October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. Each October I share stories stories of those who have loved and lost angel babies.
October 15th is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day http://www.october15th.com . Today I share my story.
I was born with a uterine abnormality - a unicornuate uterus. For some unknown reason, the left side of my uterus never formed, leaving me with a uterus about 1/3 the size of a normal one.
When this was discovered, the doctors thought that I would never be able to have children. They did not believe that I would be able to get pregnant, let alone carry a baby long enough to survive. My marriage also did not survive.
The doctors were half right. Despite only one fallopian tube connecting to my uterus (the left tube is there - there just is no opening to my uterus on that side) I was able to get pregnant - twice. Neither pregnancy made it past the first trimester.
There are thousands of women who have uterine abnormalities who are able to have children on their own - some are luckier than others - but all of these pregnancies are considered high risk and should be monitored closely.
I found a wonderful Ob/Gyn who specializes in high risk pregnancies. When I was ready to try again, she was ready to help we with the journey. But, time passed, and I was not ready to try again. Suddenly I was 35 - "geriatric" in terms of pregnancy. My Ob/Gyn and I had a heart-to-heart. She explained to me that if I really wanted to have my own child, time was beginning to run out. Due to the lack of time on my side, and my chances of a successful pregnancy due to my uterus, my best chance to have my own child would be to have someone else carry it for me - gestational surrogacy.
My (second) husband and I then boarded the emotional roller coaster that is IVF and gestational surrogacy.
After 3 IVF cycles, two gestational carrier false starts, and a trip to India, we FINALLY had an embryo transfer. Then WE WERE PREGNANT!!!! It was for real - we had a positive BETA.
And then we weren't....
The second BETA showed levels dropping instead of rising, and by the third BETA there we no levels at all. Our GC had an early miscarriage.
In IVF, this is often called a "chemical pregnancy". Some people dismiss these as "nothing". They are not nothing. They are confirmed pregnancies. If you experience a chemical pregnancy be kind to yourself. You have the right to grieve. If you know someone who experiences a chemical pregnancy, be kind to them. They have just lost a child. It doesn't matter that it may have only been days - it was still a child.
I was devastated. How could this happen? My uterus sucks so we found a good one to use instead. We gave our little embies a perfect home. Why didn't this work? It turns out that in addition to a bum uterus I also have bum eggs. My previous losses may not have been because of my uterus after all.
Our loss happened right before Halloween. I was not answering the door handing out candy. I found it much too painful. I could not look at children in their cute little Halloween costumes and not feel heartbroken. I feared that I may never, ever get that chance to take my own child trick-or-treating.
We had a second transfer in December. Those embryos never took at all.
At this point I did not know what to do. We had 4 embryos left - frozen from our second IVF cycle. We could ship them and try yet another transfer. I was not sure if I even wanted to try again. I didn't know if I could take another loss.
We were lucky that we found a GC locally and I somehow found the courage to try again. I knew that this person would be a great carrier - they had two very successful pregnancies with uncomplicated deliveries. They didn't drink, smoke or even have caffeine. They are probably the healthiest person that I know.
But, I was still scared. My eggs were not great and our remaining embryos had not been genetically tested. We really had no idea if they were healthy or not.
Out of the four, one made it to transfer day. It was not even a blastocyst - only a morula and a poorly graded one at that. The doctor did not have high hopes.
Somehow, that little morula stuck and keep sticking.
Instead of being overjoyed, I was terrified. I was so afraid of losing another child.
Unfortunately, this is not uncommon. Many women who have experienced pregnancy loss have many difficult emotions in a pregnancy following a loss. It is OK. It is normal. Find support to help you. For those who know someone who is experiencing a pregnancy after a loss - support them. Just support them.
Finally, our son was born. He was beautiful. And he was healthy. He was finally real.
I love my son more than anything in the world. But I am still sad when I think of the children that I have lost. Every October is difficult, and I cry every year when I write this post.
Having a child does not make up for losing a child.
Don't tell me how I am finally healed, because I am not.
The scars may have faded, but they are still scars. My losses are part of my experience and are part of who I am today. I try to draw strength from the children that I have lost to help others who have also experienced loss.
I celebrate the child that I have here on earth, but will always remember those who I have in heaven.
Below is a link to several beautiful stories.