EMMA TAYLOR is due to give birth any day and is glowing. She’s clearly excited by the prospect of having her second child but admits to being apprehensive too.
The reason why becomes clear when she tells you the story of her five miscarriages.
Mrs Taylor, 39, of Western Avenue, Henley, became pregnant in 2011. It was in the November that she went for her 12-week scan at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading with husband Andy and daughter Lilia.
“It absolutely never crossed my mind anything would be wrong,” she says. “We took Lilia with us because I thought it would be lovely and she would be able to see the baby on the screen.”
She was having her scan and could see the shape of a baby when her joy quickly turned to heartache.
She recalls: “The sonographer went a bit quiet and she was still pushing the little wand about. She just said very quietly, ‘I’m very sorry, there’s no heartbeat’. I felt like the floor had disappeared from underneath me.”
Now in tears, she adds: “I can feel it now like I felt it on that day.”
This was her third miscarriage and she would go on to experience two more, all in the space of less than four years.
Mrs Taylor, a former journalist, says that third miscarriage caused her the most pain but it was the fifth that “broke” her.
Now, with the help of specialist treatment, she is now looking forward to the future and she, Andy and Lilia, now five, are finally set to welcome a new addition to their family.
She is also backing a campaign by Mumsnet, the UK’s biggest website for parents, calling for a commitment to better miscarriage care after feeling dissatisfied with the service she received.
Mr and Mrs Taylor were married in June 2008, when they were living in The Close, Henley.
She says: “Because we felt we were getting on a bit age-wise we decided we’d start a family immediately. I got pregnant really quickly but I lost the first pregnancy in early October that year.”
She suffered a “missed miscarriage” and was told after a scan at the Royal Berks that the baby had died at seven weeks.
“That was pretty horrific as I wasn’t expecting it,” says Mrs Taylor. “I remember being at home, being in absolute agonising pain with lots and lots of blood, far more than people prepared me for.
“I remember lying on the sofa and sobbing and Andy saying, ‘we can have another baby’ and me saying, ‘I don’t want another baby, I want this baby’.”
The couple tried again and Mrs Taylor became pregnant almost instantly.
She recalls: “I was petrified during the whole pregnancy if I’m honest. You don’t know that the next time you go to the loo if you’re going to see blood.”
Lilia was born on July 22, 2009 in the couple’s living room.
Her mother says: “I remember being really, really excited when my labour started that morning.”
The couple wanted more children but to have a two-year age gap between them and after Lilia’s arrival didn’t think about losing another baby. Mrs Taylor says: “We just thought it was a one-off, that first miscarriage. We didn’t think any more of it to be honest.”
In August 2010 they moved to their current home and began trying for a second child early the following year.
Mrs Taylor soon fell pregnant but suffered a second miscarriage in early March when she had been expecting for about six weeks.
She says: “Two weeks before that, towards the end of February. I started bleeding again.
“I was devastated again. To me they’re babies as soon as you get that positive test.”
She has read a lot on the subject and discovered it is quite common to have a miscarriage, then a baby, followed by another miscarriage.
But she is critical of the care she received at the hospital. Patients are referred to the hospital’s early pregnancy unit by a health professional but it is only open between 9am and 5pm on weekdays.
Mrs Taylor explains: “With at least two of mine I started bleeding on the Friday afternoon and then couldn’t get a scan until the Monday at the earliest.
“I’ve never been in there for less than two hours, sitting in the waiting room. That’s their standard processing time but you just want to know one way or another.” She says that women having miscarriages have no choice but to sit with those having their standard ultrasound scans downstairs if the area upstairs becomes too busy.
“It’s bad enough to sit there with other women who think they are miscarrying but to sit there with women who are having a complication-free pregnancy I think is absolutely disgusting,” she says.
“There shouldn’t been any need for someone miscarrying to be anywhere near people who are with pregnancies that are fine.”
Returning to the subject of her miscarriages, Mrs Taylor says: “You don’t move on quickly because there’s always the due date. It’s not just a bunch of cells because actually you have made all the plans in your head — when it’s going to be born, where it’s going to sleep.”
