Michelle J’s Story

My story is long, and winding compared to some who are just starting their journey. I met my husband when I joined our local Volunteer Fire Company. I was not going to date anyone……. well, 24 years later I guess that did not work out to well for me.  We got engage on New Year’s Eve 1997, I was 21 years old. My then fiancé was thirty. I had finished my first associates degree in Paralegal studies and was working as a litigation paralegal. One thing we both agreed on was we wanted children. I wanted four he wanted two, I knew I could convince him to sway my way.  I loved children. Did not matter, baby, toddler, young child.  I oversaw doing the Fire prevention things for the schools in our district. Everyone would always say if you wanted to find Michelle, either find the kids or the dogs, and you are sure she will be with one of them…

We got married on May 2, 1998. We just celebrated our 24th wedding anniversary. Once we were married, we both wanted to try for a family. Our wedding was everything my young 20-year-old mind wanted, and we went to Florida for our honeymoon. In June 1998 I could not wait to take an HPT, to my shock it came back positive.  I was to say the least over the moon. We told everyone. I was young, healthy, we did not see a reason not to.  I had my first appt scheduled with the OB/GYN at 9 weeks. We both took the day off and went to the appointment. It was the day my world would change forever, it was the day that all my innocence was gone, and I would never get it back. The nurse tried to find the heartbeat, but said, well we know your uterus is tipped, so let us do a transvaginal ultrasound.  I was totally confused, and had never had anything like that done, but we went along blindly thinking we would see the heartbeat. I knew as soon as we started the test something was wrong. She would not answer questions and said the doctor will be in shortly.  He came in and spoke. Well, there is no heartbeat, so you are not pregnant.  That was it, I was so confused, why, I am young healthy, what did I do wrong?  Now what do we do, I still felt pregnant. He told us we could wait for it to happen naturally or go for a DNC. I opted to wait, and I did miscarry naturally by the end of that week. Went in for a follow up and he told us wait a couple of months and try again, these things happen.  So, we did, we were young and having fun, and this was just a fluke.

In November 1998 I took an HPT on a whim, and I was shocked that it was positive again. This time a little more cautious, we did not tell anyone.  I wanted to wait until after our appointment. I figured; I was about 6 weeks pregnant at that time. I called the OB/GYN and scheduled a pregnancy appointment for 8 weeks. 3 days later, I started bleeding. I called the doctor and they said, its just implantation bleeding, to take it easy and all will be fine.  They were so wrong. I miscarried that weekend. I knew I had, but I went in for the blood work, and was told again, I am sorry there is no heartbeat.  

To say the least I was devastated. I was 22 years old, and this was my second miscarriage. I did not know what I was doing wrong.  Why, was this happening, I was so careful. The doctor (who was my mom’s doctor, so I just went to him because she did) said Well, maybe if you lose some weight, you would not keep miscarrying.   I was gob smacked. Did a doctor just tell a 22-year-old woman who was five’4” and 150 pounds that she was overweight and that caused my miscarriage???????  

He told me there was nothing he could do until I had three miscarriages, go home and try again.   So, I was to blame. I left the appointment just broken. I am usually the rock in our family, I am the fixer, I am the person everyone goes to, to get things done.  This time I had to lean on my husband. His response was, we need a new doctor. So I did, I scheduled an appointment with a new OB/GYN.  It was the best thing I ever did. The office staff and him were the kindest, most caring people I have ever met. He did not blame me; he ran every test known to mankind.  

I went in for my follow up and he had answer for me. He told me that I was ANA positive, and I also had Protein S Deficiency, or sticky blood. My blood was too thick and that it can cause issues with implantation as well as blood clots. He wanted us to wait a couple of months and try again.  He wanted me to start taking 81mg of aspirin a day, and once I got a positive test, I should start progesterone supplements, just to be safe.

In November 1999 we decided we did not want to live in Buffalo anymore, it was cold, the taxes were high, so we threw a dart at the map, it landed on Richmond Virginia.  We went down to look around and I had several job interviews. We planned to move in January 2000.  On December 14, 1999, we were going to see a local band that we both loved the Goo Goo Dolls. Before we left that night, I took a test, and it was POSITIVE. When I say positive, I mean it did not even take the 3 minutes to show.  

I was terrified. I called the doctor the next morning, and they send me for bloodwork, and wanted me to start the progesterone, and have blood taken 24 hours after as well to make sure that my numbers were doubling. That Thursday I went in for my appointment, and after a year and a half, I heard a heartbeat for the first time. It as the BEST sound I have ever heard. My numbers were doubling, and things were looking good. I was given a due date of August 8, 2000. This baby would be my sides first grandchild. We decided there was no way we could move now.

