I never realized how badly I wanted to be a mom until Nick and I accidentally got pregnant and then miscarried a week after finding out.
For you see, at that time, I’d already resigned myself to being a step-mom, a God mother, an aunt. I told myself that maybe that was my destiny. I truly didn’t think I’d ever have the opportunity to get pregnant or have my own kids. So it wasn’t even on my radar when I met Nick.
But God has other plans for our lives, of which I will be eternally grateful.
PS – check out some of our fun announcement pics we tried to take ourselves. They all make me laugh. And check out the profile of our little girl!
If you missed my announcement last week, we are currently about 14 weeks pregnant with a baby GIRL. We’re due October 28th and we are beyond excited! But the journey to get here hasn’t been an easy one. It’s been full of ups and downs, so many tests and no answers, and more miscarriages than I would ever wish on anybody.
I wanted to share our journey, to show that if you are currently going through something similar, that you aren’t alone. I know every pregnancy announcement I saw was a dagger to my heart. When would it be my turn? I struggled with the happiness for my friend(s), while simultaneously being so jealous and angry and hurt. And when I felt these things, I turned to prayer. I knew my day would come, in some way, shape, or form. But I truly had to turn to God and have faith in Him and His bigger plan for my life. It wasn’t always easy, but I knew it would be worth it. I had to learn to be okay with not knowing how or when.
Before we get started, this is going to be a longer post. And I’m going to go into detail on the 5 miscarriages we’ve had. Some of it may be graphic, so wanted to provide a warning ahead of time. But it’s our journey. And it’s one I’ve never fully shared with a lot of people.
Our journey starts in April 2018. Nick and I met and very quickly became an item…we knew we’d be in each other’s lives for the long haul. So when we got pregnant in June 2018, we weren’t scared or hesitant about what we would do. It was just a part of our story. Don’t get me wrong though…I was shocked, because I didn’t think I could actually get pregnant. I’d never even had a scare before this! But I was also ecstatic!
Unfortunately though, it wasn’t part of God’s plan for us yet. About a week after that first positive test, I started bleeding and we, unfortunately, miscarried our first little angel. We knew with everything going on in my life at that point that we should probably be a little more careful moving forward.
However, once again, God had other plans. We got pregnant again in September 2018, but I didn’t have health insurance at the time so I didn’t make any appointments. I believed that if I wasn’t bleeding or cramping, everything was fine. And generally, that is true. But in this case, it wasn’t.
In November 2018, I started bleeding. It wasn’t a lot and there wasn’t any cramping, but it lasted a couple days, so I finally decided to go to the ER. I needed to know if something was wrong and/or if the baby was okay. I went through peeing in a cup to blood work to an ultrasound. And I knew something was wrong when the ultrasound tech went from a regular ultrasound on my belly to a transvaginal one. But she wasn’t able to tell me anything. It was torture.
It wasn’t until the ER doc sat down with me and told me I had what they call a blighted ovum that I truly understood what was happening. Another miscarriage. I’d never heard of that, but basically, there was no baby in my uterus. At some point, I was pregnant and there was a baby, but I miscarried the baby and somehow my body reabsorbed it. I didn’t start crying until we were in the car and on our way home.
I believe this was on a Wednesday or Thursday night…but it wasn’t until Saturday night/Sunday morning when the actual miscarriage started.
It. Was. Awful.
Nick and I were in Richmond to spend Thanksgiving with his family. This would be the first time I met his extended family.
So when I woke up that night with horrible cramps and excessive bleeding, I knew we were in for a long night. I immediately took ibuprofen and prayed it would kick in quickly. It was a pain I’d never felt before and I’ve had some pretty bad cramps in my life. I spent a lot of the time just sitting on the toilet bent over in pain. And when I wasn’t sitting on the toilet, I was curled up crying in pain and bleeding through pads pretty quickly.
After a few hours of this, Nick finally made the call to go to the ER. Yes, I am that stubborn and was just going to suffer through it. We knew what was happening, so at this point, I just wanted some pain relief.
The ER doc was less than pleasant to deal with. I was still in massive amounts of pain and I was bleeding through pad after pad. I didn’t know it was possible to have that much blood come out of a person! Nevertheless, the ER doc does her thing with asking me questions, drawing blood, and getting an IV started. But looked at me and said, “You’re having a miscarriage. There’s nothing I can do…you’re just going to have to get through it.”
