Family, infertility, Miscarriage, motherhood, parenting

They Were My Babies

Below is an essay I wrote earlier this year sharing our heartbreaking miscarriage at the end of 2019.  I originally pitched it to an online lifestyle website focused on motherhood, but they politely passed.  I have since decided the pass was a blessing so I could share it here on my personal blog.  I know I’m not alone, 10-20% of recognized pregnancies end in miscarriage, and I have held the hands of more than one friend who felt the same grief as we did.  Just days before we discovered that our pregnancy had ended I had seen my OB and a delivery date was scheduled for July 10, 2020.  It’s been a difficult week for me knowing that date would come and go but it feels right to share the story today in their honor.  This story is sad, so if you are feeling sensitive or are emotionally triggered by loss maybe skip this one. 

It was just a week before Christmas, and we were in the exam room for yet another ultrasound hoping to hear an all-clear.  It had been a crazy couple of weeks filled with worry, surprise and hope and now we were desperate for some good news.  The sonographer finally spoke, “I’m sorry, but from what I am seeing this is not a viable pregnancy”.  Suddenly, the roller coaster we had been riding came to screeching halt. 

A few months prior Jared and I had decided to try for a second baby and complete our family.  To clarify, by trying I don’t mean tracking cycles and planning intimacy. I mean seeing our IVF doctor and scheduling a frozen embryo transfer.  Our son, Duke, was conceived via Donor Egg IVF and while the process was long, expensive and emotionally challenging, it resulted in my perfect little boy who I couldn’t wait to see as a big brother. In addition to Duke, we were fortunate enough to have several embryos that would be frozen. In early November a perfect 4AA embryo was transferred and I was certain I was going to be pregnant.  Days later the second line turned pink – we were having another baby.

Arriving at our 7 week ultrasound I was so excited to see the flicker of a heartbeat but something wasn’t quite right.  The scan could not pick up a consistent heartrate and was toggling between a low 92 and 105.  The nurse practitioner assured us that she wasn’t concerned just yet, but we needed to come back the following week.  The next seven days were tense and scary, but I still had my pregnancy symptoms and no evidence of loss, so we were hopeful.  At our next visit the sonographer found a stronger heart rate of 129 but then she said something we will never forget ‘You only transferred one embryo, right?’

In a consultation room Jared sat with his face in his hands while the NP explained that our embryo split and I was carrying identical twins.  She presented all the information as if it was great news and while it was a relief that I was still pregnant, it was a brand-new pregnancy that we were not prepared for.  I would be turning 45 years old before they were born.  Duke wouldn’t be turning two for a month after their arrival.  Were we equipped to manage 3 babies under 2?  What if the pregnancy was difficult or dangerous?  I tried to put thoughts together to ask questions, but I was too stunned to pay attention.  We left the appointment in silence while I gripped a photo from the ultrasound of two tiny babies.

For the next week we did what we could to absorb the reality of what our new life would be.  I researched resources for twin parents and scheduled an appointment with a recommended high-risk OB.  Jared cautiously warmed up to the idea of a family of five and even called me one day to share that he thought of some names.  When it was time for us to have a follow up scan, our goal was a boring appointment with no surprises and ideally an all clear, but the scan showed no heartbeats and no growth since the week before.  Just shy of 10 weeks, the babies were gone. 

A couple of weeks later we sat down with our doctor for a follow up appointment and to set a plan for our next try.  Testing we had done on the tissue removed in the D&E revealed that the embryo had trisomy 15, a rare chromosome abnormality, which caused the embryo to split.  I tried to tell myself that they were never meant to be my babies but in my heart I had loved them from the moment I knew they were there.

Sometimes, the week we believed we would parents to three feels like a dream and I almost feel foolish for believing they were going to be my children.  I think about it every day and not a day goes by that I don’t relive the moment I was told they were gone.  Some days it’s a passing thought, some days I think about how far along I would be now, some days I sob all over again.    

It is my nature to always look for the positive and, in this instance, I have tried to focus on how fortunate we are that we have the opportunity to try again.  We know there are so many couples who face similar circumstances, but it was either there last or only chance.  This loss will give another embryo a chance at life.  The roller coaster stopped but I owe it to our family including the son I hold in my arms now, the babies who didn’t get a chance and the child that I believe is yet to be, to get back on and ride it up up up.

We did manage to have a very merry Christmas