Did you know that 1 in 4 pregnancies ends in miscarriage?It’s truly an eye-opening statistic.What it means is you or someone you know has experienced the loss of a pregnancy at least one time. Being immersed in the infertility community for close to a decade and being on my own fertility journey for that same amount of time, I’ve encountered hundreds of women who have experienced the loss of a pregnancy, myself included.In our community we see miscarriages every day and it’s something that we can all agree feels to be the most isolating and heartbreaking experience a person can go through.
I remember back in 2013, brand new in the world of infertility, we had just had our first failed IUI and were headed feet first into our second, guns blazing, hope at an all-time high that this one would work.We had tried for two years naturally to conceive, and we felt that with the help of a reproductive endocrinologist we might finally get to become parents.For our second IUI we decided to use injectable medication to produce follicles this time (Follistim) and all was going to plan.Two weeks after the procedure I was sent in to have my levels tested for pregnancy (beta/HCG) and we were hoping for that magic number of over 50.When we got the call from the nurse, she said my level was at 20, she said I should remain cautiously optimistic because she had seen pregnancies go both ways with these levels.
It’s common practice that when going through infertility treatments HCG levels are drawn every 48 hours to verify that the levels are doubling as they should be.Usually, patients go for beta draws two to three times within 9-14 days post treatment.Commonly referred to as the “two week wait” or TWW in the community, it is a grueling wait that takes a massivetoll on your mental state. Often you find yourself Googling symptoms and taking every little twinge and pull as a hopeful sign.
When our second beta level was drawn it came back at a 50, so it had more than doubled, but our nurse still reminded us to stay cautiously optimistic.They wanted us to take the weekend and then go back Monday for a 3rdand hopefully final beta.I remember being so nervous, excited, and hopeful, but also very naïve in the beginning of our journey.I took my first ever pregnancy test and the faintest line (a “squinter” as we call them) showed up in the palest of pink on the test.To the untrained eye it would be looked at as a negative, but to someone with infertility it was a definite positive.I clung so so hard to hope andenvisioned myself being pregnant and my husband and I finally being parents after 2 years of trying.And then it happened, the gushes of red blood, running to the bathroom, the diaper-sized pads.I knew exactly what was happening.Google told me that red blood was bad. I was crushed.
On Monday I went in for my 3rdbeta and when they called they told me the levels had dropped and I could stop my meds and prepare for another follow up (WTF appointment) with my doctor to plan the next steps.I remember having the absolute hardest time wrapping my head around what was happening because I was pregnant for such a short period of time.It took me a few years to call it what it was, a miscarriage.Instead, I would refer to it as a chemical pregnancy, but they are truly one in the same.For the longest time I didn’t feel as though my loss mattered as much because it was so brief.
We tried a 3rdIUI but my body over responds to the follicle stimulating medication and I produced several follicles instead of just the one or two that they prefer for IUI so we had to cancel.We decided to jump into IVF just a few months later and around that time I had heard my nurse refer to my loss as a miscarriage.I still struggled with that term for a long time but eventually got the courage to call it what it was.
As we continued our journey to become parents through IVF from July of 2014 to December of 2015 we were faced with many challenges; mostly coming to terms with the fact that although I could produce lots and lots of eggs, we couldn’t produce a pregnancy.Over the year and a half of IVF between three different clinics I had 60 eggs retrieved over the span of 3 retrievals.Of those, less than a dozen grew to the stage of “blastocyst” which is the stage where embryos are typically transferred back into the uterus signifying I had problematic egg quality.We did 3 fresh and 3 frozen transfers, 9 total embryos made with my eggs and never once achieved a pregnancy.
By the end of December 2015 we were over 2 years into our journey with infertility and over 4 years of trying to become parents.We had lost pretty much all hope as we experienced failed cycle after failed cycle with never even a glimmer of pregnancy.I would often think back to my IUI in 2013 and my resulting pregnancy, and although it was brief, it gave me hope, I hung onto that very hard, but eventually believed it must’ve been a one-time thing because none of my IVF cycles worked.
It was at the end of 2015 as I waited for the results of my last embryo transfer with the final two embryos made from my eggs when I got a message on facebook from a stranger.She was offering herself as a surrogate or egg donor after reading my blog and following my story on social media.She said she could tell how badly I wanted to become a mom and she felt a calling to help us even though we were total strangers.Because of her we were able to become parents via known egg donation.She gave us 6 embryos one of which is now our 5 year old daughter Georgia.
We’ve tried three times now to give our sweet girl a sibling.In July of 2018 we did our first sibling cycle and experienced another loss.We wasted no time trying for a second time and went for another sibling cycle transfer that same October, and finally we were pregnant again!My HCG came back almost as high as it was when I was pregnant with Georgia at 909 and we felt very confident that this pregnancy was finally progressing as it should.Unfortunately, when we went in for our first ultrasound to confirm the pregnancy we found out our single embryo had split into two and I had a blighted ovum (an empty sac) and another sac with a baby measuring about a week behind and had no heartbeat.We were absolutely devastated.I had a D&C a few weeks later.I couldn’t believe we were experiencing another loss, this one being the worst one yet.Since that time we have tried one more transfer in February 2020 and unfortunately that cycle failed.We have two embryos remaining in storage with no plans as to if we willuse them or not.We always envisioned ourselves with multiple children but more than ever it looks like we might be parents to an only child and we are absolutely so grateful and happy to be her parents.
This past March I experienced something I never thought I would.I was on what I thought was my period which I felt had come a tad early, but didn’t think too much of it.I was at work and was bleeding unusually heavily, filling up a tampon within just a few minutes and leaking into a pad twice, I text my husband and called my doctor.They told me head to the ER because these symptoms were not normal whatsoever.I told the ER doctor about my history with infertility and that there was zero percent chance that I could be pregnant, but he wanted to run some bloodwork to rule it out for sure before proceeding with anything else.I told my husband he could go ahead and leave and I’d keep him posted, I honestly figured it was just my hormones changing because I had been experiencing heavier periods.The ER doctor came back and told me that my pregnancy test was positive and that I had a complete miscarriage. I was in total shock.I couldn’t believe it.I had never ever been pregnant naturally in my entire life at 35 years old and almost 10 years of being infertile.They drew my beta and it was below a 5 so they ruled it as a miscarriage.I took a pregnancy test at home and there it was, that pale pink line—again to the untrained eye would probably be considered a negative, but to those of us who have obsessed over tests, pulling them out of the garbage, viewing them in different lighting, it was there.
No matter the circumstances of your miscarriage, whether you were 4 weeks pregnant or 8 weeks, or 15 weeks, no matter the length of time, your loss matters.Your feelings are valid, and you’re allowed to be angry, sad, heartbroken, jealous, exhausted, withdrawn, whatever the case may be, because you lost your baby.Although there are reasons for miscarriages, none of those reasons take away the fact that you’ve lost your child.The grief, the wondering, the what if’s will always be there, sometimes in the forefront of your mind, sometimes as an afterthought living quietly in the back of your memories.Surrounding yourself with the support of your spouse, family, friends, community, support group, whatever the case may is the best advice I can give to someone who is going through the loss of a pregnancy.You are not alone.