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Our happiest new year: After sadness of five miscarriages, proudest parents reveal their baby joy to give others hope

© Andrew CawleyCarly McKenna, in Bothwell last week with baby Connor
Carly McKenna, in Bothwell last week with baby Connor

The temperature might have plunged last week but the joy radiating from new parents Carly McKenna and Gary Nelson would warm the coldest day.

The couple have finally become parents and baby boy Connor arrived after the heartbreak of losing five other babies to miscarriage.

Carly, 36, said: “We secretly feared we would never become parents. I just wanted any couple going through the same sadness to know that there is hope.”

Carly lost her previous babies in early pregnancy and, even after she passed the milestone 12 weeks, she never allowed herself to be too hopeful.

“Unexplained bleeding at 10 weeks made me fear that we would lose Connor, too. Thankfully, a scan revealed he was still thriving and I held on to my hope that ­everything would be fine.

“Covid restrictions meant that Gary had to wait out in the car park during the scan, which was upsetting but necessary during the pandemic. I was lucky to come out with good news and I thought of all the other mums who were not, and had to break the bad news to their partners.

“The pregnancy continued and the milestone days like foetal kicks were a joy, even though I had morning sickness throughout. I relaxed a bit as I passed 25 weeks.

“Lockdown was a bonus as I worked from home and there was no peak-time rush through traffic so I feel this may have worked in my favour.”

© Andrew Cawley
Carly with baby Connor and partner Gary Nelson

Extra vigilance by doctors at the end of the pregnancy meant Carly spent four days of close monitoring in the maternity wing at Wishaw hospital. After three days of trying to go into labour she was taken to theatre at 3.15am and Connor was delivered by emergency caesarean section and arrived weighing a healthy 7lb 8oz.

“We had been trying for three years to have a baby. I hope this gives hope to other couples going through the same. Our lives have been transformed. It is the best thing.”

Gary, 42, said: “Carly has been wonderful every step of the way, even to the last four days in hospital before Connor was born. We have been through some very sad times and are now through the final hurdle. I hope others parents in our situation are as lucky.

“I never knew how good it would feel to become a dad.”

© Andrew Cawley
Baby Connor

The couple speak of their joy after The Sunday Post backed a campaign calling for better care and support for women at risk of miscarriage.

Shona Robison MSP and ­parliamentary worker Nadia El-Nakla, both spoke of their loss, after joining forces to launch Changing Miscarriage Care, a campaign calling for best­ ­practice in care and treatment to be adopted across NHS Scotland and to help raise awareness of the physical and emotional toll of miscarriage.

Carly said she still did not know what caused her miscarriages. “I was told investigations are not carried out until a woman has three baby losses after 12 weeks and I miscarried twice past that point. It might be helpful to revise that when women lose several babies in early pregnancy. The loss of a baby in the first few months is no less painful.”

Ms Robison spoke movingly of her own experience of having a miscarriage, in 2007, and how one of the hardest things was telling friends and family what had happened.

She said: “I remember being quite upset and telling my mother-in-law and my parents and thinking they had also all made plans, like me, about the future and a new baby in the family.”

Thirteen years on she says she had not properly processed her own miscarriage or understood miscarriages’ wider impact on women and their health, until Nadia, who was a member of her staff, shared her experiences of multiple miscarriages.

In less than three years Nadia and her husband, Humza Yousaf, have had five pregnancies together, with just one resulting in a baby, Amal, who was born safely at 36 weeks in May 2019.

Nadia said: “Once a heart beat is detected there’s a big case for saying a woman should be getting progesterone if they are bleeding in pregnancy. I would like to see that option given routinely. A lot of people wouldn’t be prepared for what you go through. We minimise the actual experience of miscarriage all the time.”

Ruth Bender-Atik, national director of the Miscarriage Association, said: “Different hospital GPs may have different protocols for referring women for investigations into recurrent miscarriage. If they limit it to women whose pregnancies have all been confirmed on an ultrasound scan, that will exclude women who have miscarried at home before ever having a scan. Hopefully most GPs and hospitals are more flexible.”