Shane and I got married in 2013. We have both always wanted to have kids and didn’t really feel any pause in that decision. We also had never heard of anyone in our circle struggling to get pregnant. We started trying in 2014 and quickly became pregnant. We went for our first ultra sound and found there was no heartbeat and subsequently had to have a D&C procedure to remove the pregnancy. About two years later we were ready to try again and again, quickly became pregnant. This time around we decided not to tell anyone until after the first ultrasound, unfortunately we didn’t even make it to that point. We were visiting my Grandma at her assisted living condo and I remember feeling strong cramps before we walked inside and about an hour later I had started bleeding. I knew what was happening. The miscarriage happened naturally so we didn’t need to have another procedure done. After my second miscarriage I talked to my OB about potential issues with fertility; she referred me to Shady Grove Fertility. After a couple appointments with SGF I was referred to an endocrinologist where I was diagnosed with PCOS and hypothyroidism. I began medications to help stabilize both of those issues and it was thought that was the reasoning my pregnancies weren’t maintaining.
Over the next several years we weren’t preventing, but no other pregnancies happened. Fast forward to July 2019, my Dad passed away unexpectedly. For Christmas, my brothers and I booked a medium reading for my Mom. Most of us felt skeptical but we figured it couldn’t hurt even if nothing of importance came from the experience. During our session, the medium looks at Shane and I and says, “Are you all trying to have a baby? If so, your Dad is telling me to tell you it’s going to happen. It’s going to happen naturally and you don't need to go forward with any treatments you’ve been considering. I see him holding a baby boy.” Maybe it’s just me but that’s pretty specific. She had no way of knowing any of that information. She then said, “I see that Fall is going to be important, I don’t know how and I don’t want to get your hopes up but something is going to happen in the Fall.”
Life continues as usual.
The day before my bday, March 8th, I decided to take a pregnancy test even though it was 6 days before my period was due to start. Honestly, I took one almost every month just out of habit, there was no driving force or symptoms that caused me to do so. I had little to no hope that I was ever pregnant, but for whatever reason I still checked. On March 7th I took a pregnancy test and I saw the faintest second pink line. I sat on the bed for a few minutes in shock and I cried. Shane wasn’t home at the time but I needed a minute to process the news myself. Every day after the first positive test, I continued taking more tests to see if the line darkened and/or remained the same. I told Shane two days later. I didn’t tell him in a romantic way or with a grand gesture. When you have had losses, you’re more focused on guarding yourself and frankly you don't really have the desire to announce to anyone only to lose the baby. Shortly after finding out I was pregnant, Covid showed up. I scheduled blood work with my PCP to confirm my pregnancy and had repeat blood work done two days after to ensure my hormone levels were rising as they should. They were.
Now I was at the point where I needed to schedule my first ultrasound, unfortunately because of the virus Shane was not able to attend the appointment with me. I wasn’t excited or nervous. Again, I set my expectations very low, expecting the worst. I was prepared to hear that there was no heartbeat when the tech said, “There’s a heartbeat, it’s a strong 170." Shane texted me after I sent him our first ultrasound photo saying, "I love you, I'm so happy!" I keep replaying that in my head. My due date is November 19, 2020, that’s this Fall, whoa. I'm still having a hard time feeling excited, it feels wrong to be happy with my Dad not here. If we were to never have a baby and that meant my Dad could still be here, I’d choose that option every time. The other part of the lack of excitement is the “survivor’s” guilt; even though we have been waiting and wanting for several years to have a baby, I feel guilt that it's finally happening for us. I know there are others who will wait, and try every avenue and still not end up with a baby of their own. Just a few weeks ago, we were in that place, a place where we were trying to get used to the idea that we weren’t going to be having biological kids of our own.
I wrote the above a few months ago.
Fast forward to today, it's now August. On July 2nd I went in for my anatomy scan; we had never made it to 20 weeks before so a small part of me was hopeful! Every appointment leading up to this appointment had gone smoothly and they were always able to hear or see the heartbeat. I had all of the typical pregnancy symptoms, though very mild. In a strange way I liked having symptoms because it meant that things were progressing and our baby was growing. I'm sure you're able to foreshadow where i'm going at this point. At the anatomy scan, the tech began her measurements as we were waiting for the Dr to join us in the room, the tech kept repeating, "that's the sound of your blood flow" which would make sense in a few minutes. As soon as the Dr stepped into the room, the tech asked to see him in the hallway. Immediately I knew something was wrong. The Dr reentered and I said, "What's wrong?" "Well, it's significant..." "There's no heartbeat, is there?" "No, there's not." Again, I was alone hearing news that I prepared myself to hear from the moment I found out I was pregnant, but I was 20 weeks, how was this happening?
