Tag Archives: recurrent miscarriages

2011: The Year of Positive Change

While two miscarriages in a year might indicate suckiness, I publicly declare 2011 a success.

In 2010, the year of despair, I decided to make 2011 the best year of my life.

It began with medication, making my anxiety and depression manageable.  Shortly after, I saw motherhood through a different lens which allowed me to enjoy parenting and really connect with my kids.

I suffered through my third miscarriage in May, two weeks before we moved across the country.  While it was hard, emotionally and physically, I finally reflected on my religion that had promised me a healthy pregnancy, twice, which ultimately resulted in miscarriages.  Since I was often wallowing in guilt–especially as a woman and mother–and confused by all the doctrinal inconsistencies, I decided to seek the truth, whatever the outcome. My conclusions were vastly different from what I had been taught I would find, so I finally said good-bye to Mormonism.

Leaving religion helped me find my voice.  I evaluated my current goals against my dreams for the future and decided that my husband and I were equally intelligent and capable of caring for our family.  We moved to the Midwest, Ben started medical school, and I became the breadwinner.  We learned how a partnership really works.

In November, I had another miscarriage.  Three weeks later, I found myself pregnant again.  I discovered a new perspective with this pregnancy and left my worries about miscarriage behind.

At the viability ultrasound, we saw the developing embryo and a beating heart.

All these events culminated in a successful year and I can’t wait to see what 2012 brings.

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I'm Speechless

In walked the doctor, with his clipboard full of test results from the blood they had drawn two weeks earlier.  I sat on the examination table, with Ben across from me, waiting to hear what the doctor had found and still unsure of what I might do with the information.

Doctor: “Well your lab results came back with some interesting information: You’re pregnant.”

Me: [Eyes wide, breathing rapid, surprise written all over my body.] “You’re kidding, right? And will you please repeat what you just said?”

Doctor: “No, I’m serious.  The nurse did the test like you requested and two lines quickly appeared.”

Me: “Uh.” [Lots of nervous laughter.]

Cue the sarcastic side.

Me: Well thanks for ruining my day.

*****

When I wrote about worry, I was referring to test results from the blood they had drawn at the [above] appointment, measuring my hCG levels and Progesterone.  I wasn’t expecting any phone calls until Thursday, after they had drawn more blood to see if the hCG was doubling and that the Progesterone was increasing.

The news came back yesterday very positive, my initial levels were around 156, which indicated pregnancy.   After the second draw, my levels increased to 333 and the Progesterone rose to 16.5.

So, I guess I’m pregnant.  Again.

*****

Because I haven’t had a period post-miscarriage, I have no idea how far along I am.  With a very narrow time frame for when I could have gotten pregnant, I am pretty sure it happened sometime within the last two weeks.  Since there is no certainty of when I ovulated, I, and the doctor, must rely on hCG levels to determine everything, and based on those results I am around 2 weeks.  Holy shoot.

While it might seem surprising that I am sharing this news so early, I have nothing to lose (no pun intended).  This pregnancy will either stick or it won’t.  I have gone through 4 miscarriages and know the drill, I know what my chances are and what most results mean when they come in.

However, I am feeling more optimistic than I ever did with the last four.  This was unintentionally caught super early, which means I can start the Progesterone and other medications right as the blastocyst implants, a critical time in my obstetric history.

Thanks to my hypochondriac tendencies after every miscarriage, I am sure I am pregnant within a couple of weeks.  I remain ill and hurting for up to 3 months post loss, and never know what that means.  So, to give my mind and body a rest, I asked for a pregnancy test so I could see negative results.

That plan backfired.

What I must fight now is the constant tension I feel throughout my body.  I worry.  Constantly.  Every morning, noon, and night I practice the breathing I learned through hypnobirthing to relax my body and make things as hospitable as I can for the embryo.

The next few months are going to be TOUGH.

But I am so glad I have this place where, with you, I am making the moments count.

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Feeling Free, Feeling Good

After a considerably hard weekend, I decided to take two days off from work.  Sickness and pain were my nemeses and I had only one remedy: sleep.  I also made some dietary changes and limited my food to saltines and soup with the occasional sandwich.  For whatever reason, these switches have positively impacted my after miscarriage stuff. While I am still feeling slightly ill, the back pain is almost gone and my mind is just about free of fog.

It’s strange, really, to have these excessive emotional highs and lows–to go from hating life to feeling excited for tomorrow.  Hell, I’ll take the positives, they keep me going and my world incredibly interesting. Eh, I guess I can handle the lows if they make life exciting and this couldn’t be possible if there isn’t one (or two, or 10) sh***y day a week.  I know because my Guide to Life says so.

