Thursday, December 27, 2007

'My joy at finally becoming a mother after losing eight babies'

After eight miscarriages, Sarah Whitman feared she would never become a mother.

She and her husband Martin had endured 15 years of heartbreak as she became pregnant again and again, only to miscarry.

Even with extensive drug treatments, they were unable to achieve their dream.

But then somehow their luck changed and Maya was born - a 7lb 1oz bundle of perfect, healthy baby.

Mrs Whitman, 37, said: "I can't believe we finally have our beautiful daughter with us at last, after losing our eight previous babies.

"It just seemed like after 15 years we would never be parents - so to have our daughter now after all this heartbreak is really a miracle."

The couple, who live in Banbury, Oxfordshire, began trying for a family in 1991, two years after they were married.

The following year Mrs Whitman became pregnant but miscarried at 12 weeks. She said: "I just accepted that it was one of those things, and concentrated on getting pregnant again."

In June 1993, she became pregnant again, but at ten weeks suffered her second miscarriage.

Mrs Whitman, a full-time mother who lives with Martin, 37, a factory worker, then lost a third baby.

Afterwards, she went to see her GP and blood tests were carried out to see if there was a medical reason why she had had the miscarriages - Mrs Whitman said: "They couldn't find anything wrong, so we just assumed that we were unlucky.

"But two years later, in June 1996, I suffered my fourth miscarriage. I knew by now that something must be wrong."

Mrs Whitman was referred to St Mary's Hospital in London, which has a specialist miscarriage centre.

She was diagnosed with antiphospholipid syndrome, where the body's immune system thinks that the foetus is a foreign body and tries to expel it. Blood clots build up in the placenta and cause a miscarriage.

Doctors told her that when she conceived again, they would give her medication to thin the blood in her placenta.

Mrs Whitman said: "I was so relieved that I finally had an answer to why I was losing my babies like this. I was confident that the next time I fell pregnant, then this time I would finally become a mum."

Despite the medication, however, over the next few years the couple lost another four babies.

Eventually they discussed adoption, but while on holiday in May 2006 decided to have one last try.

Mrs Whitman said: "We came home and I felt different. I knew I was pregnant, but this time instinctively everything just felt right."

The pregnancy went smoothly until the 22nd week, when complications threatened to bring on an early labour. To prevent this, she had to stop her medication - at the risk of starving the baby of nutrients.

Doctors at Horton General Hospital in Banbury carried out a caesarean to deliver Maya at 38 weeks, in January this year.

Mrs Whitman said: "It was so emotional when she was born. We had waited 15 long years."

Maya is now eleven months old and in perfect health, said her mother, adding: "One day we will tell her how special she is."


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