#misCOURAGE story, 12/05/2017, by Tiffany Turrell
Let me start by saying that I already have the most beautiful, healthy, happy and fun loving four-year-old girl; I am blessed, she completes me in ways that I always dreamed motherhood would.
From a very young age I could not wait to have a family, I always knew that I would just love being a mom and when I met my now husband almost 10 years ago, it wasn’t long before we started talking about the family we couldn’t wait to have!
Selfishly, I'm writing this piece because it's therapeutic for me, but also so that people can get an insight into what this all too familiar situation is like to live through; and if even one person reads this and finds comfort in this often-lonely situation, then it will be worth putting it out there.
It has been a long and tumultuous 21 months - it has been 21 months since we decided to start trying for another baby.
That was a decision that took us, particularly me, what seemed like a long time to make.
Between changing jobs and buying a house it just never quite felt like the right time, and knowing what I know now, that is a sentence that pains me to write; but with hindsight it's always easier to say I'd have made a different decision.
I guess the best place to start is just to lay it all out there... in September 2015 we decided it was time to expand our family, and give our daughter, Leila, the sibling she had already begun asking for!
After five months of trying to conceive I noticed that my periods started to get extremely heavy, we're talking week long monstrosities that had me racing to the bathroom on an hourly basis and on a cycle of every 22 days (sorry, tmi!!) ... and, given the circumstances, it didn't take long before my iron levels took a dive.
I decided it was time to for a trip to the OB-GYN at the end of January 2016; after falling pregnant with my daughter on the second month of trying I was impatient, but it wasn’t just my impatience that led me there, I knew something was off.
I'm so lucky living in a country like the Cayman Islands, there was no waiting around to see a specialist and no waiting for a diagnosis; my doctor gave me an internal ultrasound on the spot and discovered that my uterus was harboring some unwelcome guests - uterine polyps.
I was scheduled in for a D&C and hysteroscopy the following week.
The procedure was uncomfortable and as it was my first time under general anesthetic it was also very scary for me (anyone who knows me well knows I’m a terrible patient), but it was also quick and went as well as could be.
After a few days to recoup I began thinking about when we could start trying to conceive again, and after my follow up with the doctor she gave us the green light to do so. She even said that often people find they fall pregnant very quickly after a D&C, this gave me hope and I was excited to get going again…
She was right… not even two months later we found out we were pregnant, we were thrilled of course; and having had such a ‘text book’ pregnancy with Leila, I just figured from here on out it would be smooth sailing.
Our baby’s due date was Christmas Day, and all our family were already booked to visit for Christmas, it was fate!
We had our first scan at around eight weeks, and although the doctor mentioned that we were measuring more like 6 - 7 weeks she wasn’t concerned, we were even able to see the heartbeat, which was fantastic.
Over the next few weeks things continued as expected, all seemed to be going OK until a few days before our 12-week scan.
I woke up one morning and noticed some spotting, I wasn’t immediately worried as I had spotted with my first but that was much earlier on in the pregnancy so I remember starting to feel anxious about the fact that we were now at week 12.
Once the doctor’s office opened at 8am I thought I would just give them a quick call to help put my mind at ease. They had a spot open and as I live only a two-minute drive from the OB-GYN’s office they asked me to come in.
We went through the usual checkup - blood pressure, weight etc... and then it was time for the scan.
As our doctor began the ultrasound, her face said all I needed to know, and looking at the screen in front of me only confirmed it.
We had lost our baby.
This moment was officially the most devastating moment of my life so far. Luckily for me, I have an absolute rock for a husband, he was with me at the appointment (as he always is and always has been) and he instantly went it to caregiver mode, even though I know this loss was just as heartbreaking for him as it was me.
Going back to the appointment, before the reality had even really settled in I had to get dressed and go back into my doctor’s office to discuss next steps.
As we started talking about the different options, it became clear that my doctor was recommending I go through the D&C procedure again.
Unfortunately, from the ultrasound she could not be sure that what I had experienced wasn’t a molar pregnancy, which can be dangerous and needs to be removed right away.
I remember in this moment feeling so sorry for myself, and how unfair everything felt. Not only was I losing the baby that I had spent the past 12 weeks falling in love with, but I was now going to have to go through that whole experience of surgery again.
We left the appointment that morning with the surgery scheduled for two days later.
One of the hardest things that followed was telling our family and friends the news; having to say the words out loud was harder than I could have imagined.
Living on a small island where your friends are like family meant that by the time I had gotten to this stage most people already knew I was pregnant and I know that it shouldn’t be this way, but I was embarrassed to see people.
