In honor of National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, October 15th, I wrote something to paint a picture of what recurrent pregnancy loss looks and feels like. Or, at least, what it was for me. I wrote it on my phone, in bed, and really quickly, but to be honest that is where most of my best stuff comes from.
I am thinking about my fellow loss mamas today, this month, and everyday. Your babies will never be forgotten. When I light 5 my candles tonight, they will also be for your babies. ❤
Recurrent Pregnancy Loss is…
Your period being late the first month your started trying, but tests are negative. You feel off, get bloodwork taken, and your HcG (which you never heard of) is 10. The lowest in can be to be technically pregnant. You get blood drawn again two days later and you’re told it’s a 2. So you were technically pregnant, a chemical (which you also never heard of) they called it. You’re so confused. You were sad before you even got a chance to be happy. That’s one.
You’re spotting in a plane, a vineyard, and a bar at a friend’s bachelorette party, pretending to be on antibiotics while the guests joke about you obviously being pregnant. They’re not wrong, but despite the doctors trying to reassure you, you have a bad feeling. Only to be proven right in a Waffle House bathroom where you bleed through your clothes and you know it’s over. That’s two.
You’re told loss is “normal”, try again, at least you can GET pregnant. You take a break for your sanity and a couple months later your period is late again, but you’re spotting, the sight of pink on your TP will never stop scaring you. You take a test knowing whatever it says, the outcome will be bad. Positive. You should be happy, but you’re not. This is a trend, a pattern. This is not good. Your body can’t do this. You call and get blood work done, the numbers are low but “we’ll see if they double in two days”, they don’t. The bleeding gets heavier, you go every two days until the numbers are 0. The lab tech congratulates you when she sees what type of test they’re taking despite your blotchy face and red eyes. That’s three.
You finally get referred to a specialist. You take all the tests in the world to determine there is no clear conclusion. You have procedures, you take new vitamins, but it is all still “unexplained”. They tell you it’s most likely an issue with the embryo health and recommend IVF with genetic testing. You are scared, you are grateful that you have insurance coverage for it, you still need $3000 for the testing. You’re excited and filled with hope, and then your period is late. Again. You take a test and allow yourself to think “‘maybe this is it. Maybe we just had to plan for IVF and this would happen”, but you shouldn’t have had hope. Numbers are low, but we’ll monitor them. Numbers are going up, but not at the level they’d like to see. Bleeding increases but numbers aren’t going down. They’re concerned about an ectopic pregnancy (never heard of that either). You go in for an emergency scan, they see something in your ovary. You need to take methotrexate to prevent the pregnancy from growing in the wrong spot which could be life threatening. You’re in pain, sick, and can’t eat anything with folic acid. And you need to push back IVF for several months until the medicine can get out of your system. That’s four.
You start shooting yourself up with drugs. In an airport, a ropes course, a work bathroom. You have your first egg retrieval, 9 eggs-is that good? Number seems low. All of them fertilize! Only two make it to day five to be tested. You get a call that neither of them are normal. In this moment you know you will never be a mother.
The doctor suggests a new protocol to try and increase egg production. Your body needs to regulate again and prepare for another egg retrieval. You wait a couple of months and begin the process again. All of this to get only 6 eggs this time, you wait for your phone call but never get it. When you follow up you find out none of your embryos even made it to testing. You’re done. It’s over. You can’t handle any more loss. Any more heartache.
You go away for your anniversary to try and get your mind off of things. It’s hard but it mostly works. A few weeks later you take another test. Positive. You wish you could have the excitement and joy you want, but you don’t. You start spotting, again. Numbers are low, and then you watch them go down to 0 again. That’s five. Five. Five.
You’re emotionally spent. You can’t go to baby showers. You can’t even look at pregnant people. Every commercial makes you cry. You feel like babies are following you around. You can’t imagine a world where you ever become a mother. You blame yourself. You did this. You caused this somehow. You question your worth. You question your womanhood. You ask Why Me. What did I do to deserve this? Will I ever be happy again? You suffer in silence. You go to work and pretend your world isn’t crumbling. You endure pain and painful comments. Everything hurts.
Even when your dreams come true and miracles happen, you become the mother you thought you’d never be, this pain is there. Your fear never waivers. You’re diagnosed with PTSD. The grief, the loss, it’s real and it never goes away. It waxes and wanes, but it’s never gone. Pregnancy Loss changes you forever.
On this Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day let’s remember all the footprints left on hearts. Whatever happens in your life after loss, those footprints remain.
I am on a mission to break the stigma of pregnancy loss until no woman, or family, grieves their loss in silence.