A few years ago I joined an elite group of women. It was a membership that I wanted no part of. You see, I was among the very small percentage of women who suffers from recurrent miscarriage, or early pregnancy loss.
At some points in my life I have questioned if I wanted to have children at all, but it never occurred to me to question if I would have the choice to have them. When it began to sink in that I really might not be able to sustain a pregnancy, I was heartbroken.
My journey began with an accidental pregnancy right before my wedding. My husband and I were in Hawaii and I knew I was pregnant. Not long after we confirmed my suspicions with a pregnancy test, I lost the pregnancy.
Apparently, as my Google searches indicated, it’s pretty common to lose a pregnancy early on and then go on to have a totally normal one. I was sad, but I was also still in shock about being pregnant at all, and the wedding was a welcome distraction.
Sometime later and pregnant again, I had a dream about a certain lake that my husband and I love. We try to go every summer and whenever we do, it never fails to feel magical. Sometimes I remember it almost like it’s a painting. Time has a way of moving slowly there and things seem to sparkle a little bit.
In this dream I was in the dark lake holding my baby, or maybe I was a baby and my mom was holding me. It was hard to tell, in that strange way that it often is with dreams. Whoever we were, I just knew that I didn’t ever want to let go. But in the next instant we were separating, and one of us was drifting away. I watched us move apart. It was sad but also kind of beautiful.
When I woke up I knew that I would miscarry.
It would happen two more times after that, and each time would be more devastating than the last.
For a long time I tried to find answers, both medical and spiritual. I read everything that I could find. One book really spoke to me in its brief mention of recurrent miscarriage: it suggested that the same soul kept trying to come through until it finally had success. Another passage that I found suggested that perhaps all that that soul ever wanted was what it experienced briefly in the womb. Both are nice to think about.
In my heart, I knew I could embark upon only one more pregnancy – that which would be my fifth – regardless of how it ended. In my mind, to protect myself from the sense of loss and lack of control, I was already assembling the things that would compensate for my childless life: travel, charity work, a more meaningful career.
Before taking the final plunge, I wanted to be sure I had done all my homework, that I had all the tests that I could have, and that I could confidently say when all was said and done that I had tried everything before giving up.
The good news was that I had no problem getting pregnant. Charlie and I could practically blink a pregnancy into being; I just couldn’t seem to hang onto it, and no one could ever tell me why.
On the medical side of things, I quickly learned that it was up to me to advocate for myself. I photocopied everything and brought my compiled medical records to each new doctor as I moved ‘up’ the ladder of specialists.
Ultimately, I landed with a very well respected expert who was conducting a study. He was looking for that elite group of women that I had so reluctantly joined: the few of us who have had three or more medically documented pregnancy losses. He needed me and I needed him.
Our relationship was rather formal and at times too cold for my liking, but I followed his regime exactly.
It took me a long time to believe that I was really staying pregnant.
The next pregnancy dream that I had was much different from the first. A little boy told me that this time things would be okay, and I saw a chubby baby wearing a Christmas sleeper, lazing in a wicker basket by the tub. Later in the same dream, a mini version of my husband sauntered down some stairs while I marveled at how quickly the time goes. His name was ‘Chad’.
That last pregnancy was a success – a big success – and now we have Isaac. My husband and I are incredibly grateful.
I often think of those little souls who have touched my life so profoundly. While I didn’t get to carry them to term, I do carry them in my heart, always, and I know that they are there to stay.