I feel like I’ve spent my whole marriage trying to get pregnant. 10 years ago, blissfully unaware of what was to come, we assumed our honeymoon would result in our first child being conceived. It didn’t quite happen the way we had planned. Two years of fertility treatment resulted in our amazing, beautiful blessing, Xavier. When he was 2 years old, with a 24 month battle with post natal depression fought and won, we decided we were ready to add to our family. I trooped back to my fertility specialist who insisted we try natural for 6 months before he would prescribe Clomid again. 6 months later, “I told you so” firmly in my head, we trooped back again. So began the hardest 6 years of our lives.
The first month we tried using Clomid I fell pregnant. I couldn’t believe our luck! But the HCG stopped rising, and I suffered what was to be the first of many miscarriages. 3 months later, same story, and 4 months after that, our third loss. Our fertility specialist wasn’t exactly the most personable of guys, and without even looking me in the face, declared it was all just bad luck and there was nothing he could do. Needless to say, I changed specialists!
Dr. Kate was my savior, because she was honest, empathetic and smart. We developed a plan, started injectable medications to induce ovulation, and started the next phase of trying to conceive–a little wiser, and far less innocent. Low and behold, month one, I fell pregnant again. I found out on New Years Eve, and I knew something was off. But we got past 6 weeks, when all our other losses had occured, and we thought we might actually get there. At 6 weeks and 4 days, I had agonising abdominal pain, on my left side. I knew straight away it was ectopic. By the end of the day I had lost another baby, my left fallopian tube, and my heart had broken yet again. Bizzarely, I had been pregnant with twins, and the twin that was in the uterus was a blighted ovum. If the twins had been reversed, the baby in my tube would have survived had it been in the uterus. I was crushed. 5 little angels gone. But the worst was still to come.
4 months after the ectopic/heterotopic loss, we fell pregnant again. 6th time lucky was our hope, and as our milestones rolled past, I dared to hope we might bring home this baby. 12 weeks, all ok. 20 weeks, all ok. Our scan showed a beautiful, healthy baby girl. I bonded with her. I felt her move. I felt her soul. I loved her with my whole heart.
At 29 weeks I had my 4th attack of an unidentified abdominal pain and some spotting. We rushed to the hospital, thinking finally my placenta had started pulling away from the uterine wall. Doppler showed an active baby, but no-one could manage to get a heart trace on our baby girl. After the 7th midwife came in, and again registered a heartrate of 75, and assuming it was my heartbeat, someone decided to put the heart monitor on me. My heartrate was 65, therefore baby’s was 75. Everyone panicked, and I was rushed off for a specialised scan with the head of Fetal Maternal Medicine. Our good run was done. Our daughter was diagnosed with 2nd degree fetal heartblock, a rare condition that attacks the electrical current coordinating the top and bottom parts of the heart. The only hope was a pacemaker fitted at birth, but at 29 weeks, she was still too small to have such an operation.
For weeks we waited, being observed almost daily, and slowly we watched out baby’s heartrate decrease. She was almost delivered at 34 weeks. But the decision was made to leave her for a bit longer and try to get to 36 weeks. I knew it was a bad idea. My biggest regret it that I didn’t insist she be delivered. Things might have been so different. Almost delivered again at 34+3. Then during our scan at 34+6, we knew we have made the wrong decision. She was in heart failure, and there was very little chance she would survive her delivery.
We were wheeled off frantically for an emergency cesarean, meeting a pediatric heart specialist in theatre. At 2:17pm, our daughter was born, and she was still and silent, and I knew she was already gone. They tried for 20 mins to save her, fitting an external pacemaker, trying in vain to restart her damaged heart. But it was too late. We were too late.
Finally we met our longed for baby girl, and she was stunning. Perfect rose lips, porcelain skin, fine fingers. Just beautiful. But silent and still, not at all how it should have been. We named our darling girl Poppy, a pretty name for a pretty baby, and tried to decide how we would tell her big brother that the baby he had been waiting for was not coming home.
I decided on the operating table, holding my precious baby, that I needed to try again. Is that normal? I was terrified that if I didn’t believe I’d get this chance again, I might crumble and tumble away. We weren’t allowed to TTC for 6 months post c-section, so we had an imposed wait time in which we investigated Poppy’s condition and the likelihood of it reoccurring. Unfortunately there was evidence that 15-20% of siblings will develop the same condition in utero. But I had to try. I needed it.
Nothing happened for all of 2012. And half of 2013. “Time for IVF?” was the call of my FS. Round 2 brought that amazing phonecall: “You’re pregnant!” the nurse informed me, and I couldn’t imagine that anything bad could happened again. But it did. Miscarriage no 5. Cycle number 4 brought another positive, but 2 weeks later, with no warning, I miscarried again.
I wonder when I will decide we are done. How much loss can I take? How many times can I fail and keep getting up and trying to succeed? But I still believe in my heart that our family is not supposed to be 3 and 1 in heaven. I really believe that eventually we’ll be rewarded for patience. I just hope that it happens soon, because my broken heart needs some good news to help it heal again.