(What is my Guide to Life?  Well let me tell you.  Nah, I’ll just redirect you.) (This book is on a pedestal in my household and we read from it religiously.  RELIGIOUSLY I say.  It’s my replacement bible.)

(Speaking of the bible, Emily comes home singing new Christian songs that she has learned in preschool about once a week.  My favorite is God Is Great. She sings this every meal time while Ben and I sit and laugh.  It’s just so darn cute!  Also, she doesn’t like it if I try to change the lyrics to “Emily is great!” or something similar.  I guess she thinks I’m being cynical.  Where would she get that idea?)

ANYWAY.

If my life were a musical, I would be singing “The Hills Are Alive” or “Defying Gravity.” If only I could attach wires from my brain to the TV so my amazing thoughts could be transmitted to the BIG SCREEN.   Picture this:  Me, in a beautiful dress, singing and dancing my way through life.  It would be priceless.  And entertaining.  Mostly entertaining.

(Have I mentioned that Emily dances like a Hip Hop star?  I guess my regular Zumba work-outs HAVE taught her something.  Like how to shake her hips and booty.  I feel slightly guilty in encouraging her but, frankly, it’s hilarious to see my 3-year-old shaking her thing better than most pop stars do.)

AHEM.

I return to work today and I feel like doing some jumping jacks–I am THAT excited.

Is this what feeling free–from anger–is like?  If so, I really like it.

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Why Miscarriage Isn't Simple

In life, events have scripts.

After giving birth, a woman is pampered–she sleeps as much as possible, people bring meals, the boss expects her to take time off of work, etc.  People like to see the baby and are typically conscientious of what the mother needs.  In reality, all mothers and fathers know how those first few weeks are more exhausting than any other point, but the script is still available.

If a person experiences an unexpected death in their immediate family–spouse, parent, child, grandparent–concerned family members and friends surround them and provide food, cleaning, and whatever else they need.  They take time to grieve and people give them space to do so.

But if something happens that has no script, what do we do?

Take this miscarriage.

After I started bleeding, I went to work.  I figured that the harder I worked, the less I would think.  I ignored what was happening inside my body by focusing on things and people I could help. I accomplished what I set out to do: I successfully ignored the miscarriage, only thinking about it when I needed to share the news; however, it didn’t alleviate the physical pain or the increasing morning sickness.

The difficulty with a miscarriage lies in the ambiguity.  I enjoy research.  When something is happening in my life or in my immediate family’s life, I like to find out all I can so I am fully informed.  That way, when I meet with a physician, I can ask appropriate questions and answer their questions with specifics that will help with diagnosis.  I observe, I document, I form my own hypotheses, and I try to find the root cause–even if it means my opinions are wrong.  With a pregnancy loss, there are no specific answers.  There isn’t a FAQ sheet I can look at to make sure everything is going okay.

For example, my primary care physician sent me to the ER last Tuesday. I went, they did tests, and found what could be leftovers from the miscarriage.  They insinuated that I might have to have a D&C and encouraged me to make another appointment with my Primary physician.  I did, explaining that I was still feeling very ill and hurting as much as before.  He listened, patiently, and decided to talk with my Ob/Gyn to see what he suggests (as he is the specialist for this kind of thing). My Ob looked at the ER sheets, called back, and explained to the doctor that my hCG levels were very low and that a D&C at this point could do more harm than good. He then asked me to return to the office if I started feeling worse.

But what if I don’t feel any better?

At this point I feel resigned to not having any answers.  I would like to focus on healing, but where do I start? I didn’t have a live birth; instead, I bled and cramped until all the remnants of the primitive placenta and embryo were discharged.  So what is the script?

  • Should I take time off from work?  If so, how long?
  • When can I expect the “morning sickness” to go away?  If it doesn’t, what should I do?
  • How long will I cramp?  Will my back ever not hurt?
  • When can I start exercising again?  Should I have stopped?
  • Is mental confusion typical (i.e. fuzziness in the brain)?  What causes the mental confusion and how can I decrease the negative effects so I can work and parent again?
  • Where is the What to Expect When You Miscarry book?

