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Woman speaks with heartbreaking candour about her 10 year fight to become a mum

Jayne endured seven miscarriages, a tragic stillbirth and IVF failure before finally welcoming her boys to the world.

A remarkable mother has spoken candidly about her heartbreaking 10 year fight to become a parent, during which she endured seven miscarriages, a tragic stillbirth and IVF failure.

Now the delighted mum to two boys, William, four, and Oliver, two, Jayne Hook, 42, told how when she first fell pregnant in 2004, just a year after marrying her husband, Steven, 42, a sales director, she had no idea of the anguish that lay ahead.

Stay-at-home-mum Jayne, of Thatcham, Berkshire, said: “We weren’t even trying to get pregnant that first year after we married. It was more a case of if it happens, it happens, so when we discovered I was pregnant, we were both pleasantly surprised.”

Jayne and Steven on their wedding day (PA REAL LIFE/Jayne Hook)

But it seemed that no sooner had they done a positive pregnancy test, than Jayne began to bleed and lost the baby.

“I was disappointed, and I cried but I wasn’t distraught,” said Jayne. “I now knew I could fall pregnant and we both knew we now wanted a baby.

“So, when within a few months I was pregnant again, I felt confident and only a little bit nervous, because I thought lightning would not strike twice.”

 

Again, Jayne was just a few weeks into her pregnancy when she started spotting.

This time, her stepdad – himself a doctor – suggested she should see specialists at the Early Pregnancy Unit in Basingstoke, Hants., who confirmed that they could not find a heartbeat.

But, told medics did not normally investigate the causes of recurrent early miscarriage before three losses, when Jayne fell pregnant for a third time at Christmas in 2005, instead of feeling overjoyed she was apprehensive.

Jayne and Steven with Oliver (left) and William (right) (PA REAL LIFE/Jayne Hook)

“This time, I was feeling very differently about being pregnant,” she recalled. “I did not feel the elation I had in my two earlier pregnancies and I was very guarded.”

When, once again, she and Steven were told there was no heartbeat and the pregnancy was not viable, they were completely devastated.

“We’d got close to nine weeks into this pregnancy and this was the first time I really thought I may not be able to have children,” Jayne said.

 
 
 
 
 
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In the meantime, Jayne was also dealing with a rare condition that caused a bone growth in her jaw, so the couple put their plans to start a family on hold for 18 months, while she had some corrective procedures.

Then, in the summer of 2008, she fell pregnant again.

“People said we were brave to try again, but we weren’t brave, we were desperate,” she said. “We still couldn’t picture not having a child of our own.”

Jayne pregnant with Oliver (PA REAL LIFE/Jayne Hook)

At last, doctors found a heartbeat and the couple allowed themselves to think their baby could have a future, only for their hopes to be dashed when, 10 weeks in, the heartbeat became undetectable.

“It hit me like a train,” Jayne said. “I cried my eyes out. It felt more like I had lost a baby than it had before, because we’d got so much further with the pregnancy. I felt angry at the world, angry at everybody and very alone.”

Once more, Jayne’s malformed jaw – which has seen her undergo 20 procedures over 12 years – prevented them from trying for another baby, so she could have time to recover from surgery.

Oliver as a baby (PA REAL LIFE/Jayne Hook)

“Two years went by, then we fell pregnant for the fifth time. But again, there was no heartbeat,” she recalled.

This time, doctors tested the miscarried foetus, searching for some explanation as to why Jayne could not carry a baby into the second trimester.

“We wanted a reason, even if it meant we would learn we could never have children,” she said. “We could not stay in that place of losing every pregnancy and not knowing why.”

 

This week is National Conversation WeekWhen someone’s baby has died, it can be hard for others to find the words to say.Here are some practical suggestions 👇 sands.org.uk/conversation#NatConvWeek

Posted by Sands, the stillbirth & neonatal death charity on Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Tests revealed a rare chromosome abnormality had caused their fifth pregnancy to fail, as well as revealing that their baby had been a girl.

“I was relieved to learn there was a problem,” said Jayne. “It sounds cruel when people say it’s ‘Nature’s way,’ but we both knew there was nothing anyone could have done.”

Referred to the world-famous multiple miscarriage unit at St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington, west London, for their sixth pregnancy, tragically, like the previous five, it ended in miscarriage after an early scan showed there was no heartbeat.

