I wrote this in August of 2016 just after our second loss. This is the second in my series that documents our struggle with recurrent pregnancy loss (RPL). Read the first post in this series here:
I hope by sharing my story publicly I can help women who are experiencing something similar. Hearing of other women’s struggles with fertility and recurrent miscarriage were and continue to be been inspirational to me, so I hope my experience can provide that same solace for someone else.
Oddly enough, it took getting pregnant again for me to be able to finally write about my first miscarriage. It wasn’t until I had hope for a new baby that I could truly sit down and write out or process what had happened the first time around.
I had planned to do it, but hadn’t had the courage.
Sitting there typing that second time around, I felt like since my story would undoubtedly have a happy ending, that it was now okay to write it. The little time I had been pregnant Andrew had seen and felt my worry the second time around. He encouraged me to find positivity and joy in this new pregnancy, which I was desperately trying to do. It was time to put the grieving for our first loss aside and make room for joy and hope in this new baby and writing about it – getting it all out there – would be the way I’d do that.
Looking back on it, I see waiting to do this as more cowardly than brave. Why was I unable to share my loss then and it was suddenly okay now that I was pregnant again? Deep down, I didn’t want to be seen as a failure. And also, I like stories with happy endings. And a second pregnancy that resulted in a baby would certainly be a happy ending.
Unfortunately, part way through writing that story, we again experienced heartbreak. Here is the story of our second loss.
The story of our second miscarriage picks up in August 2016, a few months past our first miscarriage in April 2016.
After our first miscarriage, which was full of questions surrounding how far along I actually was, I wanted to take the bull by the horns. I didn’t want that ambiguity this time. In trying to conceive and pregnancy there is not much you have control over, which is difficult for a planner like myself. So if there was some way to at least know the dates the next time around, by George, I was going to do it.
I went online and bought a bulk pack of ovulation tests and pregnancy tests. Throughout my first pregnancy I had read that the line on your pregnancy test should keep getting darker with time and that if it gets lighter again you could be miscarrying. I spent who knows how much money buying pregnancy tests that first time around, so I decided if this time around I’d save a bit of money and buy a big pack on Amazon! Andrew and I are both pretty frugal so we celebrated our thriftiness.
Our first month of trying again, the ovulation test didn’t turn positive until the day after Andrew had left town for the week for work. You can’t make a baby when you’re two time zones away, so no luck that month. I was annoyed at first but figured God had a reason for wanting us to wait.
The second month trying to conceive after our miscarriage we timed it perfectly. Andrew was in town this time, and I just had a really good feeling about our chances at getting pregnant again. I knew roughly when I had ovulated and mustered out the two week wait. Because had a strong idea of my ovulation date, I tried to avoid testing too early and waited until 14 days past ovulation to take my first test.
It felt like déjà vu. It was early Sunday morning and I couldn’t sleep. I had been trying to sleep through the night and had made myself wait till the morning to take a pregnancy test. (Most early pregnancy tests recommend testing with first morning urine since it has higher concentration levels of HCG.) The test came back with a very faint line. This time, fainter than last time around. But still, I thought, there was something there.
I started researching what a pregnancy test should look like at 14 dpo and I found an awesome website, Countdown to Pregnancy. It has galleries of pregnancy tests and allows people to vote on whether they see a line or not. It also has stats on pregnancy tests by days past ovulation. (These results are for people who only ended up reporting a positive test eventually.) At 14 dpo 12% of people still were getting very faint lines like me and another 12% were getting negative. So I was in the bottom 24%, but that seemed okay to me.
I posted mine and waited to see what others thought. The votes that came in said most thought it was positive. This provided some major reassurance that I wasn’t just seeing what I wanted to see.
I wasted most of my day on that website, somehow went to sleep and decided the next day I’d take another two pregnancy tests – one the same brand as I had taken that day and a digital one just to confirm.
