First of all I must say that I have really, really, really missed writing! However, I found myself unable to bring myself to write about anything on this blog for a long time and that was basically due to MY JOURNEY TO BABY #2! I have always been a very openly honest person, which is part of the reason I started writing this blog, but almost two years ago I had quite a scare that I didn’t want to discuss with many of the people I know, let alone publicly write about. I have to admit I have a hard time closing myself off, but I stayed guarded due to one major issue that disrupted mine and my family’s life, a fertility issue.
Well, at first I actually didn’t know it was a fertility issue, and it certainly doesn’t have to be one either. What happened to me happens (unfortunately) to countless women all the time, I miscarried. Let me start at the beginning…
Back in the early spring of 2013 my husband and I decided it might be time to casually “try” to conceive again. In the past when we had tried to get pregnant with Juliette it took 11 months, so I wasn’t expecting it anytime soon. So, when just a few months later I missed a period I thought “hmmmm, that’s interesting, could I be pregnant?” At first I almost didn’t believe that it was happening and thought maybe my period was just late. Also, since Juliette wasn’t even 2 yet (she was just about a month away from 2) I was a little worried. I thought I had always wanted one out of diapers before I had the next and my husband and I thought we wanted closer to three years between our kids. But hey, we decided to not use any birth control, so we knew it was possible. Well, turns out I was, in fact, PREGNANT and we were both shocked and thrilled all the same time. The shock wore off after a few days and then we were just very happy. We had only told a few close family members and friends just to be safe and we had a wonderful first three weeks in July 2013. And then toward the end of July that’s when it happened, a day that I won’t forget, the day I had started to bleed. I almost didn’t want to believe it when it happened and I know that some women tend to spot sometimes, especially this early on. Later on that day the bleeding got worse and after about a week of coming and going to doctor’s office and some pretty intense cramping and pain (some pains worse than even labor pains) I found out I miscarried at almost 8 weeks along. We had never even heard a heartbeat or seen the baby; I just had a thick lining and yolk sac, and while I was actually pregnant nothing got further than that and my body got rid of everything by itself. We were in shock the first few days and after the pains went away the emotional baggage that came with it got worse.
I haven’t experienced a whole lot of loss in my life, so this really shook me up. Having my supportive husband, my beautiful daughter and my parents around helped, but on the inside I was a mess. I know they say that when this happens it’s actually a good thing that something went wrong and things didn’t grow properly, so the baby wasn’t meant to be. Knowing the facts about it all though did not help me. Soon after this after we had my daughter’s 2nd birthday party and doing all the planning and prep work for that helped to distract me. But, honestly just looking at my daughter, watching her, and telling myself I already had one child, and that some people go through this with no child at all did help a little bit. I’m not going to lie though; I was in a pretty dark place for a while and probably should’ve sought some therapy. Being a stay-at-home mom didn’t always help either, because while I got to spend so much time raising my daughter, I didn’t have an actual place to go to, a place to escape from it all. Having a place to work outside of the home probably could’ve helped more too. Everything like that was just a distraction though. I kept thinking “why was this happening to me?” “did I do something wrong?” “did that extra glass of wine or cocktail I had when I didn’t know I was pregnant make this happen?”. I would express these questions to my doctor and she assured me that none of this was anything I actually did, but again that didn’t really help me either. We went on vacation at the very end of the summer and that helped out, but that fall was probably one of the hardest times of my life. These were the things you heard about happening to people, the things you never actually thought would happen to you. I kept asking myself a number of questions: Was I being too greedy wanting another child? Was 32 too old to have another child? Some people are never even able to get pregnant or have children, why do I feel so awful?
It’s still painful and think and write about. I began to feel a little better in the late fall as the holidays approached and I got more involved with the world around me, not just with my daughter, but doing things for myself, which we should do more of as mothers anyway. After the holidays came and went I tried having a better attitude about things and even succeeded most of the time. The heartbreak was still there, but now I was all consumed with the thought of getting pregnant again. For a while when my period came I would get very mad, but then I realized ok it just may take some time. By the time spring had rolled around I was feeling much more like myself again and found myself purchasing many ovulation kits to help get the ball rolling with baby number two. Then in May 2014, it happened!!! I got pregnant again, and we were thrilled! I think I was just so happy to know that yes, I can get pregnant again and things will be ok. Or will they?
I was very nervous about being pregnant and we didn’t tell anyone this time, well actually I only told my Mom and Dad, my husband didn’t even tell his parents, and we didn’t tell any friends. This was extremely difficult to keep to ourselves, but it was what we felt was right to do. Unfortunately, right around 6 weeks along I started to bleed again. I was devastated! This was happening again? Really? Again? Why??? I immediately called my husband tormented and hysterical, and thank God Juliette was napping because I wouldn’t want her to see me that way. After I called him I called my doctor, and we went in the next day and although my husband, God bless him, was trying so hard to be positive, I was just so down, I knew something wasn’t right again. At the doctor’s visit we found out I was in fact, miscarrying. I had only a thick lining, no sac, no baby. So, technically I was pregnant, my body wanted to be but something prevented things from growing further. They actually call this a ‘chemical pregnancy,’ which I had never even heard of, but is apparently a common thing.
