1. Describe the process of getting pregnant. Was it easy for you? Was it hard? Did you have to go through fertility treatment?
We got pregnant on our first try! It was magical. Considering we were in our later 30s, I did not expect the ease. I remember right after we made love, feeling the weight of reality and truly, a spark in my belly started to flutter. My body started changing immediately. I felt my breasts swell, my belly became bloated and I was unusually gassy. I was SO thirsty and was craving specific foods. I lost this pregnancy within a few weeks. Just as I started to feel glorious, it was ripped away. It was a chemical pregnancy, of which I had never heard of but delved into research as I was losing my baby. It made me feel very sad that it was explainable bc it meant it was real. I woke up in the night with terrible cramps and the next day lost the feeling in my breasts, my belly looked flat. That day, after pulling the Death tarot card, I bled and lost the baby. This pattern of early loss happened three more times in the same year. We had no issue getting pregnant but something was happening in my body that was unfriendly to pregnancy.
2. What are your babies’ names?
On my third pregnancy that year, implantation succeeded and we saw the heartbeat at the ultrasound. It was a strong heartbeat we were told, despite not hearing it audibly. This prompted me to call my baby, Little Thunder as I referred to her in my journaling and meditations where we would talk together in my private spiritual world.
3. How was the medical treatment/support during your loss?
The third pregnancy resulted in a loss because it was chromosomally abnormal. My doctor delivered the sad news directly at the ultrasound, just a week after we saw the heartbeat. She did a D&C, which was actually a peaceful and beautiful experience. A comfortable and pristine hospital and extremely empathetic nurses. It felt sort of like a retreat, with fancy hospital boy briefs and good coffee. A cozy heated blow up blanket that felt like I was cocooned in a cloud.
4. How far along were you?
I never made it past 7 weeks.
5. Did you receive support from family and friends after your loss?
I wrote a vignette on what not to say to someone after a chemical pregnancy. It was amazing how many people assumed it wasn’t a big deal because it was so early or had quizzical remarks about whether or not I was even pregnant. Of course I did recieve support from loved ones.
6. Did you have a reason why your losses occurred?
I began to see a fertility doctor after the fourth loss. Eventually, after a month or more of testing, she diagnosed me with stage 4 endometriosis and sent me to a surgeon as I was insistent on carrying my child. In addition to the endo, which was all over my pelvic region and gluing my right ovary to my uterus, which starves it of oxygen and makes it less productive, he found a large fibroid, and a callus growing over the implantation site. It was a 3 hour surgery. I learned that endometriosis poisons the eggs with toxic secretions that cause them to develop improperly. I also learned that a septate uterus keeps the embryo from the nourishing blood it needs to grow. After clearing up these issues, I had a much better chance with IVF and carrying.
7. How were your emotions after loss? (Angry, sad, scared, confused, etc)
I experienced ALL of the emotions. The most significant was my first loss. There was a loss of magic and innocence that only a loss mother knows. My second was all nerves and fear. I was most excited next on my third pregnancy because it happened right after my second loss. I didn’t even wait a cycle. I took it as a sign that my babies really want to be born. It felt meant to be but it ended in a D&C. It was hard for me to be excited by my 4th pregnancy. I felt numb and disconnected and expected it to bolt. It happened a month before my wedding.
8. How did you know you were ready to try again?
After surgery and recovery, my doctor presented us with the option of IVF to control the viability of the embryo and avoid any more miscarriages. By the time we started prepping with meds and acupuncture, I felt regenerated and totally excited to make these babies! Everyone our “team” remarked on how positive I was and what a good attitude I had.
9. How does your story look these days?
I banked two healthy embryos! I was told I may have to do multiple cycles but I read and researched, changed my diet, took specific supplements and did everything I could to get them on the first try. I did a mock cycle at my doctor’s urging before we tried to transfer our first embryo and the test revealed significant inflammation in the uterus, even after surgery. We were given the option of pursuing treatment with more medication, putting my body into medical menopause, or surrogacy. With much help and loving care, we made the difficult decision to go with a surrogate. It felt like the path of least resistance. We matched with a surrogate within the first month of searching and I knew my instinct was correct. My babies can grow in a healthy woman’s body and I will be there to hold them when they come out crying.
The surrogacy road felt long and grueling to get to pregnancy, even though the process was very easy for me. There are many important steps that include medical and legal and sometimes it feels like you’ll never get there. 6 months after matching with our surrogate we got a positive pregnancy test and we will be welcoming a baby girl in my favorite month of the year… November!
10. Is there anything you want others to know about going through loss?
Find your fertility team ASAP and when you start the journey, take it one step at a time. It’s this test then that shot then that consult. Chipping away, that’s the name of the game.
We are so fortunate to live in a world where science can help us achieve our dreams, even if it seems like we are the forgotten ones. When people say to me, “wow it’s crazy today how so many people do IVF and use surrogates!” They make it seem like there’s more infertility now than there used to be. But I like to remind people that back then, many couples just didn’t have babies. I can name 4 women in my family line who never had kids. I am sure if they were of reproductive age today, they would have had them in some way or another.
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