Here it is, the second installment of Squawk Box! I have decided on a once monthly schedule for Squawk Box posts and will load a new one half way though each month. Hopefully this will nicely break up the posts you get from me and give you a once monthly lift. If you feel moved to give advice or share your story with others I would love to post them up. I am still taking submissions!
Send your stories to: firstname.lastname@example.org
The whole point of Squawk Box is to allow people to share and to post about things that I have no experience with. While many journeys through trying to conceive evoke similar feelings and emotions that I can write on… there are some things that I just have no experience with. Today’s post deals with recurrent miscarriage. This is an issue that effects so many couples but is something that I cannot speak to having never actually conceived.
This is why I was so grateful to Denise Gottfried for sending me her story. I am so sorry that Denise, as well as many of you out there in internet land, have had to suffer miscarriages on this long road. Denise knows well the heartache of getting that BFP and being so close and yet still so far from holding that baby. She decided to open up and share her long road to motherhood and I am so grateful to her for her strength and insight into a very difficult topic. If you are in a rough space right now and cannot handle discussion surrounding pregnancy loss consider this your “trigger warning”.
The image for today of the woman praying was chosen because I know that Denise is religious and I can only imagine how hard she had to cling to her faith to get where she is now. Once you finally get two lines on that pee stick it’s really all you can do. Pray.
Moments of Clarity
Written by: Denise Gottfried
Published with the author’s permission.
I love to share my story, but it rarely comes up. People just don’t ask. I get it, why would you ask someone about an experience as personal as pregnancy and miscarriage when you have no idea if it’s something they feel comfortable talking about? If you are not sure it’s common courtesy to avoid the topic. When I do get the opportunity, usually when someone else feels like sharing, I can go on and on. I truly believe there are more of us who haven’t had a smooth, easy ride on the quest to parenthood than there are those who have had a quick, seamless one. The more of us willing to open up and talk about it, the more comfortable the subject will become.
When my husband and I decided it was time to have our first child, we really didn’t know how many we’d like to have and didn’t know anyone who had ever had a miscarriage. It was all foreign to us. I had heard from my mom that the two times that she was pregnant were the best months of her life. She never felt better! As you can imagine, the person who had been my biggest support in everything I had ever gone through, could provide very little support through my adventure. There were times I wanted to scream when she would say things like “I just don’t understand,I never had any trouble. Being pregnant was the happiest time of my life.”
Let’s go back to the beginning, 12 years ago we decided to have our first child. It happened fast, we found out we were pregnant 2 months after we began trying. Went into the doctor for the regular pregnancy test and it was confirmed, BFP. I thought that was it, 9 months and we’d be parents! Unfortunately, our journey was not going to be that easy. 7 weeks later, I started bleeding.
After a call to my doctor, he advised I should go into the ER. There I was sent in for an ultrasound (the vaginal kind which I’m sure everyone reading has had one too many of) and had no idea what the results were. I was crying, terrified, just a big mess. When you’re at the hospital having a miscarriage, it’s not the same warm and fuzzy ultrasound you receive at the doctor’s office. No one speaks to you and you do not get to see the screen. I have no idea if my baby’s heart was beating or not. I was taken back to the ER room to wait. When the doctor finally arrived it was a heartless female doctor who was about 7 months pregnant herself. She came in and told me “You are having a miscarriage and should just go home and finish it out.” What? She said it as if she was telling me my car had a bad alternator or something. A little emotion please, a hand hold, an “I’m sorry to have to tell you this.” Something! It was April Fool’s Day. I would have given anything for that to have been a “just kidding” moment. I finished out that loss with a D and C (not fun) and went home feeling empty and lost.
Then came my girl! We were advised to give my body a rest for 2 cycles and we tried right away on the first round that we could. Almost immediately we were expecting again. I was terrified that I would have another miscarriage from the very beginning. Doctor watched me more closely this time and all the blood tests were coming back good. Yet again at 7 weeks I started to bleed. This was one of those “Why me?” moments. Another ER visit, secretive vaginal ultrasound, and an ER doctor telling me I was having another miscarriage. I was told to just go home. My doctor called later that night and said despite the bleeding my daughter’s heart was still beating. My placenta was detaching from my uterus but there was a chance that it could reconnect to the uterine wall. He wanted me to lie down and only get up for the restroom.So, that’s what I did. I stayed absolutely flat for 2 weeks and the bleeding stopped. She was ok! I went on for the remainder of that pregnancy, 7 more months, fearful that something would go wrong. I gained a ton of weight because I was afraid to move. I didn’t care, I was having a baby girl and I was promised that she was ok. She arrived and I put that first horrible loss behind me.