Monday morning I jumped out of bed and immediately peed in a cup. I ran both tests. The line test was positive, but still pretty faint. It was definitely darker than the day before. The digital test was also positive. We were pregnant again! I ran back and hopped into bed, waking Andrew and sharing the good news. Normally I’m the sleepy one, but not that morning. We laughed and hugged and kissed and prayed over this new pregnancy.
Positive Progesterone Prognosis
Because my progesterone was low the first time around, the doctor had asked that I call her as soon as I got a positive home pregnancy test. At 8 am on the dot, I called the office and spoke with a nurse. My doctor would be at the hospital all day, but she’d show my chart another doctor in the practice and call me back. Later that afternoon around 2:30 p.m. I got a call back from the nurse saying the doctor there wanted me to come in for a blood test. Could I be there in 30 minutes? Sure. I was all about not having to wait.
The next day the doctor called with the results. My progesterone was 20! This was great news considering last time I was only at 7. At 20 they said my levels looked strong and I didn’t need to the supplement. This bit of news carried me throughout the week. Whenever I would worry I’d try to turn my worry into a prayer.
I also took solace in the numbers. The American Pregnancy Association states that the chance of having one miscarriage is about 15% to 20% for most healthy women, and that the odds of having a second miscarriage are only slightly higher—roughly 25%. “The first one was a fluke,” I kept saying to myself. This one would work out.
I keep taking pregnancy tests to see the line get darker, and, even though I was worried, I was feeling confident in the pregnancy. That is, until Friday.
A Lighter Line
After taking pregnancy tests Sunday thru Tuesday, I decided to take a few days off. The line was getting darker, my progesterone was good. Why worry myself? I took Wednesday and Thursday off and to reward myself for being so restrained, I decided to reward myself by taking another test on Friday morning. Bad move.
This time the line was light. Like not even see it light. I started to panic a little. I went online and started to read all the one star reviews the test I had bought had gotten on amazon. Oddly enough, the listing for the actual item I had bought had been removed from Amazon. But there were similar products from the same brand. All the one star reviews warned that the tests were not good and that most of the good reviews had acknowledgements that they had received free product in exchange for their review. I checked that out and it seemed to be a pattern.
The fact that there were so many one star reviews saying over and over that the tests weren’t producing strong lines when other brands were eased my mind. I mentally typed out a strongly worded complaint to Amazon as I went through meetings that morning.
The next day I was still thinking about that test and kicking myself for not asking for an HCG test when they did the first blood draw. Still now, I think it’s weird they didn’t do it. They only ordered the progesterone test. Not that it would have changed anything, but I would have liked to have something to compare against for next time.
The one thing that made me feel better was that my breasts started to get sore. That was a symptom I never had the first time around, so I felt good about it. I was also really tired, an early sign of pregnancy. But I am generally a pretty sleepy person, as my husband often likes to remind me, so that didn’t seem like as big of a deal.
The day after that I met up with my BFF. This time Andrew and I decided that we would wait to tell people till later, but I couldn’t resist telling her. I spilled it all from the progesterone levels and sore boobs, to my concerns over the lack of HCG test, and the light line and bad pregnancy test reviews. She cried when she heard and was so happy for me. She said that I should call my doctor Monday morning and request an HCG test for my peace of mind. Talking to her made me feel so much better and empowered to ask more out of my doctor.
It’s Happening Again
Monday morning I woke up confident and with a plan. But when I went to the bathroom as soon as I sat down blood started pouring. I was half awake and in shock. I shouted for Andrew. He tried to calm me down. He said we’d call the doctor as soon as they opened. I dazed through the next few minutes, accepting his comforting words and got in the shower to get ready for work. The blood kept coming though and soon I burst out into tears. I knew what was happening. This wasn’t normal. It was happening again. I sat on the floor of the shower weeping. I eventually got out and Andrew held me in his arms.