Jayne and Steven (PA REAL LIFE/Jayne Hook)

“I didn’t think I could carry on after that loss,” admitted Jayne. “As the woman, you feel so responsible when this happens again and again. I told Steven he should be with someone who can have children.

“I was very depressed and again felt very alone, until my stepdad said, ‘It’s not the end of the road, you just need more help.’”

The couple, who had now been desperately trying to start their family for over five years, even considered adoption and surrogacy.

After much thought, however, they decided to try once more, but with the help of Oxford Fertility, which has pioneered combining IVF with genetic testing.

This meant that the doctors would screen the fertilised embryos and only implant those without genetic mutations. Implantation worked and finally, at the age of 34, Jayne was pregnant.

With weekly scans to monitor the baby, she and Steven could start to really believe that, at the end of what had been a rollercoaster of raised and dashed hopes, they would finally come home with their own baby.

Poppy (PA REAL LIFE/Jayne Hook)

“I loved being pregnant and I loved having a visible bump,” said Jayne.
“Everything was magical. The baby was fine, I was fine. I’d never felt so happy and we decided, when we reached 30 weeks into the pregnancy, to take a ‘babymoon’ to Tenerife.”

But the couple’s long-awaited happiness nosedived when Jayne woke up one morning during their holiday and realised the baby – a little girl they named Poppy – was no longer kicking.

Spanish doctors confirmed Poppy had died in the womb and, after a nightmare journey back to the UK, Jayne delivered a perfect baby girl, who had died because the umbilical cord had become knotted.

 

“Nothing can prepare you for having a stillborn baby,” she said. “We were heartbroken and I felt responsible again. It was as if I was cursed.

“Right up to the last minute, I hoped the Spanish scan had been wrong, but it wasn’t. Poppy’s birth was beautiful, bizarre, funny, devastating and sad – all at the same time. And it was long. The delivery took 48 hours.

“On 2 April 2014 she came out, and because of her dark hair and long fingers I thought she looked just like me.”

Poppy (PA REAL LIFE/Jayne Hook)

She continued: “We will never know what colour her eyes would have been or what her voice would have sounded like, but for the short time we had her, we loved her and felt blessed.

“Steven carried her tiny coffin into the church for her funeral and said, ‘I’ll never get to walk her down the aisle so let me do this for her.’”

Poppy’s death, in some ways, made the couple even more determined to keep going and have a brother or sister for her.

“I had such a yearning, not to replace Poppy but to have a baby,” said Jayne. “We’d come so far and been trying for so many years, we couldn’t give up now.

“Steven and I were completely united in our grief and determination to get pregnant again, so we went straight back to Oxford Fertility after Poppy’s funeral.

“They thought we should wait, but we knew we had to try again straight away, or we would run the risk of losing our nerve and never having a baby.”

Jayne and Steven at William’s christening (PA REAL LIFE/Jayne Hook)

The couple’s next IVF treatment failed, but the following two resulted in the birth of her two healthy and happy sons, William and Oliver.

“It was a hard pregnancy having William, because I was trying to stay positive about being pregnant still, but also grieving for the loss of Poppy,” she said. “She showed me I could have a baby and although I was very anxious the whole time I was carrying William, I prayed to her to help us get there.

“He was delivered at 35 weeks, because I was so anxious I couldn’t go full term and when he was born, everyone in the room including the consultant, cried.”

William as a baby (PA REAL LIFE/Jayne Hook)

Her firstborn son was the spitting image of Poppy, which Jayne, at first, found unnerving.

And, instead of feeling elated when he was born, the new mum felt numb with shock.

“I just could not believe I finally had a baby,” she said. “I kept expecting to be told something had gone wrong.”

But William was happy and healthy and was joined in 2017 by his little brother, Oliver – finally making Jayne and Steven’s years of anguish worthwhile.

She continued: “If I could I’d have all three of my children, but having the boys is wonderful.

“I wanted a baby and would have walked over hot coals backwards and had needles poked into my eyes to get one.

Jayne, Steven and Oliver (PA REAL LIFE/Jayne Hook)

“Our long struggle made me appreciate how precious life is and what a gift children are.

“What we went through has made me the mum I am.

“I love, adore and spoil my sons, because I can and that means more to me than anything else in the world.”

For information, visit www.oxfordfertility.co.uk