Age at interview: 42
Background: Sian is a single mother to two children, a stillborn daughter and a 2-year-old son. They live in a large city. Sian works as a public servant and is from an Australian background with Welsh heritage.
Sian underwent IVF on her own in her late 30s, using a sperm donor. This was a physically and emotionally stressful experience, and she experienced medical complications and two early miscarriages. During her third pregnancy Sian lost her baby daughter at 17 weeks' gestation. She went on to have her son 17 months later.
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More about Sian
Sian always wanted to have a family, but by her mid-30s she had not met 'the right person' so decided to undergo IVF using a sperm donor.
Sian's experience of IVF was a 'rollercoaster' spanning three years. She experienced two early miscarriages. Sian had polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), which led to the IVF medication causing ovarian hyperstimulation. She then had another operation to remove a fibroid that was impeding her ability to conceive.
Sian became pregnant a third time, however, by 15 weeks she started to feel abdominal pain. By 16 weeks, her waters had broken, the result of an 'incompetent cervix', and she realised she would lose her baby. After talking with her doctor, Sian made the difficult decision not to have an induction or a dilation and curettage (D&C) but wait for spontaneous labour.
After four days her labour started and, with her mother present, Sian delivered her stillborn baby daughter. This was a deeply traumatic experience, more so because the doctors were unable to intervene to save her baby. However, giving birth to her daughter and being able to hold, dress, and have her photographed was very important. Sian said the labour ward staff were caring and sensitive.
Sian experienced a period of grief following her daughter's death. She blamed herself and felt guilty. Sian was angry that the implications of the legal definition of stillbirth (as loss of a baby after 20 weeks' gestation) meant her daughter was not given a death certificate, and that Sian was not entitled to maternity leave.
Sian initially took two weeks' sick leave, but wasn't coping after her return to work, so took a further 10 weeks' leave. During this time Sian sought counselling with SIDS and Kids and contacted Stillborn & Neonatal Death Support (SANDS), both of which were very helpful. Although not overly religious, Sian also found comfort in having a church funeral for her daughter and occasionally attending church afterwards. Despite going through a 'horrendous experience', Sian said she felt it made her a better, stronger person.
Sian became pregnant a fourth time, and had a stitch put in her cervix at 12 weeks. At 24 weeks she allowed herself to believe she was going to have a baby successfully. Sian experienced bleeding in late pregnancy due to placenta praevia, but her son was safely delivered by an emergency caesarean at 37Â½ weeks. She described feeling sad for the babies she had lost previously, as well as 'overwhelming love and relief'.
Sian contracted a post-operative infection five days after her son's birth. Her recovery was slow and she was unable to walk properly for two months. However, Sian regards the birth of her son as a 'seminal moment' when 'everything just got better'. Sian feels blessed that she was able to become a parent as a single woman, and enjoys support from her network of family and friends. Her advice to others who experience 'adverse circumstances' is to access relevant support services.