This time I wasn’t in utter despair though, I had been through worse, since this was earlier the pain and bleeding weren’t as bad and mentally I didn’t feel great but I knew one thing for sure, I had to find out if something was wrong! My doctor left it up to me to go see a fertility doctor or try on our own again, because while this is not completely uncommon for a woman to miscarry twice I knew I couldn’t put myself through this again, I had to know if there was a problem. My husband and I really wanted to expand our family, to have at least one more child and to give Juliette a sibling.
So, after about a month I was feeling positive again and took my first trip to the fertility doctor. I was very anxious and curious and the doctors I went to were awesome! They treated me like gold, which I guess they should do, as they weren’t cheap and not every bill was covered on our insurance. After explaining to my amazing new fertility doctor what I had gone through, the changes in my menstrual cycle, (sometimes they were very short), looking at all of our medical records and my age and the fact that I already had one healthy child, she had a hunch as to what my problem was. She thought it might be something that she said was “easily fixable,” something called “luteal phase defect.” They throw so many terms about your reproductive system at you at first and it’s so hard to take in and fully understand, I ended up doing a lot of research. Before she could diagnose me with that defect though she had to make sure through much blood testing for both my husband and myself, ultrasounds for me on certain days in my cycle, and checking my husband’s “sample” to rule him out as well. After about 5 weeks of all of this, I found out that my doctor was right, I did in fact have luteal phase defect, which is not the worst issue to have, and it basically has all to do with my cycle.
Here’s the short version of what exactly luteal phase defect actually is, “it’s a disruption in a woman’s monthly menstrual cycle. The luteal phase is one stage of the menstrual cycle. It occurs after ovulation when the ovaries release an egg and before your period starts. During this phase, the lining of your uterus normally becomes thicker to prepare for a possible pregnancy. With this defect, the lining of your uterus does not grow properly each month. This can make it difficult to become or remain pregnant.” And from what they told me with my cycle at least, this wasn’t serious because some months I had a very normal cycle and some months I did not. This is why I had very short cycles some months, and one of those months happened to be the last time I had gotten pregnant and things didn’t grow properly. They also thought I may have had this for a while, even when I was trying to get pregnant with Juliette, because it took 11 months on the one that I got pregnant with her it must have been a good month. There are certain reasons you can have this defect, but since I didn’t have any of those symptoms I didn’t exactly have a “real reason” why. I actually didn’t find the “why” part frustrating, because all I wanted to know was how to fix it. And how did I do that? Basically they fix it with hormones. Well, right after diagnosing you, they have to monitor your cycle very closely and give you certain hormone injections to take based on how your cycle is doing that month. So, the first month I was being monitored I actually had a semi normal month and only needed a very small dose of a hormone called Ovidrel to help stimulate the growth of my follicles that help you prepare your eggs for ovulation. I did not end up getting pregnant that month, and didn’t really expect to, as I knew it may take a little time. I was hoping it wouldn’t take forever, as these doctor visits and injections weren’t cheap, plus our family was more than ready. The second month I couldn’t take any hormones or be monitored because I was going on vacation at the very beginning of my next cycle, and they had to monitor my hormone levels. So, I asked my doctor if it was ok that month to try on our own. She said of course it was, that these hormones can only help with the growth of everything, they can’t prevent a miscarriage, they can just try to help you to stay pregnant. She said my cycles are not always the same so it wasn’t a harmful thing to do, and so she left it up to me.
So, my husband and I decided to try on our own again just for that month and hope for the best, as my cycle were already starting to get a little longer and more regular. And believe it or not, THAT WAS THE MONTH WE GOT PREGNANT AGAIN! I found out on October 1,, 2014, but I had a hunch that I was because I had already had a lot of symptoms, many of which I did not have with my previous two pregnancies that ended up in miscarriages.
We were overjoyed!!! We didn’t want to jinx anything, so again we only told our parents. From that point on I started with the fertility doctor and after a few weeks they turned me over to my OBGYN because so far my levels were all going up and everything seemed to be going well, especially because I was soooo sick!! Don’t get me wrong, I was extremely happy to be feeling so sick, sore, tired, and basically have every first trimester symptom you could think of in the book! Well, I was at first anyway, haha! October and November were rough months. I felt so sick, tired and barely able to eat anything all through the day and the worst part was at night! I had night sickness, lol. This made taking care of my crazy little active three-year-old daughter very difficult. Other everyday things were tough too, like making meals, cleaning, staying awake, etc. Luckily I am not one who vomits much, but at times I almost wished I was just to have some relief. I just kept reminding myself of how hard it was to get here and how all of these symptoms are a very good thing and they will pass.
Our eight week doctor visit was especially thrilling for us, as thankfully we saw an actual little tiny baby growing inside of me for the first time since my daughter! We were soooo nervous upon arrival and felt soooo much better when we found out there was a little peanut in there!!
