Sarah’s Story: I have suffered multiple miscarriages but I still will not give up

The first thing that I want to say is that I am not childless through choice. I also very much hope that there will be children in our future: biological, adopted or otherwise. The truth is I have known pretty much from the word go that there were going to be problems with having a baby as my mum and dad went through something similar.

My mum had me without any problems, along came this healthy baby after the usual nine months with an uneventful birth but it was after me that the problems began. The first miscarriage came ten months after I was born. Then there was another. And another. And another. My mum was eventually seen by the genetics department at Guys Hospital in Central London: both she and my dad were found to have a balanced translocated chromosome- her’s= numbers 6 and 12, his= 9 and 18. This is known as a reciprocal translocation- there’s the right amount of data but some of it has broken off and become stuck in the wrong places. The way to think of chromosomes is not as neat lines but as a great big pile of jumbled socks, then the bottom part of my number 9 sock and number 18 sock have swapped ends. It happens in about 1 in 625 humans, usually with little effect other than multiple miscarriages and in rare cases, children are born with extreme deformities or developmental abilities.

My mum ended up having a total of seven miscarriages before my brother came along, six years after I was born. When my dad remarried, he had a further five miscarriages with my step mum- three were accounted to the wonky chromosomes and two were due to blighted ovums (she was quite old when they first started trying). My youngest brother and I have just my dad’s set of chromosomes- numbers 9 and 18. My middle brother has both my mum’s and my dad’s sets- as he was told, he’s extra special!

When they find out that you have a genetic abnormality, they drag you in for genetic “counselling” (I’ve put counselling in inverted commas as counselling is meant to make you feel better and this certainly doesn’t). I went with my mum at 16 and then went with my brother when he turned 16- by the time my littlest brother goes for it, I shall be an old lady! You get a pretty picture of your chromosomes- like a dribbly watercolour with a wild palate of colours. You then get a similar picture with all the possible outcomes of a pregnancy- the ones that work and are healthy, the ones that work but are very unhealthy and the ones that can happen but are screwed from the start. You leave with an earful of information that your sixteen year old self cannot truly digest or fully comprehend other than the GCSE in Biology you’re about to take or that you basically are going to have a lot of miscarriages when you’re older.

The information from this session hangs over you like a black cloud. Every relationship you enter as an adult- you explain to your partner that should you ever want to have babies, there are going to be problems. You also have blurred memories of a lot of tears at home and don’t ever want your relationship to go the way of your parents’. It’s hard- I’ve always thought of it as being a bit like informed consent in the way that my mum as a medical professional knows everything that can go wrong under anaesthesia, I’ve always known everything that can wrong with trying for a baby.

My husband and I have been together for six years and in that time we’ve had five miscarriages- two whoops pre getting married and three since we started trying. That’s three within the last year and four within eighteen months. For anyone who hasn’t been through one, they’re tough: physically and emotionally. No one can prepare you for the moment when they tell you that there is no heartbeat or when you turn over in bed and your boobs don’t hurt anymore. The worst is still vomiting because the hormones are still running through you but the baby has gone. Yes, even though it’s nothing more than a foetus, it’s your baby. As soon as you see the lines on the test, you are pregnant with your baby. Your son or daughter. Then it’s gone. Really bloody tough.

Not only do you lose a baby but you also end up living in hospitals or doctor’s surgeries. In the past year, most of my blood has been sent off for testing, there have been a lot of things inserted in me and I’ve been prodded, poked and scanned. You end up living from appointment to appointment. Who are we seeing next? Which hospital is this appointment at? Which department on what floor? I’ve always been a bleeding heart socialist; thank you NHS, you’re doing a tough but amazing job.

Anyway, when you try for a baby- as I’m sure some of you have, you’ll know the life on hold button that gets pressed. You don’t go for promotions or new jobs, just in case. You don’t move house or take out loans, just in case. You spend all your money on home pregnancy tests and expensive vitamins and so can’t meet up with friends or do anything other than try for that elusive baby. You become a mass of raging hormones and tears when it goes wrong and don’t even get me started on that moment when you find out you’re pregnant and you say, “Oh no.”

“At least you can have fun trying!” One of the best statements that can be said to someone who is trying for a baby. Yes, what larks indeed. So as a completely positive Pollyanna type person, I’ve decided to stop allowing the maybe baby control over my life! I’ve applied for the perfect post that will not only pay me a few more pennies but I will be better placed for doing exciting things like meeting up with friends, the hot yoga that I started and the art that I’ve always put off doing. We are going to take that loan out in the New Year to get the house insulated, new windows and new electrics. Whilst I’m waiting on the NHS to let me know if I can get PGD (pre-implantation genetic diagnosis- where they use IVF and then they check the embryos at split 16 for any genetic issues), it’s time to get stuff done.

I am quite different to a lot of you in that being a non-parent is a transitional stage for my husband and I, as we will be parents in the future. Whether we stop trying or decide to adopt, there will be children. Or just a truckload of puppies. One or the other. We have a very strong marriage and I know that our relationship can cope with difficulties unlike that of my parents, so for now, we are going to have a bit of a life- he can play lots of FIFA and I can start writing that book…

You can read more articles by Sarah on her blog:

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Coming to terms with infertility


  1. GemmaRowlands says

    I’m sorry to hear about the trouble that you’ve been having trying to have a baby. It’s something that a lot of people simply take for granted, and they assume that they will be able to do it at some point. I am confident that you will have your baby, and when you do you will love him or her with all of your heart, because you’ll know just how special it is that they are in your life. I hope you manage to have your dream family, I really do.

  2. Hi Sarah, you are to be admired for persevering in the face of such challenge. Whatever the outcome, I wish you peace. Life throws us so many challenges and whether we come out of it stronger or diminished is up to us as individuals.

  3. It sounds like you’ve been on such a journey already and you come across as a very strong person as well as a couple. Im sure your journey will throw up some more bumps in the road at some point, but you seem determined to get what you want or at least try to do everything you can.

    Good luck and may it happen.

  4. Lucy Burrows says

    This story is beautiful, and I am glad that you are so confident that you and your husband will be able to have children in the future. Everybody deserves the gift of a family, and it seems as though it is well within your grasp. It must have been so stressful going through what you’ve already been through, but at least you know that you’re strong enough to cope with anything, and that you will cope with anything else that comes your way.

    • Dawn Kells says

      Your use of the word “gift” is interesting, because a family is something that a lot of people take for granted. When people get things too easily, they forget just how amazing they are, and just how much other people might be struggling to get them.

    • I am not sure that I agree with your view that ‘everybody deserves the gift of a family’. This to me reinforces the myth that having a family is something that everyone ought to aspire to. Not having a family is ok too and this message needs to be spread loud and clear. In addition a family does not have to be made up of more than two people to be considered as such. Being a family of two is perfectly ok.

  5. I really do hope that you will be able to have the family of your dreams one day, because it certainly sounds as though you deserve it. You story is interesting to read, and is one that I feel a lot of people would benefit from who are trying for a baby, because you absolutely have to understand just how much heartache can come from it, as well as the potential joy.

  6. Julez Fitzmond says

    In these kinds of situations, you really do have to be positive – and for this reason I think that it’s amazing that you are being so positive and sure of what the future might hold for you. It’s good that you’ve shared your story as well, because other people need to know that they’re not on their own with the things that they’ve been through.

    • You’re right Julez. Positivity is what gets us all through tough times, and without that feeling of being able to be positive no matter what happens, I doubt that we would be able to get through. But Sarah sounds as though she will be just fine, as she has exactly the right kind of mindset that is required to deal with things like this.

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