Well no crap lady. I wasn’t born yesterday.
I looked her straight in the face, and said, “Well no shit. I’m clear on what’s happening. I don’t want you to stop it. I’m just looking for some pain relief. We have a family gathering later today and I’d like to be able to function through it.”
I’d like to say I was nice about it, but I wasn’t. I was exhausted, in so much pain, and couldn’t believe we were going through this away from home, for the second time. Mind you, the first time was nowhere near this one! But seriously? That was her response?!
She ultimately gave me pain meds via my IV, but those lasted roughly 45 minutes before the pain came roaring back. She also ended up giving me a prescription for pain meds, which we were able to get filled at a local pharmacy. I was able to take that and alternate it with ibuprofen throughout the day to at least function.
I wasn’t in any pain when we left the ER, but that didn’t last long. We had to wait for the pharmacy to open and then of course, fill it, before I was able to take the first pill. By this point, the pain was coming back. I immediately took the first pill as soon as I could.
We headed back to the hotel, where breakfast was being served in the lobby. I tried sitting with Nick while he got something to eat, but I was sitting at the table sweating because the pain was so bad. I ended up sitting outside on the bench in the freezing cold (remember it was November) in just my tank top and leggings, bent forward with sweat pouring off my head onto the ground. Nothing else mattered at that point except getting out of that awful pain.
The pain meds finally kicked in about 45 minutes later, but I swear, it felt like years at this point. I was in such a haze from the pain meds, but also from pure exhaustion from the pain. Nick helped me back up to the room, where we promptly laid down and slept for 3-4 hours. Goodness knows we both needed it. This amazing man sat next to me throughout the entire night, holding my hand, getting me everything I needed, sacrificing his own sleep to make sure I was okay.
We made it to his family’s Thanksgiving, but I was in a drug-induced haze all day. Yet, somehow, he surprised the crap out of me and proposed in front of his whole family! We still joke that he had to get me drugged up for me to say yes! PS – I would’ve said yes either way!
The one good thing the ER doc suggested was following up with a doctor at home to ensure the miscarriage was complete and there was nothing left. I’m not sure who suggested EVMS for people with no insurance, but that’s where we started.
After several appointments and ultrasounds, they kept thinking there was tissue or something left behind. Twice they had me take medication at home to help everything completely come out. It was successful the first time, but there was literally nothing with the second dose. Just a whole lot of pain and misery…again.
So they referred me to a reproductive specialist to follow up, see what was going on, and to figure out why we’d now had two back to back miscarriages.
While waiting for that appointment, we had another positive pregnancy test in January 2019. However, I started my period / miscarried about 3 days later. So at this point, we’ve now had three miscarriages.
At our first appointment with the reproductive specialist, we talked about my history, why we were there, and what we were hoping to find out. At this point, I just wanted answers as to why we’d now had three miscarriages.
So they drew a ton of blood and ran all the tests they possibly could. They did genetics testing on both Nick and I. Everything came back normal, but for a low AMH count. Which, in laymen’s terms, means I have low egg quality. It means I still ovulate and produce eggs, but they aren’t necessarily genetically the greatest eggs. I don’t know if this would have made any difference if I were younger, but it sucked to hear it now. The doc said I would be able to get pregnant (clearly that wasn’t an issue), but it was a matter of a time before I got a high quality egg and healthy pregnancy.
She also wanted to do a hysteroscopy, which was to scope and clean out my uterus from the tissue they kept seeing on my cervix. It ended up being nothing and she gave me the all clear to continue trying to get pregnant. She said my uterus now had a nice smooth surface for implantation.
This was in March 2019, so Nick and I started trying again. Not surprisingly, we got pregnant again. This time we had our reproductive specialist, we were using progesterone every night, and we thought this time would be different. We had our first ultrasound pretty early, in which it showed two sacs in my uterus. We were hesitantly excited that it may be twins!
However, our next ultrasound showed us only one sac, one heartbeat, but it was something! We had our next ultrasound a week later, in which the baby’s heart rate was lower and there hadn’t been any growth. I’d also had a decrease in symptoms, so I suspected something was wrong. Our doctor tentatively scheduled us for a D&C, but wanted to do one more ultrasound to confirm her suspicions.
At our 8 week ultrasound, sure enough, there was no heartbeat. It was devastating to watch our little baby die on the ultrasound.