My mum was over visiting us at the time which was great, she was there to help us through the next few days and there to dote on our little one when I went into hospital so that she never knew anything was wrong.
Chris was by my side the whole time, sitting outside the theatre while I went in and there to take care of me coming home – a positive that I can take away from this experience is the reinforcement that my marriage is strong; we are a team, even when we drive each other nuts, there is no one in this world that I’d rather go through the ups and the downs with than him!
The weeks that followed were tough, some good days and some bad.
The surgery went well and when the results came back from the lab they showed no sign of a molar pregnancy which was good news. If it had been molar it makes things a little more complicated and the timing of when you can start trying again increases.
However, unlike last time after surgery, this time I wasn’t ready to start trying right away. I felt like my body needed a bit of time to recoup as well as my mind.
This all happened at the beginning of June 2016, and we had a holiday planned for August back home to the U.K., we decided that we would have a three-month break, enjoy our holiday and see how we felt about trying again later in the year.
Fast forward to September and I was ready to get back to it, a couple of months went by and no luck – I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m a control freak and I’m inpatient so as the months went by my morale quickly changed.
September, October, November – No luck… and as we were approaching Christmas, and what should have been our baby’s due date, my anxiety started to take control.
Anxiety – what a word…one word that can take on so many different forms.
Looking back on my life, I have suffered with anxiety on and off since I was a child; as a young child, I spent an unhealthy amount of time worrying about death, as a teenager I went through years of panic attacks but as I hit adulthood it seemed to rear its ugly head a lot less. Thank god!!
Until last year, last year saw me in and out of the doctors more times that I would like to admit, I was suffering with dizziness and chest pains – all of which I can admit were down to stress.
It’s not that they didn’t exist, believe me, when you are suffering from anxiety, knowing the root of the problem doesn’t make the pain or the symptoms feel any better.
Christmas Day came, and I flipping love Christmas, but this year there was an elephant (or a little angel as I like to think) in the room.
It wasn’t until, over Christmas lunch, I addressed who was missing and how I was feeling that I finally felt a sense of relief to enjoy the rest of the day with our gorgeous girl and family, and move forward.
It was only fitting that two days later I found out I was pregnant again. The timing felt right that we could now move forward and I was quietly optimistic about this pregnancy, but unfortunately it wasn’t long before that optimism diminished when again I started spotting.
We went in for what should have been our 8-week appointment and we found out that there were complications.
It was different to last time, this time we never got to see the heartbeat – which looking back was a relief.
We could see the gestational sac but so far it wasn’t showing far enough along for us to be able to see much more.
Our OB-GYN was hopeful that we may just be behind on our dates and that we would monitor my hCG levels for the next few days to check they were going up, but having been tracking my cycle for the last 18 months I was confident on my dates and knew what was coming.
My husband is ever the optimist, I love that about him as I’m quick to draw on the negative, and he helped keep my spirits up – so we followed doctor’s instructions and over the next week I became a pin cushion at the lab and had my blood taken every 48 hours.
It wasn’t clear cut (when is it ever!!) as my hCG levels continued to rise but just not at the level they should have been. After a week or so and another ultrasound we could see that the sac was still growing but unfortunately there was no fetus inside.
This time I was experiencing what is known as a blighted ovum.
We agreed to wait another week to see if I would miscarry naturally, my OB-GYN was satisfied that I was coping well enough to wait it out and thought that if we could avoid another operation this would be the best option – and avoiding surgery was definitely the preference for us.
A week came and went and I had still not miscarried; the doctor recommended we tentatively mark our calendars for the surgery the following week and if anything happened in the meantime then we would be able to change plans.
Over the weekend, I started experiencing the worst cramps of my life, and after weeks I was still bleeding very heavily.
I just about got through Monday at work and had decided that the surgery wasn’t looking like such a bad option at this point. That night, it finally all came to its conclusion in what I can only describe as a very distressing and brutal experience without wanting to go into too many details.
The human body is a remarkable thing, but it is in these moments that you realize how little control we really have over it.
It’s been over two months since all of this happened and it is amazing how resilient you can become. This time around, whilst it’s not easy and I have good and bad days, I’ve surprised myself with how ready I am to get back up and try again.
These knocks do not make me weaker; our desire to have another baby and a sibling for Leila is stronger than ever.
My relationship with my husband is stronger than ever. I have come to terms with the fact that this process isn’t easy and maybe we will never get there, but I’m not giving up.
We started trying again almost immediately after the last miscarriage and although it’s not happened yet, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the next few months bring some positive news to our family.
For all those people going through a similar situation, I just want to say that you can do this – you never know how strong you are, until being strong is your only choice.
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