My Story (Megan)
One of my biggest fears in life had always been never being a mom. I had no reason to fear this. No family history, no known issues that would affect fertility. I just always thought, “wouldn’t that be the most awful thing, if for no reason at all, I was just never a mom.” My husband and I naively started “not not trying” just 6 months after we were married. I went off birth control. I waited eagerly every month confused as to what might be taking so long. As a woman you spend your whole life trying not to get pregnant, and then there I was actually TRYING and it wasn’t happening.
Finally, after 5 months off birth control, I was late. I saw the words “pregnant” on that little digital screen and was the happiest I had ever been. We told our parents the same day. I told my best friend/cousin at a party in front of people we barely knew. I made an appointment with my OBGYN for 8 weeks, downloaded an app on my phone. Told my sister-in-laws and asked for their “mommy to be” books. And then just three days later, I woke up at 4am to go to the bathroom after a bad dream. I sleepily wiped and stood up to flush…and that’s when I saw the red. There was blood everywhere. I knew immediately. “THE BABY!” I cried. That’s all I could say. Over and over again. Just screaming it, until I woke up my husband. He called the on call doctor and got the first appointment of the day. By the time we got to the appointment, the cramping had started. The physical pain matched the pain everywhere else. There was a urine test to confirm I was in fact pregnant but the hormone levels were dropping, but no sonogram. The doctor confirmed a miscarriage. I was devastated. I texted everyone we had told, embarrassed to share this news so quickly after the happy news we had shared just days earlier. But “these things happen,” so we tried again.
Just a few months later, I was pregnant again. This time, the words “PREGNANT” on the test didn’t bring the same emotions. It was a mix of relief, relieved to be able to do this again, and utter panic, panic that I would end up in the same place. We told no one. As if the telling of friends and family was what “jinxed” us the first time. I made an appointment with the OB. This time, they took me at 6 weeks. With my “history” they wanted to check me early to ensure I didn’t need any interventions like progesterone. Every time I went to the bathroom I held my breath. Every time I peed, I had a pit in my stomach and my heart raced while I waited to wipe. What a WEIRD feeling. To be afraid to pee. The six week appointment we went in extremely nervous. I can still feel my legs shaking with my feet in the stirrups and the cold underneath me of the table. I had my usual OB, who was amazingly calm and reassuring as we got started. He told me that I needed to understand that at just 6 weeks, there was a possibility we wouldn’t hear a heartbeat yet. That if my dates are off at all it could be too soon. Sure, I heard what he was saying, but I closed my eyes and listened for the sound. Nothing. I opened them to see a little bean on the screen. The doctor took the measurements and decided my dates were off by a couple of days. We did blood work and the doctor confirmed by HCG levels that I was closer to 5 weeks although levels looked good otherwise. He said we would repeat blood work in a couple of days to make sure everything was doubling and not to worry in the meantime. Two days later I held my breath as I heard a nurse on the other end of the phone tell me that my levels were doubling appropriately. I should have been relieved. But something didn’t feel right. Momma’s intuition starts that early I guess. I spent the next two weeks as I waited for my 8 week sonogram in a dark place. I was afraid to exercise, to go to the bathroom, to talk to anyone, to drink coffee. I woke up every morning with an intense feeling like I couldn’t breathe. We finally told our parents and siblings, more for support than for anything. Although everyone assured me that things were fine, there was no reason to worry…I just knew. The eight week appointment was a day that plays like a movie in my head, now 4 years later. My regular OB was out and I had a different woman doing the sonogram. I was clearly nervous. I sat on the table, naked and vulnerable, with tears in my eyes, holding my husband’s hand as I shook and fought to slow down my heart rate. The OB walked in, with no introduction. She cut right to the chase.” Okay so you’re a little over 8 weeks. Due date- March 17th?” I confirmed with a small nod of the head. I laid back and stared up at the picture of the ocean that replaced one of the drop ceiling tiles above the table. I did not want to see the screen. And then the words “something’s not right. What did Dr. K tell you for your last sonogram?” And then everything goes black. My husband took over, echoing what was told to us just a few weeks earlier. As his words muffle and fade into the background the tears stream down my face in a quiet sob. “Something’s not right. Something’s not right. Something’s not right.” I wipe my tears and sit up. “You’ve had a missed miscarriage. You have three options- a D and C, a pill that will help speed up the natural process, or waiting for your body to miscarry naturally. Let the nurse know what you decide when you walk out.” And then she left. No sympathy, no information, no explanation. I was lost. I didn’t know what to do next. I didn’t know what any of those options even meant. My husband was furious for the way it was handled and made an appointment for a follow up with our regular OB a few days later.
There’s more to my story from here. What decision I made, the months of miscarriage testing to see what was going wrong, the appointment with a fertility clinic. And then at the end of this storm…my beautiful rainbow baby. But that second miscarriage experience is what drove me to rekindle a friendship with Laura, who I hadn’t spoken to since High School and to be a part of forming this group. No woman should have to go through that alone. No woman should ever feel that alone. No woman should experience a loss in that harsh way. There are so many things that need to change the stigma of a miscarriage. The quiet way in which we grieve, the inadequate community understanding, and the lack of support and information offered by the medical community.
