WHEN Jasmin* lost her first child, the colour drained from her world, she felt numb and believed she was a failure.
The 25-year-old’s dreams of having a family with her husband felt shattered. Today, after seven years trying for a baby, she has two healthy sons with Raj* but endured a painful journey, losing four children on the way.
Around one in four pregnancies ends in miscarriage and the risk increases with a woman’s age and the number of times she has lost a child.
Jasmin, who is now 36, volunteers with the Miscarriage Association and uses her experience to help other women who have been through similar trauma.
She said: “I fell pregnant, I was very excited, you begin to prepare yourself for this new chapter in life. My husband and I were very happy.
“You start to build those dreams – of what the baby will look like, what my life will be like over the next ten months. Out of the blue I just got a bleed; I thought it was probably nothing.
“I called my GP and husband and I was sent to the early baby unit at the hospital; there they confirmed there was no longer a foetal heart beat. I felt really numb, the colour had gone from my world. The feeling I had was failure, this was the one point where I didn’t get where I wanted to.
“You get all the feelings of being tearful, shocked, sad; you’re a bit confused and numbness is probably the most apt feeling. You feel very empty and lonely. All of a sudden you don’t have that aspiration anymore and you don’t know where you are going.”
The commercial manager, who grew up in Birmingham and is from a Sikh family, was told by well-wishing family members that it “wasn’t meant to be.”
“I don’t think in the Asian community people talk about it. You don’t want people to know that your child hasn’t achieved that expectation (of having their own children). The expectation is prevailing in Asian communities, but it shouldn’t be because this is a loss.
“It’s also the emotional state that you take your mind in having a child that is at stake,” Jasmin explained.
After traumatically losing their baby three months into her pregnancy, the couple made the decision to take some time off work and go travelling.
A year later, the pair were overjoyed to find out they were expecting another baby. However following her previous ordeal, Jasmin felt as though she was “treading on eggshells.”
Her pregnancy was going well, but when she unexpectedly started to bleed one day, she burst into tears fearing the worst.
“The second time round it becomes ‘I’m never going to have kids’, or ‘I’m not capable of having children’. The feelings were more guilt and anger and jealousy than the first time because you are now looking for reasons.”
Desperate for a child, Jasmin and Raj were devastated and felt their chances of ever becoming parents were fading.
Jasmin threw herself into work and didn’t speak to anyone about her bereavement. But looking back, she regrets not seeking help from the Miscarriage Association after she was given leaflets from the organisation.
It responds to over 5,000 calls and emails a year from those who have suffered the loss of a baby in pregnancy.
She said: “I wasn’t getting the right level of support I needed. My husband was really emotional and I wanted to move house; that’s how much it was impacting. There are no right or wrong feelings, just what you feel yourself. It’s okay to feel like that, it’s normal.”
Jasmin and Raj, who live in London, were determined to keep trying for a family despite the setbacks, and within a year they discovered that Jasmin was pregnant again.
Following an anxious nine months, the pair were overjoyed when their baby boy was born. He is now nine years old.
Jasmin said: “I was really, really fortunate; he’s very precious, all our dreams came true. We wanted a second child when he went to school – we thought we’d waited so long, we’ll wait. I was thinking: ‘I’ve had one child so it should be OK’, but I miscarried again. It’s heartbreaking, one after the other.
“It felt that maybe I was being greedy. I fell pregnant again (for the fourth time) but this time it was a molar pregnancy. I had a letter from the hospital saying the pregnancy was not viable and they would have to remove the pregnancy tissue.
“This was quite traumatic and was very quick – I went to the hospital the next day.” Molar pregnancies are rare and occur in around one in 600 pregnancies when an abnormal fertilised egg implants in the uterus and instead of the pregnancy growing, the cells that should become the placenta grow much faster than they should and crowd out the uterus.
In some cases, the woman may appear to have a normal miscarriage, with the molar pregnancy being diagnosed some time later.
Jasmin was referred to Charing Cross Hospital in London for a year of follow up tests to ensure the molar cells, which can cause cancer, didn’t continue to grow.
She was advised not to get pregnant during this time. The terrifying episode left the husband and wife wondering what their chances were of ever having any more children.
“It’s okay to feel like your world’s ending, that’s part of the process,” Jasmin explained. Having been given the all-clear, Jasmin was told she was expecting again and decided to be treated privately with a gynecologist she met through the NHS who had cared for her during her molar pregnancy.
“He delivered my second son three or four weeks before he was due. Now I have two sons, one is nine and one is three; that’s my family complete. It was very stressful for my husband and I.
“The pain and loss for the individual that goes through it is still the same – however far gone you are. I moved house and planted a tree which takes centre-stage in our garden. It is in memory of my four miscarriages.
“My sons will water it and I sometimes go up to it and touch it. That’s my way of dealing with the things that have happened to me. I’ve got a very supportive husband too,” she said.
Jasmin added: “After going through the experience, I’ve devoted some of my time to helping women. The reason I joined the Miscarriage Association was driven by the fact that I can speak Hindi, Urdu and Punjabi. I thought if I can help one woman who’s going through something similar, then there’s an opportunity there.
“I’ve gone through quite a lot and I know what it’s like. Often women don’t want to talk about these things because they can’t speak the language fluently.
“When I wanted to talk to someone about this, there wasn’t someone for me; I didn’t realise you could call the association. Hopefully, speaking different languages opens it up for women of different cultures to come in as well.”
Jasmin responds to posts on the website’s forum to help women who have miscarried and also chats on the phone to couples who have been affected by these issues.
*Jasmin and Raj’s names have been changed to protect their identity.
For more information, go to http://www.miscarriageassociation.org.uk
Baby Loss Awareness week took place earlier this month (October 9-15)