Disclaimer: This story contains details of pregnancy loss that may be triggering to some.
“Six and a half years ago, on Memorial Day weekend, I had my first miscarriage. I was 23 years old, a picture of health, and had just celebrated 6 months of marriage. The most difficult part of looking back on that six-month period is grieving the loss of innocence. The bliss of talks and dreams about one day growing our family. The expectation to plan for a baby after seeing two pink lines on our first pregnancy test. Never in a million years did I ever imagine we would be ‘that couple’ who finds themselves in the unfortunate less than 1% statistic. Yet there we were.
On that Memorial Day weekend, my dreams were shattered as I miscarried my first baby just a few hours after seeing their flickering heartbeat on the ultrasound screen. I was reassured by the Emergency Room doctor that everything looked great and we didn’t need to worry about a little bit of spotting. In just a few hours, we went from elated to devastated when the unimaginable happened. Just 5 months later, the unimaginable happened again. Then again. Then again. Then again. Then again. Then again. Then again. Eight times in a row.
Grief is one of those things that’s truly impossible to comprehend or understand until you are in the middle of it. It’s one of those things we can’t be taught how to do. We have to stumble through the process ourselves. There were days in our early journey when I literally didn’t have the energy to take a shower or even brush my hair. The recurrence of our losses exponentially increased my feelings of anxiety, desperation, and fatalistic thinking.
I remember sitting on my couch one night about a week after my 8th loss in 2018, drinking a glass of wine, and just weeping. I remember wishing anything would take away the pain, but nothing did. It became harder and harder to believe things would ever work out. I felt numb. I felt immense pain. I felt completely hopeless. I have never yearned more for Heaven and Jesus to come back than I did in those weeks.
I wasn’t suicidal, but most days I didn’t know if I wanted to live anymore. Life was just too painful. I remember literally having to force myself to breathe. I just didn’t have the energy or will to even take a breath. Breathing was hard. Getting out of bed was hard. Showering was hard. Smiling was hard. Talking was hard. Just existing was hard. As years passed, the hope of being able to carry a pregnancy to term died a little more. The dream of hearing my child cry with life in the delivery room of a hospital died a little bit more. Each year, I found myself another year older wondering every Memorial Day, birthday, anniversary, and Christmas if next year would be the year we would become a family of 3.
It wasn’t until I decided to stop and allow my body and spirit to rest, that I began to truly heal and find the courage to hope again. After we lost our first baby in 2014, we probably would’ve told you we were praying for a ‘rainbow baby’ (aka a baby born after loss). Since then, we’ve come to understand that a rainbow baby can’t heal our hurt or erase the loss we’ve experienced. The beauty of a rainbow is the ability to heal and rebuild hope in the midst of incredible loss and devastating circumstances. Seeing a rainbow today will always remind me there is beauty and hope in the midst of heartbreaking destruction. Having hope, mourning the loss, and celebrating life are not mutually exclusive. In fact, I believe the rainbow represents all of these things equally as they beautifully blend to demonstrate the complexity of life. There are grief and hope, sorrow and joy, and loss and life all at the same time.
After taking nearly two years of time to heal our hearts, David and I began to talk about building our family again. We still had no answers for our previous losses. We talked with our doctor who encouraged us to consider surrogacy. We were open to the idea, but we felt uncomfortable asking someone to carry a baby for us—it seemed like too big of an ask.
I knew firsthand how difficult the IVF process is. With all the self-injections and hormones involved, I couldn’t imagine asking someone to go through that for a baby they couldn’t keep. Instead, we began pursuing adoption. We talked with an adoption attorney, began doing research, and put together an adoption profile. After multiple attempts to schedule a home study, we began feeling a little discouraged. However, we continued to pray and ask God for direction.
As we spent more and more time in prayer, we both began to feel a stirring in our hearts to ‘try again.’ They say insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Honestly even saying, ‘Would you think about trying again?’ out loud caused both of us to question our sanity at times.
Nevertheless, we couldn’t shake the feeling and made an appointment with our doctor. We told him we were considering trying again and asked him if he thought we were crazy. He said he didn’t think we weren’t crazy, but there was nothing new medically we could try. With our history of recurrent loss, we probably shouldn’t get our hopes up. In spite of this, David and I both felt a supernatural sense of peace to move forward. We didn’t know if it would work, but somehow we knew deep down in our hearts that even if it didn’t, we would be OK.
We decided to move forward with an embryo transfer in February 2020. Our doctor agreed to transfer two embryos—something they almost never do at our clinic with PGS tested frozen embryos. Getting pregnant on our own wasn’t possible for us because two of our eight pregnancy losses were ectopic, and I no longer had fallopian tubes.
Despite the odds being stacked against us, our doctor and fertility clinic never gave up on our story. I ordered the familiar boxes of medications, had my bloodwork done for what felt like the 100th time, and made the phone call to transfer our precious frozen embryos from a storage facility in Florida back to South Carolina.
Just a few weeks after we began preparing for our embryo transfer, I got the most unexpected and precious phone call from a dear family member offering to surrogate for us. It was the most unbelievably generous and selfless act of kindness anyone has ever offered to do for us. Her offer made us consider changing our plans. After all, the odds were still stacked against us to have a healthy, full-term pregnancy considering my history. As David and I considered her generous offer, we didn’t feel peace about changing course. We decided to keep moving forward as planned with our scheduled embryo transfer.