My Story (Laura)
My Story (Emilie)
I was ecstatic when I found out I was pregnant. When my doctor called to say that my blood work had come back low and I needed to repeat it to see if my pregnancy hormone level was rising appropriately, it felt like I was hit by a big, dark, and powerful wave that pushed me down into a depth I did not know was there. Then the results came back as no increase and my heart fell out of my body. I was having a miscarriage. Within a few months, I was pregnant once again, but that was quickly followed by another miscarraige. Spotting turned into bleeding and the ray of sunshine that had been trying to peek out between the clouds was gone as fast as it came.
I was desperate to understand why this was happening to me. A recurrent miscarriage panel revealed that I have a balanced chromosomal translocation. Two of my chromosomes swapped information and that transfer can become unbalanced in an embryo leading to fatal trisomies or monosomies. I was advised to stop trying and connect with a genetic counselor. IVF with genetic testing was our best bet. It was a physically, emotionally, and financially draining roller coaster, but gave me my wild and wonderful 3 year old daughter.
I thought the pain I felt would fade away, but it didn’t. With the paralyzing fear of never being a mom behind me, I thought I could handle anything as we started the journey to baby #2, but the waves just kept crashing. We transferred our only other embryo from my first IVF round when my daughter was two. It was the little possibility I had carried in my heart for years. The transfer didn’t work, and although I was never technically pregnant- the loss was devastating. I hardly had time to process it because a month later I found out I was pregnant naturally. We saw a heartbeat, and thought this might really be our miracle. A follow up ultrasound revealed the little heart we had seen beating was gone. I was more mad than anything. Mad at myself for letting it happen, mad at that one for holding on when the other one didn’t. Back to back, the irony of that felt so cruel.
Pregnancy loss is like a silent scream. It’s always there, but no one can hear you. My loneliness yearned for companionship, but at the same time connecting with friends often resulted in being hit with more waves of sadness. On my journey to baby #2, I’ve congratulated friends on pregnancy announcements while actively miscarrying, on the day of my confirmed failed embryo transfer, and while wallowing in the deep sadness of having no normal embryos to even make it to transfer. I felt so pushed down that I thought that I might be stuck there forever. Through this journey, Untold Stories sees me in my pain and honors it. We as a collective, just “get it.” Finding connection and solidarity gives me strength to conquer the ever crashing waves of grief that come with walking this path.
Untold Stories continued to be there for me when my world crashed down again after my second failed embryo transfer. The only normal embryo resulting from my second IVF round. And when my third and fourth IVF rounds led to no normal embryos after testing. NONE.
I think about the five babies that should be part of our family every day. I miss them. I wonder who they would have become. I wonder what it would be like if my daughter was a little sister and hope that one day she’ll finally get to be a big one. My story is still unfolding, and I’m proud that being supported by and providing support though Untold Stories is part of it.
My Story (Theresa)
My first loss happened in June 2016. It was a chemical miscarriage and my first time being pregnant. Looking back I realize that I was so sad, but didn’t feel I had the right to grieve or discuss my loss because it was so early. I’ve come to realize now that simply isn’t true. No matter how early or late, a loss is a devastating loss.
From there we got pregnant again quickly and my beautiful son was born January 2018. When he was about 18 months old in the summer of 2019, we decided to try for number two. This would be the start of our current and longest storm. We got pregnant again quickly, however a week before Thanksgiving I went in for my routine eight week appointment only to find out there was no heartbeat. I had a missed miscarriage and was completely devastated. I was given a pill to pass it, however I bled for a month and ended up with a D&C before New Years. After that loss, we went on to have two more losses in a row with two D&Cs. My husband and I completed a repeated pregnancy loss panel. We were told the cause of my losses are likely due to genetic abnormalities as a result of my age (late thirties) and really bad luck, which at times is incredibly infuriating to hear.
After the third loss in a row, we met with a fertility clinic and ultimately decided to do IVF with PGT-A testing. The rationale was that if we tested and received a genetically normal embryo, I should be able to carry it to term since we have eliminated our hurdle. We completed an IVF round November 2021 and successfully became pregnant. I was pretty hopeful that all of our stars had aligned and this was going to be it. However on the afternoon of Thanksgiving, I started to bleed heavily and I just knew. We tragically lost our 4th baby in a row.
Each loss is a punch to the heart and knocks me down hard, but this last one really did me in. I truly did not see it coming. The confusion and anger I have is pretty intense. We still have two “normal embryos” left and continue on our journey to our second child. We are currently gearing up for a second round of IVF and are hoping this is our chance to meet the baby we have been fighting so long for. This is a club I desperately wish I wasn’t a member of. However in this space, I have met so many amazing women who help me to feel seen and heard. My hope is to continue to pay the kindness forward and help you navigate the feelings and emotions that come with this kind of grief.
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