I knew pregnancy loss was common. I knew, personally, a handful of women who had experienced it. Most of those women, if not all, experienced it on their very first pregnancy. So it seemed to me at the time that I had been one of the lucky ones. My first pregnancy in 2015 was textbook. I had no reason to believe that subsequent pregnancies wouldn’t be just as smooth.
In January 2018 we were thrilled to find out that we were expecting baby number 2. We told our parents right away. We told our son shortly after that. I told a few coworkers. By 11 weeks, we were so excited to hear a heartbeat. But the appointment didn’t go as planned. And a follow up ultrasound revealed that this baby was not going to be ours to take home. I remember every little detail of that day. The tears still come when I think about it too much. I had been absolutely blindsided by a “missed miscarriage”. My body still chugging along with a pregnancy that was not viable. I opted for medical management because it helped me grieve. I was able to determine the end of my pregnancy (though really, it had already ended). It was the one thing I had control over and I needed that control.
My emotions were all over the place. But I needed to be pregnant. We were missing something vital, a baby that we had expected to arrive in September. Time went on, and no pregnancy came with it. By August, I was a disaster mentally. I looked into counseling and left a voicemail with one covered by my insurance. She could sense from my message how difficult it had been and we scheduled an appointment for the following week. And days later, I was surprised by another positive pregnancy test. It was a holiday so I had to wait an extra day to call and schedule labs. After a weekend away, I tested again and it didn’t look the same. Lighter, less noticeable. Tuesday afternoon I went in for blood work. By the time they called with the results Wednesday morning, I already knew it wasn’t going to take. They confirmed that the HCG in my blood was borderline “not pregnant”. The month I should have been holding a newborn was the same month I had a second loss. I was crushed.
Imagine my surprise when the very next month, we got yet another positive test. Multiple rounds of bloodwork looked good. An early ultrasound showed that while a bit behind where we expected, the baby looked good and had a heartbeat. But I didn’t feel good about it. I wanted to, I tried. But despite the nurse at the OBs office reassuring me this was normal and that the Dr was pleased, I wasn’t sure. I wish I could say it was all in my head. But, just over a week later, I started bleeding. A trip to the ER confirmed what I already knew. Loss number 3, another missed miscarriage. The baby had stopped growing just after that first ultrasound. You never expect to have 1 miscarrage even though 25% of all pregnancies end in loss. But I truly never imagined being in the 1% that experience more than 1. But still, I knew our family was not complete. I pulled myself up and reached out to a fertility clinic. Something wasn’t right. We could find it and we could fix it.
In December 2018, we had a consultation with the specialist, a reproductive endocrinologist. He ran so many tests. I gave 17 vials of blood in 1 day. By January, we had a diagnosis. Unexplained Secondary Infertility and Recurrent Pregnancy Loss. Unexplained. That isn’t a word you want in any medical diagnosis. “Unexplained” isn’t fixable, isn’t really treatable. “Unexplained” is just nothing wrong despite not being right. But something was wrong, it had to be. The doctor came up with a treatment plan. It wasn’t much, but it was more than we had before.
Testing day came in February. The 14th was the day they told me to test but I couldn’t see a negative on that day and there was no way our first month of treatment was going to be successful. We were already at the 1yr anniversary of our first loss. The 14th wasn’t the day for heartache so I asked if a day early would be okay, they said it was. So on the 13th, I took the test. Positive. It was positive. I wanted to be overjoyed. I wanted to daydream about the future. But how could I do those things? I was terrified. Could I survive a fourth loss? More blood tests were scheduled. Everything was going well. At about 6 weeks pregnant, we went to the clinic for a viability ultrasound. There was the most perfect little baby, with a beautiful and strong heartbeat. Because the 7 week mark was a difficult one for me to hit the previous year, they agreed to bring me in 1 more time before discharging me to my OB. So again, a week later, we went back and there it was, still beating strong as the week before, our daughter’s beautiful heart. A year after our pain began, the healing process started. The rest of my pregnancy went smoothly. In October, our sweet rainbow arrived. She was worth it in every way. All the pain was worth it when I looked into her eyes.
I swore I was done. The road to her was so difficult for us. My heart was so full of love for her and our son. What more could we possibly need? But soon, our family didn’t feel quite so complete. So, at the end of 2020, we decided to have one more. We went right to the fertility clinic (virtually of course), we knew we didn’t want to delay the inevitable or risk more pain. I had so much hope for our first treatment. And it was well placed, it was successful. Our 3rd baby was coming. But sadly, that pregnancy didn’t take either. I now had 4 losses. My husband thought maybe it was a sign that we shouldn’t move forward. But that didn’t feel right to me. We decided to keep going. The following month, we were expecting again. After several blood draws and lots of ultrasounds, we confirmed that this baby was going to be coming home with us. We welcomed him into our lives just over a week ago and he is everything we thought he would be.
We’ll never know why things happened the way they did but I’ve mostly come to terms with that. As painful as it was to walk this path, these little beings in my life make it all 100% worth it.
Photos taken by TTLB Photography.
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