16 months later we decided we were ready to try again. This time when it worked we did not tell a soul that I was pregnant. I took a trip out of state to visit my parents and they did not know I was pregnant until I found myself bleeding and having to confess in order to get a ride to the ER. It was a looooong day. After another emergency ultrasound, it was confirmed that there was no heartbeat and I was sent home. Alone with my shame and sadness. The plane ride back from Florida has never been so terrible. I was heartbroken, in pain, and practically wearing a diaper all with a 17 month old on my lap (Thank God she was there). This time I chose to do a natural miscarriage. Not fun.
A few months later I was scheduled for an unrelated surgery. I had to do some pre-op blood work before the surgery. I received a phone call. They couldn’t do surgery because I was pregnant. I was surprised! We weren’t trying, but we weren’t avoiding either. I was sent for another follow up blood test to gauge my hormone level. It came back with lowering levels of HCG instead of increasing. It was all so confusing. Was I having another miscarriage, or was this the same baby and I didn’t finish miscarrying from 4 months before? No one really cared what the answer was since there was no heartbeat. I was given a shot of a powerful chemo drug to make me miscarry completely. Not fun, again. Still, I had my toddler girl to hug and I would put on a smile for her.
This was when my regular doctor finally decided that something was wrong and I needed to see a specialist. Consult, blood work, ultrasounds, blood work, ultrasounds… the best guess was that although I was getting pregnant quickly each time I tried, my follicles were too small when I would ovulate so I was releasing immature eggs. It was surprising but I was just thankful for a plan. I’ll spare the multiple details of the plan… it involved all sorts of crazy meds, inserts, shots, and planned intimacy. Finally, after all the tests, we got the go ahead to try again.
It was planned intercourse with an alarm clock. It was set to 3am. I remember telling my husband “This is nuts” but it was one of those early morning times when I conceived my son. I held my breath. Eight and a half weeks passed by. I was being monitored closely, and then it happened. I began bleeding. This time, instead of going to the ER, I went in to my specialist. The placenta was separating again but my son’s heart was still beating! My doctor told me these exact words. “Whatever you did when this happened with your daughter, do it again.” I remember sitting in the pharmacy drive through after leaving the appointment and just crying. I went home, laid down on the sofa. I scheduled amazing friends to come and help with my toddler while I lay prone. My son is now 8 years old and I am thankful for him every day.
And this brings us to my final pregnancy, the last piece of my story. It’s a short and uneventful piece but it was needed in order for me to be able to see my daughter and my son as all I need in my life. A daughter and a son, I couldn’t ask for anything more, right? Still, how do you know when you are done growing your family? I didn’t know how many children I wanted and so we went with the often utilized “Whatever happens, happens” route. My girl was 4, my son was 2 and surprise!…I was pregnant. It was shocking, but uneventful. Baby’s heart sounded good. Baby was growing well. Blood tests were all normal. I passed that dreaded 7 week mark were every pregnancy before I had started to bleed. I thought that was a good sign. I went in to my doctor’s office for a routine ultrasound at 10 weeks. My doctor’s office did all normal pregnancy ultrasounds at the same time on certain evenings so everyone in the room was pregnant and there for an ultrasound. The nurse brought out a stack of folders and handed each of us ours to sign a release. Mine was about two-inches thick. Other’s had thin folders and you could tell they were new to this pregnancy thing. I stared at the heavy folder in my lap and could not believe what it had taken to get this far. I was called back and was anxious, as I’ve always been for every ultrasound. What would they find? What would they hear? Sadly, my baby’s heart had stopped beating. My baby had stopped growing about a week earlier. I left sad, but filled with clarity. I decided to do another natural miscarriage. When I visited my doctor a few days later I told him “Enough is enough. I’ve had enough.”
Deciding that my family was complete was not an easy choice, but it felt right. I drove around for the next month with a picture of my amazing daughter and my incredible son taped to my dashboard. Seeing that two-inch thick folder was the moment of clarity I needed to realize that all I ever wanted, I had. The two children I have are a gift and I am so very blessed to have them. I treasure them every day. Over and over I am referred to as an “Over protective mom”. Hell yeah I am! I had to fight every step of the way to get where I am now.