I, like any girl growing up in the millennium, was on birth control on and off since my teenage years. You name a birth control pill brand; I was probably on it at one point. Including the depot prevera shot, and the NuVa ring. Getting pregnant was probably my BIGGEST fear along as it was all of my girlfriends during our teen and college years. NOTHING was more terrifying. However, I still always had this tiny little fear in the back of my mind that I would not be able to have children. Maybe because of how strong my desire was to have children, the reality of there being problems was also frightfully in perspective.
We got married in August when I was 26 and a half and thought I was ahead of the fertility game. None of my friends were having babies, or even talking about having babies. But I hesitantly went off the pill to just “see what happens”. My Husband wasn’t yet thinking seriously about children, and I think this kind of scared him. So… where was this “28 day cycle” that every woman had? I think my first cycle was 46 days, and many negative pregnancy tests later. But still…I told myself, I was just on birth control for the last 10 years.. I had to give my body some time to adjust, right, right?! Four months later… long irregular cycle after long irregular cycle… and no positive pregnancy test. All of the fear throughout highschool and college amounted to nothing. What happened to “it only took one time” and “the pull and pray method never works!” pfft. I was discouraged and worried. I started to do some research about menstrual cycles, ovulation, luteal phases. I basically could have a degree in Gynecology at this point I researched so much. I started to chart my temperatures and bought ovulation tests. Ovulation tests! How exciting! First month… negative after negative ovulation test- until Cycle day 18- positive! So we dutifully had sex. Still, I did not think I would get pregnant. I think every woman who is fresh in their TTC (Trying to Conceive) journey never REALLY believes it’s going to happen. Fourteen days later and I was waiting for my period. When my period was a day late I didn’t really give it to much thought and took a pregnancy test basically “for fun”.
I privately went to the bathroom upstairs without saying anything to my husband and took a test. It was positive!!!! Holy Hell!!! I was so freaked out; I screamed for my husband to come upstairs and then instantly started hyperventilating and crying. It was just- well, shocking! I demanded he go get another test, because this couldn’t possibly be right. But yes- they were all positive.
Strangely, I was very much aware of miscarriage and very much afraid of it. But I just assumed that was my pessimistic, anxious nature. When we told our parents (a week later like any naïve first-timer) I prefaced it with “It’s early but….” And “Well… it’s still early”. To tell my own mom, who was waiting for grandchildren since her nest had emptied, I invited my parents over and wrapped tiny little baby carriages in a box for them to open. She cried she was so excited. When I again prefaced it with how early I was, my mom scoffed at me and said “Stop it! You’re pregnant! You’re going to have a baby!” and I thought, she’s right… I’m pregnant, there will be a baby.
Two weeks later, I went to use the bathroom… and there it was, just a little bit of brown discharge in my underwear. I ultimately knew it was over. When I started bleeding heavily a few hours later, the utter disappointment was overwhelming. Only someone who has suffered pregnancy loss could understand those feelings. It wasn’t the loss of a child per say to me, it was just the loss of what could have been.
My future. Our future.
See no one ever tells you when you get a positive pregnancy test, your whole world changes. You instantly imagine what color you’re going to paint the nursery, what names you might choose, how you’ll tell your friends, and so on. All of that comes crashing down in an instant. You go from elation to utter despair in a matter of moments. It’s a lot for the psyche to bare.
After the miscarriage, I became obsessed with getting pregnant again. Maybe it was just pure instincts or maybe I just adamantly wanted what I couldn’t have. I think I was chasing that feeling again. The happiness, the excitement, the joy of expecting a baby. I had panic attacks thinking that I would be a “Recurrent Miscarriager”. I convinced myself that I was sure I had a really heavy period in college and that it was probably a miscarriage. That this probably happened before and it will happen again. Once again, I chocked it up to my paranoid nature. Maybe I manifested my own destiny by putting these thoughts out into the universe, I’ll never know. But two long, irregular, cycles later- I got another positive pregnancy test. I was scared, but thought the statistics are on my side. Two days later.. I got my period. This is what they call a “chemical pregnancy”, where the fertilized egg implanted but something went wrong really early on. If we weren’t in the days of what I like to call “information entitlement” where everyone feels they need to know everything there is to know and as soon as possible, I wouldn’t have even known I was pregnant.
