'Our rainbow baby continues to thrive despite the storms of the past year' - TV presenter Andrea Hayes
TV3 star Andrea Hayes has opened up about how working with animals has helped her through the pain of two pregnancy losses.
The presenter of TV3's Dog Tales is currently pregnant with her “rainbow” baby, after experiencing two pregnancy losses in one year.
“I have finally reached my milestone three months. I know I should be basking in happiness and that wonderful pregnancy glow but instead I am feeling very anxious and almost nervous of what tomorrow could bring,” she revealed in the Irish Mail on Sunday.
“I have lost three pregnancies, two in the last 12 months, each very different, and with every loss my heart broke and my spirit plunged into sadness.”
“My past experiences has left me fuelled with fear and I feel I have been robbed of that wonderful bliss I felt with my first child, Brooke, now six.”
“Although I am grateful, I am afraid to celebrate. I know my heart cannot cope with any more loss.”
“Our journey to this point was not an easy one, every step with my current pregnancy just reminded me of the pain I felt this time last year as I went with high hopes to Holles Street for my routine eight-week scan,” she said.
On Hayes’ first pregnancy, she was told the heart-breaking news that it was in fact, a molar pregnancy – which happens when tissue that normally becomes a foetus instead becomes an abnormal growth in your uterus.
“I remember her just silently searching the screen as she moved the wand over my stomach. Then she asked me if I had been in any pain or if I was bleeding.”
“I answered ‘no’. The silence in the scan room was deafening – no sign of life, no tiny heartbeat. A primal gut-wrenching pain ripped through my body and I knew something was very wrong, but I could not begin to guess just how wrong it was.”
“I desperately wanted her to tell me everything would be okay, but she couldn’t.”
“Physically I looked absolutely fine. Emotionally I was a complete mess. Not only had I gone from being pregnant to suddenly not being pregnant, but the added worry and complication of Gestational Trophoblastic Disease was incredibly upsetting,” the TV star wrote in today’s Mail on Sunday.
Over the course of the next few months, Andrea needed to regularly visit Holles Street hospital to have her bloods checked, and to make sure that she didn’t need chemotherapy.
“For the next couple of months I felt I was in my own personal type of Groundhog Day hell. I would go to Holles Street weekly to give blood. Each step towards the big doors reminded me I was missing something – instead of my tummy growing bigger I felt I was getting sucker-punched,” she said.
“I would regularly walk down the street silently crying knowing each step would bring me closer to seeing the very thing I craved and had so sadly been stolen from me.”
“It seemed new life was all around. I watched as parents brought babies out in car seats while growing bellies and familiar faces greeted me and probably wondered why I was there week after week with no physical sign of life blossoming.”
During this time, Andrea couldn’t get pregnant until an oncologist was happy that no mole was growing. Thankfully her hCG numbers fell rapidly and she didn’t need any chemotherapy.
“I started at 1200 and I needed to reduce to below 3.5 to be considered “not pregnant” and to confirm on mole was growing inside me.
Finally, almost ten months after the DNC she was told she was okay to begin the process of getting pregnant again.
“To everyone’s surprise I fell pregnant almost immediately.”
“In many ways, getting pregnant was a huge healing for me. Unlike the previous pregnancies I couldn’t contain my joy and excitement and I told my family and friends very early at around five weeks.”
“But shortly after sharing our wonderful news I began bleeding and immediately all my pregnancy symptoms were gone. All hope shattered I knew instantly we had lost our much prayed-for baby.”
Having been dealt this huge blow, Andrea was devastated. But in her work with the Dogs Trust, she began to heal.
“Healing mentally after these two losses felt almost impossible.”
“During both pregnancies and subsequent losses I was working in Dogs Trust and honestly if it wasn’t for those dogs I don’t think I would have had the motivation to keep going. I can’t explain why they bring me so much healing but they do.”
“One dog in particular had a huge impact on me, her name was Skittles and just like her name suggested she was a sweet girl. A little Shih Tzu, she was in desperate need of care and attention when she first arrived at the rescue centre. She was sadly from a failed breeding establishment and arrived pregnant.”
Skittles’ two puppies displayed symptoms of congenital abnormalities and they both died. Skittles' experience was mirroring her own.
“It was clear to see this little dog was experiencing great loss and sadness and her road to recovery seemed almost impossible. I remember looking at this small, docile and gentle creature, clearly still a little afraid of humans, but in time seeing her slowly moving in closer to us all and enjoying a loving embrace filled me with hope.”
“Despite her past and all she had been through, she was still willing to trust humans. I knew I needed to trust that somehow everything was going to wrok out for me too.”
“My own private road to recovery was long and unpredictable, but I kept remembering Skittles and other brave dogs that seemed determined to keep going and this inspired me to stay hopeful.”
Thankfully, Andrea is now pregnant again, and though nervous, she says her life is now finally transformed after a harrowing year.
“Our rainbow baby continues to thrive and we hope despite the storms of the past year this will continue as a healthy pregnancy.”
“Honestly, I will say I am finding it difficult to relax into this pregnancy and sharing the news has filled me with an underlying feeling of anxiety. Despite everyone’s good wishes I can’t help thinking maybe I will jinx this pregnancy by telling people, which of course is ridiculous.”
“So for now I live in hope, and take great comfort from little Skittles. It is hard to believe that in over a year life could have transformed for me.”