“It wasn’t easy, but it was so good to have Bill on our side”
Frankie is mum to Henry (5) and Oscar (2 ½), and had a difficult route to motherhood.
“We started trying to get pregnant a year after we got married so I came off the pill and had no period for 4 months. I’d been on the pill for 16 years and never considered we would have fertility issues. We are both super healthy individuals, and while the time it took for my period to come back was not unusual, I do wish I had come off it sooner. It scared me initially and I suddenly started to regret being on it all this time with no breaks. I couldn’t even remember what my periods were like when I’d started taking it at the tender age of 16.
However just after my 32nd birthday I got a very light period, and then a positive pregnancy test! We were referred to the Early Pregnancy Unit at St George’s Hospital in London, and they dated me at 5 ½ weeks and told me to come back a few weeks later. Unfortunately, at that scan they confirmed it was a missed miscarriage, and I had to undergo a D&C procedure. It was during this time I was also diagnosed with a double uterus (complete bicornuate uterus), which is relatively rare (around 1 in 200 women have this) and we were told this would make it harder to conceive.
After this first miscarriage I threw myself into exercise and healthy eating which in hindsight was a mistake, and was probably an attempt to regain control over my body. It unfortunately began to verge on the obsessive and, whilst a few months later I was feeling amazing, my periods just never came back. Over the following 8 months I had sporadic cycles which left me frustrated, with no real signs and signals of when we should ‘try’ or when I was ovulating.
We eventually decided to go private, and I went to see a consultant at the Portland Hospital who said I might benefit from gaining some weight/body fat, I should chill out, eat more, work out less and “I’d be fine”. I took her advice on board and traded long runs for gentle walk, started yoga, acupuncture, and daily meditation, and ate a clean, organic diet with minimal sugar. Within a few months, despite feeling much calmer, my periods still didn’t regularise and I was becoming increasingly worried.
We eventually started seeing a new consultant Dr Raj Rai, and he was the person who introduced us to Bill at CDS. Raj confirmed I wasn’t ovulating so prescribed me Clomid, and Bill started monitoring the cycle. It was during my first Clomid cycle, and a year to the day since my first pregnancy, that Bill told us at our 4 week scan I was pregnant again. We were thrilled, assuming the first miscarriage was just bad luck caused by some sort of genetic issue. However I started bleeding before the 6 week scan, so I rang CDS (the lady we spoke to was so kind and understanding) and we were seen straight away. Bill then told us in the gentlest of ways that we were suffering our second miscarriage.
We dusted ourselves off and started trying again, but once again my period failed to turn up so we took Provera to induce it and started Clomid again. This was my second Clomid cycle and it resulted in a chemical pregnancy, which is when you have a very faint line on the test which disappears a week later as the egg didn’t implant properly. This time the news hit us very hard, and we were determined to find out why it kept happening. I had the full panel of blood tests from the recurrent miscarriage clinic and this came out with no obvious cause, which was in some ways a relief but also frustrating that there seemed to be nothing we could do to prevent it happening again.
We started yet another Clomid cycle, and in addition I was taking progesterone pessaries post-ovulation to help strengthen the womb lining and improve the chance of a little bean sticking. I was booked in via the NHS for a laproscopy and ovarian drilling (where they break through the thick outer surface of the ovaries, thereby lowering the amount of testosterone made) in the July, but in the May we found out I was pregnant with Henry!
I continued taking the progesterone up until week 16 and Bill did loads of scans – he was so great and positive throughout. We finally started to tell people around week 16, and to properly relax at around 20 weeks, as we were desperate not to jinx it. Bill’s gentle and calm manner was very reassuring, and we felt in such good hands. He really knows his stuff, has SO much experience in the field, and you feel he’s really on your team.
Having Henry fortunately seemed to sort out my cycles and all the issues I had, it almost felt like my first pregnancy rebooted my body. My period came back as soon as I stopped breastfeeding, were regular, and we got pregnant with Oscar quickly and without any additional support.
I’m obviously happy to share my story as we got our happy ending, but I clearly remember those very dark days, and how obsessed I became with my fertility. It occupied my thoughts almost constantly, and the time between tests, scans and cycles passed so slowly. Bill and Raj made the hard experiences that much easier, and I’m so grateful. If sharing my story helps even one person find CDS and get the support they need then I’m happy to do it.”