and 20 months after we originally started our TTC journey, I found out I was pregnant again. We were elated but very anxious, and I don’t think either of us dared to believe we were having a baby until we held him in our arms.
On 23rd April 2017, our rainbow baby arrived into the world. Named Finley, meaning ‘blonde warrior’ our beautiful, precious son has already lived up to his name.
What I learned
It’s vital to be your own health advocate. Ask questions, ask for explanations, take notes and research. Keep all your paperwork organised in a file and take it with you to any appointments – you never know when a letter you received a year ago will become critical to your care.
You can follow Bex’s story over on instagram at @bexmasseyuk
If you’d like a little extra support with issues brought up here, there’s a fab list here