‘I had 7 miscarriages in 7 years – after 12 pregnancies, I finally have my baby’
Every year in the UK, according to NHS figures, there are an estimated 250,000 miscarriages and around 11,000 emergency admissions for ectopic pregnancies.
Laura Buckingham and Bex Gunn have both experienced the tragedy – for Laura, more than once. The devastating experience has made them fully aware of the isolation and loneliness felt by other women going through the same. It also got them discussing their shared common desire to open up the dialogue surrounding baby loss and to help women through the heartbreak.
And so they launched a weekly podcast, called The Worst Girl Gang Ever.
"It really is the gang that you’d never choose to be part of," they tell their growing band of followers. "But as you’ll soon find out it is also a gang chokka-block full of kind, supportive, warrior women, just like you."
Together, the friends are here to offer support to others and smash the stigma of baby loss, with their powerful mantra: "We get you. And we've got you."
Here, they share their touching stories with OK!….
Laura, 37, lives in Gravesend with her husband, Scoop, and their three-year-old son, Bertie.
“I’d always wanted a big family, to the point where I’d planned four children and even chosen their names – Bertie, Ted, Connie and Flo.
My husband, Scoop, and I started trying for a baby in 2012 when I was 27 and, after almost a year, we found out I was pregnant on Christmas Eve.
But our excitement was short-lived – two weeks later, I miscarried. I was devastated and embarrassed. I felt shame, that it was all my fault. However, everyone told me to crack on, saying you’re most fertile straight afterwards.
I didn’t have much time to deal with my emotions because, sure enough, within four weeks, I was pregnant again. But that ended in early miscarriage, too.
Everyone tried to console me, saying, “At least you know you can get pregnant.” At work, there were constant pregnancy announcements andI found myself jealous and resentful.
We carried on trying and, later that year, I got pregnant again. I had an early scan and there was a heartbeat, and a second scan showed the same. For the third scan, I took my mum along. She was so excited as it would be her first grandchild.
But then we got the devastating news. There was no longer a heartbeat.
Six weeks later, I had to have an “evacuation of the remaining products of conception” – such an awful term.
Tests showed it had been an unviable molar pregnancy, where two sperm fertilise the egg. If not properly removed, it can cause a rare cancer. I had to be monitored weekly for six months and, during that time, I couldn’t try to get pregnant. Trying again had always kept me going, so that was a dark and scary time.
I felt isolated, and Scoop and I didn’t cope very well together. He was more about avoidance, of the opinion a baby would happen when the time was right.
I feared it might never happen. Only desperation kept me going.
At the recurrent miscarriage clinic, they found no issues – but I had more devastating losses. After the fifth, I saw a specialist, a horrible man who told me to try drugs I’d already tried, shrugged and said, “Come back in a couple of years if you’ve had no luck.”
Another specialist found I had a heart-shaped womb, which can cause complications. I was operated on but still had another early miscarriage afterwards.
That was when I really lost myself. We’d been trying for five years and I’d had six miscarriages – and no baby. Couples who hadn’t met when we first started trying had got married and had two kids in that time. Life felt unfair. I was refused IVF because
I was able to get pregnant. We looked into adoption but I couldn’t bring myself to close the door on having a baby ourselves.
I was sure it was something to do with my immune system, that my body was rejecting the foetuses, so I booked an appointment with an immunologist. During the six-month wait, I conceived again.
It was an ectopic pregnancy [where the foetus develops inside the Fallopian tube].
After seven devastating losses, finally, in 2019, came Bertie. It turned out I did have a rare problem with my immune system, for which I was successfully given medication.
I didn’t enjoy a second of my pregnancy. I was so full of anxiety. If anyone said “when” the baby comes, I would correct them to “if”. I couldn’t allow myself to believe it was happening.
I remember walking down for my C-section, fully expecting to be presented with a dead baby. I don’t know how to begin to describe the moment he was born and we first saw him, and I realised, “Wow, he’s alive.”
Bertie has been a wonderful distraction but it wasn’t the end of our baby loss journey. Having seen the immunologist, I thought that was our answer to conceiving – but I took the same drugs and have since had another ectopic pregnancy and three chemical pregnancies [very early miscarriages].
Secondary infertility brings a different range of emotions. Before, it was grief for the loss of motherhood. Now, it’s grief for your uncompleted family and the lack of a sibling for your child.
It’s been a long time living under that dark cloud. My husband wants to keep trying but if he was happy to stop now, I would. Bertie goes to school next September, and if I’m not pregnant by then, I’m done.
It wouldn’t be easy but I think it would feel like a weight had been lifted – and I’m so grateful for my precious son.”
Bex, 37, lives in Brighton with her husband Rob, and her children James, 11, Flynn, nine, Ruby, three, and Hazel, one.
“I didn’t think I was someone who had miscarriages. Having three children already, I belonged in the group of women who didn’t suffer baby loss.
So when, in March 2020, I found out I was pregnant, I geared up for baby number four and went to the 12-week scan feeling like an old pro.
I put no value on it at all, I was just there to get the picture.
But as the sonographer started scanning, I knew something was wrong. I remember lying in this dark, suffocating space and hearing this wailing noise. It was me. It was this guttural, bubbling lava of pain that you don’t know you’re capable of until something horrendous happens to you.
After that left, I felt hollow. I turned to alcohol because I couldn’t bear to be present. I found the whole thing traumatic to an unbelievable degree.
Sometimes, with one miscarriage, your suffering is invalidated because it’s “only” one. Even my dad said, “You’ve already got three kids, concentrate on them.” But it doesn’t work like that. I lost a baby that was desperately wanted.
Six months later, I got pregnant again, and my rainbow baby, Hazel, is now a year old. But at the time, it felt like no one else could ever feel as bad.
I thought, if I was experiencing this, other people were, too. So Laura Buckingham and I got together and startedThe Worst Girl Gang Ever, a podcast and support platform for miscarriage and baby loss.
This pain must kill people, and so many women are dealing with it every day. We need to talk about it, and recognise their pain.”
Bex and Laura’s book The Worst Girl Gang Ever: A Survival Guide For Navigating Miscarriage And Pregnancy Loss (HQ, £16.99) is out on 4 August
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