So in May 2019, we had a D&C, which was 8,000 times better than having a miscarriage in an ER and hotel room in Richmond. It was over quickly, which was a small blessing in the overall scheme of things.
The results came back that we were pregnant with a little girl with Trisomy 22, meaning there were three chromosome 22’s instead of 2. Of course I googled this, because I had to know what exactly that meant. Had she made it full term and been born, she would’ve had severe malformations and delays and retardation. If she even made it that far. Knowing that made the loss a little easier, but only by a pinch. No loss is easy. Ever.
At this point, Nick and I decided to take the summer off from trying. I was so stressed from constantly worrying about the ultrasounds and what was going to happen…I just wanted to enjoy being married and my time with Nick. I also knew I wanted to make some changes in my life before we tried again, so this would give us some time to implement those changes.
I’d also been doing tons of research…I’m one of those people who like to know as much as I possibly can about what I’m going through. I found that stress was a huge factor in not only getting pregnant, but staying pregnant, as well as egg formation. I also found that it takes three months for your eggs to mature, so any changes in that aspect had to be done at least three months in advance in order to produce a “high quality” egg.
I was also under a lot of stress at this point in my life. I worked at a job farther away from home than I liked so I spent a lot of time driving back and forth. It also didn’t help that we’d now had four miscarriages, and I thought something was wrong with me. I couldn’t do what I was supposed to do (as a woman). Please don’t jump down my throat about that statement…it was just how I felt.
So I spent the summer getting acupuncture done, meditating and trying to relax as much as I could, I tried my best to scale back my workouts so I wasn’t pushing myself so hard in that aspect (I wasn’t the greatest at this), and really trying to enjoy being with my husband. However, I also spent the summer taking my temperature every morning and tracking my cycles so we would have that information when we started trying again. I’d like to say I changed my diet, but I honestly can’t remember at this point.
So in August, we decided to start trying again. I was still taking my temperature every morning before getting out of bed. I thought I had a pretty good idea of when I was ovulating. I also started using an ovulation kit so we could see exactly when I was ovulating. If you’ve never done this, my recommendation would be to not do this. I was so stressed about when I was ovulating and why the test strip wasn’t changing color, instead of just enjoying being with my husband. Duh.
Somehow, with all of that going on, we got pregnant again. We felt good this time. Positive that this time would be different. We’d made these huge changes, took time off from trying, I was doing acupuncture. This time HAD to be different.
Except it wasn’t. We followed the same path as the last pregnancy. Watching our baby die via ultrasound. Six week appointment – good heartbeat, growing right where he/she should be. Seven week appointment – lower heartbeat, no growth, not seeing baby progress. Eight week appointment – very low heartbeat, no growth.
“Let’s schedule one more follow-up appointment, just to make sure before we move forward.”
The next appointment confirmed it…our baby had no heartbeat. No growth. No progression. What the heck?! Why was this happening? What was it about the 8 week mark that just stopped the growth of our babies?? I was so angry and hurt by this point. Inherently, I knew I wasn’t doing anything wrong, but I kept asking myself what the heck I was doing wrong!
We made the choice to take the medicine and go through the miscarriage at home. I didn’t want to have another D&C (aka, another surgery) so close to the last one. I decided to take the medicine on a Saturday in October 2019, followed with pain medication, and attempt to sleep through the worst of it. This would’ve been great, except the meds didn’t start working until several hours later after the first round of pain meds wore off. Not smart on my part.
It was like Richmond, but I knew what to expect this time. And being at home made it a little easier (barely). It wasn’t quite as awful as Richmond, but I pretty much passed everything in one sitting. I didn’t have to take additional meds, thankfully. I know that I spent the majority of the time on the toilet because all you want to do is push. I was drenched in sweat from the pain, and when it was all over, I was shivering and freezing. Thankfully my husband was once again by my side and taking care of me through the whole thing.
This was now the 5th time we’d gone through this and he told me he never wanted to see me like that again. He felt helpless, although I tried my best to reassure him that I wouldn’t have survived it without him. He was my biggest help through it all.
So by this point, I was on a mission. I NEEDED to know why our babies weren’t surviving past the 8 week mark. There had to be something going on.
I researched. And I researched some more. I googled the weirdest things, but it led me to finding some answers. I learned about the MTHFR gene, which can have a mutation that could potentially cause blood clotting and potential miscarriages. In talking to my mom about it, I learned she had a mutation on her MTFHR gene! So I asked my doc if I could get tested for it (because it’s genetic…who knew?!).
