My husband and I met in high school, and we started dating when we were 16. Now, here we are still together fifteen years later, after 6 and a half years of marriage, experiencing three miscarriages in seven months.
Our relationship has always been really strong. We survived five years of a long distance relationship all through college. We survived the year when my hair fell out (I have Alopecia Areata. It just falls out sometimes). We survived unemployment and paying off tens of thousands of dollars of student loans. And once those were finally paid off, we decided it was time to have a baby.
The story will be familiar to readers at this point: it wasn’t as easy as we thought it would be. We started trying last April, and I remember trying to calm myself down in moments of doubt that statistics said I would most likely be pregnant by Christmas, so I could just relax into that knowledge. Spoilers: I didn’t relax. I did get pregnant by Christmas, but just barely.
We found out about my first pregnancy on the winter solstice, December 21st. It felt so symbolic–the celebration of the winter solstice is a celebration of the darkest night of the year and the return of the light, and this pregnancy felt like the light had come back into our lives after nine months of struggling to conceive and growing increasingly fearful that I would never be a mother. I had spent most of December sobbing in a state of perpetual panic that it would never happen for us. And then it did. There was just one thing that was worrisome: the first day I took the test was 10dpo and the line was quite faint. It was a bit darker the next morning. We skipped a day and the next morning, it was very faint again, but we decided to trust that it was a fluke and to stop testing because it was stressful.
In our joy, we told people. I told my twin sister the very morning we found out, and we did a big surprise reveal for our parents on Christmas morning. The very next day, I had my first miscarriage. We went to the hospital with my mom and my pregnant twin sister. The nurse was pregnant. The doctor didn’t know what he was talking about. My blood test came back with an HCG level of 6 and he wasn’t sure if that meant my pregnancy was failing or not, despite the bleeding.
Three months later I was pregnant again. I found out the day before April Fools’ Day. This pregnancy was exactly like the first one. The second day the test was darker, skip a day, lighter again. And again by the time I got a blood test, the level came back at exactly 6. Two identical miscarriages, three months apart. It was like living in a loop of nightmares. And the second one felt like a cruel April Fool’s Day joke from the universe. I couldn’t go on like that. I was depressed and I felt absolutely doomed to living in this perpetually repeating cycle of hope and horror and loss and grief.
We took two months off while we got an appointment with an RE and went through testing for recurrent pregnancy loss. She made a point to tell me that I don’t technically have recurrent pregnancy loss because I’ve never had a clinical pregnancy. But honestly, that leaves me wondering where I fit in. I’m not quite infertile because I get pregnant, but I don’t quite have recurrent loss because my pregnancies don’t get far enough, but I also don’t have a baby. Still, she wanted to help. All of the testing came back fine, and we got the diagnosis of Unexplained Recurrent Pregnancy Loss and I was told to take baby aspirin and progesterone after I ovulated.
We had our first cycle using the progesterone, and it was a bust. My blood test at the end of the cycle came back negative at 4. I stopped the progesterone and had my period, which kick-started the strangest month of my life. Despite the negative test, I still felt pregnant somehow. On the last day of my period I took a pregnancy test on a whim, just to see it be negative. But it was positive, even though that was impossible. You can’t get pregnant during your period. But there I was, impossibly pregnant. I called the clinic and went in for a blood test and it came back positive at 19.6. Two days later, it had only gone up to 28. Two days later, back to 20, and then back to 4. My third lost pregnancy, which should never have been in the first place. I stumped the RE; she’s not sure what happened either or how I could possibly have been pregnant at that point despite the fact that I clearly was.
The third loss has been much easier for me than the first two were. I think a lot of it is that there was never really a point that I had real hope for it. The first two times, I saw the positive pregnancy test and thought something like “Yes! I’m pregnant!” The third time, I just thought “what on earth is going on?” So I never got attached. And I feel optimistic that at least it was different from the first two. I’ve decided to look at it that if I can have a pregnancy that can stick through my entire period and keep growing even though that’s biologically impossible, then it must be possible for me to have a regular pregnancy some day.
We’re getting ready to try for pregnancy number four, and I’m hopeful that this time it sticks. It’s so surprising to me how much things can change so quickly and still be the same. In December before I found out I was pregnant, I was terrified I would never be a mother because I thought after nine months of trying that I would never get pregnant. Now I’ve gotten pregnant three times in five tries and I still feel just as far away from motherhood. I spent so long hoping to get pregnant and now it feels like getting pregnant isn’t even half the battle. Pregnant or not, I still find myself two weeks later checking for cervical mucous and timing sex for the fertile window, and then waiting in the limbo hell that is the two week wait. And telling myself that despite all history, at some point I will get pregnant and stay that way, and someday we will get to meet our baby. Hopefully we don’t have to be together another fifteen years before that happens.