My name is Amanda and I’ve had a miscarriage…Four to be exact.
I know all too well the pain of losing a pregnancy. But here’s the thing…I just started talking about it. For over 2 years, I kept a lot of the pain to myself. My husband, family and a handful of friends were aware of what was going on, but I kept it under wraps for the most part. It’s not that I’ve become some sort of zealot in talking about miscarriage, but I’m not afraid to talk about it now and I was asked to share a little (okay, a lot…I can’t help it…I get wordy) of my story.
I’ve always had the desire to be a mother. Since I was a young girl, I knew that I would have children someday. I met the man of my dreams, got married, went to graduate school after our 2nd anniversary, but knew that we would start our family once I was finished with my master’s degree. We had our plan.
Two and a half years later, I was pregnant the second month we tried. Not so hard, huh? Although my sister and my sister-in-law had recently experienced miscarriages, it never crossed my mind that I would have a miscarriage. My beta tests were looking great and my numbers were going up just as they should. I went in for the first ultrasound and there was no heartbeat. They discussed the timing of everything and suggested that I was not as far along as I thought, though I was pretty sure of my calculations. I was to go back the following week for another ultrasound. The next week was full of anxiety, but I wanted so badly to be hopeful. I was sure that this time they would see something. The day of the ultrasound came and the sack had not grown, and, in fact, had lost shape. They told me that I would miscarry in the next week or so. I was devastated. My husband and I were so excited about our pregnancy that we wanted to be able to share the news in a fun way with our families. Instead of sharing the news that we were pregnant, we shared the news that we would be having a miscarriage.
I kept pushing myself, because that’s what I do. I had just started my first job out of grad school not even a month before. I would go on to work, as though nothing were out of the ordinary. I told my direct supervisor, but no one else knew.
It was several months later and we began trying again. I did not get pregnant as quickly, but at the end of November the test was positive. I called my doctor and went in for my beta test. The numbers were low, so they had me come in again within a few days. The numbers had dropped and they informed me that I would be having another miscarriage. I miscarried the first week of December, never missing a beat or a day of work.
It was January and I was at my doctor’s office for my yearly exam. She also wanted to discuss my second miscarriage with me. I was a few day late for my cycle and mentioned this to her. She asked me if it was possible I was pregnant. I was doubtful and she left the exam room saying she would be right back. She came back within a few minutes and had tested the urine sample I had to give for the appointment and informed me that I was pregnant for the 3rd time. She didn’t waste any time and had prescriptions for me to pick up that afternoon that would help support the pregnancy. However, a week later, I was informed that my numbers were dropping. I miscarried for the third time.
On a side note: there’s nothing like going into a doctor’s office every few days to have your blood tested to make sure your numbers are going down. The numbers that represent your loss are diminishing and they have you coming back over and over again to verify that while sitting in a waiting room FULL of pregnant women. Miscarriage can very quickly turn the most positive person into someone who cringes with bitterness. For all three of my miscarriages, they wanted me to come to the office multiple times to follow my numbers all the way down to zero.
I was pretty down at this time, but still had so much hope. It had just been a year since we started trying and the good news was that I was getting pregnant, which is half the battle. The doctor ran tests and it was discovered that I have MTHFR, which is a genetic mutation on a gene responsible for the breakdown of folic acid in your body. My body lacked this gene. Folic acid is vital in pregnancy because it aids in the cell division process. Cell division is the only thing occurring in the beginning of a pregnancy. Now, many doctors are split on whether or not MTHFR has a direct correlation with infertility, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to have a little extra vitamin B in your system, just in case.
In early June, I found out I was pregnant for the 4th time in under 18 months. My numbers were rising appropriately and I thought for sure this was the one. We went in for the ultrasound and as soon as I walked into the room, I began crying. The poor tech looked bewildered and my husband gently explained to her our previous experience with ultrasounds had been negative. She looked right at me and said “This is a scary room for you.” Such empathy! She knew exactly what to say in that moment. I wish our story had a different outcome this time, but it didn’t. The sack was not measuring as it should and my doctor came into the exam room and told me that I would be having my 4th miscarriage.
I was pretty numb at this point. I was not sure what to do or say. My heart was breaking. My body was not working the way it was designed to. I was crushed.
It took almost a year for me to get back on track. The year that followed was one of the most difficult years of my life. I walked through life in a fog. I was present, but I wasn’t really there, if that makes sense.
I share all of this because I want there to be awareness. I don’t share to bring attention my story, but to so many of the untold stories. There are many women and couples facing infertility and loss who have not found their voice yet. I share my story because I have heard from women who were encouraged by it, which is so humbling and made me realize the importance of talking about the issue rather than remaining silent. I share my story because I don’t want people to feel alone.
For those who have struggled with pregnancy and infant loss, find a support group. It’s scary at the beginning, but it can be so helpful to speak to other women and couples who have experienced the same thing you have. I also highly recommend looking into www.resolve.org. It is the US infertility association providing information to those who have experienced miscarriage, infant loss, and infertility.
For those who have not experienced miscarriage, but want to know how support those you know who have, the advice I would give is to be present with that person. Listen without necessarily offering advice. Listen and validate what they have experienced. Just listen. They will talk when they are ready and they do not need to hear that they just need to think positively, stop drinking caffeine or that their miscarriage was for a reason. Please, I beg you, say none of those things. Just listen to them and love them.