'I Was Racked with Guilt, Wondering If There Was Something That I Didn't Do to Prevent a Miscarriage'

By Heseltine, Annabel | The Evening Standard (London, England), August 7, 2002 | Go to article overview

'I Was Racked with Guilt, Wondering If There Was Something That I Didn't Do to Prevent a Miscarriage'


Heseltine, Annabel, The Evening Standard (London, England)


Byline: ANNABEL HESELTINE

Annabel Heseltine is 39 years old and 35 weeks pregnant with twins conceived with the help of IVF treatment. She has suffered two ectopic pregnancies and three years ago suffered a miscarriage

WHEN Cherie Blair announced that she was pregnant with Leo, I had just suffered a miscarriage. I remember thinking that all the world seemed pregnant and that while I cried, the world rejoiced in her fecundity. It seems an irony now that as I am about to give birth to twins, it is the Prime Minister's wife who has suffered a miscarriage. She may already have four children but my heart goes out to her. The fact that she has a large family, a highflying career and a husband running the country will not matter much to Cherie who now has to come to terms with the loss of a baby and the end of the dreams which accompany the arrival of every new child.

Losing a baby is traumatic under any circumstances. I had already lost two babies when I miscarried at the age of 36 in Africa.

The first two pregnancies, both in the previous year, had been ectopic and terminated, so when I got pregnant again while on holiday with my husband we were overjoyed. I was too far away from a chemist or hospital to be able to test but within two weeks of conception I was feeling sick and dizzy and there were strange sensations in my womb.

The increased risk of another ectopic meant that I would have to be scanned before the end of my sixth week of pregnancy, nevertheless, I calculated I had enough time to accept a commission to write a report on a Wildlife Conservancy in Northern Kenya.

This meant staying out a further two weeks

after the end of our holiday. Looking back I shall always wonder if that decision was the reason for the miscarriage. All through those two weeks I felt funny; nervous and excited but also vulnerable. I missed my husband very much.

The day I was due to fly back to England I realised something was wrong. It was sixthirty in the morning and I was alone, everybody had been out since dawn. I kept hoping the bleeding would stop. The nearest hospital was a several-hour ride of rough driving over bumpy roads. Finally I got through to my husband on a satellite phone with dodgy batteries borrowed from a neighbour. "Give me two hours and then call back, I'll find out what to do," Peter said croakily. When I did, his reaction scared me.

He had spoken to an obstetrician at St Mary's Paddington specialising in older women's pregnancies. I had to get myself to Nairobi immediately and have a scan that afternoon.

If this pregnancy was also ectopic and caught in the fallopian tube it would be too dangerous for me to fly home. I just had time to tell Peter to ring Trish, a friend in Nairobi, before the phone went dead.

When my tiny plane touched down in Nairobi two hours later, Trish was waiting to rush me to Nairobi hospital. …

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