My mom had secondary infertility, my sister had secondary infertility and I was blessed with the ability to have three healthy baby boys in less than four years. It was hard to discuss it with my sister because she was still going through her fertility challenges, and I tried to be sensitive to her issues.
After baby number three, we decided to have another one. How hard could it be? Sixteen weeks into what had appeared to be a healthy pregnancy, there was that dreaded doctor’s appointment where no heartbeat was heard. I tried to joke about how maybe all those extra layers of fat were hiding the magical sound, but it was not meant to be. One D&C later, I was a mess. Couldn’t look at babies, couldn’t be near babies, hated all pregnant women. It was bad.
A year later, I was pregnant again. And 16 weeks later, I was back on the same operating table having another D&C. This wasn’t so easy after all. A year later, after nine weeks, I miscarried all on my own and thought I was going to have to check myself into a mental hospital.
I had participated in a miscarriage study through my hospital after the first loss. I sent samples of my unborn progeny to a placental pathologist after my second loss. I went to a geneticist. I cried, I cried, and I cried some more. The results came back inconclusive as to why this kept happening. Something about “old eggs”—I guess that’s just as good an answer as, “We have absolutely no idea why this is happening to you.”
After deciding not to pursue the in vitro route, because I had three healthy, yummy, delicious, miraculous boys, I allowed myself to heal emotionally. Anyone who has gone through pregnancy loss knows that this is not an easy thing to do. It takes time. And lots of it. But, eventually, you resign yourself to the fact that there was probably a very good reason why you were not having any more children. Those reasons range from the medical ones, to the financial ones. Everything happens for a reason. Blah blah blah.
Fast forward to last week. I receive an ominous manila envelope in the mail with my name and address on the front and “Epidemiology” on the return address. It was the ghost of miscarriage past, from 12 years ago—the study that I numbly agreed to participate in after my first loss. Apparently, with all of the new advances in technology, they were able to determine that my first loss had perfectly normal chromosomes, and they would like to continue to study why, if this is the case, do women not carry healthy babies to term. I was asked if I wanted to continue this study, which would involve my spouse and I answering some questions and him taking a saliva sample so they could see what was going on with him.
But with all of this information, it was like I was living in a movie. A bad movie. Flashing back to the fateful appointment in February of 2005, when I waddled into my OB’s office ready for a normal check-up. Staring at the envelope now, my heart started pounding, the tears welled up in my eyes, and I had to take a breath and remember to be grateful for what I had, and not sad, again, about what I lost.
You would think this would be easy to do after all this time.
So I took a deep breath, called the doctor running the study, and tried to help future women from going through the pain that I did in the only way I knew how, the way that came to me in this envelope.