She became very aware of the passage of time, especially as her friends with children of a similar age to Lilia were having their next children.
Mrs Taylor says: “If my friends were pregnant I found it hard to be around them because I’d think ‘I want that’ and I would remember the ones I’d lost and the pregnancies that hadn’t turned into bumps.
“I became utterly obsessed with trying to get pregnant.”
After that third miscarriage, she hoped to have tests but was told this was only possible if a woman had lost three babies in a row.
She continues: “I think then I was just in a cycle of ‘I have to get pregnant’. I thought the next baby would either be a baby or tests.”
In March 2012 Mrs Taylor became pregnant again with a positive test but two days later started bleeding — her fourth miscarriage.
But her GP didn’t consider it a pregnancy and wouldn’t refer her for tests.
She says: “I just felt like everything was against me at that point. My body can’t do this and I can’t get any tests — there’s clearly something wrong.”
On July 2, 2012 Mrs Taylor suffered her fifth miscarriage, this time while with friends at Henley Royal Regatta.
She recalls: “We had a cream tea in the tent, which was really nice. I was really excited, I honestly thought it was fine.”
She miscarried while in a toilet in the stewards’ enclosure. She had been pregnant for about 10 weeks.
Mrs Taylor says: “I remember sitting there and thinking ‘I’ve got to go out there and I’ve got to tell them all’. I didn’t really know what to do, it was such a shock. I kind of wanted to stop time. The regatta is forever a bit tainted for me now.”
She continues: “I could see the age gap getting bigger and bigger and then I’m thinking, ‘what if Lilia’s it and I don’t get another child?’ I’ve never wanted just one and I couldn’t get my head around that at all.”
After this fifth miscarriage Mrs Taylor was finally referred for tests.
At the time she was involved in running a playgroup called Me:too@d:two in Henley and a breast-feeding support group which she says helped her mentally.
She visited St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington and was referred to the recurrent miscarriage unit under the expertise of Lesley Regan, a professor of obstetrics and gynaecology.
She saw one of her staff and recalls: “I had asked for the picture of my third miscarriage and was so glad I had because he took one look at it and said, ‘there’s nothing wrong with that baby’.”
Mrs Taylor tested positive for Factor V Leiden, a genetically inherited disorder of blood clotting. It can cause clots in the umbilical cord or placenta and blood flow to the baby can be compromised.
She decided to take a break before trying to get pregnant again, feeling emotionally exhausted.
“Lilia was having absolutely no childhood with a mum who was obsessed with having another baby,” she says. “Our marriage had been completely characterised by losing babies.”
The couple began trying for another baby early last year but Mrs Taylor couldn’t get pregnant at first.
She gave herself until she was 40 to have another child otherwise she would stop trying to become pregnant.
Then in October she was expecting again and she began having injections once a day to thin her blood to combat the clotting problem.
She had scans every two weeks in the first trimester at St Mary’s and returned to the Royal Berks for a 12-week scan.
The couple didn’t tell anyone about the pregnancy for five months, apart from close family.
Mrs Taylor, who plans to give birth at home, says: “I still don’t really believe it’s going to be a baby. I’m naturally apprehensive.”
Meanwhile, she has become involved with Mumsnet which carried out a survey of more than 1,000 women that showed 46 per cent had to wait more than 24 hours for a scan to determine if their baby was still alive with one in five waiting longer than three days.
It also revealed that 47 per cent were treated alongside women with ongoing pregnancies.
Mrs Taylor says: “Having had five miscarriages, four of which I received treatment at the hospital for, I know it’s not a one-off and that’s the standard level of care women receive and it needs looking at.
“Early on people don’t see them as babies. Staff working in that arena have a duty of care to assume that every person in there feels it is the loss of a baby and appreciate it from that viewpoint because it doesn’t cost them any extra time to be compassionate and say, ‘I’m really sorry for your loss’ and to mean it.
“From what I’ve found, the majority of people have some sort of story where they have difficulty or loss.
“If we don’t talk about it or know about it, it brings with it an element of shame almost. Women sometimes feel ashamed that they have had a miscarriage.
“We need to get it out in the open and for it be a normal part of life — people are woefully under-prepared.”