First and foremost, I want to say thank you for all of the kind words, the shared stories, and the encouragement received as a result of many of you reading this. We truly appreciate it. This post may be a little bit longer than The Other Side of the Journey: Infertility Part 1 and The Other Side of the Journey: Unexplained Infertility Part 2, but a lot transpired in the next 4 years that followed our first miscarriage. This post is a recap of that time and will be the final portion this series.
Studies will show you that most couples go on to have a healthy full-term pregnancy following a miscarriage. I wish that I could say that that was our story. Instead the next four years for us would be a tale of recurrent miscarriages.
Upon returning stateside, per the recommendation of my doctor abroad, I found an OB/GYN. My first few visits were to make sure that my body had healed properly following my D&C. Everything looked great. My doctor was young, passionate, warm, endearing, and confident that we would walk away from all of this with a baby. She was great. I would even venture to say that talking to her felt more like talking to an old friend versus talking to a medical professional. She was open to hearing my concerns, fears, and she wholeheartedly cared about my well-being. The only downside to seeing her was that I had about an hour drive both ways for my visits. So, when she later referred me out to a reproductive endocrinologist to complete my hysterosalpingogram (also known as HSG where dye is pushed through your uterus to make sure your tubes are still open), I knew that it was probably time to switch to a specialist. I wouldn’t start actively seeing the reproductive endocrinologist until a few month later, following my next pregnancy.
In November 2015, following my first miscarriage, we went back to Ryan’s hometown to celebrate Thanksgiving with his family. I remember being in the car and feeling overwhelmingly nauseous almost to the point where I had to ask for the car to be pulled over. I chalked it up to nothing and decided that when we got back to Florida, I would take a pregnancy test. That Sunday, I went to the store and grabbed an at home test. I held my breath as I took it and lo and behold, it was positive. Could this have been it? The moment we had waited for? The change in the tide that we had hoped for? My joy was short lived, as just a few hours later I started my period.
For the next several years I would be under the care my reproductive endocrinologist where I would undergo extensive stints of: timed relations, 2 different types of oral meds to encourage my body to produce more eggs, injections, countless blood draws including the occasional 11 draws in one sitting, numerous ultrasounds, and eventually intrauterine insemination (IUI). Not to mention the emotional, mental, and physical toll all of this takes on your body. With all this said, my doctor refused to take any course of action that was more invasive than IUI as he believed that I had no problem getting pregnant based on our history.
By December 2017, I was completing my 3rd IUI. The first 2 were not successful, and by far, number 3 was the most painful. I cried and prayed the entire drive home in hopes that the pain would subside and I thought to myself, if this time doesn’t work, I might consider throwing in the towel for a bit. I spent the rest of the day in bed relaxing and the next 2 weeks waiting to safely take a pregnancy test. 2 days before New Year’s would mark the end of my two weeks wait. Ryan had stocked up on champagne minis in the hopes of celebrating New Years with friends in the days to come. He had run out for a bit that day and while I had some time alone, I decided to take a pregnancy test. POSITIVE +. I sat in the bathroom bawling by myself for a minute or two before I called Ryan and asked if he could come home. He hurried home thinking that I had hurt myself and when I finally showed him the test we laughed. Ryan soon thereafter, made his trek back to Costco to return all of the champagne he had purchased and instead of celebrating with friends, we would spend the holiday taking in our exciting news and trying to figure out how to process all of this and juggle finishing out the school year with our niece, who was living with us at the time, was only half way through kindergarten. We were sure that 2018 would be our year.
Then came February, where I headed in for my 7-week appointment. This would be the appointment to confirm that our little one was growing as expected and that there was a heartbeat. But this appointment was none of that. Growth was delayed and there was no heartbeat. And again, we scheduled our D&C for a few days later. Once again devastation sank in. I wasn’t sure that I had any more emotions to give to this. I was all cried out. I knew at this point that I really needed to take a break and focus on myself. I had spent the last 3 years of my life focusing on getting pregnant. I couldn’t do this anymore. I needed to find myself again because somewhere along the way I had lost my way. We opted to have our embryo tested to see if there were any genetic defects or if we could get even the slightest indication of what went wrong. Although the results of the test were negative for any genetic defects, we were still a little bit disappointed that we had zero explanation and were essentially lumped into the vast pool of unexplained infertility.
