I am a 49-year-old woman, with three children and a fantastic job. I am fulfilled with my life as it is; I have no need to ask for more. But in the last few weeks, I have been forced to think about and reflect on the journey I took to get here.
The path to creating my family was heart-wrenching. I met my husband when I was 37 years old, and we tried to start a family soon after that. I was overjoyed when I became pregnant. I was told it could be more difficult for a 38-year-old. Yet there I was – success. Cha-ching! I celebrated with sparkling water in a champagne glass. My doctor asked me to come in for testing to confirm the pregnancy was viable, so I did everything that they asked. I had a few blood tests and two ultrasounds that showed the developing fetus growing with a normal heartbeat. It was joyous. I was almost at the end of my first trimester – so exciting. I was exercising and eating right, and I had gained 10 pounds (who cares!). I went in for the next scheduled ultrasound at eleven weeks – there was no heartbeat.
The silence was deafening. The ultrasound tech took what seemed like hours looking for any sign of movement. She didn’t say anything, and left the room. Ten minutes later, the doctor appeared, and told me that the developing fetus had no heartbeat. This pregnancy was fated for disaster – “not viable,” in their words.
“The pain I felt at that moment was only overshadowed by the hundreds of questions I had. Most of all, why me?”
The pain I felt at that moment was only overshadowed by the hundreds of questions I had. Most of all, why me? How come I didn’t show signs of pregnancy loss? I was still nauseated, and still gaining weight. I had no bleeding. How could this happen? And what was I supposed to do?
My doctor was a blessing. She listened. She listened that day, and for the weeks that followed. She explained the possibilities of everything that could happen: I might start bleeding, I might not. I could take medicines to help start the process, or I could wait and see what happened naturally. I could undergo a D&C (dilation and curettage) if I wanted, which was associated with fewer risks for me. If I waited, I could develop an infection. I might start hemorrhaging. Because it was late into the first trimester, the outcome was less predictable.
I decided to wait it out. Nothing happened. I didn’t develop an infection, which was fortunate. So then I took some medicine. Nothing happened. Eventually, I had to go into the clinic for a D&C. Although I had medications to minimize pain, it was difficult. My husband was with me, for which I am forever grateful. Then it was over. Physically and emotionally, however, I was continually reminded of the fact I had lost this pregnancy.
“No one told me I could gain fifteen pounds and have no baby to show for the work my body was doing.”
Time moved on, and I was pregnant again. I had another pregnancy loss at 10 weeks. What was wrong with me? What was wrong with my body? Another D&C. No one told me I could gain fifteen pounds and have no baby to show for the work my body was doing.
At work, I towed the line: stoic facade. No one knew. How could they? It was not appropriate or acceptable to discuss. Smile. I had more tests. Nothing was wrong.
Time moved on, and I was pregnant again! This time it stayed – it grew, and it survived! I had a healthy girl. I went on to have three healthy children (and another three miscarriages). More miscarriages than children. Each was different, and yet all the same – they resulted in uncertainty, lack of answers and a lot of suffering, both physical and emotional.
I think about this a lot now. I think about how fabulous my doctors were, and how they helped me manage my situation. I am so grateful that they gave me all the possible options, and allowed me to choose what seemed best for me, even though the situation was difficult. I did not have a choice about this path. To this day, doctors cannot fully explain how or why this happened.
“I did not have a choice about this path.”
I think about the next generation of women who won’t necessarily have the options I had. In many states doctors aren’t allowed to, or are no longer trained to support patients in these situations. My heart aches for the women who find themselves on this path, and are not provided all the options, nor given a choice as to what happens to them.