I’m never sure how to start these posts. You can tell by the title that it’s not going to be my usual up beat makeup review, but still I don’t want to be too somber. So, I’ll start by saying today is a day I wish I didn’t have to relate to – Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Day. In fact, the entire month of October recognizes loss. It’s a hard topic to talk about, but one that I feel is so important.
I’ve been very open about my history of loss. In April, I blogged up about my second missed miscarriage (and 4th loss overall). It happened less than year after a 10 week miscarriage ON my 33rd birthday. To say my luck has been bad with pregnancy is an understatement. Despite it all, I know how lucky I am to even have the ability to become pregnant. To all you beautiful women who struggle with infertility, my heart truly goes out to you.
I AM THE 1 IN 4
If you read my Life Update in April, then you know I was just starting to recover from a 14 week D&C. That pregnancy was seemingly perfect. My sweet babe had a healthy heartbeat at 6 weeks, and we saw it again at 9 weeks. Then, at my 12 week down syndrome scan we discovered that his heart had suddenly stopped. He was measuring perfectly, so it’s assumed he had passed just days (or hours) before my ultrasound.
I got no answers, and no reasons as to why. Instead, I sat on the exam table sobbing wondering why me, why me again. It’s been 7 months since that day, and it still replays in my head on a daily basis. My ultimate goal, and immediate response to my loss, was to try and become pregnant right away. I wanted my womb to be filled again, as it was before. It wasn’t rational, but it was what my heart wanted.
To the ones we carried, but never go to hold
Since today is a day to reflect on and remember our lost babies, and since I never really gave y’all an update to my circumstances, I figured it was time to do so. This post was impromptu, and completely unplanned. In fact, it’s nearly 11PM and my eyes are going hazy from exhaustion. But, writing has always been a coping mechanism for me, so here goes nothing.
THERE’S A PROBLEM
Before I could even think about trying again, I had to endure further testing. My high risk OB’s were stumped as to the reason I kept losing my babies. We knew from prior blood tests (back in 2014) that I have a genetic clotting gene called Factor 5 Leiden. Its common in Scandinavia (half my heritage), and it’s a funny sounding word for “I’m at higher risk of clotting during pregnancy.”
Still, my team of doctors weren’t convinced that my gene, which went undetected for over 30 years and has never caused me to ever clot, was to blame for my losses. So, I was sent to the lab for more blood tests. This time on my genes, my egg count, egg quality, and as a bonus they tested my husbands genes as well.
A few weeks later, I received a call that my genetics and egg results came out great. My count was high, my quality was good, but that there was a problem with my husband’s results. The nurse wouldn’t discuss the details with me over the phone, which sent my heart racing. All she could tell me was “your husband has an unbalanced translocation” – a what?!?
SO MUCH CAN GO WRONG
When it comes to pregnancy, we are taught from a very early age that it’s super easy to achieve, and to fear it if we aren’t ready. In reality, it’s actually super HARD to get pregnant. So much can (and does) go wrong. In my case, the reason for my losses wasn’t actually me. All the time I spent being meticulous about taking my baby aspirin (treatment for my Factor 5 Leiden), high cost (organic, non-GMO) prenatals, and going to the best high risk doctors around was not going to stop the inevitable.
So what exactly is an unbalanced translocation? It’s complicated, but basically it means although my husband got the right amount of chromosomes for proper development, his swimmers didn’t. They have an extra branch, and this extra branch is the leading cause of re-current loss, as well as birth defects and learning disabilities. The rate of success for a healthy pregnancy and live birth, is only 1 in 6. I was stunned.
WHERE ARE WE NOW
I have had four losses, and two healthy children. So we are 2 for 6. They were conceived without intervention, and without much stress. To think we have already beat the odds of my husbands genetic issue makes me incredibly grateful. So where does this leave us? It means any future pregnancies have to be monitored by genetic counselors, on top of my high risk doctors for Factor 5. Add in the fact that I’ll now be over 35 at the time of delivery (which makes you even higher risk), then we’re looking at a very stressful situation. In addition, most doctors recommend costly intervention like IVF for translocations, so that the bad sperm can be properly weeded out.
YOU KNOW WHEN YOU’RE DONE
I’ve always heard women say, “I knew when I was done.” Weather that was after 1 child, or 5, they always say you will know when your family is complete. For my husband and I, we have always felt we should have three. When I look at my two miracles, I see a third sitting next to them. Unfortunately, I may never get that feeling of completion. We can’t afford five figure fertility treatments, and I’m not sure I can risk another loss, or a child with defects, should we go the natural route.
So, that’s where we are. I wish the news was better, I wish I was announcing a pregnancy. But, this is reality. I sit here on day one of a horrible period (cramps are way worse after kids), on a day of remembrance that breaks my heart – not just for myself, but for the millions of women in my shoes.
If you are one of the 1 in 4, I am here for you. I know how it feels to fake smile through the pain, and to be gutted at the sight of pregnancy announcements. The months after a loss are often dark and difficult. I asked why, and questioned my faith. But, I know one day we will all meet again. Grief is never easy, and although we never got to meet these children, they left a lasting impact on our hearts. Today is for you ♥