For a research-minded person, like myself, this experience is incredibly vexing.  A doctor will be the first to admit that there is limited miscarriage research and the reasons behind recurrent miscarriages are almost impossible to detect.  I did everything I could think of doing when I had my second miscarriage.  My doctor and I discussed options, ordered blood work, and felt that this was only bad luck.  When I became pregnant the third (really fifth) time, I was put on progesterone, had weekly blood draws, and went through several ultrasounds.  After that miscarriage, Sue ordered more blood work and with great frustration exclaimed, “what is going on with your body?”  I felt so glad that someone, besides me, had these feelings.

Naturally, with this being my fourth, the irritation is mounting.  My Ob/Gyn called to make sure that I would be coming in so he could “figure out why you keep miscarrying.”

I’ve never really had the desire to write a book; weird, I know, for a blogger.  However, I am seriously considering collaborating with an obstetrician to write a go-to book for women that miscarry.  Maybe something good will come out of all these losses.

But the answers for my case may or may not be forthcoming.  I do know that I’m tired of this experience.  I would like to put it all behind me, but my body refuses to let go of whatever it is that is keeping the morning sickness alive.  So instead of moving forward, I am stuck in a place that I hate: ambiguity and bed rest.  I have to take time off of work because I can’t focus on anything.  I forget what I am saying mid-sentence.  I feel dizzy, nauseous, and in pain–like a clamp is stuck to my lower back, sending waves of pain whenever I move, sit, or do anything.

Sometimes I really want to sleep and not wake up.  At least the pain and sickness would disappear.

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Apathy Toward Loss and Life

Deep within my heart is a hiding place.  In it resides the four pregnancies I have lost.  I don’t know what to do with them.

They are lost, like me.

I feel empty more than sad.  Like a spoon has slowly scooped out my emotions and left me bare.  As I try to pinpoint my exact feelings, I am faced with more confusion.  I guess I feel beyond questions like “why me?” or “why has this happened again?”  The likelihood of finding answers is signficantly low and I don’t really have the energy do to so.

According to one website that I frequent often–and found after my second miscarriage–my chance for having a normal pregnancy is 43%.  That is not a promising number.

A dear friend reminded me, though, that I must continue on, that life is not as desolate as I feel.  She encouraged me into action, so I made an appointment with a doctor to see if they might find what my other physicians didn’t: an answer.  Again, in 50% of cases like mine, there is no discernible cause.

The appointment is a few weeks out and I have no idea what will come of it, but I guess there’s nothing to lose.

The website I mentioned above also provides a very accurate list of what women might experience after miscarriage:

  • disturbed sleep and eating patterns
  • unexplainable tiredness
  • unexpected tears
  • disturbing dreams and mental confusion

I would also add,

  • extreme emotion–anger, sadness, happiness, etc
  • feeling betrayed by your body and/or by God (if you believe in a higher power)
  • wondering if you should have done something different and feeling guilty for little things you feel you could/should have changed

When a miscarriage is your second, third, fourth, etc, things change.  It seems–in my experience–as the miscarriages add up, the more distance I’ve placed between myself and the situation.  This is proof in how I announced my pregnancy to the few people I told: “Well, I’m pregnant; since I probably only have 3 weeks left, I’m not too worried about sickness and other symptoms.”  Talking about it with my usual dose of sarcasm was my way of coping with previous losses and steeling myself against the possibility of another one.

Somewhere on this website, the authors mention a sense of ambivalence when a women finds she is pregnant, again, after suffering multiple miscarriages.  There seems no point in seeking a connection with the growing embryo when your body will spontaneously abort it soon.

I find myself wondering at how I will cope with this one.  It sounds weird, but I feel confused (see? mental confusion) and unsure of what is going on in my head and heart.  I feel tears behind my eyes, but no desire to let them through.  I suppose it seems that tears are unnecessary;  I’ve been there, done that, and feel like a broken record when I speak about my loss to anyone.

And I really dislike the word miscarriage.  It comes off my tongue with spite, like the very word is poison.

Let this post indicate to you how I am doing.  I just don’t know.  One minute I am seething with unknown anger, the next I am listless.  I feel pointless.  Not like I am worthless, but like I don’t have direction–my thoughts, my purpose, I just don’t know what I am doing or where I am going.  Even at work, I will sit at my desk and think for 10 minutes about what I need to do.  It’s strange, really, because it isn’t connected to religion or whatever, it’s connected to this loss that I don’t understand.  A loss that most people don’t grieve over, publicly, and many people aren’t fully informed about what it involves.  It’s almost like we, I, are trying to force our way into the parent category of the child/infant loss group.  People will roll their eyes at my grief, suggesting it really isn’t that bad.

And maybe it isn’t.

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