This is not a club you want to belong to. This is not a club you want a membership for. But this club brings women together in their loss, healing, grief, and sorrow. It’s a secret club that not many people talk about. It’s not advertised, it’s not recommended and it’s definitely not free. The miscarriage club. The “loss of a child” club. I promise you, you don’t want to be a member of this club.
I spent my entire life trying NOT to get pregnant. I started birth control in college to help with cramps and remember, on a few haphazard occasions, praying and hoping for my period to start. When it finally did, there was always a huge sigh of relief.
Fast forward to my mid-thirties and I am engaged to my now-husband and decide to go off birth control. At this point, if I were to get pregnant, it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. But to this day, I chuckle about the idea that us women spend years and years doing everything we can to avoid getting pregnant. Then magically, we wake up one morning and flip the switch, telling our bodies “it’s GO time”. And our assumption is that it’s just that easy.
So begins my personal story. To be honest, at first, it really did seem just THAT easy. My husband and I were married in July 2014, and in August, I turned 35. We knew we wanted to start trying for children fairly quickly and surprisingly enough, in December, we got our first pregnancy test. We were ecstatic! We called our parents and then waited until the first doctor’s appointment to start telling close friends and the rest of our family. We were on cloud nine and couldn’t believe we were going to have a baby. At our 8 week appointment, the baby had a strong heartbeat and looked perfectly healthy. The doctor did mention that the embryonic sac was a little small but shouldn’t be a big issue. He asked me to come back in a week or two and recheck it. I remember sitting in the parking lot, praying, and talking to my belly, giving it a pep talk. I wasn’t overly worried but I was a little uneasy. Shortly after laying down in the ultrasound room, we got the dreaded news: there was no longer a heartbeat. We were crushed. Completely devastated and I remember thinking it was just a bad dream. We both cried. It was gut wrenching. As if that isn’t bad enough, then the doctor asked me if I wanted to have a D&C or try and expel it on my own. From the sound of it, a D&C would be less traumatic and more likely to clean everything out so I opted for that route. Meanwhile, I had to continue on with my normal life as if things were just fine. I also had to walk around knowing that there was remnants of an embryo in my uterus until the day of my procedure. It was awful. The day of the D&C came and I felt a sense of relief and not much nervousness. But I wasn’t ready for the wave of emotions that hit me when I woke up from anesthesia and the whole thing became final. We had lost our baby.
After weeks of processing our grief, trying to get back to some normalcy and heal both physically and emotionally, I finally had the nerve to ask my doctor at what point we could start trying again. She said that as long as I had one normal cycle after my procedure that everything should be good to go. I was excited about the possibility of trying again but also scared out of my mind to go through it again.
Well, in late March, we found out we got pregnant on the very next cycle! It was such a wave of emotions but I’ve always been a “glass half full” type of person so I flooded myself with positive thoughts. I honestly don’t remember many of the details of number two but around 8 weeks, we lost that baby again. I wasn’t excited about the thought of going under again so soon so I opted to use the medication version to help my body cleanse itself. I’m not going to go into details on that one but just know that I will NEVER do that again. Traumatic, painful, and excruciating might be the only words I can use to describe that horrific experience.
At this point, we are mentally drained. Emotionally, I am spent and my poor body has literally been through the wringer in just four short months. Unfortunately, insurance wouldn’t cover fertility testing or anything until I had 3 concurrent losses. (Great, thanks.) We decided to pause the whole idea of a baby for a little while. We needed time to recover and heal. We spent the summer doing some fun things together as a couple, threw ourselves into volunteer work at the animal shelter, and just tried to stay busy. In the fall, we had a discussion about trying for a baby again. This time, we were so paranoid of it happening just because of our prior experiences. But, after tracking a few of my cycles, I was more than a week late. However, when I took a pregnancy test, it came back negative. I waited a few days and took another. Still negative. I went to my doctor to do some blood work and the results came back that I was, in fact, pregnant. But my levels were a little on the low side so I had to go back in 2 days to recheck. The results from day 2 didn’t show any increase, meaning that I was no longer pregnant. They called it a chemical pregnancy, or a missed miscarriage. Either way, we had hit our 3 strikes and we were officially out of steam.
We spent most of 2016 recovering and doing anything to not think about getting pregnant. I stopped tracking my cycles and we stopped rotating all of our conversations around it. We enjoyed each other’s company and about halfway through the year, we decided to make an appointment to go see a specialist to see what insight he or she might have into our fertility situation. We saw three different specialists from three different practices who gave us three totally different answers. However, it was Doctor Number 3 who was a straight shooter and gave us our best chance at figuring this all out. “It’s just a case of really bad luck” he told us. At that very moment, I wanted to reach across the table and punch him because who actually tells someone that their 3 miscarriages are “just bad luck”? What kind of “science” is that? However, as I listened closer to what he had to say, we began to understand him and appreciated his ability to be frank and no-nonsense. After all, I didn’t want anyone to sugar coat anything at this point. Just tell me how to fix it.
He created a plan for us to start trying different things, from the least invasive of just adding baby aspirin into my daily regimen. Then, he suggested an antibiotic to cover any type of infection that we may not be able to detect but could be causing some issues. No luck from either of those. So in January 2017, we went in for our first cycle of “assisted fertility”, meaning that I had to take some medications to up my hormones, which would increase the follicles in my ovaries and hopefully give us a better chance of getting pregnant and then staying pregnant due to higher quality embryos being produced. I had an ultrasound to check the follicles and they looked good, so within a few days, we had to trigger ovulation with an injection and then have scheduled intercourse (really romantic, right??). At this point, we were willing to try anything to get one of our little babies to stick. A few weeks later, another negative test. We were hopeful since this was just our first time, but we decided to wait one cycle and then try again.
Except we found out on March 8th, 2017 that we were actually pregnant–on our own, naturally! Although I had absolutely no idea. I was at my annual exam with my doctor and when I gave them the standard urine sample, it came back that I was pregnant. The entire office was doing a happy dance since they had been with us on this crazy ride since day one. My favorite medical assistant even called my husband from my phone to tell him the news. We were totally shocked, scared to death, and speechless that it seemed to have happened all on its own.
But we’ve been here before. We know what to expect. We had never made it past 10 weeks in any of our pregnancies so we were extremely hesitant to even go there emotionally. Each week was a celebration of progress and each doctor’s appointment, we received good news. On October 19th, 2017 we welcomed our little rainbow, miracle baby boy Brice into this world and it was the sweetest, best moment of our lives thus far.
But wait…it gets even better. At my six week postpartum check up, I was cleared for regular activity and my doctor asked me what I was using for birth control. I chuckled and said “we’re just really careful” and in my head, I thought, “Do you know how long it took me to have this baby? I think I’m good”. Except a few weeks later, I would eat my own words as I took a pregnancy test on December 29th and it came back POSITIVE. Our newborn son was not even 3 months old yet and I managed to get pregnant AGAIN. In August, 2018, our daughter Blake made her grand entrance and our babies are 10 months and a day apart.
The miscarriage club is not one that I voluntarily joined. It’s not a desirable club to be a part of and it certainly doesn’t come with any benefits. But for me, it’s part of my story. One piece of the puzzle that got me here today. If you are reading this and you are also a member of this unfortunate club, just know that I am with you, mama.