Story of #miscourage by Gillian,
My first daughter was born after an uncomplicated pregnancy.
When we started to try for a sibling, I assumed it would be the same as before. We got pregnant right away - almost before I was ready.
I felt more relaxed than the first time, and made an appointment with our midwife for around 9.5 weeks, in April. She was cheerful with me, then went to do a quick ultrasound; and there was no heartbeat. A missed miscarriage. I was shocked.
We'd assumed everything was fine, so my husband hadn't even come with me to the appointment.
She scheduled a more detailed ultrasound right away and it confirmed the fetus had died at about eight weeks. I had a D&C a couple of weeks later. We were sickened, and sad - maybe more so because, looking at our daughter, we already knew what magic could come from that little 8-week fetus. But we also knew that miscarriages were common, that fertility peaked in the months after one, that our chances were good.
My husband was stricken; I felt philosophical :" These things happen". mother and sister had miscarried before and gone in to have healthy babies. We brushed the sadness off, tried not to dwell, said "not meant to be", kept going. Conceived again three months later (as soon as we tried); excited, planning for a spring baby; lost again, at 5 weeks, in August, almost too early to be real.
Confused, sad, anxious. Feeling a little desperate. Surely after two losses, our chance of a healthy baby drops?
Tried again, every month a roller coaster, awfulness of the cycle of hope and disappointment.
We had a lovely, close, tense holiday in October; afterwards, I wasn't pregnant. We hoped to conceive around Thanksgiving (living in the US), counted the weeks, crossed fingers, were elated to get a positive test just before Christmas. My midwife couldn't see me till the New Year; she had me take daily progesterone, "just as a precaution"; we passed six weeks, eight weeks, nine weeks, began to hope again, began to half-plan, when the baby would be born, when I would take leave, should we get a double stroller?
I started to bleed in the car on the way home from work at the end of January. Wait and see, the midwife said, sometimes it stops by itself. It didn't. I felt the pain like a period and the uterus lining peeling away like someone stripping unwanted wallpaper.
I felt me heart break. I saw my baby pass away from my body, tiny half-formed tadpole-human, held it in my hand in toilet paper. We sobbed in the midwife's office, why, why does this keep happening. No answers. We thought our family would never be complete.
It had been almost a year, the first miscarried baby should have been born.
I had nightmares. I felt myself slip away from reality, start to go a little crazy, desperately envy women with healthy bumps and squeaking infants.
Every weekend seemed to bring new announcements from more-fecund friends. After three losses, the internet told me we were clutching at straws.
I was afraid.
We saw specialists, who found no explanations, proffered IVF at huge costs; one was cruelly condescending, and tiresome on how a women's eggs age with her body.
One was kind, and ran tests. Nothing came up. The midwife told us: most of the time it's chromosomal, a glitch, like a zipper not zipping right; it gets harder as you get older.
I read everything; I conclude that she is basically right. It's a numbers game; but will our number come up? We have to try again. I have drunk almost no alcohol for a year, I have gained weight, I am sad, so sad. I tell my husband I want to stop trying for a month or two, I am afraid of going crazy. I tell my friends that perhaps we will just have one child. I read blogs obsessively, and reconnect with two friends who had their second child in their late 30's ( I am 39) after several losses.
I am afraid to try again, afraid to lose again. I am afraid of falling apart, of not being able to love the daughter I have, who is so precious. I exercise, I stop being so polite, I tell my husband: "I have to have time to myself or I will go mad". I sign up for training courses, spend time overseas, invest in my career, gasp for air.
I read "Inconceivable". More progesterone, baby aspirin, endless kale. It feels like forever. In April, it must be, but it feels longer - I conceive again. We can hardly breathe. I expect him to die. I do not dare to love him, to count the weeks: eight, ten, twelve. We google "daily miscarriage risk". We tell no-one.
The blood tests come back clear. I begin to hope. I buy a fetal heart monitor on the internet and listen whenever I can bear to. Fourteen, fifteen, sixteen, twenty. The hospital says he is healthy, the anatomy scan is good. I begin to believe. I listen more often.
Twenty four. He is kicking, wriggling. We tell our family - nothing on Facebook, which would tempt fate. In January, my son is born, strong and lusty. I write this in October 2017: he is nine months old, constantly smiling, pulling to stand, crawling eagerly after his big sister.
We are so lucky. I feel blessed, and grateful. But also angry at how little science could tell me in that awful year, how little informed our choices were, and my heart breaks for all the women that go through it all and feel alone.
I believe recurrent miscarriage is more common than we think; successful pregnancy after many losses - even 3, 4 or more - is more common than we think; the data is weak; we are left to despair when we need not; more can be done, more should be fought for.
My heart is with all those who grieve, and wait, and hope.
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