It turns out I have it too, but according to the results, it wasn’t indicative of blood clotting or having any issues with pregnancy. However, the doc told me she would prescribe blood thinners if I were to make it to the 8 week mark exactly where I should be. This would mean shots in my belly, but if it helped, I was willing to do it! Nevertheless, it made me a little sad, because I wanted a definitive answer. I wanted to know why this kept happening!
The next thing my research showed was natural killer cells. A friend of mine had issues with it during her pregnancies, so I figured it didn’t hurt to get tested for it too.
When that came back normal, I was again sad and confused. There were literally NO answers as to what could be causing our repeat miscarriages. I mean, other than my egg quality. It sucked, but it was also good to at least know there was nothing else.
Nick and I sat down with our doc to go over the results and the next steps. She suggested mini stimulation IVF, which is not quite as in depth as IVF. So of course I googled and researched and had to know what it was all about. But it didn’t feel right. Not yet. We weren’t ready to go down that path. So Nick and I decided to try again on our own and go from there.
I'd already started making changes to my daily life at this point. Immediately following the miscarriage in October, I stopped taking my temperature. I stopped tracking my cycle. I stopped worrying about whether I was pregnant or going to get pregnant. I couldn’t spend all my time stressing over my period, or lack of one. It was actually freeing to let it all go.
And starting in January 2020, I decided to focus on myself again. I wasn’t happy with where I was or how I felt, so I decided to make some changes in my diet and lifestyle. I really backed off working out…I wasn’t competing anymore (with myself or anyone else). I completely changed my diet and started eating carnivore. That was a HUGE change, in which I felt better, I slept better, I had more energy, and my workouts were better. Nick and I also started taking CoQ-10, a supplement that has been shown to improve egg quality. But it’s also good for heart health, so we figured it wouldn’t hurt to add it in our daily routine.
I’d also made some changes in my work life to where I wasn’t as stressed and I wasn’t driving back and forth multiple times a day and/or week. Really, I just removed a lot of stress off myself. And it was nice.
It was nice to just be myself. To just be with my husband. To not track my cycle. To not worry about when I was ovulating. To just have fun. And whatever happened, happened. We weren’t stressing over getting pregnant or the next steps. We weren’t stressing over doctor appointments or blood work or trying to find answers to an unanswerable question. Sometimes things just don’t work out.
In February, my period was late. But I still waited to take a test. I almost didn’t want to know. If I didn’t know, it wasn’t real. Right?
But one morning, I decided I needed to know. I had one pregnancy test left. So I did my thing, peed on the stick, and almost immediately, it showed I was pregnant. I was pregnant. Again. And I wish I could say I was excited. But I was apprehensive. Because anything could happen. I know…I’d been there. But I was pregnant.
This time, however, I wanted to do things differently. I didn’t want to go in immediately and have blood work to test my beta levels. I didn’t want to go in at 6 weeks to get an ultrasound. I couldn’t watch another baby die via ultrasound. I just wanted a different experience.
So we waited. We waited until I was 8 weeks pregnant, or at least when I thought I was 8 weeks pregnant, to make an appointment. And I made it with a new doctor…just a regular OB/Gyn. I needed something new. Someone new.
They verified I was pregnant with a urine sample and blood work. So at least we got that confirmation. But the real confirmation was the first ultrasound. I laid on the table with Nick by my side holding my hand. And I stared at the ceiling. I couldn’t stand to look at the picture on the screen. I didn’t want to see what I’d seen so many times before.
She first checked my ovaries, which were fine, by the way. And then she found our baby. Our baby with a heartbeat, measuring at 8 weeks, 1 day. Exactly where I was supposed to be. And I cried. And finally looked at the screen. She checked the heartbeat, which we were able to hear loud and clear and steady! It was the first time we were measuring where we were supposed to be with a strong, steady heartbeat. I was in shock. We were where we were supposed to be!
The follow-up with the doc was a lot of questions about our history and what the reproductive specialist said. I told him about the MTHFR gene mutation and the blood thinners. He was on board with that plan, so he sent the prescription in. It's apparently a common thing, so I wasn't worried about it. Other than the fact I would be getting shots in my belly. Me, who hates shots...with a passion.
