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   Inside Out - West Midlands: Monday February 21, 2005

MISCARRIAGE

Steve Clamp
Two miscarriages left Steve devastated

With as many as one in four pregnancies ending in miscarriage, many couples beginning a family experience the grief of losing an unborn child.

Midlands Today sports presenter Steve Clamp and his wife Clare, share their anxiety, after suffering two previous miscarriages.

Clare was 12 weeks pregnant when she suffered her first miscarriage.

"We went for our scan and lay down in a dark room and looked at the screen. They didn't say anything.

"The room fell quiet. And I thought this isn't right they would have seen something, then I knew something was wrong."

"Steve and I didn't know what to say to each other then I burst into tears and it didn't stop."

Early days

Miscarriage still isn't fully understood and can often happen without explanation.

The most common time for something to go wrong with a pregnancy is in the first days and weeks after conception.

Clare Clamp
"I couldn't believe it had happened a second time. Total shock again. Bewilderment."
Clare Clamp after her second miscarriage

Clare and Steve were both devastated by the loss of their first baby, but hoped that like many women, Clare would go on to have a healthy second pregnancy.

When four months later Clare miscarried for a second time, the couple's hopes were shattered.

"I couldn't believe it had happened a second time. Total shock again. Bewilderment," explains Clare.

Despite being united in their grief, Clare admits she felt an overwhelming sense of loneliness and isolation.

She says, "It sounds silly because you've got someone else, but you think that no-one knows how you feel, the loneliness was just incredible."

Searching for answers

The Facts

Miscarriage is defined as the spontaneous loss of a foetus before 24 weeks.

Stillbirth is when a baby dies in the uterus after this date.

Reasons for miscarriage

Blighted ovum - when a fertilised egg doesn't develop as it should.

Hydatidiform mole - this isn't a real pregnancy, as there's no fertilised egg.

Instead, the body responds with pregnancy hormones to the development of collection of fluid-filled sacs growing from tissue that would have become the placenta if the pregnancy had been successful.

Problems with the cervix - the cervix starts to open, and the uterus contracts, pushing the baby out too soon, often before 20 weeks.

Ectopic pregnancy - the embryo is developing in one of the fallopian tubes.

Source: BBC Health

Birmingham Women's Hospital is at the forefront of research into the causes of miscarriage.

"Women are bombarded by large amounts of information," explains Professor Kilby.

"From newspapers, from radio, from the television, and from the internet and I think that makes it very difficult for women to decide if it's correct or not.

"It's very difficult to prevent miscarriage. What you can do is make yourself as healthy as possible.

"Stop smoking if you smoke, stop drinking if you drink alcohol, eat a healthy balanced diet."

Too much to bear

Although most women go on to have a normal, healthy pregnancy after miscarriage, for a small number of couples, baby loss happens time and time again.

This is the situation that Nikki and Matt found themselves in.

After losing their third baby through miscarriage, the couple found it just too much to bear.

"We didn't officially decide to stop trying, but we found out that having talked to each other later on that I thought exactly the same as Matt which was, 'I can't do this again'," explains Nikki.

Nikki and Matt
The grief of losing three babies was too much to bear

"Initially it was easy, no more miscarriages, no more bereavement, no more having to deal with a child dying," Matt continues.

"But after a while it started to dawn on me that I didn't know what to do with the next 20 years of my life."

Nikki and Matt have come to terms with the prospect of life without children.

"It's a decision we have made that we think is a positive choice," says Nikki.

"It's not something that everybody would do, but for us it was really the right thing to do."

Scan of Clare and Steve's unborn baby
A scan reassures Clare and Steve that the baby is growing well

A bouncing baby girl

Clare and Steve similarly felt overwhelmed by the pressure of trying again for a child.

Thankfully they tried again.

At 31 weeks pregnant, a scan showed a clear image of their unborn baby's face and even predicts the birth weight.

"After everything we've been through, I can't believe we've seen the face of our unborn child," says Steve.

Sources of help and support

The Miscarriage Association
c/o Clayton Hospital
Northgate
Wakefield
West Yorkshire WF1 3JS

Helpline: 01924 200 799
Scottish helpline: 0131 334 8883

Babyloss.com
PO Box 1168
Southampton
SO15 8XZ
UK

Yet even in the latter stages of her pregnancy, Clare was still understandably nervous.

"You wake up in the night and you've got little superstitions about what will make this pregnancy a good one in comparison to the ones that failed."

But they needn't have worried.

Clare gives birth to a healthy baby girl.

As Clare and Steve welcome baby Emma into the world, their success serves as hope to countless other couples who have faced the heartache and grief of miscarriage.

"It's the most amazing thing I've ever experienced," says Steve. "She's just perfect."

See also ...

