Next month, October 15th is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. I am dedicating this post to Share’s Walk of Remembrance & the Wave of Light in support of infertility and pregnancy loss and shattering the stigma. You can find a list of all the amazing bloggers on this blog tour here.
I never thought any of this would happen to us. Hell, I’m still trying to absorb the fact that we are fighting this battle every single day. Four years of struggling with infertility and suffering multiple miscarriages and here we are, still standing but no baby in our arms.
Matt & I have been married four years next month. We knew we wanted children ASAP, so we wasted no time in trying. It’s been a dream of mine to not only become a mother, but to give my parents the gift of grandchildren. I knew they’d be killer at it. So, we invested in the handy dandy Clearblue Ovulation Predictor kit and started tracking my ovulation. Only, I never got the blinking smiley face that meant ovulation. Something wasn’t right.
A year passed and we still weren’t pregnant. I went to see my OB and was put on Clomid to induce ovulation. Three months later, still no luck. I remember having such HIGH hopes for Clomid. I had SO many friends that had taken it and gotten pregnant within the first few months. I figured — a few months and we’ll be golden. WRONG. WAY WRONG.
We then made the decision to go to a fertility clinic, Advanced Fertility Centers of Chicago. I was nervous, anxious, excited…you name it, I felt it. We did three IUI cycles with injectables, all were failures. Not even a speck of that second pink line on a pregnancy test.
To better our chances, we took the leap towards in-vitro fertilization (IVF). This was it. There was no way this wasn’t going to work, right? They put the sperm and egg together in a petri dish, then put the embryo in me, and BOOM – we are pregnant. And baby comes nine months later?!!? WRONG. WAY WRONG.
Our first embryo transfer was November 18, 2014. I cheated and took a pregnancy test a few days before my blood beta test and it was negative so I immediately was disappointed & crushed. I thought it was over. My beta was on Thanksgiving that year, so I drove to the clinic to have blood taken then drove to WI to be with my family. I’ll never forget the phone call that changed my life. My beta was 55 and I was pregnant! I was at my parents house while my husband was hunting. Let me tell you, the hours you wait to hear from the nurse your beta results (positive or negative) is the WORST. DREADFUL and FEELS LIKE DAYS. I hid in the walk-in closet while the nurse told me the news. With my hand over my mouth and tears in my eyes, I was ecstatic. My mom came in to find me crying and I remember shaking my head “yes” at her that I was pregnant. It was a moment I’ll never forget. I took a picture of our youngest pup, Duncan, with the words “I’m gonna be a big brother” and sent it off to my husband. He called me immediately and there was nothing but silence and tears on that phone.
I ran to my car because I had a present for my parents if we had become pregnant. I gave it to my mom and dad and they opened it. It was an ornament for their Christmas tree. A little glass bulb, with baby booties swinging on the inside that said “Coming August 2015” and I told my dad he was going to be a grandpa. It was one of the best days of my life.
My betas continued to rise in the “normal” range, so I wasn’t really ever worried. I had heard of miscarriages, sure, and even had family + friends suffer loss, but I never really thought it would happen to me. I had some light brown spotting and cramping a few days before our first ultrasound but was told it was normal, so I was nervous but tried to think nothing of it. On my 30th birthday at 6 weeks 3 days pregnant, on December 18th, our ultrasound revealed that there was no heartbeat. The four worst words I’ve ever heard throughout this entire journey — THERE IS NO HEARTBEAT.
I remember clear as day leaving in tears. Calling my mom to tell her the horrible news and just crying. I left feeling so empty. I immediately started questioning what I did wrong to lose this precious baby.
My RE prescribed me the medication (I believe it was misoprostol) to help induce the miscarriage. It took me a couple days to get up the courage to take the meds. I was scared of the pain. I took the pills that weekend and miscarried our first child. It was painful, it was bloody, it was emotional. It was trips to the bathroom about every 30 minutes. I just wanted it over.
I will never forget the conversation I had with my dad in the days following our first miscarriage. He was a man of few words, so this meant the world to hear. We talked on the phone and he said, “Well, from what I’ve heard, these things can be rough. So make sure you take it easy.” That’s it. Those few words, meant the world to me and will stick with me the rest of my life. Sadly, we lost my dad to cancer on March 5, 2015. It was very sudden and unexpected, but I’m blessed to have countless memories with him.
You see, sometimes people don’t know what to say when you’re suffering a miscarriage. But what I want you to know, is that even a “sorry” or “we are thinking of you” can mean the world. We’ve gone through some of our miscarriages without even hearing from family or some close friends (probably because they don’t know what to say) and it stings. Don’t be afraid to reach out. It’s better than not saying anything at all and it will make their day.
