Michelle P’s Story

Having babies is supposed to be easy. Let’s face it, if a teenager can get pregnant in the backseat of a Buick, surely an adult woman with a checking account and moderate anxiety can figure it out. However, maybe age was the exact hurdle in my case. Had I waited too long? Had the baby wagon drifted off into the sunset while my eggs gathered dust thanks to that mysterious point in time when we would finally feel “ready”?         

I was 34 years old when my husband and I started trying to conceive. My husband was 49, but I figured that the sperm age doesn’t matter because we’ve all heard the stories of old dads like Tony Randell and Al Pacino. And if those names don’t ring any bells to you, that means that you still have young reproductive organs, and I’m very happy for you. After exactly one month of trying, I was confused by my negative pregnancy test. Had my middle school health teacher lied to us? Wasn’t I supposed to get pregnant on the first try without a condom? I quickly raced to the Internet and found a nice group of women who were also trying to conceive. This community showed me how woefully uneducated I was about my body, and it was quickly revealed that I had a Luteal Phase Defect, which is just a fancy way of saying that I can’t get pregnant without more of the hormone progesterone. Luckily, I found a doctor who prescribed it to me and after seven months of trying, I was pregnant with our healthy baby girl whom we named Madeleine.

Two years later, my husband and I were ready to try again. I felt confident that I had all of the knowledge necessary to get knocked up, and after one month of trying I found myself staring at a positive pregnancy test. I was elated. My goal was always to be done having kids by the time I was 40, and I had just turned 37. At this rate, we could even have a third if we wanted! However, at 4 weeks and 4 days, I started spotting. What was originally pink became red, and what was light became heavy. I went in for an ultrasound at 8 weeks and the baby was measuring two weeks behind with a very low heartbeat. I went back one week later to hear the words, “I’m sorry, but the heart has stopped beating.” My baby had died, but my body wouldn’t let go. Two days later I was wheeled in to have a D&C. All I could think was, “I need to get pregnant again as soon as possible.”

My husband and I took a short break to move out of state and let my body heal. We were also supposed to let ourselves heal emotionally, but I was so obsessed with getting pregnant again and “fixing” the situation that I didn’t spend much time processing. On our fourth month of trying, I found myself pregnant again. I didn’t feel nervous because the odds of having two miscarriages back-to-back are pretty low. Plus, I didn’t want to deal with anything negative, so I promptly stuck my head in the sand that anything bad could happen. But a few days after my positive test I started spotting. I remember looking at myself in the bathroom mirror. My face was flushed and haggard. I thought to myself, “This can’t be happening again.” I begged to get my betas and progesterone tested, but no one would help me. I finally had to order the labs myself because every doctor I spoke to was wildly unhelpful.

At seven weeks I went in for an ultrasound and to my great relief, baby was perfect. Measuring right on track with a healthy heartbeat. A few weeks later, we got our NIPT testing done and found out that we were having a healthy baby boy. I was thrilled, my husband was thrilled, our daughter didn’t totally understand what was happening, but she was happy we were happy. The day after we got our NIPT results, we went in for our NT scan. The ultrasound technician pushed on my stomach, then pushed on it more aggressively. She got quiet then excused herself to use the bathroom. While she was gone my husband and I talked about baby names.

After a few minutes, the tech came back in with my doctor. He asked her to scan me again while he watched on the giant TV screen. The air in the room had shifted; suddenly, it didn’t seem like the time for jokes. And that’s when my doctor turned around and I heard for the second time my least favorite words: I’m sorry, but the heart has stopped beating. I swear that I floated out of my body for a moment. I couldn’t even cry. I felt like nothing was real. This time, I took misoprostol at home. I gave birth to my baby in a toilet, then had to put my toddler down for her nap while soaking through a pad.

This time I couldn’t run from my feelings. I had to confront the devastating loss of two of my babies. I saw a therapist who wasn’t great, but at least I was dealing with things, and my husband and I met with a reproductive endocrinologist. I was benched for months as both my husband and I underwent test after test. Finally, we were given the green light to try to conceive again, but we decided to move out-of-state again.

We found a new RE, and after four failed IUI’s, decided that we were taking a break from medical intervention. We couldn’t afford IVF, and it didn’t seem like the IUI’s were giving us a different result than if we were to just try on our own. I remember thinking, “I can get a negative pregnancy test at home for free.” The first time we tried to get pregnant after making that decision I found myself pregnant again, and boy howdy was I scared. I’m now 34 weeks pregnant with a healthy baby girl, and it’s been a journey.

For awhile, I couldn’t get as excited as I wanted to about the pregnancy because I kept waiting for the rug to get pulled out from under me. To be honest, I’m still nervous. And I know that I’ll continue to be nervous even when she’s here. Going through recurrent pregnancy loss and secondary infertility has challenged me and grown me in ways that I could never have imagined. I feel a stronger bond with my husband, and I’m worried that I hug Madeleine too much because I know what it means to lose a child. I pray every day that I get to take her little sister home. My double rainbow baby.            

I just turned 40, my cut-off age for having kids. I love that my little Gemini doesn’t care about my timeline. And I can’t wait to see all of the surprises that she has in store for us.

Michelle wears a pink dress and the rainbow skirt. She stands on a rock in front of the water and holds her pregnant belly.

Michelle wears a pink dress and the rainbow skirt. She holds her pregnant belly with both hands.

Photos taken by Sunflower Life Photography.

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