Tuesday 22 January 2019

'I was absolutely blessed with Darragh' - mother describes heartbreak of three miscarriages

Vanessa Waldron and her husband Bryan.
Vanessa Waldron and her husband Bryan.
Geraldine Gittens

Geraldine Gittens

“I just knew that he was the man I was going to grow old with… Within a year we moved in together, I left my life behind and moved to the Midlands to be with him.”

Vanessa Waldron (41) met her husband Bryan ten years ago after signing up to an online dating website. The pair knew shortly after their first date that they had met the person they would spend the rest of their lives with.

“We spoke a lot about our future and decided that we wanted children - at least two, maybe three,” she tells Independent.ie.

Some time later, when Vanessa and Bryan felt the time was right, they started trying to conceive a baby. But Vanessa, who has since been diagnosed with Endometriosis, says this didn’t happen until four years later.

Endometriosis is a chronic and painful condition that affects up to 10 per cent of women. Women who have the condition can have painful periods and excessive bleeding, and it can even mean infertility.

In 2011, the couple were devastated when Vanessa had her first miscarriage.

“I was bleeding very heavily as usual but something felt different. Bryan bought a pregnancy test and low and behold I tested positive for pregnancy. Then the panic set in. I managed to get an appointment with my GP who confirmed the pregnancy. I then went to the early pregnancy unit who confirmed that I had an empty sac! I’ll never forget being told that. It was so cold and impersonal.”

After the heartbreak of losing her first baby, however, in November 2012 Vanessa discovered that she was pregnant again.

“It was the most amazing yet scary moment in time. I went through weeks of early pregnancy scans and finally I got to 12 weeks and I was released from the early pregnancy unit (EPU).”

“It was a long pregnancy because I bled pretty much every month.”

“I was absolutely blessed with Darragh. When I found out I was pregnant it was amazing, but at the back of my mind, all through the pregnancy, I was thinking ‘what if something goes wrong?’ The miscarriage took the joy out of the pregnancy.”

“Darragh was ten months old when I found out I was pregnant again, which was a shock. I didn’t think it was going to happen so quickly. Three days before Darragh’s birthday in July I miscarried so you can imagine, it was devastating. I’ve had another miscarriage since then.”

However, she said: “Darragh was born on the 17th of July in 2013, during the hottest summer we had had in years. He was a big bouncing healthy baby, and I fell in love with him immediately.”

When Darragh was 11 months old, Vanessa was overjoyed to learn that she was pregnant again.

“It was an amazing feeling. Unfortunately it wasn’t meant to be and three days before his firstt birthday, I lost my baby. I went on to have one more miscarriage.” 

“We have unfortunately suffered three miscarriages, each one as devastating as the next.”

Since her teens, every month, Vanessa has experienced severe pain during her menstrual cycle. She suspected that she might have endometriosis, but doctors felt this would be impossible since she’d been pregnant four times.

“I was told that I had had four pregnancies and that would be impossible if I had endometriosis.”

However, after her third miscarriage, Vanessa and Bryan decided to focus on Darragh, and stop worrying over what it would be like for him to be an only child.

“We made a decision that we’re very lucky to have him and we stopped putting pressure on ourselves to have another baby. He’s four and you worry that he’ll be an only child but he’s so well adjusted.”

Vanessa Waldron, who works in a homeless shelter for women and children, still endures crippling pain because of her condition, which has now been diagnosed, such that she often can’t do everyday chores.

“Even just going to hoover upstairs, I’m going through a flare-up at the minute and I was hoovering and I just had to leave it. I get an awful pain at the base of my spine.”

“Even just getting down on the floor and playing with my four-year-old when I’m not having a good day; everything has to be table topped, I just can’t get down on the floor.”

“Doing simple mundane tasks is so difficult at times. This illness has dominated for much of my adult life but especially in the past ten years.”

“Having to get up out of bed some days is a job in itself. I make plans with my family/friends and more often than not I have to cancel these.”

Vanessa feels that few people are aware of what exactly Endometriosis is.

“I feel that I now constantly need to try and educate people about Endometriosis. I need to do this for two reasons, one being that there’s so much misinformation and so little known that I feel I need to put people right, the other reason is an all more personal one.”

“I need the people in my life to know that when I can’t go to work, or when I have to cancel an appointment, or when I am crying with the sheer frustration of it all it’s because this illness is so damn difficult to live with. The pain I feel is not just a bad period pain; it’s a pain that I just can’t describe to anyone.” 

She added: “My husband is an immense tower of strength and takes all of this in his stride and my little boy is my reason for getting up out of that bed every day. The Endometriosis support group has given me so much since joining. Just knowing that there’s someone out there who gets it is great. For this I am most grateful.”

For more information on endometriosis and the Endometriosis Association of Irleand, see www.endometriosis.ie

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