We still had three frozen embryos from our first retrieval so I was anxious to try again. Our clinic wanted us to wait two cycles before trying again after a miscarriage, so it would be a couple months break. Our second embryo transfer was April 21, 2015. One embryo did not survive the thaw, so after this transfer we had no embryos left. Once again, we got pregnant and my beta was 107. It continued to rise and was showing promise, but we were still extremely cautious.
I was at my mom’s for the weekend and she went to church on Sunday morning, May 17, 2015. For whatever reason, I decided to stay home that morning — usually I’d go with her. And thank God I did. I was just 6 weeks pregnant, and I started having strong twinges/cramps and when I went to the bathroom, the toilet bowl was red. Bright red blood. And I knew. It was over. Once again, we were having another miscarriage. I was losing another baby. Our child. Tears streamed down my face, I crawled in the fetal position on the bed, and called my husband to tell him the devastating news. And I just sobbed. I tried calling my mom several times, but her phone was on silent (she was in church, duh) but when she got home and saw me, she just knew. She held me and we both cried our eyes out together.
I just wanted to be with my husband so I got my stuff together and made the two hour drive back home. Which wasn’t the best idea. My miscarriage had just started when I left my mom’s. So the entire two hour drive, my body was trying to force everything out via contractions/painful cramps, and I was fighting to keep it in until I got home. I barely made it home before it all came out. I was covered in blood and I remember we had to throw my pants away.
I laid down the rest of the day, making a few more trips to the bathroom. We went to my RE the next morning and an ultrasound confirmed what we already knew – there was no baby. I had already discarded everything. I remember leaving the exam room, walking right past my nurse and RE, and went straight to our car, with tears streaming down my face.
I felt empty. At a complete loss. Devastated. Like I had no life left in me. Literally.
It was time to take a step back from things and take a few months break. Our next retrieval we did PGS testing on all the embryos. We had our third and fourth embryo transfers on September 15, 2015 and October 29, 2015. Neither took. BFN x 2.
Bring on our fifth embryo transfer on January 7, 2016 of two PGS normal embryos. I took quite a few pregnancy tests during my TWW and none were promising. I kept thinking I saw a line, but then wasn’t sure if it was my eyes tricking me. I knew I wasn’t pregnant, so I asked my nurse if I could change my blood test from Saturday to Monday – she said ok, as long as I kept up my meds until blood test.
Monday rolled around (by this time I was 11dp5dt) and my nurse called me around noon. She said, “well, your number isn’t crazy high but you’re pregnant.” UMM, WHAT?! I was in shock. My beta was 32. Holy shit. I was pregnant. Again, we were cautious with such a low number, but we knew the embryos we transferred were “normal” so we were hoping we had that in our favor.
Once again, my betas continued to rise like they should. Until I was 5 weeks 3 days pregnant and I was getting ready for work. I started having strong cramps and twinges so I laid down in the fetal position on the bed. I went to the bathroom and once again, bright red blood. Blood tests confirmed that my HcG levels had dropped significantly, we had lost our third child.
We had a sixth embryo transfer on April 18, 2016 of our final PGS embryo and it didn’t take.
I have had three miscarriages in two years. I will never forget when they happened, where I was, or exactly how painful each one felt physically and emotionally. And most importantly, I will never ever ever forget our children, when they would have been due, and how old they would be now. Not a day goes by that we don’t think of them.
My cousin and his wife sent the most magical, thoughtful gift to us after our third miscarriage. It’s an angel feather inside blown glass. It’s a constant reminder that whispers of loved ones are near and beauty and even rainbows can be seen through tears. We see it everyday and it means so much to us.
If it were up to me, I wouldn’t be sitting on this couch and writing this blog post. I should be in the hospital right now, giving birth to our baby. I was due on September 24, 2016. Two days from now and five days after my dad’s birthday.
Instead, I am here as an infertility warrior, advocate, and supporter. I AM HERE AS A MOTHER. Sharing my story to shatter the stigma. I have never seen or heard my baby’s heartbeat, I have never felt my baby kick, and I have never been able to look down and see a baby bump. I have never had the joy and excitement in decorating a nursery. Instead, our extra room sits empty and is a constant reminder of what we don’t have and what we have lost. And I may never know what that’s like to have any of those things. I may only know what it feels like to be pregnant for six+ weeks, but it’s enough for me to know it’s the best feeling in the world.
I want to ask you to please post your own Walk of Remembrance photos to social media using #ShareWalk2016 and to please light a candle for the Wave of Light on October 15th at 7pm using #WaveofLight #pregnancyandinfantlossawareness. Let’s shatter the stigma together and help raise awareness.