When I was eighteen, I had my share of problems; though the biggest problem wasn’t when I discovered I was pregnant, it sure was a big one. Becoming pregnant changed my life forever. I was so scared and so unprepared, but at the same time still thrilled with the idea that I was going to be a mom. I immediately switched on super responsibility mode; I ate well, I took my vitamins, I even got good sleep. Two months later, I discovered angel number one had gone to heaven. I was devastated. My husband at the time was thrilled because he wasn’t ready, but when I miscarried in the car for hours and finally passed the baby, I never saw him so scared in my life.
I was still young and the very next year had a beautiful baby girl who is now one of the smartest kids anyone could ask for. She was followed by a son who could melt the heart of any girl in the room and another daughter that is too cute for words. I wasn’t over my first little angel’s loss, but having my three rambunctious tots running around sure helped. Not long after my third child was born, my marriage had dissolved. I was one thing and one thing only—MOM. I put my whole self into raising them and looked forward to the future. I moved away and swore off men all together; I was done with the hurt and was too busy anyway.
That’s when I met my husband. He was in a similar situation and we just clicked. A year later, we married and soon I was pregnant again. I have always, since I was a very young girl, known I was going to have four children. I was once again overjoyed to know that I was going to be a mom to another wonderful child. Then, I was again given the news, “I’m sorry, I don’t see a heartbeat.” Angel number two was in heaven. I will never forget the agony I was in the first time around so I opted for the D&C this time around. The only date available was my best friend’s birthday.
The doctors had told me that because of the situation, it was more than likely just a coincidence, and that the average woman has three miscarriages in her lifetime. Because of this news, we decided to try again. I was pregnant again and life was going well. I had previously only made it to the eight-week mark with the losses. This time around I went in for my checkup at ten weeks along and was given those all too familiar words, “I’m sorry I don’t see a heartbeat” and was once again scheduled for a D&C. This time around I had no choice, but to have the surgery on my daughter’s third birthday.
Since I had been given the news, I was very weary of getting pregnant again. The doctors decided that it was time to do some testing and get some answers (evidently, doctors don’t think something is wrong until after you have lost three children). I had all sorts of blood work done and discovered that I had something called factor five leiden, a blood clotting disorder, that was most likely the cause of the placenta separating early from my uterine wall. They gave me the assurance and ok to get pregnant again, this time around while on a baby dose of aspirin every day to prevent clotting.
Had this really been the only problem? I couldn’t believe that it was something SO simple. I decided that it was now my time to have a baby with my new husband (well, we decided together anyway.) It didn’t take long before the test came back with two lines. Eight weeks came and went, everything was fine. Ten weeks came and went, still going strong. Thirteen weeks along and once again came those dreaded words. The heartbeat had stopped again and no answers came of all the testing. Being thirteen weeks along, they couldn’t do a D&C and they couldn’t have me give birth (the common practice this far into a pregnancy) because I had placenta previa which would have caused lots of bleeding. I had also had a CVS procedure done earlier in the pregnancy for a large cystic hygroma (fluid built up behind the baby’s neck). I was given a D&E, which is basically the same thing as a D&C, but a couple of other pieces of equipment were used and a few extra steps are done before hand. (FYI: laminaria are VERY painful! So if you ever need them placed in your cervix, go to the appointment medicated.)
I didn’t know what to do at this point. I didn’t think that I could take any more. The doctors finally sent me up to the infertility specialists to see if they could discover some answers. They did genetic testing on me, an autopsy on the baby, semen analysis on my husband and took so much blood that I never thought I would stand up again. Absolutely nothing was discovered. I had basically given up hope. On a seemingly unrelated note, I had been talking to my regular doctor abut having joint pain and being constantly fatigued. I was referred over to a rheumatologist. Again, more blood work, x-rays and exams. This time, the doctor came up with a possible solution for each and every one of the medical issues. Celiac disease (which if you have it, doesn’t always ”turn on” until your body has had some trauma, either mental or physical) can cause bloating, joint pain, fatigue, recurrent miscarriages, and many other things. Angel number four was removed on Friday the 13th.
I was floored! Had this seriously been what was wrong?! Could it really been so simple? I was both over the moon and straight up pissed off! The only thing you have to do to resolve celiac disease is to remove gluten (a protein found in wheat, rye, barley and oats that are processed with these other grains) from your diet. I was once again given a glimmer of hope that I could be a mom again. I am a carb-a-holic so it was REALLY hard to give up gluten. (You wouldn’t believe how many things have gluten that you wouldn’t think did: soy sauce, almost every single ready-made sauce on the market, and even licorice, just to name a few.) It really didn’t take long to get pregnant again and my outlook on the future was very good. I had my new diet, I was put on blood thinners for the blood clotting thing; the doctors were thinking things were practically perfect.
I was still a bit skeptical after all I had been through, but I was feeling fantastic. Every time I went into the OB, I was a nervous wreck for days before and then at the appointments, I was always given an ultrasound and saw the heartbeat and saw my little angel move around. I don’t think I slept better then the nights after these appointments. At twelve weeks, I had finally relaxed and I was able to breathe. I went into an ultrasound a few days later and once again saw my munchkin moving around. The heartbeat was strong, but baby wasn’t being cooperative in it’s positioning to get the measurements the doctors needed, so they asked me to come in a few days later to retest. I had made it to my furthest gestational point and was now looking toward the end of my pregnancy with a clarity that had been fuzzy so far.
I went into my appointment with a smile on my face, it just happened to be the day of my son’s kindergarten graduation and I was really looking forward to it. I lay down on the table, get the ultrasound jelly squirted all over my belly and the ultrasound “wand” was positioned; finally a clear picture was up on the screen and I choked out the words “there is no flutter…” By this time around I knew what I was looking for and the ultrasound tech. couldn’t help but confirm what I just said. She had to go get the doctor so he could “officially” say the heart had once again stopped. I think when I saw the screen my heart had stopped temporarily too.
The doctor told me to go ahead and go to my son’s kindergarten graduation and then return back to the hospital when it was over with an overnight bag. I cried throughout the graduation with tears of joy for my son, tears of fear for myself, and tears of dread for my children because I had to break the news to them once again. I went in later that night and hours later, I gave birth to angel number five. It has been almost a week since my last angel left me and I am so all over the place. I am still cramping, I am extremely hormonal, and I don’t really know what to do from one minute to the next. I don’t know at this point if I will ever try again; I’m not sure if I even can handle it. I’m trying to stay busy and spend time with my kids. I can’t decide anything at this point, all I can do is work through my grief and keep their memory close to my heart.
I hope no one ever has to go through anything like this, but if you do, you aren’t alone. Take one day at a time. Find something to laugh at. Cry as often as needed. Talk to as many people as you need to. Just hold someone. Pet an animal. Do whatever it takes, but you will get through it; just don’t do it alone. Reach out online if no one is close. I know first hand it’s hard to remember, but you aren’t alone.