Now I was sure something was wrong with me, and that I would never be able to have children. The next two cycles were a blur of despair really. At this point it had been a year since we were married and some friends had started to announce they were pregnant, including….my younger sister in law who had gotten married that spring. I was blind with envy. The “Why not me” and “it’s not fair” phase of my life. I wasn’t proud of it, but I was only human after all. It would be the first grandchild on my husband’s side and as selfish as it was, I could only think “that should be us”. I look back on these days with shame that I could not muster up some feeling of happiness for them. The jealousy was all-consuming. (I would like to add that my niece is now a bouncy toddler who makes me laugh almost daily and my sister-in-law has and continues to inspire my own parenting style.)
Come August of 2013- a positive pregnancy test!! Again!! At this point, I tried to adapt a “whatever will be, will be” attitude… until I started spotting a week later. I called my Gynecologist and they did a blood test. My HCG (pregnancy hormone) was high but my progesterone was low. They prescribed 100mg progesterone supplements and in so many words said “it’s in Gods hands”. Although I knew in my heart it was inevitable I was going to miscarry, I was still gutted when it happened. Miscarriage #3. This last miscarriage was a very physical one, I hemorrhaged, had a D&C and hemorrhaged some more. Three pregnancies and three miscarriages in the course of a year was mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausting. I felt like I was somehow abusing my body; I felt fragile- but I did not want to give up or take a break, I was even more determined to have a child.
I decided to seek a fertility specialist. At our first meeting, I remember feeling quite intimidated by all of the awards and articles on the wall of his office. I remember thinking “this guy is important”. He asked me some questions, and assured me that I did the right thing by setting up the consult. I left his office feeling rejuvenated and hopeful again. He set a plan of action that day which consisted of a slough of blood tests, an HSG (A camera is inserted through your cervix into your uterus), and recommended vitamins for both me and my husband to take. The results of my HSG were great, a “beautiful uterus” he said. My bloodwork came back normal too except for the gene mutation MTHFR A-type. It is a gene mutation that has to do with the breakdown of folic acid. From my research, it is still a fairly new link to recurrent miscarriage and not a lot is known about the A-type mutation. The better known C-type mutation is linked to blood clotting disorders and ultimately miscarriage. My fertility doctor didn’t seem fazed by this and just prescribed a high dose of folic acid. He hypothesized that my long irregular cycles were to blame. He thinks that in layman’s terms my eggs were “over-cooking”, being released too late and therefore were already damaged by the time they were fertilized. I somewhat agree with his theory and somewhat don’t, I will go into that later. His plan of action was simple: clomid to regulate my ovulation and baby aspirin and high dose progesterone as a standard recurrent miscarriage recommendation.
Cycle 1: My husband was traveling for work over the days I would be ovulating. Another setback, I was devastated. I simply could not wait any longer. But I picked myself up and thought- I waited this long, I can wait some more. We dtd (did the deed-lingoon trying to conceive forums for having sex) before he left but didn’t expect anything to happen. It was 3 days before I ovulated, the chances of getting pregnant were very slim. I had started to spot at the time I was due for my period. No surprise there. Except something crazy happened. I had a very vivid dream… actually; this didn’t feel like a dream, this felt like a message. I am a “fairweather” Catholic despite my Mother’s wishes and am a skeptic at best… but I do believe in something, whatever something is. In the dream I look down and had a pregnant belly (which if anyone is trying desperately to get pregnant understands this is such a strong desire) and then I was what I can only describe as “shown” into my womb. I explicitly remember seeing a full term, healthy, baby girl with fair features. The image will forever be ingrained in my memory. I took a test that day: positive.