I spent my twenties enjoying life, exploring, and searching for the right life partner. I started dating my husband at 33, and we didn’t get married until I was nearly 36. We started loosely trying as soon as the wedding was over. I was a little nervous that due to my age it might take a bit longer to get pregnant, but I didn’t think it would be too bad.
It took a little longer than I would have preferred, but 8 months later in February of 2020 I had my first positive pregnancy test. We were ecstatic and could barely keep the news to ourselves. We told our families within the first few weeks, told friends just as early, and posted online at 11 weeks when we felt like things were “safe”. I naively didn’t even wait for my NIPT test results.
Because the world was dealing with a pandemic, our doctors office had quite a bit of different rules. Instead of doing NIPT testing at 10-12 weeks, they were holding off until our 16 week appointment to limit in person appointments. I was 36, so I should have asked for it early, but I honestly didn’t think twice. It was my first pregnancy, and I was full of the naïve belief that everything would work out just fine.
But, life never works out the way we plan. At 16 weeks I was starting to become concerned that I had no bump. But I knew first pregnancies could take awhile. I went to my 16 week appointment and heard her heartbeat, and went for my NIPT and quad screening blood work without a care in the world.
5 days later, on a Wednesday afternoon, I got a phone call that caused my world to crash down around me. When I answered, the woman on the other end explained she was a genetic counselor. I instantly started to tear up. She explained that my NIPT was not back yet, but my quad screening came back flagged as a very high risk for either trisomy 18 or SLOS. I was going to need to come into maternal fetal medicine for a detailed scan in a few days.
What followed that phone call was the worst 3 weeks of my life. The scan was not good, our baby was measuring 3-4 weeks behind, they asked me to come in 2 weeks later to see if there was any growth. I had nearly no amniotic fluid, so I could not do an amniocentesis to get a definitive answer on if there were any abnormalities. My NIPT came back a few days later inconclusive. I re-tested, waited again, and got the same results. I knew this wasn’t good when I was already 18 weeks along.
At 19 weeks I went in for another scan, and the news was even more dire. We found out our baby was a girl (we were going to be team green), she had holes in her heart, brain, and we found nearly no evidence of kidneys. I still had no amniotic fluid, and she was still measuring 4 weeks behind. They admitted they thought I would have miscarried in the last two weeks, and there were moments when I was just wishing I would miscarry so we didn’t have to make any difficult decisions.
I still could not do an amniocentesis, but all signs pointed toward a severe and fatal genetic abnormality. My husband and I had many tearful and late night discussions prior to this scan, and knew that if she was suffering to survive, we would terminate the pregnancy. So that afternoon, we made the most difficult but compassionate choice we could have. We chose to end her suffering.
3 days later, on June 10, 2020 we ended the pregnancy by D&E. I had to do this all alone in the hospital due to COVID restrictions, while my husband had to sit in the car. We found out a month later she had triploidy, a chromosomal abnormality that meant that she had 69 chromosomes instead of 46. She had an extra copy of every chromosome, and would never survive in this world. I knew we made the right decision, but it didn’t make our loss and grief any easier.
We started trying nearly right away, as soon as we got doctor’s clearance. Not because we wanted to replace our first baby. But due to my age, we knew time was not on our side. Unfortunately we dealt with secondary infertility after this pregnancy. We went not only through the grief of our loss, but the stress of infertility.
In April of 2021 we had another positive pregnancy test, but this resulted in a quick loss. A chemical pregnancy. It was heartbreaking and felt like a huge tease. In the midst of all this, we were working with infertility doctors to see if there was a reason for my inability to get pregnant again. Nothing wrong was found, just good old unexplained infertility.
So, we decided to go ahead with doing IUIs. After dealing with 4 failed IUI procedures, we started booking our IVF consultations and dealing with the financial aspect of pursuing that road. Our doctors wanted to try a few more aggressive IUIs with injectables and clomid combined. On my 5th IUI, discouraged and sure it wasn’t going to work, I saw my trigger shot line fade from pregnancy tests and then the line returned. It was Halloween weekend of 2021, and a digital test came back with a positive result. Equally thrilled, and equally terrified, we began to accept I might be pregnant again.
Pregnancy after loss and infertility is not easy. It has been filled with anxiety. I didn’t believe a positive test meant a healthy baby would come along with it. Due to my age, I half expected another chromosomal abnormality or abnormal NIPT. But the milestones began to pass. A great first scan, a great dating scan, a low risk NIPT (and finding out we were going to have another girl), a low risk NT scan, a low risk quad screening, a great anatomy scan, and then viability. Each step came with worry, fear, and then relief. Now I sit here typing this feeling her kick and roll in my stomach as I approach my 28th week, the third trimester. I am very optimistic that my rainbow will arrive in July. We are preparing for her arrival with every intention to be hopeful she will arrive healthy.
I share my story for all women who have experienced loss, and infertility. To give some ray of hope, because I know reading other peoples stories has helped me in some of my darkest times. I share to remember our first baby girl. I also want to share to represent the TFMR (termination for medical reasons) community, so that others know about our type of loss. It is a lonely type of loss that deserves to be represented in the pregnancy loss communities. Lastly, I share to celebrate all that my husband has been through and survived, our rainbow baby, and all that will come in the future.
Photos taken by Ananda Rochita Photography.
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