Looking at my husband’s smiling face from across the table, I took a deep breath. It was our wedding anniversary and I’d promised to cook a fancy meal for Jeet, 36, to celebrate. But I had something to announce first. I placed a small plastic stick in front of him. It was a positive pregnancy test. Jeet practically jumped for joy. ‘This is amazing,’ he grinned.
But behind the smiles lay a deep sadness. I’d suffered a miscarriage in 2008. It was totally devastating, but Jeet and I agreed to try again, and I became pregnant once more. The first three months were fine but, at 16 weeks, I experienced some light bleeding. After what felt like a lifetime of tests and monitoring, to my huge relief, the doctor said it was nothing to worry about.
A premature birth
Then, at 23 weeks, in December 2009, I was woken by a sharp, uncomfortable pain in my stomach. ‘It can’t be contractions,’ I fretted. Jeet and I rushed to hospital. Hours later, I gave birth to our premature son Sahil, who weighed just 500g, less than a bag of sugar.
Consultants ran into the room and within a matter of minutes the sad truth hit us. ‘His lungs are extremely weak,’ said a doctor. ‘We could force things but he’s not strong enough to make it. I’m so sorry.’ Clutching my tiny son tightly, I rocked him gently in my arms until he passed away. ‘Why us?’ I sobbed to Jeet.
Losing two children was a pain like no other and my longing to be a mother only intensified. I knew Jeet and I were meant to be parents so, six months after we lost Sahil, we’d agreed to try one more time…
Pregnant for a third time, I just couldn’t shake the horrible feeling that something would go wrong yet again. My anxiety must have been obvious as I waited for a check-up at West Middlesex Hospital in London: a lady approached me, looking concerned. ‘I’m a midwife from the charity Tommy’s,’ she said. ‘Are you OK?’.
As I told her about my fears, she clutched my hand and listened to everything I’d been through and how I’d lost my two babies. ‘Have you ever had your cervix checked?’ she asked. ‘I have a hunch – let me test you now.’ I followed her into an examination room where she checked me over, then sat me down.
‘Your cervix is slightly shorter than normal, which means there’s a risk of it opening early. That could be why you’ve suffered a miscarriage and stillbirth,’ she explained. ‘Although 17 weeks is later than usual, I strongly advise you to have a procedure called a cervical stitch straightaway in order to keep it closed.’
My mind began to spin with the realisation that I finally had a reason to why I’d experienced so much grief.
A stitch in time
Now we had an answer, there was no time to lose. We had to give our baby the best chance of making it full-term, even though the procedure carried a risk of miscarriage.
The next morning the cervical stitch was performed under local anaesthetic and took just 30 minutes. As I left the hospital, I was sore but enormously relieved.
In the following weeks, every time I felt my baby kick and noticed how my bump was growing, I felt reassured. The weeks flew by and at 36 weeks my stitch was removed, but the fear that something could still go wrong lingered.
To our delight, I gave birth naturally to a daughter, Simren, in May 2011. Looking down into her big brown eyes, I grinned at Jeet and wept, ‘I can’t believe she’s finally here.’ She was on the small side, weighing just 6lb, but happy and healthy.
Two years on, as I sit here brushing her gorgeous dark hair while she plays with her doll, I feel at peace. Remembering what I’ve lost has made me realise how precious a child is, and why it’s important to make every single moment count.
As a way of saying thanks to Tommy’s for their help and support, my family clubbed together and ran a half-marathon and a Tommy’s Baby race in memory of Sahil, raising £9,000.
And now I’m pregnant again. Jeet and I are expecting a baby boy any day – I couldn’t have got to this point without the aid of another stitch. I can’t wait to introduce my daughter to her baby brother. It will be a magical moment that I’ll treasure forever.”
What is a cervical stitch?
A cervical stitch (or cervical cerclage) is a procedure where
a stitch is placed in the cervix to keep it closed during pregnancy. Usually performed at 14 weeks under a local anaesthetic, it is removed at 36 weeks. Success rates are high, but the procedure runs a small risk of causing the membranes to rupture, triggering early labour.
Do your part!
Raise money for Tommy’s, a charity that gives vital support to families suffering pregnancy complications, by taking part in their 8K Baby Races. Power-walk with your baby in his buggy, or run by yourself, in beautiful venues across the UK in June, July and September. Sign up here today and visit our training page for inspiration.