The next 7 months were crazy. I had hyperemesis gravidarum. I was sick all day every day. But I did not care, being sick meant that my baby was growing.  The doctor allowed me to come into the office anytime I wanted to hear the heartbeat. They regretted that, every time I got worried, I ran in and heard that heartbeat. I did not want to know what the baby was, but my husband did.  I finally gave in at 8 months, and the baby’s legs were up and crossed. I laughed he or she was going to be just like her mom. At 1 weeks past due I could not throw up anymore, so I was induced on August 13, 2000.  3 days later August 16, 2000, and an emergency c-section later, I heard what the best words was ever. IT’S A GIRL. My Emma Rose was born weighing 5lbs 1oz and 16 inches long. She was perfect. All my fears melted away when I held her.  We were elated and enjoyed every second of her.

When she was two, we decided to start to try again for another baby.  But again, decided that we hated living in Buffalo, so in February 2002 we moved to Chesterfield Virginia. 2 weeks after we moved in, I got a positive pregnancy test. This was pregnancy number 4, since we had Emma, we did not think anything of it.  We did the same thing, took the baby aspirin, and progesterone. I found a new doctor in Virginia and went for my 8-week appointment. We heard the heartbeat, and thought, well we figured it out. Never thinking I could miscarry again.

At 12 weeks I started bleeding, and we knew I had lost baby number 4. I was then referred to a hematologist, to look more into my blood issues. We were given the green light to try again, and this time once I got a positive test, I was going to have to take an injectable blood thinner daily. I did not care.  I would do anything to have a sibling for our daughter. We were followed by a high-risk OB, and we started trying again.  

In August 2002, we found out we were pregnant with baby number 5. Started the injectable Lexapro, but we miscarried again at 11 weeks. We waited and tried again.

Pregnant with baby number 6 in January 2003, only to lose the pregnancy at 15 weeks. And so, this cycle continued.

Pregnancy number 7 in April 2003 we lost at 7 weeks.

Pregnancy number 8 in October 2003 we lost at 9 weeks.

Pregnancy number 9 in February 2004 we lost at 6 weeks.

Pregnancy number 10 in May 2004, we lost a set of twins at 15 weeks from a car accident. I was hit from behind on the way to work and lost both babies.

Pregnancy number 11 in September 2005, we lost at 5 weeks.

Pregnancy number 12 in November 2005, we lost at 10 weeks.

Pregnancy number 13 in January 2006, we lost at 4 weeks.

Pregnancy number 14 in April 2006, we lost at 5 weeks.

All this time, my husband stood with me, through the grief and anger, the not understanding why I keep losing babies when others have no problems. I stopped going to baby showers. It was just too hard; I could not stand to look at a pregnant woman. If someone were pregnant on TV, I would just start crying.  I grew up Roman Catholic and I did not understand how a god could keep taking my babies, but yet others were abused, or aborted, by women who didn’t realize what a gift they had.  My husband sat me down at that time and said, I love you, but I do not want to lose you, he wanted to be done, he did not want to see me suffer anymore, we had our family, the three of us.  But it was not the vision that I had always seen or dreamed of.  I asked him to try one more time.

We were not actively trying, but we were not doing anything to prevent it either.  In November 2006 I found out we were pregnant. I went for the blood work, took my medications, and was seen every other week. Every time I went into the doctor, I prepared myself to hear that phrase “I’m sorry there is no heartbeat.”  2 weeks turned into 4 and 4 into eight, and I started to allow myself to love this baby.  Our daughter was six at the time.  After we lost baby number 5, we never told her anything, she did not know about our other losses.  

But, when I got to 24 weeks, we finally told her and everyone else she was going to be a big sister. And the baby was a boy. My husband was over the moon. We already picked a name Matthew Scott. I was still tentative, but being on different pregnancy support groups, allowed me some reassurance that this may happen. I did not even care about the all-day sickness.  If I was throwing up, I knew he was growing. My due date was August 1, 2007. I was having a planned c-section, I did not want to take any chances of a long labor again and anything happening.  

On July 20, 2007, I noticed he was not moving as much as he usually did.  I sat on the sofa and did my kick counts, and they were less. I called the doctor, and let them know what was going on, I had an appointment the next morning. They reassured me that everything was fine. I was almost 9 months and there was less room etc., and to keep my appointment for the morning.

My appointment was at 10 am, but I was at the office by nine. I could not wait any longer.  We chatted and talked about the slowing movement, I told them he was very still this morning, and they told me to drink some juice they gave me. Chit chatted, did my weight, measurement, and went to find the heartbeat. The look on the nurse’s face, she kept trying and could not find one.  She ran out of the room and brought my OB back with her. She tried and said let us go over to ultrasound.  I do not remember much, my head was spinning, I called my husband and said he needed to leave work and come to the office.  I knew those looks; I have seen them too many times.  The doctor did the ultrasound and confirmed what I thought I would never hear again. I am so sorry there is no heartbeat. 

