A woman who suffered 18 miscarriages after her own body rejected her pregnancies has finally become a mother at 48.
Louise Warneford and her husband, Mark, 55, from Swindon in England, tried everything to have children. Over 16 years, they endured countless rounds of IVF, which cost around £80,000, before a specialist finally found the reason behind her miscarriages.
In 2010, she gave up on her dreams of having more kids. However, determined to find out what was wrong with her body for peace of mind, Louise decided to find a clinic who could finally diagnose her fertility problem. The breakthrough came when doctors identified that she had “killer cells” which meant her own body was destroying her embryos. The couple agreed to have one final try after a doctor told them a donor embryo might be successful. Fortunately, it worked and Louise gave birth to a healthy baby boy, William, at 37 weeks
Louise and Mark say people sometimes mistake them for baby William’s grandparents but they don’t mind and are over-the-moon to finally have a child of their own.
Louise explains: “Mark and I had been trying for a baby since I was 32. We’d suffered 18 miscarriages and spent £80,000 but looking at William now, it was all worth it. I’m not the spring chicken that I used to be and it does take me a while to chase him around the floor but it’s worth it.”
The couple first met in 1999 and Louise immediately knew that Mark was “the one” that she wanted to start a family with. However, due to Mark’s vasectomy from a previous relationship, the pair had to look for alternative ways to make Louise’s dream of having a baby a reality.
She says: “We went to a fertility specialist to find out about the quickest way of conceiving, and they suggested a sperm insemination. So we found a donor who had the same attributes as Mark and I, and we went along with the process. I fell pregnant a number of times with the insemination, but every single time I ended up losing the baby around the 14-week scan mark as they couldn’t find the heartbeat. Each time I got my hopes up and thought that ‘this was it’ and I was going to have the perfect family I’d always wanted – I couldn’t stop crying every time I miscarried. We decided to try IVF but despite falling pregnant a number of times, we always lost the baby. It was a complete mystery why my body kept rejecting my baby at just a few weeks old but it was heart-breaking every single time.”
Louis added: “There is no grief that can compare to losing a much loved and wanted baby – all your hopes and dreams are shattered.”
In spite of the grief, she kept on trying different options but everytime it was the same outcome; she would get pregnant then suffer a miscarriage.
She said: “We’d even tried using an egg donor but that failed as well.”
Then the problem was diagnosed and she decided to give childbirth another try.
Louise said: “I met a specialist in maternal medicine called Doctor Shehata and he told me that I had killer cells in my body, which was why I couldn’t hold a child. I told him I’d had 18 miscarriages and that I couldn’t go through that again but he gave me the courage to have one more try. I didn’t do anything until four years later, when I was 47 and I said to Mark that we had to try one more time before I was 50. This time, because I was too old for certain clinics in the UK, I decided to do my own research and had embryo donation in the Gynem Clinic in Prague.”
The couple finally got pregnant when Louise was 47 and, despite a nerve-wrenching nine months, their son William was born healthy.
“He was born at 37 weeks through a planned C-section because I was told that there was a problem with the placenta. Although I couldn’t enjoy my pregnancy, because I was constantly scared that I was going to lose him, it was completely worth it for my dream baby.”
Louise is now sharing her story to provide help for anyone facing a similar situation to her and to raise discussion about miscarriages.
Louise said: “It was the toughest time in my life, but it’s so worth it for our dream baby. We’re a perfect family now and I finally feel complete – we even have a grandchild now, and at just ten months old, William, became an uncle. It was very expensive, and we spent £80,000 in total for fertility treatment, but we just put our life on hold for our dream baby. We saved the money over the 16 years of trying, and just didn’t go out very often – we were very frugal, but we wanted a child more than we wanted money. We want people to know that it is doable and despite my multiple miscarriages and rounds of IVF, our dream baby was achievable.”
Mr Hassan Shehata, Founder and Director of Centre for Reproductive Immunology and Pregnancy, said: “Natural killer (NK) cells are subtypes of white blood cells which are responsible for body defence. The NK cells are known to attack foreign bodies such as viruses independently and directly hence the name natural killer cells. In some women these NK cells can wrongly identify pregnancy as a foreign threat and attack it causing a miscarriage.”