Charlotte's Success Story

In 2012 I was shocked and excited to find myself pregnant.  My husband and I had been together for almost 15 years and we were amazed that we were about to embark on the exciting journey of parenthood together. 

I was extremely sick and suffered constant nausea and vomiting.  I continued to work as much as possible, mindful that we needed my income to support a baby.  I started to feel like something was not right.  At my first scan the baby measured much smaller than I knew it should be and I knew it was not growing normally.  Some weeks later I started to bleed and after some confusion about dates by the doctors (no confusion by me...) they finally agreed that the baby had died.  I was about 3 months pregnant.  I knew the risks of having a D&C and so agreed to sit at home and have a natural miscarriage.

Two weeks later I was still bleeding intermittently but had not fully miscarried.  By now it had been 3 weeks of bleeding and I was still vomiting daily and unable to eat.  My doctor and I discussed trying  misoprostil but at that time my HCG was still very high and the scan dates didn't match my dates so I did not meet our country's criteria to have it.  I was exhausted and we decided to end the miscarriage with a D & C.  I had a general anaesthetic and D&C.  When I woke up my lovely and skilled doctor told me she was unable to complete the D&C because it was difficult to get the pregnancy out.  She had stopped trying because she did not want to damage my uterus (and cause Ashermans).

So she advised me to wait and allow things to happen naturally.  I had many ultra sound scans and every time I saw my little dead baby in its sac still inside me.  Four weeks later I collapsed unconscious at work.  I had severe sepsis from the "retained products of conception" (aka my dead baby in my uterus).  I was rushed to the ER and my husband was terrified I might die.  I was given IV antibiotics and that night I hallucinated horrible things.  The next day I had a second D&C.  I was so sick I barely remember the details- just that I wanted to feel better and I couldn't believe this was happening to me.  They removed my baby and placenta under ultrasound guidance and told me it was very difficult to get out.  My uterus was severely infected and I remained in hospital on IV antibiotics for a few more days.  I still had morning sickness - by now I had been sick from pregnancy for 4 months and I felt devastated that I suffered all of this for nothing.  When I was sent home my doctor cautioned me to wait and see what my periods were like before I tried to conceive again because he was concerned that I was at risk of Ashermans.

Two months later I had not had a period.  My friends told me not to worry but I knew something was wrong.  I just couldn't believe I might have had such bad luck that I not only lost a baby but also developed a rare complication.  I saw my family doctor and told her my concerns.  She thought it was highly unlikely but referred me to our best local specialist.  I did eventually  get a period of sorts but it was 2 days of a tiny bit of brown every 21 days (my normal was 10 days of very heavy red bleeding every 30 days).  After I saw the specialist I started a heart wrenching regime of mid cycle ultrasounds (showing minimal to no endometrial growth), minimal periods (confirming the damage to my uterus) and rounds of hormonal treatment.  I also had two surgeries - laparoscopy and hysteroscopies to find and remove the scar tissue,  my uterus was 40-50% abated by scar and the rest of my endometrium was not functioning (grade 3, or severe AS).  After some months my doctor suggested we try more experimental treatments to get my endometrium to grow.  He also noted that I had premature ovarian ageing and my chances of successful conception were low without IVF.

This was all made much harder because I work in the medical profession.  For all of the women who are reading this and feel angry towards the medical profession for what has happened to them; please know that it happens to us as well.  Sometimes rare and very bad things happen despite the best of care.  We all feel angry when this happens to us.  It is simply not fair.

My husband and I agreed to look to adoption and surrogacy.  After initially being rejected for adoption we both fell into a deep depression.  We were devastated that our hopes for a family appeared to be gone.  We were exhausted by the regular 2 weekly hope and then bad news that my endometrium was not responding.  I was tired after a year of pregnany and hormonal treatment and surgeries.  We stopped sleeping.  At 3amwe would both pace around our house not knowing what to do or say.  Our solid and loving marriage started to fracture. I wanted my husband to leave me and find someone else to have children with.  I could no longer stand seeing his grief and know I was the cause of it.  We found ourselves clinging to the memory of our lost baby.  This baby and my short pregnancy were to be our only experience of parenthood.  I loved my lost baby more and more.  I felt overwhelming guilt and failure at being unable to keep my only child alive.  I ached at being a loving mother with no children.  We were both utterly devastated and hopeless.  We agreed to stop treatment and try to move on with our lives.

