Infertility and Miscarriage
Depending on the woman and the personal experience she has had to deal with, infertility takes on many shapes. There are those women who are never able to conceive or carry full term. There are those who miscarry time and time again before they are finally able to carry full term. Some women may have one or two pregnancies in a row that seem flawless only to find that they cannot conceive after that. Whatever the case, infertility is a heavy cross to carry.
It took David and I 19 months till we conceived our first child. Sadly, we lost that child through miscarriage at 8 weeks. Twelve months passed before we conceived again. Our hearts were crushed again when we lost Gabriella at 13 weeks. This miscarriage had an unfortunate twist since my body would not complete the miscarriage naturally. I went in for a D&C, only to find out that it failed.* Finally, after four months of receiving chemo-therapeutic shots, my body completed the miscarriage naturally.
*At this time, we did not know that I had some abnormalities with my uterus which was part of the the reason for my failed D&C.
I am not sure what the protocol is now, but in our experience at that time, the doctors suggested you wait till you miscarry three in a row before seeking medical answers. After two devastating losses, there was no way I'd wait for a third to happen. Five months after I miscarried our second child, I went in to see a specialist hoping to find answers to why it took us so long to conceive only to lose the baby through miscarriage. A battery of tests (always staying in the boundaries of our Catholic faith), highlighted two big issues that could be resolved with surgeries, God willing. One was an incompetent cervix and the other was a bicornate uterus. An incompetent cervix can lead to early (VERY early) labor. A biocornuate uterus means a heart-shaped uterus that has a septum down the middle, creating almost two separate wombs. These can lead to miscarriage since the blood supply is insufficient to the placenta depending on where the placenta is attached inside of the uterus.
The good news was that through surgery, they were able to correct my uterus and from then on, with any "viable" future pregnancies, I would have to receive stitches in my cervix to help keep things nice and tight for the duration of the pregnancy. I would need this surgical procedure for each "viable" pregnancy. Unfortunately, this procedure of placing the cerclage, the stitching of the uterus, was anything but pleasant! You cannot be put under with medications due to the early, important developmental stages the baby was in.
To make things even a bit more complicated, I had been diagnosed with thyroid disease in my early 20's. This thyroid condition worsened with age and with each subsequent pregnancy.
After the surgery to correct my bicornuate uterus, I went on the highest dose of Clomid, (all acceptable by the Catholic Church), for the longest period of time I could be on. Nothing happened. We were pretty down in the dumps, and I was tired of feeling like a lab rat, so we decided to take some time off from this family planning. Our thought process was that after a much-needed break, we would grow our family through adoption.
Four years after marrying and feeling a peace of mind for the first time, we conceived a third time, and unlike the previous ones, we carried our daughter full term. Praise be to God! With this pregnancy, I received my first cervical cerclage. The pregnancy had more downs than ups since I bled a lot. If you've had a miscarriage in the past, seeing blood is always a terrifying experience. Yet, we made it through.
Some women in our society have actually kept score amongst themselves by labeling c-sectioons as not being the real deal. I find this incredibly sad for obvious reasons. For myself, labor did not go as planned, and we ended up having to go down the path of a cesarean section. People have asked me if I felt like I missed out on birth since I did not deliver naturally. I had to laugh because when you have lost a child, you do not care how you deliver your baby, as long as the baby (and mommy) are healthy! It is all about perspective.
God blessed us tremendously when we had another daughter, born just 16 months later! This particular, little pumpkin was a special baby. She was born with a congenital heart defect that needed open heart surgery at the age of 5 months. She now is leading a healthy and active life! Praise God!
A bit down the road, 2 1/2 years to be exact, we welcomed another daughter. We were so excited and felt extremely blessed. Between the three girls, I had to have six surgeries to bring them safely into this world.
There was a slight hiccup at the end of that last pregnancy when the doctor realized that my cerclage had actually embedded itself into my cervix. At my post-op check up, he was unable to remove it. The scenario was not suppose to happen, but I shrugged it off thinking if the doctor is not too concerned, then neither would I. Over the years, a handful of doctors have checked it to make sure it was not impeding on my overall health. This situation was no in the medical books, and to avoid a possible hysterectomy, different doctors agreed to just let it be.
The emotional, physical, and financial toll from the surgeries and deliveries was a lot for my husband and myself. Wanting to still grow our family, we revisited our dream of growing our family through adoption again. Our adoption stories can be found here and here.
Sadly, we went on to suffer two more miscarriages. My third miscarriage took place in January 2008. We hadn't been living in Texas for too long and had no family here. We had made some friends, but not close enough to share our pain. This 2008 loss was kept tucked close to our hearts. The miscarriage came quickly and ended quickly. We gained some important information from the pregnancy; I could still conceive with that "stuck" cerclage and I could miscarry naturally (for an early miscarriage).
My fourth miscarriage took place in January 2011. This loss was extremely painful emotionally. (I had been blogging at the time and documented our pain and sorrow, our deepest grief.) It was an unexpected pregnancy, but one filled with great joy! We went from being overcome with happiness one minute, to being told there was no heartbeat at the 6 week check up, only to find out we were still pregnant at 7 weeks. When I went back at 10 weeks to see how everything was going, we ended up finding the baby died around 8 weeks. The experience was very traumatic for my family. Our children were so devastated. We had all taken a beating with the emotional roller coaster.
Things were more intense physically with miscarriage #4. I was further along with this miscarriage than the previous one and remember, I had (still have) that cerclage "stuck" in my cervix. After much thought, my doctor felt it was best to do the D&C instead of trying to miscarry naturally. Through the Grace of God and a skilled NFP doctor, my surgery was successful. I came out of it unscathed physically.
**Sorrow**Jan. 25, 2011
**Shock and Awe**Feb. 3, 2011
**My Cup is Half Full**Feb. 23, 2011
Update (2): God is SO good! He entrusted to us yet one more soul! While reeling from the pain of that heartbreaking loss, we found out we were expecting again. We had NEVER conceived that quickly after a miscarriage. In fact, this conception happened so fast, I was not ready for it emotionally. Below is her story...
**Her Birth Day**
Things I've learned ::
*Prayer is so important at this time, (prayer and a good friend to talk to.)
*God is good! All the time! How we channel our sorrow will either bring us joy in being with Him on the cross or anger and despair.
*Women grieve differently than men. And that is alright.
*Never assume that a couple with only one or two children must be contracepting. You never know what emotional pain they may be suffering from.
*Never tell a couple in the midst of grieving from a miscarriage that, "It wasn't meant to be."
*Never assume you can imagine how hard the emotional pain from miscarriage is.
*May God bless all couples out there who are trying to conceive or who hare grieving in their own loss through miscarriage.
~ Patty ~