Soon after, another month passed and we were get ready to host Thanksgiving, and I was starting to feel a lot better as I was 12 weeks along and moving into my second trimester. Plus, we had planned to tell all our loved ones on turkey day and were very excited to do so. However, we were faced with yet another hiccup. Nothing serious yet, no miscarrying…but as I was preparing food for the holiday on the day before Thanksgiving, a genetic counselor called me with results from my first trimester blood screening a few days before. She said no need to worry (yeah right, then why are you calling) but your risk of Down Syndrome number came out a little higher than we would like for someone your age. Apparently, for a 33-year-old I should be testing as 1 in 250, and my number came back as 1 in 110, which they told me was normal for a 38-year-old but not for my age. Breaking it down, this meant my risk of having a baby with Down Syndrome went from 1% to 2%, and it’s just purely a screening, it’s not for certain. This doesn’t seem like a big difference, however, we were very worried because we had already been through the ringer, we felt like the wind had been taken out of our sails. Everything had been so great up until this point during this pregnancy and now although she said it wasn’t a serious issue yet, that really didn’t give us much comfort.
After agonizing over it for the rest of the day as we tried to finish our cooking and baking, my husband and I decided to take the high road and continue to be happy and positive. They told us to come and speak with a genetic counselor after the holiday. So, we carried on and didn’t worry anyone and tell them about this issue, but instead decided to share the good news of the pregnancy. Everyone was thrilled and we were too, but that number was still in the back of our minds.
So, the following Monday came and we met with the genetic counselor and she showed us the charts of our number and explained other further testing options, if we wanted to take them. Again, I am the kind of person who needs to know, not that I would do anything about the pregnancy if something wasn’t right, but my husband and I both wanted to know what we would be facing. So, instead of getting a CVS or an amniocentesis we decided on a newer option, a non-invasive prenatal blood screening. This new screening “uses cell free fetal DNA from the plasma of pregnant women which offers tremendous potential as a screening tool for fetal aneuploidy.” What does this mean? Haha, I didn’t quite understand either, how I can explain it is that basically a lab takes a crazy amount of blood from me and tests the particles of the baby’s DNA floating around my bloodstream, crazy right? Yes, but noninvasive, meaning no needles, no risk for miscarrying, and has extremely high accuracy rates. A bonus to this is that not only do they test for all of these diseases you’ve never even heard of, but they do genetic testing and chromosome testing, so we would also find out the gender of our child upon results. The counselor said that it would take a week to get our results, a week and a half tops. Well, of course that was incorrect, IT TOOK THREE WEEKS. Three very long, stressful, holiday-prepping, emotional three weeks. When they finally called of course Juliette was napping and I was in the shower. I answered with shampoo in my hair and cried tears of joy for the first time EVER while showering! Everything, I mean everything was absolutely fine, our results couldn’t be better and less risky, I must have thanked the woman on the phone 100 times. Then she asked if I wanted to know the gender, and I tearily said, (as I had a hunch the whole time of what the gender might be) “It’s a boy, right?” She responded, “Yes it is!” Halleluiah! Not only were we healthy, but we were having a boy, which I was so happy about and my husband was thrilled, as he really wanted one of each sex. It didn’t matter as much to me, but I always said it would be nice to experience each gender. And now we would. I felt like I could walk on water, I called my husband and my mom and we were all so relieved. I must’ve said Thank God in the shower about 80 times. We had a very Merry Christmas following that, and as I moved into the second trimester, and our little miss learned she was going to be a big sister to a healthy little brother, we felt more than blessed!
I continue to feel so very blessed, as I’m in my last week of the second trimester, week 27 of my pregnancy. I feel him moving all the time and every time I do I feel a little high come over me. What’s the moral of the story here? DON’T LOSE HOPE! Be faithful, we finally got our positive outcome after a year and a half of loss and heartache.
There are so many fertility issues I learned about while on this journey, so many women, friends, family members, etc. that I bonded with through this experience and some of these people had much more difficult obstacles to overcome to conceive their child/children. I wish them all the best, as I wish anyone trying to conceive who is having difficulty to try to hang in there. There are so many treatments out there now I hope you are able to find one that works for you! I can now state that I feel a lot more educated, wiser, incredibly lucky and grateful, and a lot more grown up, with my very first few gray hairs on my head to prove it, haha!
We’ve been through many ups and downs on this roller coaster ride to get to baby #2, but we are beyond delighted to be expecting a little baby boy due on June 9, 2015, which is funnily enough also our 8th wedding anniversary. This has been very therapeutic to finally share with people and I hope it can give others out there hope who might be struggling or those who have children already feel all the more appreciative to have conceived. Thanks for reading and I’m excited to be posting again as I have many, many ideas I’ve been taking notes on for over a year and a half now!
*(The facts I quoted about luteal phase defect and the noninvasive blood screening were from The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Committee on Genetics and Web MD)*