Within a few minutes we were talking about my options to "deliver" our baby boy. There was no way that I was going to deliver a non-living child, especially for the first time, if I had the choice. I opted to have a D&E procedure. It involves a bit more than the D&C procedure I had in the past, simply because I was further along. This was harder because I had heard the heartbeat, I had seen our baby's profile, feet, hands, etc. This was harder because we knew we were having a boy and found out together. It felt like it was finally our turn. My Dr was able to run some testing during my surgery and all of those results came back "normal" which is almost more frustrating. Instead, there's no reason why this baby made it this far along and then just didn't. I didn't realize it at the time my surgery was scheduled but it was the same date, exactly a year later, that my Dad my went into cardiac arrest and was admitted into the same hospital. That was a really uncomfortable feeling. So, this is our 3rd miscarriage, and for this baby, the term "miscarriage" seems so inappropriate.
All while staying cautious, I had just started ordering some baby clothes and we had just cleared out a room that would eventually become the nursery. Today, that room is completely empty. I have since packed up any gifts that had been sent to us, the sonograms, pregnancy tests, clothing, books, and even cookies used to tell our families we were expecting. Looking back, I wish I allowed myself to feel excited because that may be it for us. Hindsight, huh?
This is one of those situations where you won't understand how it feels unless you've lived it. I'm angry and sad and bitter. Our relationship won't get to change because we have children and are starting a new adventure, but it has changed as we've struggled with infertility and loss throughout our entire marriage. It has affected all of my relationships in some way, mostly with Shane, of course. Every part of our lives has had a metaphorical room ready for a baby for years, and this time around even a physical room. While I was pregnant, I kept commenting to Shane that I felt like SO many people were pregnant at the same time (still are). It sort of makes me think about when you buy a new car, suddenly you begin noticing "your car" everywhere. When I see announcements, updates and pictures, it's impossible not to think about where we would've been in our pregnancy. I don't like to make it about me, I care very much about other people. I can be happy for them and sad for me. Both feelings can co-exist.
Again, you just don't know until you know. Quite frankly, it feels like a cruel joke that we even got pregnant this last time. Before the loss of our son, my early miscarriages had been the hardest losses to experience, and as I keep telling people who feel shameful about their complaints, it's all relative. You can't compare losses or hard situations; my feelings don't lessen yours and my loss is not greater.
There are so many secondary losses that are starting to come to the surface. I feel like infertility has consumed my every thought for the past 6+ years. I'll admit i've been very fortunate to have support from our friends and family but at the end of the day they can only say and do so much. They won't and can't understand. Just like I don't understand their struggles in being a parent, or the longing for a spouse. I have Shane. I have no idea how I would have made it to this point without him. He's been the small bit of optimism while i've been in the trenches. I've allowed myself to stay here in the dark because that's where it's comfortable and that's where I know. With the loss of our son, we're also grieving the loss of having a baby by a certain age, having a baby alongside my siblings, having a child that grows up with my friend's children, a house and a car bought with a family in mind, jobs i've turned away because of my due date, and feeling like I'm an outsider to my friends in the season of life I want so badly to be part of.
I often wonder what it's like to decide to have a baby and then...have a baby. I wonder what it's like to fall in love with your spouse all over again after seeing them with your baby. I wonder what it's like to have intimacy without the stress and burden of trying for a baby at all the right times, month after month. I wonder what it's like to focus on something other than wanting a baby. I'm writing this for me and for anyone else who needs to hear more of this. I don't want to feel guilt for feeling the way I do or to feel any shame in talking about it. The same goes for you, if you got pregnant on "accident", if you got pregnant on your honeymoon, or after any length of time, none of this changes the happiness and joy felt for you. Again, both feelings can co-exist. For those of you who are always willing to listen, thank you for hearing me.