I think our families may have also questioned our sanity at this point, and I honestly couldn’t blame them. Why would anyone in their right mind turn down an offer like that just to try again with impossible odds and no increased chance of success? I can’t explain why other than the unexplainable peace in our hearts. This was the direction God was leading our family.
On February 18th, we transferred two beautiful embryos back into my uterus—embryos that had been conceived three years prior and frozen in time. It felt so right to have them back where they belonged, but I began to feel the familiar grips of anxiety and doubt attempting to take over my thoughts. The two-week wait was excruciatingly difficult. We decided not to tell our friends or family when we would be trying again. We also decided early on we wouldn’t be taking an at-home pregnancy test this time.
Walking into the fertility clinic to have my blood drawn felt like the longest journey of my life. I knew in just a few hours, we would know if our journey with these embryos was over or just beginning. The nurse called so we could hear the results together. I immediately burst into tears when the nurse said, ‘Well, it’s positive! In fact, it’s VERY positive!’ Our HCG levels were already over 1000. I had my blood drawn again two days later to confirm the levels were rising as they should. They more than doubled to over 3000. David and I were over the moon, but cautious as it was still very early.
The day before our first ultrasound, I started spotting at 6 weeks pregnant. Nearly every one of our prior losses started exactly this way at almost exactly the same time. We were out of town for a wedding and my heart just sank. Pregnancy after loss is incredibly complicated. Even though it can be perfectly normal to spot in early pregnancy (especially after IVF), personal experience and history of loss can hijack your brain and cause you to relive the losses again. At our ultrasound the next morning, I braced myself for the familiar bad news and instead was told ‘There are two heartbeats!’ Both babies looked amazing and were measuring ahead.
We had almost weekly ultrasounds after to assess the babies’ growth and ensure things were progressing well. Right around this time, until 10 weeks, the COVID-19 pandemic really hit and David was no longer allowed to come to ultrasounds with me. This was incredibly difficult and triggering to work through. Just two years prior, I had been alone in the ultrasound room in the midst of a failing pregnancy. I was rushed into emergency surgery when the sonographer discovered a larger than expected baby with a heartbeat flickering away, growing in the wrong place in my fallopian tube.
Every ultrasound I had to walk into alone and without David brought me back to that moment when I was signing consent forms to terminate my much wanted baby in order to save my own life. No matter how well my doctors said the babies and I were doing in this pregnancy, I couldn’t shake the fear of walking into the ultrasound room alone and hearing the words I’ve heard so many times before, ‘I’m so sorry, but there is no heartbeat.’
Pregnancy after loss feels a little like driving a car for the first time after a terrible car accident. Now imagine you crashed every time you drove. This is what pregnancy after recurrent loss feels like. Even though things are progressing well and your doctors aren’t concerned, you remember what it feels like to crash over and over and over again. It’s hard to imagine a world where something doesn’t go wrong. After all, a 1% chance of loss doesn’t mean much to someone who’s experience has been 100%.
Pregnancy after loss, especially in the middle of a pandemic, is hard. It’s worrying you haven’t felt a baby move in a few hours. It’s praying there won’t be blood every time you use the bathroom. It’s analyzing every ache and twinge. It’s falling asleep with your hand on your belly so you can cherish those sweet baby kicks all through the night. It’s going to the hospital at 23 and 25 weeks pregnant for monitoring because you’re worried your Braxton Hick’s contractions could be preterm labor.
It’s hard to believe we are in the final weeks of this pregnancy and we will be welcoming our sweet babies any day now. While some days I struggle with believing these babies will be here safe and healthy in my arms, I am learning to step deeper and deeper into peace and trust in God and the beautiful story He is writing. I am learning to trust that my body will continue to carry these babies safely until I can carry them in my arms. I refuse to live in constant fear of ‘what-if’s’ and catastrophic thinking. I never want to miss out on the beauty this life has to offer. I would have never experienced this pregnancy with these miracle babies if I let fear rule my life.
One day, my sweet son and daughter will learn about the 6-year journey we took to get to them and their older brothers and sisters in heaven. The most important thing I hope they learn is that they don’t exist to be the answer to our prayers, ease the sting of loss we have felt, or to make their dad and me happy. These babies have a life and a purpose in store for them that goes way beyond our story. I can’t wait to watch them soar and I am beyond ecstatic I get to be their mom.
If you or someone you know is still in the throws of recurrent pregnancy loss, know there is hope. We still don’t have any answers as to why we lost our first eight pregnancies, and we don’t know why this pregnancy has been different. I personally believe God is a God who heals, redeems, restores, and rewrites our stories. I cry nearly every day at the little details He is writing into mine. Our story has truly come full circle.
October will not only be the birth month of our miracle twins, but it is the month we will celebrate seven years of marriage. October is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month and the month we lost two previous pregnancies. In these final days, I am grateful for the gift this pregnancy and these babies have been. I am grateful my body carried these babies and kept them safe—something I never knew if I would be able to experience.
If you are struggling with infertility, I know how hard this month can be. I understand that sometimes hearing stories like mine can be hard. My hope in sharing my story is to give you hope. You are not alone, your story isn’t over, you are seen, and you are loved.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Lindsay A. Blair of Greenville, South Carolina. You can follow her journey on Instagram and her blog. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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