On the rest of Inside Out
Sperm and egg donation
Fertility fears
Surrogacy
London Surrogacy
Surrogate Mothers
Surrogate twins

On bbc.co.uk
Health - Miscarriage
Steroid treatment for recurrent miscarriage

On the rest of the web
The Miscarriage Association
Babyloss.com
Women's health

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external websites

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Readers' Comments

We are not adding any new comments to this page but you can still read some of the comments previously submitted by readers.

Clare Cartwright-Clamp
I would like to thank all that supported us during our miscarriages and our recent successful pregnancy. I would like to comment to those people that this film may have offended. Miscarriage is a very individual experience. It is irrelevant and disrespectful for anyone to suggest that 'just' a couple of miscarriages have any less an impact than what one may consider a 'worse' experience. If anything I would like to hope this subject can be opened up, discussed more so that couples can talk honestly about their feelings when this happens. When my husband first began work on this film he did not know we were going to go on and have a healthy baby. The inclusion of our happy ending was only added as a bright light at the end of a sometimes dark tunnel. He wanted the film to give a balanced view and indeed featured two couples both who had suffered multiple miscarriages and both had a positive ending. One couple with two healthy children, the other with no children - having come to the brave decision of no longer trying for a baby. I agree the area of adoption is in important one but probably deserves more than just a mention at the end of a film already trying to cover a broad and often over looked subject. I had invaluable support from the Miscarriage Association, friends I met through this organisation and the Birmingham Women's Hospital. Before September 2003 I knew very little about this subject. I hope I can support others in future, without predjudice.

Matt and Nikki Kruczek
Terri, we're very sorry that you found the program unhelpful, especially as one of the main reasons we agreed to appear was to dispel the myth that every couple that suffers a miscarriage gets a "happy ending" of a child eventually. This is not the case for us, and we filmed five hours worth of material covering how we have coped with life since our miscarriages which, for whatever reason, the producers chose not to show. If you get in touch with the Miscarriage Association they can put you in touch with us directly if you'd like to discuss things further.

Sarah Finan
When I had my first miscarriage in similar circumstances to Claire i to felt very isolated. I had already had two successful pregnancies so the thought of miscarriage hadn't crossed my mind until the scan showed my baby had died. I knew no-one else that this had happened to and felt to vulnerable to contact the Miscarriage Association - even though I lived in Wakefield at the time. I had another miscarriage the same year and family and friends avoided talking to us about our loss. Happily I have since had another child who is now a lively 18 month old. I wish I had seen your programme at the time of my miscarriages as I think the feelings of isolation combined with people avoiding the subject "in case it upsets you!" made it harder for me to cope at the time.

Victoria
thank-you so very much for both this article and tonights programme which has highlighted such a taboo subject one which from persoal experience the medical services in this country are ill-equipped to deal with in both a medical and personal way more has to be done to provide support and information for families when they experience miscarriage you shouldn't have to spend hours on the netfinding out the information you need it should be readily available from your maternity service

Terri
I felt a burdensome wave of grief return to me after watching this programme this evening and it made me cry. My husband, a very placid man, was very angry and also upset. What should have been a real opportunity (in a short space of time)to cover the topic of miscarriage objectively, the devastating effect it has on the lives of thousands and how you can move on with your lives was completely missed. Whilst I want to acknowledge the true joy of Steve and his wife and offer my congratulations, I thought it was an insensitive programme which has probably done more damage to the thousands of child free couples who tuned in. After suffering excessive miscarriages like me many women will not experience a happy ending. At the very least, you could have put up some useful pointers/help lines at the end (including health associated ones, adoption, fostering. At best the programme was entitled 'miscarriage'. This programme had no depth or quality to it. At worst it was a self indulgent feature which picked at the scab of the infertility wound which many women have to walk around with every day. It offered no answers, no support. It just gloated. Not wishing to labour the point, but many women have suffered far more miscarriages than just a couple. To suggest you 'dust yourself off and start over again' was insensitive, damaging and unrealistic. Shame on you for the tears you have caused this evening.

Clare Fellows
The programme was very moving and emotional for me, having suffered 3 early losses only comment i wanted to make was that it would have been good to give out the number and website address for the miscarriage association, and there are many other internet support groups that are vital in helping many women (and men) through these heartbreaking times.

Alison Simons
Thank you for such a well put together sensitive feature on a taboo subject. Thanks to Claire and Steve for being so open about their personal story. I am glad I was asked to be filmed re my experience of miscarriage and my 2 miracle children. I also want to thank you for including the footage of the balloon launch I organised for babyloss awareness week 2004. It was very moving and have had some very positive feedback on the babyloss message boards on how well your programme dealt with this subject. What I would like to see as I am sure others would too, is more features on miscarriage, and maybe a longer programme going into more details of the trauma miscarriage brings. Thanks again for addressing this issue and raising the awareness of babyloss, and that there is hope and support out there for those who have suffered it.



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