Friday, December 26, 2014

Trying Again.

Yesterday (Christmas) was one of the hardest days of my life. Everywhere I looked amongst the family celebrations, I saw the ghosts of our missing children. When the cousins played together, there was one missing. When we took family photos, they felt so incomplete. My stomach felt so small and flat and empty. I mostly thought of the first child we lost, Francis, the one who would be seven months now. I wonder if next Christmas will be just as hard. Which child will I think about then? Francis or Julian, who would be celebrating their second Christmas then? Or the little ones who would be born in the next year, Adrienne or Christian, who would be celebrating their first Christmas? Knowing that it's not even possible for me to hold a baby in my arms next Christmas made the day even more bleak. I felt robbed of Christmas past, Christmas present, and Christmas future.

Maybe this year is just so hard because I miscarried less than a week before Christmas? Although maybe I'll miscarry a week before next Christmas too. Or maybe I'll be pregnant then, far enough along that I'll be feeling confident, and not  the deep despair and fear that early pregnancy holds for me now. I can only pray that is the case, I can't even hope for it anymore.

What this last, fourth miscarriage has finally done that the first three were unable to accomplish was strip me of all hope. One, two, even three miscarriages in a row can be explained by chance, bad luck, even three different random, unrelated occurrences. Four is...heavy. There is the weight of an underlying cause there. So far, my doctor hasn't been able to find it. I'll have surgery next month to check on a few more things, all which are fairly unlikely anyway, but if my doctor doesn't find anything then that's it. There will be no more treatable causes, everything else would just be an answer with no solution. And I don't feel the desire to know just to know; if there is nothing I can do about it, the knowledge has no meaning to me.

I'm still young (though repeat pregnancy loss has aged me in ways I can't really explain; I feel so old inside) and potentially have many more years of fertility before me. We'll keep trying, over and over again, knowing that there is some possibility, no matter how small, that I will be able to give birth to a living child. Lucia is proof of that. How we got lucky with a healthy first pregnancy, I'll never know but I'm so grateful for that. We'll try again as soon as I'm physically well enough, emotionally healed enough, and get the go ahead from my doctor.

While I have some friends who struggle with hyper fertility who look at their future years of potential fertility and count how many children that could possibly mean, I think in terms of how many miscarriages those years can bring. Unless I'm coming straight off a miscarriage (which is apparently a very fertile time according to studies I've read and my personal experience), it takes me longer than the average woman to get pregnant, but not by much. I can get pregnant. Four pregnancies in less than a year and a half prove that. Four miscarriages in 14 months. Even if my fertile years end early and fertility decreases over time, I could still have 20+ miscarriages. The odds for that are small, of course. In 20 pregnancies, I'd most likely bring at least a few babies to birth. But, when I see my future, 20 miscarriages is one of the possibilities I can visualize. I can no longer visualize an outcome where there is a baby in my arms. My mind just can't conceptualize that anymore.

As Catholics, we believe that pregnancy should only be postponed (using Natural Family Planning) for serious reasons. Those reasons vary by couple of course and the Church does not have a list of reasons. Personally, David and I can't justify postponing pregnancy based on miscarriage risk alone. As long as I am (physically and emotionally) healthy enough to get pregnant again, we won't prevent it beyond the few months my doctor asks us to wait after a loss. (Whether to wait to not, and how long, after a miscarriage is controversial as there are studies that show getting pregnant again right away has better outcomes and other studies show the opposite. We've decided to give my doctor the benefit of the doubt and follow all my doctor's instructions for the time being. I've gotten pregnant right away and I've waited and both had the same outcome anyway.)

The idea of not charting and not specifically trying to get pregnant but just letting it happen when it happens is very appealing to me, because the trying is very stressful in itself. But as long as my doctor still has hope that we can find a treatable cause and that catching a pregnancy early will give the baby a better chance of survival, I'll suffer through it. Charting seems to force us to specifically try to get pregnant each month because we know exactly when our fertile days are and we have to decide whether we will have sex then. Since we want a baby, we feel like we can't not use those days. If we didn't chart and didn't know which exact days were most fertile, I don't think I'd end up a puddle of tears every time my period came because I wouldn't know if we actually tried to get pregnant. It wouldn't be a disappointment, another proof that my body doesn't work quite right. There wouldn't be that expectation that we did everything right, we'll get pregnant this month, oh please, oh please, oh please.

Coming to terms with recurrent pregnancy loss (RPL) and what that means for the long term for our family means coming up with a new perspective on life, a new way of living. Even if we having another living child, even if it's our very next pregnancy only a year and some months away, that probably won't end my RPL. I'll probably have more miscarriages after that. Of course, I don't know the future, but most likely whatever is causing this isn't going to disappear or ever be completely "fixed". And so that means that we will for the next 10-15 years have cycles of trying to conceive, pregnancy, miscarriage, recovery, trying to conceive, miscarriage, recovery...

And I can't go through those the way I have done in the past. The past year and a half hasn't been living, it's been surviving. I've just tried to get from one stage to another, thinking at some point things will change and we'll regain our lives. It's been living with the pain of trying to conceive thinking, It will all be better once I get those two pink lines. And then living with the stress and fear and utter despair of pregnancy thinking, It will all be better once I see that heartbeat. And then the heartbeat isn't there or I start bleeding and I think, If I can only make it past this miscarriage. And then the bleeding stops and I start thinking, If only I can make it through the next few months of testing and waiting, then we can try again. And it starts all over. And in the meantime, my life is on hold. There is no joy, there is no moving forward. Everything waits. Everything is at a standstill waiting for the baby, the one we want so badly, the one that will restore a little bit of joy into our family.

I need to find a way to restore that joy without that child, for who knows if that baby will ever come. I need to find a way to truly live in the meantime. And so I've been working on humility, on saying, It's not about me. Nothing is about me. It's never been about me. I am only here to do God's will. No matter what I want or I don't want or how much pain I suffer , I can always serve God every situation. It is not about me. It is not about me. It's only about Him. I am only about Him. It is not about my babies that will never be born. It is about The Baby who was born so long ago. It is not about me. And it's helping. Most days, this is what gets me out of bed in the morning. Most days, it allows me to focus on the big picture, what really matters. Because it's when I focus on the details of my small insignificant life that the pain becomes crushing and I become frozen in the pain and anger and fear.


  1. My heart hurts for you. Being such a hidden cross makes it harder to bear in unexpected ways. Thank you for sharing straight from the rawness of it all. Many prayers for you as you find your way towards your new way to love.