When Sharon Cheffings found out she was pregnant through IVF, after seven years of trying with husband Simon, the pair were delighted.
The pregnancy was far from easy and full of stress and worry, especially as they’d previously lost a child to a suspected ectopic miscarriage in 2004.
But when they reached 37 weeks and their unborn daughter Freya was deemed perfectly healthy by doctors, they thought to themselves, “We’ve done this.”
But an undetected diagnosis of Vasa Praevia caused baby Freya to haemorrhage during labour, eventually leading to her death less than four hours after being born.
And now the couple from Holywell, North Wales, have launched an appeal to raise awareness about the devastating condition, which affects one in 2,500 pregnancies and one in 300 IVF pregnancies, but when diagnosed before birth, has a 100% survival rate.
Sharon and Simon, 40, met through a mutual friend while both working for Flintshire council, and they married in 2009.
Sharon says: “Right from the beginning we both wanted children and I think we just assumed it would be easy, but as things materialised we realised it wouldn’t be that simple for us.
“I had a suspected ectopic miscarriage in 2004 which was very emotional and quite devastating, but little did we know what else was coming.
“Simon is the carrier of genetic chromosomal problems which are extremely rare but affect male fertility. They are so rare that we had to go to several hospitals and look at many different options for treatment, but we were advised that we would probably never have children and the best we could hope for was repeated miscarriages.
“We knew the odds were against us but we needed to know we’d done everything possible before giving up.
“Eventually we met a consultant who was willing to try, and on the second set of IVF I got pregnant with Freya – it was like all our dreams had come true.”
Despite the initial elation at becoming pregnant, what followed for the pair were months of worry, anxiety and several scares.
“I had a very high risk of miscarriage up to 20 weeks and every morning I’d wake up thinking, ‘could this be the day we lose her?’”, said 34-year-old Sharon.
“We basically had to take things minute by minute.
“I had a lot of bleeding and lost fluid. I also had a low-lying placenta but doctors were happy that Freya was healthy and developing well.
“Several times they couldn’t find her heartbeat and we thought we’d lost her but she proved us all wrong and beat all the odds.
“It was like a double-edged sword. It was one of the happiest times of my life but also incredibly stressful for us and the whole family.”
“In the first 20 weeks we didn’t buy anything for Freya, we were so scared something would go wrong, but from 30 weeks onwards we let our guard down and started to get excited, convinced we’d made it through the worst.”
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