A mother who suffered 13 miscarriages before having a baby girl has thanked fertility experts for making her “little miracle” possible.
Laura Worsley, 35, and her husband David, had been trying unsuccessfully for a family since 2008, before their hope of a child became a reality.
She welcomed baby Ivy into the world in September 2018 after painstaking research and treatment from obstetrician Professor Siobhan Quenby.
Prof Quenby and her team at the University of Warwick’s Biomedical Research Unit, based at University Hospital Coventry, uncovered two medical conditions responsible for Mrs Worsley’s issues.
Mrs Worsley said their little girl, now aged nine months and with her first birthday in September, was “happy, smiley and doing well”, but that their journey had been “overwhelming”.
After the couple’s third miscarriage the couple were told to simply “keep trying” said Mrs Worsley, but she asked her doctor for a second opinion.
They were referred to Prof Quenby’s team in April 2011, who began to look at the underlying causes of Mrs Worsley’s miscarriages.
She was first diagnosed with antiphospholipid syndrome (APS) known as “sticky blood syndrome”, which can cause the loss of a pregnancy.
There were trials, tests and medications to tackle the issue, but without success, as each pregnancy ended in miscarriage.
Recalling that period, Mrs Worsley said: “For a long time, I just wasn’t happy.
“It affected me in a lot of ways.
“I didn’t feel alive, I felt like I was just existing. In the end that’s all you live for really, to be a mum.
“I had always wanted to be a mum and I’ve got three sisters who all had children.”
Mrs Worsley, who works in a care company’s accountants department, said that she changed from being outgoing to “just going to work and coming home”.
“Now, I feel like I’m getting myself back together,” she added.
Her latter two pregnancies, both boys named Leo and Graceson, reached the second trimester, but the couple lost them in 2015 and 2017.
When the placenta was tested, it showed Mrs Worsley also had a rare condition called chronic histiocytic intervillositis (CHI), which causes the body to attack the pregnancy.
In the midst of their ordeal, David, 48, a butcher at Morrisons supermarket, had a heart attack in November 2015, while Mrs Worsley had her thyroid removed in September 2016.
After the 13th pregnancy, the couple sat down with Prof Quenby, who then told them of the CHI diagnosis.
Mrs Worsley said: “After that, the last miscarriage, I had kept thinking ‘I’ll have to use surrogacy’.
“But then Prof Quenby sat down with us and said she had treated one or two women with CHI successfully.
“I said ‘now you’ve told me that, I have to try again’.
“It wasn’t until we came out of the meeting, I turned to Dave and asked if he agreed.
“Because we really didn’t know we would be getting another chance.
“He did agree – and I told myself, this would be the last time.”
The couple conceived, with Mrs Worsley taking it “one day at a time”.
“It’s hard to think it will be OK, because I still had other symptoms, like bleeding,” said Mrs Worsley.
Prof Quenby said they used steroids to suppress the immune system long enough for the baby to fully develop.
Doctors monitored Ivy in the womb, and at 30 weeks she was only the size of a 24-week old baby.
“They had wanted to get her to 34 weeks, but Prof Quenby said, after that scan, they needed to deliver her,” said Mrs Worsley.
The plan was for Ivy to be delivered on the Thursday morning and Mrs Worsley told her husband to go home and get some rest.
But the baby had other ideas, moving around so much in the womb that safe monitoring was impossible.
“I had to call Dave to come back to the hospital, and they delivered her by C-section on the Wednesday night,” said Mrs Worsley.
Ivy arrived weighing 1lb 7oz (652g), and went straight into an incubator on the neo-natal intensive care ward.
Prof Quenby said that having worked for the successful birth, she was too nervous to go and see Ivy.
“I lost my nerve, I’d seen so much grief,” she said.
She added: “In the end one of the nurses said, it’s OK, she’s good, you should go and see her.”
Mrs Worsley’s husband had to show her a photo of their baby, taken after birth, and it was another eight days before they were able to hold their little girl.
Their baby was not quite out of the woods when, on the eve of being discharged, Ivy contracted bronchiolitis.
But after 11 weeks in hospital, the family of three were able to return home.
Mrs Worsley had her baby shower six months after the birth, having been unable to plan it beforehand, and raised £1,120 in a raffle for the University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire Charity.
She said “Ivy is our little miracle, and that’s thanks to Prof Quenby and everyone who helped.”
Mrs Worsley added: “As long as she is healthy, that’s all that matters.”
Prof Quenby said she would be sharing the results and findings of Mrs Worsley’s experience with colleagues internationally.
She added: “The trouble with miscarriage is we don’t always get an answer to the causes.
“The hope is to keep trying and keep searching, and in doing so you find an answer, and that’s why this work is so important.”
She said: “I am absolutely elated that they are now able to be at home with their baby.”