Pregnancy after loss & loss after pregnancy

I’ve written a lot about miscarriage & secondary infertility in the last year or so. In fact, it seems like those two topics took over my blog & my life for what seemed like forever. 

When I became pregnant late last fall & the weeks started ticking by, I didn’t quite know what to think or feel, let alone what to write about. So I didn’t. 

I didn’t think or feel or write. At least not for a good long while. 

Plus, it’s been a bit of a complicated pregnancy. Or, at least it was at the start.

Which is probably where I should begin…

When I first fell pregnant, after three miscarriages, I was in a bit of denial. No way was this going to stick. Just continue on with life.

Well, that worked for about a week or so.

I had found out very early on that I was pregnant. Something just told me to test (though by this point, I had pretty much given up on testing… what was the damned point, anyway?!). It was early, but I got a fairly strong positive.

Then I started to worry… I should check my hormones, make sure I don’t need progesterone… You know, just in case? So I went to the reproductive endocrinologist (RE) I had been seeing, even though I had sworn her off since I found visits to her office so stressful. But her lab was fast & I knew I’d get same day results.

Everything looked good! HCG (that all-important pregnancy hormone) looked great! Did I want an early ultrasound, the nurse asked. No thank you. Not necessary. I was back off the RE, now that I knew my hormones were in tip-top shape. 

Now to wait. I didn’t want to see any medical person until I miscarried again or I got through the first trimester, whichever came first. 

But then my RE called me back. I guess my hormones were a little too good, so she wanted to keep an eye on them & me. You know, to rule out twins.

Twins?! I laughed out loud on the phone. … Oh, shit! Twins! 

Then I remembered. After my foray into Mayan abdominal massage (which was pretty awesome & empowering, I have to say), I had felt pretty strong ovulation pains. Twice. Oops.

So much for my hands off approach. I marched into my RE for blood draws & ultrasounds. My hormones were sky-rocketing. And then, come six weeks, there they were on the screen in the ultrasound room… two tiny, tiny hearts beating away.

I started laughing. Then I started crying. I think everyone in the tiny ultrasound room thought I was crazy. MFA Dad wasn’t with me, so I sent him a quick text message: “2 đź’“!” Once I left, I called him, laughing & crying again on the phone. Not one, but two!

My doctor warned me about something called “vanishing twin syndrome” but with each passing week & more ultrasounds, it started to look like there would be two babies & we’d magically become a family of five, not three. Those little hearts kept beating. My pregnancy symptoms came on fierce, due to the extra work my body was doing & the extra hormones.

I didn’t like having to go to my RE’s office so often, but then again, a twin pregnancy was a more medicalized & monitored affair. I was getting used to the visits & they really weren’t so bad since I kept getting good news. Looking good!

MFA Dad were already talking about what kind of car we’d need to carry around our gaggle of kids. We started fretting about expenses & how we’d pay for childcare & schooling. I started to consider that we’d have to move to the suburbs & stop paying for private school in the city. I got myself used to the idea that a caesarean was all but inevitable. I was trying to remain detached but it was becoming increasingly difficult. This was all just so surreal & crazy & unexpected & wonderful & miraculous!

At around 9 weeks, I marched into the RE’s office for another ultrasound (knowing full well by now that all this monitoring was getting a bit ridiculous, even for twins). I was alone. Even though the RE encouraged me to bring MFA Dad to my appointments, she never gave me a choice as to day or time. And so, every time I had to explain that we had a son & someone had to get him to school in the early morning, which seemed to be the only time she could ever see me.

I hopped onto the table, let the ultrasound tech do her thing. But something was wrong. I could see immediately that there was only one beating heart that morning. 

At least the ultrasound tech didn’t hide the truth for me (something I’ve experienced in the past). The RE came in & started talking Latin (or what might as well have been non-legalese Latin) to her resident. Um, excuse, me? I’m over here! With a wand stuck you-know-where! Talk to me damnit! 

Twin A was gone. 

I had a million questions & my RE had the wrong answer to all of them. She handed me a brown paper bag that contained a plastic container & gloves. I was to try to capture any tissue should I miscarry. Would I miscarry? Would I miscarry both? Was it possible to miscarry just the one? Hopefully, I wouldn’t miscarry either, but if I did, it was likely that I’d lose both. At least that’s what she told me. 

Later, I’d learn (from my midwife & the inter-webs) the complete end of this pregnancy wasn’t actually a done deal. And the surviving twin’s heartbeat was strong. I tried to take solace in that. 

But it was an admittedly confusing & difficult time. I was feeling hopeful & hopeless at the same time. Emotionally, it felt like another miscarriage, but physically my pregnancy continued. 

It was difficult to go in for my follow-up ultrasounds. Not only was I terrified of finding out we’d lost the other twin, but the technician & doctor always seemed focused on Twin A’s sac. I wanted to focus on Twin B’s beating heart, not to endure examination of the lifeless sac that would “hopefully” vanish to oblivion. 

After a couple follow-ups, I called it quits. An ultrasound wouldn’t change the outcome, so I went back to just waiting it out. My RE thought I was crazy. She couldn’t understand how more ultrasounds weren’t more reassuring to me. But I had to figure out my own path here. Loss in the middle of a pregnancy isn’t exactly easy. 

So I waited until the end of the first trimester. Hopeful & hopeless. I learned I could be both at the same time. I tried to be ok with that. Life is full of gray areas. 

Luckily, I can report that I did not miscarry either twin & “Twin B” is turning somersaults in my belly as I write. My midwife, who was encouraging from the moment I told her what had happened, was right when she told me that losing one twin was common & did not mean the end of my pregnancy. 

I started a Hypnobabies home study course (…reluctantly, I know I need to prepare for labor & birth!) & as I listen to “positive affirmations” about pregnancy & childbirth, I realize that my nagging fears are perhaps more present than I had thought. One exercise prompted me to imagine & connect with my baby. I realized I had not yet imagined or dreamt of this baby at all. Probably out of fear. 

And as MFA Dad & T get more excited for this little one’s arrival, I fear that my body will disappoint. What to them seems like all but a done deal, to me is still fraught with the danger of disappointment & loss.

It’s a nagging feeling & I’m trying to shake it the best I can. Or at least realize that the space of hope & hopelessness is with me, with hope taking a slight lead.

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2 Comments

Filed under Living, Miscarriage, Mothering

2 responses to “Pregnancy after loss & loss after pregnancy

  1. I’m so with you, my friend.

    Pregnancy after miscarriage can be so scary. When I was pregnant with my son (after two pregnancy losses) I felt so guilty for not feeling excited, but too frightened to let myself get excited.

    Fourth time was a charm for us, and I can report that everything went well and I have a rambunctious toddler at my feet as we speak. The fear fell away (or was replaced by normal parenting fear, anyway) as soon as he was born.

    I say all this with the hope that you will know that you’re not alone in your struggle.

    I believe in you.. xo Erin

    • Thank you so much, Erin! It’s so comforting to hear not only that I’m not alone but that others have had successful pregnancies after multiple losses. I know it happens, but it sometimes feels so hypothetical! And I had to laugh at your observation that the pregnancy fears are simply replaced by normal parenting fears—So true! Thanks again & enjoy that toddler of yours!

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