Recurrent Miscarriage: When You're In The 1% Club
After my first marriage tore me apart with infidelity, I started writing to help others and to help myself. My story evolved and I found love after heartbreak. I even went on to remarry. We wanted to expand our new blended family with another child, but with each loss, I convinced myself that it would happen when the time is right. The nonsense mantras that we tell ourselves when something in life hasn’t gone to plan.
Each loss becomes easier in some ways, and far more painful in others. I am now a little numb to the news when it initially comes, but after five losses, the pain during the aftermath is devastating.
It feels like we have done this so many times now, the joy of a positive test followed by visits to the early pregnancy unit for reassurance. I hate everything about that place, from the color of the waiting room walls to the smell of the corridors and all the memories that come with it. The elation of being shown the flicker of a heartbeat, which gave us so much hope, followed two weeks later by yet more sorrow.
I have two beautiful children by my first marriage; I am one of the lucky ones. But I keep getting pregnant because I want to give my husband and me the one thing that we do not have — a little bit of us. Someone, as I said, who binds us all together.
I have read every article and searched every pregnancy forum for answers: everyone has a different opinion and no two are exactly the same. We have had tests and will no doubt need more, but it is so frustrating when there is no clear problem and no quick solution. I have been told by the professionals that miscarriage is very common and there is every chance that things will be fine next time. And while I know that statistically many women will experience one miscarriage in their lifetime, only 1% of women will suffer recurrent miscarriage (the occurrence of three or more consecutive miscarriages).
It really is the wrong 1% club to be a part of.
I took this whole process for granted. Having had two children in my twenties with no complications, I thought I would just be able to do it all again with no problems. I wrote about pregnancy loss after one miscarriage and an ectopic pregnancy. Since then, our road has been no easier with three more losses, the latest of which was almost one week shy of three months. My heart and my body feel broken.
The problem with recurrent miscarriage is the only thing that can relieve the sadness that engulfs every corner of your being is to be pregnant again. There is a desperation to fill the void with the very thing that has been robbed from you. Each time hoping that this will be the one that sticks. And when it doesn’t, you are literally catapulted back to square one. Each one lost, but not forgotten.
It is lonely in the 1% club. The old you, the one who could welcome the weekend with a glass or two of something, is gone. You are “trying,” but you have been trying for so long, and have failed so many times, that sticking to rules feels vital. Then you have one less factor to blame when it all goes wrong.
You long for an uncomplicated routine, to be able to plan ahead, and for the weightlessness of not carrying grief around like a heavy but invisible burden. The secrecy that shrouds the first 12 weeks of pregnancy puts your life on hold. We have been in that phase five times in the last 15 months and it is both difficult and emotionally exhausting, most especially for the woman. Friends and family feel you pull away as you hide, waiting to see if this time you can eventually share some happy news with them. And then you don’t. You feel as though you have hidden for no reason, and that time has been wasted with nothing to show for it.
I have found it easier to cope knowing that some sort of support system was in place: A few key people who know my secret beyond my husband and are there, no matter the outcome. I have found comfort in talking to friends who have also experienced loss and who understand the feelings that come hand in hand with the hormonal roller coaster of miscarriage.
I haven’t shied away from my losses and I haven’t kept them to myself. It is a topic that is so sensitive and so very personal, but recent research has highlighted the importance of asking for help and the links between miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy and anxiety and/or long term post-traumatic stress. Women need more support following early pregnancy loss, as it can have a severely negative impact on mental health. It is a topic that we shy away from discussing; we don’t open up because it is not the thing to mention our fertility, or lack of. But despite how difficult it might feel, talking is important, and it is always okay to ask for help.
Where do I go from here? When you have suffered recurrent miscarriage one of the things many people ask is, “Do you think you can go on and keep trying?” My answer is simple: Yes. Absolutely yes. In my mind, this journey and all this pain has to count for something. I do believe that I will hold our baby some day and when we do, we will be all the more grateful as a result of our story. Until then, I will ask for help, I will seek more answers, and I will try to remember the woman I was before I joined the 1%. She is lost (for now), but not forgotten — and as lonely as it sometimes feels, you are never alone.
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