I don’t remember a lot about my third miscarriage. With the first one I went through all the classic stages of grief — even going so far as to argue with the ultrasound tech who couldn’t find a heartbeat. The second, which happened just past the end of the first trimester, made me angry. But by the third, I felt mostly an empty sense of resignation. I remember going in for surgery (a D&E to remove the “products of conception” for testing) and how sad the nurse looked when she recognized me.
I’ve got one healthy child, three consecutive miscarriages, and now a fifth pregnancy that has stuck around to the 20-week mark and is still hanging in there. In the past two years, I’ve been pregnant for a total of 11 months.
I abandoned any and all “rules” about when to tell people about my pregnancies. I made it up as I went along depending on how I felt. I warned people when I told them, “I’m pregnant, but I have a history of miscarriage, so I’m not ready for ‘congratulations’ yet.” Most people were very understanding, a few offered to keep their fingers crossed for me. I stopped getting excited about pregnancy, mine or others’. I hid friends’ pregnancy announcements on Facebook.
People ask if the subsequent miscarriages were any easier or harder than the first. I suppose the mundane aspects are easier; I already know what to expect from my doctor’s office. The emotional stuff is different but just as hard. One of my miscarriages was at 13 weeks, after we’d seen a heartbeat. I don’t know if I’d say it was harder on me than the ones at six weeks and eight weeks, because infinity plus 1,000 is still infinity.
From a medical point of view, having a miscarriage is unfortunate but pretty common (a fact which is not particularly comforting when you’re having one, by the way). Statistically speaking, having two in a row is more likely to be “bad luck” than anything else. After each miscarriage, my doctor would order various tests, looking for increasingly esoteric problems (thyroid issues, diabetes, blood clotting disorders, celiac, etc.), but everything came back negative. I felt a little bit of relief after the third miscarriage, when we’d finally crossed over from “bad luck” and into “I’m writing you a referral for a fertility specialist.”
What my fertility specialist lacked in answers (spoiler alert: We never found anything wrong with me) he made up for in honesty. Despite how common miscarriage is we don’t know a ton about it. It’s hard to design good studies, and it’s not a blockbuster cause like cancer. The good news is that most people in my situation, with recurrent miscarriage and no obvious cause, will indeed go on to have healthy children.
But I can tell you first hand that “try, try again” is really not what you want to hear after your third miscarriage. I asked my doctor about various supplements. He shrugged and said there wasn’t really any good data for or against most of them, but I was welcome to take them if I wanted to. Then he eyed my 24 oz. cup of gas station coffee and suggested I switch to decaf.
Ultimately my fertility specialist didn’t do anything. He ran some fancy blood tests and gave me a guided tour of my uterus via ultrasound, but that’s it. When I got pregnant for the fifth time, he sprung into action monitoring things. Blood draws every other day, weekly ultrasounds… if I was gonna lose this pregnancy, at least we were gonna learn something from it! At each step of the way, everything was normal.
I’ve been open about my miscarriages on Facebook. With this pregnancy, which my doctor says I am “probably safe to get excited about,” we told friends and family in person but didn’t mention anything on Facebook until around 20 weeks, when I desperately needed to find some maternity clothes to borrow. I was totally blown away by the support and joy we received.
I don’t think I’ll stop feeling scared and apprehensive until the moment I have a screaming infant in my hands. But I get the feeling that every person I’ve ever met is rooting for this baby. No matter what happens, I know they’ve got my back.