Thankfully, the pharmacist was able to give us instructions and I, of course, googled how to do it. But that first shot had my nerves and anxiety kicking in full gear! Nick has been giving me the shots as I don't know if I'd be able to do them myself. Most nights are okay, but there are some where I just break down in tears. Even before he gives me the shot. They aren't pleasant, but if it helps us have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby, then I will gladly continue doing it.
Our doc had me come back in a week later to check the fetal heart rate again. Which was fine with me, because it meant I got to see our little babe again. It was much like the first ultrasound. I laid on the table, staring at the ceiling until she let us hear the heartbeat. It was faster and steady and still going strong. It was music to my ears. We'd made it to 9 weeks...for the first time, ever.
Our next appointment was a couple weeks later for blood work for genetic testing and to find out the gender of the baby. It was a long couple weeks and ultimately, I ended up going in a little early, because I had a slight change in symptoms that freaked me out. But they did a quick ultrasound at 10 weeks, 5 days, and little babe was moving his/her (we didn’t know the sex then) arms all around and we could clearly see the heart beating. It was all the reassurance I needed to know everything was okay.
After having 5 miscarriages, being pregnant is hard. And scary. I worry, much more than I probably should. And I analyze literally everything that happens…or doesn’t happen. I constantly want to know that everything is okay. That there’s a heartbeat in there.
So my next appointment was two weeks after the blood draw for the genetic testing. It was another ultrasound and my 13 week check-up. Of course, I couldn’t wait to find out the answers from my blood work, so I called before my appointment to find out and to learn the gender of the baby. We learned that the genetic testing was all negative (a good thing!) and that we were having a boy!
Come ultrasound time, Nick wasn’t able to go with me because of all this corona virus nonsense, so I went by myself. My nerves are through the roof as I’m just waiting to see that the baby is okay. I’ve gotten brave though…I start looking at the screen as soon as they start. I want to see our baby and his heart beat. Sure enough, there he is. Waving his arm and hand around the entire time. We can see his heartbeat very clearly. She was unable to hear it though based on where he was located. But I was okay. I could see it. He was once again, measuring exactly where he should be at 13 weeks. I was, again, in awe. I loved him already.
My next appointment was the following day with the doc. Just a follow-up from the ultrasound and to ensure everything was going well with me. The doc tried using the fetal doppler so we could listen to baby’s heartbeat, but he was unable to find it simply based on the location of where he was. He kept finding my heartbeat though, loud and strong. So we went back to the ultrasound room. I was able to see our baby again. See that precious heartbeat. And when I called him a he, the nurse said, “You know the sex?” To which I responded, “Yes, it’s a boy.” She didn’t say anything else and I didn’t think anything of it.
Until we were done and she asked me who told me it was a boy. I told them I called to find out on Monday (I also needed a prescription refill) and whoever I talked to told me it was a boy. Well, as it turns out, the lady I spoke with misread the paperwork, and we are, in fact, having a little GIRL!
It was such a shocking morning. I didn’t know I would see my baby again, and now we were having a girl. I’d just wrapped my brain around having a boy. And now it was changed. Such a crazy turn of events!
And that’s where we are!
I know we aren’t out of the woods yet. Our journey certainly isn’t over. But I pray every day. And I thank God for this miracle growing inside me. It’s God’s will, whatever happens. But I cherish every appointment, every ultrasound, every opportunity to know our baby girl is still growing and thriving. And truthfully, this is the farthest we’ve ever been in any of our pregnancies.
I don’t know what we did differently that helped. I wish I could pinpoint something. But honestly, I think it was a combination of things. Taking the focus off getting pregnant really helped my stress level. 100%. I was so hyper focused on it that nothing else mattered. And that certainly doesn’t help when you’re trying to have a baby. I know it didn’t help me. I also know changing my work situation helped tremendously. I had been so stressed about it for so long that I know it wasn't healthy. I could feel the difference in my happiness levels as soon as I made that change. It really is amazing how much stress affects us as a whole.
I’m excited about our journey. I’m nervous about what the future holds and the rest of this pregnancy. But I’m embracing it. And I’m trying to enjoy it as much as I can…the good and the bad parts.
Our next appointment is next Wednesday. Stay tuned for updates :)
If you’ve stuck with me this long, thank you for reading our journey. It’s been a wild ride.
Have a beautiful week!
With love and wellness,