My story is of secondary infertility and recurrent pregnancy loss. After having successful pregnancies and coming from a family of women who got pregnant and stayed pregnant without issue, experiencing infertility and miscarriage caught me so off guard.
My husband and I have identical twin boys who are five and another little boy who is three. We always knew we wanted more children and felt a piece of our family was missing. We were so happy when we got pregnant with our fourth baby. I felt something was wrong very early on. But I convinced myself I was getting into my head too much. I focused on the joy and excitement of growing our family and that I was pregnant alongside my sister, sister-in-law, two stepsisters, and cousin. A few days after Christmas, after all my sisters and I took a picture being pregnant together, I started bleeding. I knew what it meant, but my husband was still hopeful. Ultrasound revealed our baby was measuring two weeks behind and did not have a heartbeat. Because it was my first ultrasound, they said my dates could be off. So, we left the ER, holding so much hope. Just a few days later I began having significant bleeding and cramping. Back to the emergency department and ultrasound confirmed we had lost the baby.
That time was such an emotional blur. Nothing prepares you for a pain like that. From the moment we found out we were pregnant we felt so strongly our baby was a boy and named him Theo. I took a long time to grieve and recover before I felt ready to try again. Watching all my loved ones continue in their pregnancies and go on to hold their babies in their arms was so hard. But also provided healing in some ways.
We got pregnant again about 8 months later. The pregnancy started well. I had early ultrasounds and baby measured slightly behind, but just days, not weeks. We even saw a heartbeat this time. We were so hopeful. But again, right at 9 weeks I began bleeding. I went to the emergency department and our baby’s heart had stopped. I still remember that moment like it I was yesterday. When the ultrasound tech looked for a heartbeat, turned on the sound hoping to hear one, and there was nothing, I could not stop the tears. And I am crying now just writing and thinking about it. I could not believe it was happening again. My loss with Theo took a long time and I bled for seven weeks. Not wanting to face that same trauma and physical reminder of the loss for so long again, my OB and I decided to do a D&C. Before we made it to my surgery date, I began hemorrhaging and ended up with an emergency D&C. The whole thing was really traumatic. Testing revealed our baby was a healthy girl. We named her Hannah.
Because I had two losses in a row, my OB referred me to a fertility specialist. On my first cycle after my loss with Hannah, I was scheduled for an HSG exam with my fertility specialist. The morning of my exam I had this odd feeling I should take a pregnancy test. It was positive, and so were three more. I felt such a huge mix of emotions – so much fear and a little hope. I thought that maybe this strong pull to take a pregnancy test and it being positive meant this pregnancy was going to be it. If I had not taken the test, the HSG exam would have ended the pregnancy. Instead, I went in for some blood work that confirmed I was pregnant, but very early. My follow up blood work two days later showed I was losing the baby. My pregnancy ended before it even started. My emotions following this loss were more of anger. Why did I have that inclination to test for it to only end in heart break again. At the same time, I was glad I knew about my baby, no matter how short of time I had with him or her.
After my pregnancy levels returned to baseline, we moved forward with the rest of my fertility testing. I had the HSG exam which showed I had a large polyp in my uterus that needed to be surgically removed. We also learned I have antiphospholipid syndrome – an autoimmune, blood clotting disorder that can cause clotting at the placenta, cutting off nutrition supply to the baby. For all future pregnancies I was going to need to be on lovenox, a blood thinner.
After I was cleared to start trying after my polyp surgery, we got pregnant right away. This was going to be it. We were so happy and excited. I did not have the fear this time because we figured out what was wrong. While on vacation with my family around 6 weeks I began bleeding. The fear returned immediately. When I got home from vacation my fertility doctor got me in right away. Ultrasound confirmed we lost the baby. I felt like I was a spinning into this deep ocean of grief. We had figured out what was wrong, I had the polyp removed, I was giving myself the lovenox shots every day, and I still lost our baby. I did not understand. Here I was, three babies I could hold in my arms. And now four babies I can only hold in my heart until we meet in Heaven. I was not sure I could bear losing more babies. But I also had this deep feeling our journey to growing our family was not over.
A couple weeks later my husband and I met with our fertility specialist. Our doctor believed chromosomal abnormalities were likely causing our miscarriages. He recommended IVF with PGTa testing of our embryos. This would test to make sure any embryos we transferred were chromosomally and genetically healthy. Hearing that was so overwhelming. I never in my life expected to need IVF to get and stay pregnant. We were not ready for that step right away. But a couple months later of not getting pregnant, we decided to move forward with IVF. We knew it was our best chance at bringing home a baby and avoiding more heartbreak. I was not sure I could go through another loss.
We moved forward with IVF and we transferred a healthy embryo on October 30, 2020. I am now 35 weeks pregnant with our quadruple rainbow baby girl. This pregnancy has been full of emotions. So much anxiety and fear. But I have also had so much hope. We are so close to holding our sweet little one in our arms. Right now I feel such overwhelming gratitude for the support of every person that has been a part of our journey. And I just have so much hope and feel so much happiness. I still pinch myself sometimes that this is real. We will be holding a baby girl in our arms in just a few short weeks. Fear and anxiety still try to creep in, but I am letting the hope and happiness win.
It was such an incredible opportunity to take photos with the rainbow skirt. This project Sarah started is so beautiful and I know it means so much to everyone involved!
Photos taken by Paige Hatfield Photography.
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