At around this time I found the Ashermans group started by Poly.  I am certain I shared the most hopeless and depressing messages anyone could share with the group.  The wonderful women with Ashermans from around the world supported me phenomenally.  I had a place to share my pain with other women who unfortunately knew it too.  I also started to read stories of women with long histories of infertility from Ashermans who had miracle pregnancies.  These stories sometimes made me sad because I was not one of those women.  However, they also gave me a glimmer if hope.  Even though I had become too scared to hope.

My husband and I quit our jobs and decided to hit the road.  With no children in our future we realised we had no need to be sensible.  We spent months camping, cycling, walking in the bush, swimming at beaches and eating good fresh food.  We learnt to sleep again and we started to move on with our life together.  We frequently spoke about our love for our lost baby and the loss of all the others we dreamed of.  We eventually agreed to have one last try at beating Ashermans.  We agreed to fly to another country and get an opinion from our nearest Ashermans A-list specialist.

It seemed like a crazy trip.  We took all our money, booked a flight and saw the specialist.  I had surgery the next day.  He found scar that had been missed and removed it.  He said our chances were low but we could try to conceive for 6 months.  We left in a bewildered haze.  Four weeks later I saw my period.  It wasn't like normal but it was red and it lasted 5 days.  Two weeks and two days later I started to feel sick.  I knew this feeling.  I was in complete disbelief but I finally found the courage to tell my husband what I knew was the truth: I had another baby.  It was an agonising wait for another 2 weeks before I could take a pregnancy test.  Of course it was positive.  Two weeks later I started to bleed.

We were devastated.  I continued to bleed most days for the next two months but, against all odds, the baby stayed alive.  The bleeding was so heavy I was convinced no baby could  survive.  This one did.  I hated being pregnant.  This time I felt sick and vomited but gained a lot of weight.  I hated that I might go through this for nothing.  The weeks continued and our baby stayed with me.  I was too scared to be happy.  I didn't want this baby to die and I didn't want another D&C.  I had an MRI to check for placenta accreta and the placenta looked okay.  At the end of my pregnancy I developed severe pre eclampsia and was admitted to hospital but our baby was alive and okay.

Our wonderful miracle baby boy was born by emergency Caesarian section due to my preeclampsia (he was absolutely fine).  I bled a lot but they were able to get most of my placenta out.  I continued to bleed heavily for the next 7 months.  When he was born I felt overwhelming relief.  He had made it.  In my damaged uterus he had managed to find a place to snuggle into and survive.  He is our second baby,  the first did not survive but he did.  

As I write this my baby is almost one year old.  I am eternally grateful that he is here living with us.  This has been the happiest year of my life.  He is relaxed, adaptable, tough and adorable.  He laughs and races around exploring the exciting world around him.  My husband and I often reflect on the sadness we still have over losing our first child and the difficulties we share through our infertility.  I have been on hormonal treatment to try to encourage my uterus to heal well.  I will have more surgery if we want to get on the difficult road again and try for another child.  I would love to have another child.   I hate having Ashermans.  I am annoyed that this happened to us and that I have to go through this and it continues.  I am scared to try for another child.  Scared of more bad luck or more bad news.

Miracles do happen sometimes.  There is reason to keep hope.  Sometimes the unbelievable can happen.  Even if children come to you in other roles - as nephews, nieces, friends children, adoptive children, students - they can always be a part of your life.  My heart felt thanks to Poly and all the wonderful women in the Ashermans group who are the co-mothers to my baby boy - without them I would have never travelled for treatment and my baby would have never been conceived.

International Ashermans Association

This book is dedicated to telling stories of women who were given no hope by their doctors but ended up with babies. 

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