We booked a trip to Aruba for that upcoming June to celebrate my 30th birthday and our anniversary. This was a trip that was needed. Life couldn’t only revolve around pregnancy anymore. We had lived in constant fear of anything that could affect our odds and at that the time the biggest of those concerns was Zika. But that suddenly became the least of our concerns as we knew we would be giving ourselves a grace period before attempting to conceive again. We agreed that most importantly, we would spend the rest of our niece’s time with us focusing on her. She had brought so much laughter and joy into our home and we wanted to fully soak that up. She deserved it and if we didn’t pay attention, that little bit of time we had left with her would be gone in the blink of an eye. We made sure to make her last few months here as memorable as possible.
We dropped her off over Memorial Day weekend and came home to a quiet house. We anticipated things being that way for a while. My period however was late yet again. So, I took 2 pregnancy tests: a $0.99 one and a name brand version. The $0.99 test was a little hard to make out and as the second one filled in, I let out at distraught “you have got to be kidding me!” as I asked Ryan to confirm the results. POSITIVE +. With all honestly, if I said that I was happy about this news, I would have been lying. I was upset, I was frustrated, I was dumbfounded. The one thing I had been praying for came as a surprise, but I was beyond exhausted. I just wanted to enjoy being 30, being alone with my husband, and just being myself. Finding my happiness… finding my peace, my identity, and my passions again. We were 3 weeks out from our vacation. What affects would traveling so early have one me? What about Zika? Anxiety and fear suddenly set it. I called the doctor’s office who advised me to cancel our trip. I thought about it, but couldn’t bring myself to do it. I wanted to be selfish. What had I done for myself in the last 3 years? What about MY happiness? MY mental space? What about ME? I made sure that we were loaded up on bug spray, mosquito bands, that we had the appropriate clothing for night time, and took every precautionary measure I could think of. I was so aggressive with my precautions that I walked away from our trip without a single mosquito bite. We had the time of our lives. I felt brand new. I felt whole. I felt like myself and that felt amazing.
The week following our return, I had my 7-week ultrasound. The nurse who I had grown to know quite well was fairly quiet as she performed the scan. She advised me that she would be back and with her came the doctor. I can remember the words just like it was yesterday, “I’m sorry, Honey. There is no heartbeat.” I broke down again. Here I was once again at this road block. Had this whole thing just been a cruel joke? I had just come from a week of really high highs only to be left to hit rock bottom. We scheduled our 3rd D&C for the next day. I knew at this point that I truly needed to stop my efforts of trying to get pregnant. We again had the embryo tested. Once again, no issues. I asked my doctor for birth control which he agreed to and with his suggestion I was tested for endometriosis. After weeks of waiting, my results came back and I did have endometriosis. I had told my doctor about some symptoms I had been experiencing prior to my results returning and he thought nothing of them, but when he had the results in hand it made sense to him. He asked that I go have some additional scans completed to ensure that my back pains weren’t anything more complex and to come back when I was done, but I chose the better part of 9 months not to worry about it. Instead I dedicated my time to my faith, to healing, and to developing my passion project which I will share more about later.
When I did finally decide to return to him in 2019, he again suggested that I get my back checked out via a referral from my primary care physician. I put the scans off yet again to focus on myself until almost the end of the year. When I finally did schedule my appointment for my scans, I knew that I should have had a period already. I took 2 pregnancy tests: another cheap off brand and one that was digital. PREGNANT… on both. I quickly cancelled my scans and called my reproductive endocrinologist to schedule my bloodwork. The results of my beta test however were negative. When I asked my doctor how was that possible? He simply responded, if the beta results are negative then I had two false positives.
My cycle still took several days to start. I scheduled my scans which came back unremarkable. I went back to my reproductive endocrinologist with the results and asking for the next steps. Again, he advised me that we would not take any aggressive measures and regardless of the fact that my scans were unremarkable asked me to get more testing completed. At this point, I had to ask myself was he serving me a purpose? Were our best interests in mind? What did I want my next steps to be? This was not only a medical lesson, but a life lesson… If something is no longer serving a purpose in your life or you feel unheard, LET IT GO. Don’t cling to it because you’re comfortable or afraid, LET IT GO. With that I knew that it was time to get a second opinion. I was probably long overdue for one in fact.
I am so grateful now to have a doctor who I feel hears me and sees me. Someone who I feel has my best interest in mind. Someone who asks us our opinion on what we want to do rather than tells us. This is after all my body and our journey. Someone who will be honest and upfront about his course of action and ultimately sees the same end goal that I envision for myself. At times do I wish that I had acted on this sooner? Sure. Do I regret any of this process? Absolutely not.
Although this journey has been painful and disheartening at times, I know that there is a rainbow at the end of the storm. Sometimes it drizzles and sometimes it pours and one day it will all be worth it when we can introduce our Rainbow Baby to the world.