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July 20, 2016

Mum-of-one Maylene Ash has been on a heartbreaking journey trying to create the big family she always dreamed of.

We conceived our first child Aaron on the first try. I was 25 at the time and my husband and I were about to get married. I knew people could have issues with fertility so I was really happy that we had conceived easily. Aaron was born seven weeks early and that was a real challenge. You have this idea in your head that you’re going to go home from hospital with this beautiful baby, but that didn’t happen for us. Aaron had to stay in hospital for five weeks. The separation was horrible and breastfeeding was almost impossible so I felt a lot of guilt about that. I was breastfed for a very long time so I somehow thought it would come naturally to me. I got postnatal depression afterwards that went undiagnosed for quite a while. I knew I wanted a large family but that wasn’t a great environment to bring a child into, so we decided to wait a while.

I’d always wanted to be a midwife, ever since I was at high school, so I went and trained and I found that really helpful for dealing with a lot of things around birth. The plan was to finish my training, start working and then have more babies. I started working in a hospital and towards the end of my first year we started trying again. We thought it would all be okay because it happened so easily with Aaron. He was six by then and at that stage I was thinking it was quite a big gap but would be all right.

It took about six months to get pregnant and that was quite a shock because it had happened so easily before. We were so happy when it happened and we told Aaron, who was elated to finally be a big brother. Then at around eight weeks I started bleeding and they did an ultrasound and found the pregnancy was ectopic. I was taken into hospital and had to have surgery to remove one of my fallopian tubes. I had to have full abdominal surgery, so not only was there the emotion of losing our baby to recover from, but also this major operation.

I found it a very isolating experience because people don’t know how to approach the subject. You know lots of people have lost babies, but it’s just not talked about. It’s kind of like they think you’ll just get over it, you’ll just have another one. 

There was no reason to think that an ectopic would happen again so we treated it as bad luck and tried to think about the future. It didn’t take long to conceive again but early on I had pain and bleeding, and  scans and blood tests showed I was losing the pregnancy. We all thought I was having a miscarriage. It was really sad but I thought, ‘Well, at least it was in the right place this time.’ After the bleeding had stopped I went for a scan and found it was actually another ectopic pregnancy and it was still there. 

This time I just kept working through. After the first miscarriage, going back to work had been the hardest thing I’d ever had to do, but this time I thought ‘If I stop now I’ll never go back’. The thought of not being a midwife and not having any more babies was too hard. We decided to wait a while before we tried again. Over the next six months I went to a naturopath, took all the vitamins, lost some weight and got fit. It took us about six months to conceive again and when it happened we booked an early scan and found it was a third ectopic. We were absolutely devastated and heartbroken.

On the scan we could see a heartbeat and knowing we were never going to hold that baby... it was devastating.They gave me a drug to help my body absorb it but in the end they had to do surgery again and they had to take the other fallopian tube. So now I’ve had both my fallopian tubes taken. Our only option from here is IVF. Because I’ve had a healthy baby and we don’t have any trouble conceiving the odds are quite good for us. 

We’ve decided to put off thinking about it till the end of the year because we’ve had so many losses. For me, they’re still very much my children – just because they’re not here doesn’t make them any less my children. It’s so hard for the guys, because they’re so used to fixing things for you and with this they can’t. The father has lost the child too.  

Miscarriage is such an unspoken topic. When you’re going through it you do want to talk to people but often they try to minimise it with comments like, ‘Well, at least you’ve got one’ or ‘You can still have another one’. 

In the end you just stop trying to talk about it, which is so sad. Aaron’s such a good kid and I really want to be able to bring up more great people.”

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