Not long after we were sitting back in the obgyn’s office. I had gotten myself through the morning hours thinking the bleeding would still be light. But when I went to change for the ultrasound the blood I saw had increased. The ultrasound technician let us know that there were no signs of pregnancy from what she could see, but it was still really early. (Based on my last monthly period and ovulation records I was only 5 weeks pregnant.) Next, we met with the doctor. She explained it could be one of three things:
- Chemical Pregnancy (CP) – She explained that a chemical pregnancy is something they call it when you have a miscarriage before there are visible signs of a pregnancy on an ultrasound. Chemical pregnancies are very common, but they often happen early enough that sometimes people don’t even know they were pregnant since you start to bleed around the time of your expected period.
- Ectopic Pregnancy – An ectopic pregnancy is a pregnancy that occurs outside the uterus. They can be dangerous, so she wanted to do some blood test to see if this was a possibility.
- Just some Bleeding – Lastly, this could just be implantation bleeding or could cure itself and I could go on to have a healthy pregnancy. (I didn’t think this was the case.)
She explained how the blood test would provide further clarity and promised us she would mark them “urgent” so we could get some answers sooner than later. This time I came prepared with more questions about next steps. If this was in fact a chemical pregnancy would it also count as a miscarriage? She said yes. (There are some mixed articles out there some saying a chemical pregnancy doesn’t count as a miscarriage, but I have decided that if it does for my doctor, it does for me.)
I asked her about further testing, now that we had technically had two miscarriages and she did offer to do some standard testing for recurrent pregnancy loss (RPL). Once my levels went back down to normal we could do that testing.
RPL: Recurrent Pregnancy Loss
This time when we left the doctor’s office Andrew and I went back down to the parking lot and I cried in my car. I felt so defeated. Two pregnancies, no babies. Not only did we have another miscarriage, but we now had an acronym. RPL. Recurrent pregnancy loss. I had heard the doctor saying there was a chance everything would be fine. But I knew it wasn’t going to be. There was too much blood.
Just a few hours later a nurse called. The blood tests pointed to chemical pregnancy. I had people huddled in my office and I couldn’t escape to ask all the questions I had wanted to ask so I had to get off the phone pretty quickly. I held it together okay at first, but soon I lost it. People kept coming into my office and their requests, seemed so small compared to what I was feeling. Finally, my office mate could see something was wrong. She politely asked them to come back and shut the door so I could cry. She is the best.
We kept the door shut most of the day and I distracted myself with work. That was sort of the theme of miscarriage number two. Distracting myself with work. This time around I couldn’t take a week off to grieve again. (Honestly, my company is so awesome and understanding they probably would have let me, but I had a lot to do and couldn’t stand the idea of sitting home and thinking about it all day.) I poured myself into a few big work projects, and, at night, would come home and cry with Andrew.
Monday I hit one week since miscarriage number two. I honestly don’t know how I’m doing. Sometimes I’m fine, others I can’t contain my sorrow. Even though we only had our baby for one short week, I don’t think it was any easier than the first time. Andrew had started to call this one jelly bean. I miss being pregnant. I miss jelly bean.
Andrew and I had been praying that our next baby would get to live, to be “real.” And that didn’t happen. I don’t understand why. I worry about the future. I thought we’d be able to say we had a miscarriage and it was hard and horrible, but then go on to have a healthy baby.
Right now it feels hopeless. I am already starting to research books and tests for recurrent pregnancy loss. I also want to look into talking to a fertility doctor. I can’t imagine going through this again, and I’m going to do everything I can to make sure it doesn’t.
If you have experienced or are experiencing a miscarriage and need someone to talk to or ask questions of, I’m here to talk or chat. Email me or message me on Instagram. I may not have the words you need to hear, but I’m happy to offer prayers and listen.
Since my first post I’ve gotten messages from several friends and strangers sharing their stories of multiple miscarriages and asking if I had any resources I could share.
I will share more about how we eventually got pregnant with our rainbow baby in my next post, but for now I wanted to share a book that was helpful for me in understanding the testing that goes along with RPL.
Not Broken: An Approachable Guide to Miscarriage and Recurrent Pregnancy Loss offers well researched information about miscarriage and RPL Though I wasn’t 100% on board on all their recommendations (like not touching receipt paper), I did find the book useful and would highly recommend it to anyone wanting to learn more and educate themselves on this subject.