I met you in the elevator on my way back from the pediatrician’s office. It was just me and Wren, and you looked at her fondly in her stroller. When the elevator doors opened, you very kindly held the doors open for me. As I clumsily maneuvered the stroller past you, I accidentally ran over your foot. “Don’t worry about it,” you assured me over my profuse apologies. “I have three children myself,” you revealed to me. My eyes traveled to your big belly. There was an awkward pause as I wondered if I could assume you were pregnant. “And I’m expecting my fourth,” you admitted. “Congratulations!,” I tell you. “That is wonderful!” I see the relief spread across your face. “Thank you!” you say, and I could tell you meant it. “You have no idea how many people offer their condolences when they find out this is my fourth. Or they ask me if this was planned.” “How rude of them,” I reply. “All children are a blessing.”
When I got married, we were avoiding getting pregnant because we were still in law school and wanted a few years “just to enjoy each other.” Because I am Catholic, we were practicing natural family planning . Well, since the failure rate of NFP is strictly human error and we were newlyweds, I ended up getting pregnant much sooner than expected. Two months into our marriage, in fact. Due to our culture’s attitude toward pregnancy (namely, that if you aren’t a 35 year old married millionaire, your Life. Is. Over), I was duly horrified and grief stricken.
I informed my husband and our family, and was pleasantly surprised that everyone was really happy and excited about it. It is amazing how after the initial shock of discovering you are pregnant, you really start getting excited about it yourself. At about six weeks pregnant, I started bleeding. After a pretty traumatic trip to the ER, I was informed I was miscarrying. I felt like I should be relieved to hear that (I mean, I was so upset about finding out I was pregnant in the first place), but all I felt was incredibly sad. I grieved the loss of our baby.
Some friends and family members were very kind and supportive after our miscarriage. They brought us food and sent us sweet notes. Others were noticeably confused by my reaction. It made me feel confused at how sad I was, which made me feel even worse.
After about a year, I was overwhelmed by an irresistible case of baby fever. My first pregnancy had transformed me into this baby hungry woman that never in my wildest dreams I thought I would be. I was going to be a lawyer, for heaven’s sake! My husband and I got pregnant a second time, and I was ecstatic.
Eight weeks into the pregnancy, I started bleeding again. My heart sank into my feet. We went to the ER again. Tears filled my eyes in the waiting room as I asked my husband the question I was terrified to ask out loud, but it had to be said. What if I can’t have children? My husband assured me that we would deal with it together, and adopt if that is what we feel called to do. I nodded, knowing that was the perfect answer, but the tears wouldn’t stop. The ultrasound tech turned the screen away from us, and refused to answer any questions. All she said was, “are you on fertility treatments?” “No,” we answered, confused. They sent us home to make an appointment with my OB, befuddled and scared.
My OB informed me I was pregnant with eight week old twins, and there were no heartbeats. He was going to give it another day to measure my hcg levels to make sure the twins were dead, and if so, schedule a D&C. My levels dropped, and the D&C was scheduled. We went to the hospital for my surgery, and a nun walked into the room while I was being prepped for surgery. We asked her to pray for us.
Everyone was just as kind this second time. I was so grief stricken, I didn’t know what to do. I never in a million years would have guessed that we would struggle with recurrent miscarriage. I scoured the internet for answers and asked my OB what we should do. He told me I could spend lots of money frustrating myself trying to figure out our underlying issue, and quite possibly never find any answers. He told me that before I tried that, to follow his advice. I agreed and here is what he told me:
1) Gain weight. I was about 103 lbs at the time. He advised that I gain about 20 lbs. That seemed IMPOSSIBLE at the time, but I managed 10 lbs drinking 1 Boost a day.
2) Wait at least three normal menstral cycles before trying to conceive again. This also seemed impossible, but we waited.
3) When we got pregnant again, he immediately put me on progesterone supplements, just in case it was an inadequate progesterone level problem.
4) I also took low dose aspirin every day once I found out I was pregnant (internet research suggestion). My OB said that this was a total placebo, but let me do it if it made me feel like I was helping.
5) My OB was sweet enough to let me come in every other week of my first trimester just to watch my baby grow on the ultrasound.
6) I didn’t consume any caffeine the first trimester (another internet research suggestion).