Baby Loss Awareness Week: Bedford woman who experienced trauma of recurrent miscarriage shares her story

Sarah successfully campaigned for a separate waiting room at Bedford Hospital for women having a suspected miscarriage

Thursday, 30th September 2021, 2:18 pm
Dan and Sarah Reed

A woman who experienced the trauma of recurrent miscarriage is sharing her story of heartbreak and hope ahead of Baby Loss Awareness Week.

Over the course of five years, Sarah Reed from Bedford and her husband Dan conceived naturally three times – but all the pregnancies sadly ended in miscarriage. They were then unable to conceive naturally again.

“The first time I miscarried was a total shock,” says Sarah.

Dan with Hendrix

“I was 11 weeks pregnant and started bleeding heavily at work. I found myself in a room at Bedford Hospital having a scan to confirm whether our baby had died. I saw the sonographer’s face drop and I just knew. I had been looking at our baby on the screen and falling in love with it but there was no heartbeat. My whole world collapsed.

“I remember coming out from behind the curtain and sitting down with this perfect babyscan in front of me and staring at it knowing that it would be the last time I would see our baby.

"Someone was talking to me about miscarriage and handed me a booklet but I didn’t hear any of it I was too stunned.”

Miscarriages are the most common cause of baby loss – affecting around one in four pregnancies according to The Miscarriage Association.

"We just assumed everything would be fine"

Prior to her first miscarriage Sarah had not been prepared for anything to go wrong with her pregnancy.

She said: “I had fallen pregnant really quickly and me and Dan were in a little happiness bubble.

“When we had the initial bleed we just assumed everything would be fine.”

Sarah was sent home to “take some paracetomol and let nature take its course” but nature had other ideas and after waking in the night in excruciating pain and bleeding heavily she was taken back to Bedford Hospital the following morning in an ambulance.

She said: “I was taken from A&E to the maternity unit and was put in the waiting room with a load of expectant mums. I had a young baby crying next to me. My pyjamas and dressing gown were coated in blood, I looked like something from a horror film.

“It was just as shocking for them as it was for me, it was an unpleasant experience for all of us.

“Afterwards and once I had properly processed my grief my main focus was on raising some money for The Miscarriage Association. I did a sponsored walk and a sponsored silence and raised £2,500.”

"No other woman would have to go through what I did"

After her ordeal Sarah went on to have two more miscarriages – and the second time she found herself back at Bedford Hospital in the maternity unit waiting room.

“I had to go through the pain again of sitting with expectant mums and it was at that point that I realised that something really needed to be done about it,” she says.

“Myself and my mum started a petition to get a separate waiting room in Bedford Hospital for women experiencing a suspected miscarriage so that they wouldn’t have to sit with women in the maternity unit like I had.

“Five hundred people signed the petition and the hospital listened.

"I went in with my mum to have a meeting with them and they told me that they were setting aside a dedicated room with a separate entrance for women having a suspected miscarriage.

"I felt like we had achieved that for the babies we had lost and it really helped me. No other woman would have to go through what I did and felt really pleased and proud about that.”

When Sarah had her third miscarriage she was able to sit in the separate side room at Bedford Hospital she had campaigned for.

“It was a much better experience being able to sit in the separate room,” she says.

Following their third miscarriage Sarah and Dan were unable to conceive again naturally and tests revealed that Sarah had developed severe scarring on one of her fallopian tubes. The couple were referred for NHS-funded IVF treatment at Bourn Hall Clinic Cambridge - which was the world’s first IVF clinic.

"Important to recognise how miscarriage affects men too"

Sarah said: “It is important to recognise how miscarriage affects men too. Dan was in total shock after our first miscarriage, he was traumatised with grief. And our third miscarriage happened on his birthday. When we arrived at Bourn Hall we felt like we had got a bit of the wonder of the world back before it all started going wrong.”

The couple’s IVF at Bourn Hall worked first time, resulting in a successful pregnancy and last March – three weeks before lockdown – Sarah was back at Bedford Hospital’s maternity unit for the best of reasons – the birth of son Hendrix.

“He came out like Superman with one arm above his head!” laughs Sarah.

“And when I looked at him I just had this overwhelming feeling of love. We had waited so long and gone through so much pain to get him that no words could describe what a perfect moment it was.”

Sarah is sharing her story at a virtual Fertility Support Group meeting ‘Treatment after Loss’ facilitated by Bourn Hall Clinic on October 21 which is free and open to anyone to attend. For more information go to Fertility support group (bournhall.co.uk)