He’s gone.  I did not want to believe them, I yelled and screamed and was inconsolable.  My husband had to plan for our daughter, and he came to get me. We went to the hospital to be induced. I still did not believe the doctors; I just knew they had made a mistake.  But they did not. Matthew Scott was born on July 21, 2007, forever sleeping. He was perfect. He was 6lbs 1 oz, and nineteen inches long.  They gave us our space and we spent several hours with him. Until, they had to take him, I did not get any pictures, I did not have a hospital bracelet, I did not have anything but footprints and an empty heart.  Most were understanding, some just thought we were in the way, and they needed our room. I did not realize until years later that I never wanted another woman to feel like I did.  I had nothing from him, my husband did not want an autopsy, but I did, I needed to know why.  What did I do wrong? His cause of death was a blood clot in the cord. Had everyone listened to me the day before, my sweet baby would still be here. I carried immense guilt that I did not push harder that I did not go to the ER.  I trusted my doctors.

My husband was crushed, my daughter and I were like two peas in a pod, and he was waiting for his son to have that relationship too.  But he was my best friend too, and he knew that I would need something, to make it through. The day we came home he came home with this tiny cocker spaniel puppy. We named her Lady. If it were not for him and Lady, I do not think I would have made it through that first year.  He waited some time and approached me that he wanted to have a vasectomy. He did not want me to go through this ever again.  In his mind we had our family. The day he had the procedure done I cried, I cried when they took him back, and he would not look at me.  Him doing that, made it final. There would be no more babies.

At that time, I hated him, thought he was selfish, he would not let me have what I wanted.  Well, he was right. Our daughter needed me, he needed me. And I had a higher purpose. I threw myself into our daughters’ activities, I was room mom for school, dance room mom and I started coaching cheerleading again. This was my family; I was going to enjoy every second. I still struggled with every first was a last. I only got one first day of kindergarten, only one first dance, etc.  I am so glad I never listened to everyone when they told me to let her cry when she was a baby, I rocked her longer, they told me not to let her get involved, and I soaked in every minute. Unless you have experienced loss, you will never understand.

In 2010 we moved back to Buffalo, to help my in-laws who were both elderly and ill. I went back to the doctor, who I would always credit with helping us to have our daughter. In 2017, through him I ended up having to have a hysterectomy. I did not understand why giving up something that never worked right would be so hard, but it was.  I felt like such a failure as a woman, I could not do what my body was designed for.  In hindsight, he told me after 6 weeks, I would come back and tell him it was the best thing I ever did. He was right. I had a cyst the size of a softball on one ovary and a cyst the size of a cantaloupe on the other, and both tubes were full of infection. He thinks I had an ectopic pregnancy that was never diagnosed. If it were not for him, I could have become septic and died.  So, he not only gave me my daughter, but he saved my life as well. And he was right, it was the best decision ever. No more iron infusions, no more exhausted no matter how long I slept. I could wear white pants.

To honor all our babies, I started working with the children’s hospitals where we lived. I made pillows and blankets to give to parents of stillborn or infant death. So they have something special for them.  I also include seeds for them to plant in their gardens. In death there comes life, and I know that dark feeling that moms of angels feel. Our daughter is an amazing human being. She is kind and sassy, funny, and serious. She is currently in college and will graduate with a paralegal degree as well, walking in mom’s footsteps. I lost my beloved Lady in 2016. Loosing her was rough, she got me through so many of my dark nights that I cried myself to sleep. I have never been able to fix my faith.  I just cannot believe in a god that lets someone suffer so much, while others do not deserve what they have.  But I do tell my story. Not because I want people to feel sorry for me, but for women to not feel alone. I went through this during a time when there was little support. You were to suck it up and just move on, they were not actually babies, or it was meant to be or there had to be something wrong with the baby.  All those things I did not care, they were my babies, my hopes, my dreams, my future grandchildren that will never be.

My hope for the future is many more rainbow babies, and peace for the angel moms that are trying to navigate this path. Do not ever feel like you have to hide your angels, talk about them, it doesn’t matter what people say.  If they ask, when are you going to have kids, tell them, to mind their own business. If they ask why, you have not given your child a sibling, tell them its none of their business.  Do not let anyone shame you.  In case you have not heard it: You are strong, you are amazing, and you will get through this.  It’s not an easy path, and it’s a hard path, but its your path, and you can do it.  Trust your gut, and do not let anyone tell you no.

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