Thursday, May 29, 2008

In Memory

People sometimes ask me if there's something I do as a memorial to the babies I've lost. First, let me say that I know people grieve in many different ways. I don't really think there's any "wrong" way to grieve. For me, I just feel it would be too painful to do something for every anniversary. July 6, March 28, October 7, July 22, August 8, January 22. Those are my miscarriage dates. I don't know them all from memory. I had to look them up. If I added all the due dates, that would be a total of 12 different anniversaries. Painful ones.

Our first miscarriage happened just as we were moving into our new home. A few months later we decided to plant a tree in the backyard as a kind of memorial. Of course at the time I had no idea that it was the first of many losses. Although we have a pretty spacious backyard, it can't quite support a forest of trees! But, my sister bought me a lovely little plaque that sits in front of the tree with the Scripture reference Mark 10: 14-16, and we keep nice flowers planted around the tree year-round. We don't treat it like a grave or have any kind of traditions around the tree, but it's nice to have something standing as a reminder to us for all those little lives that were lost.

I would never criticize the way anyone might choose to remember someone they'd lost. Actually, I think maybe it looks strange to people that I don't do more to remember. I'm not a very "touchy-feely" gal and am not always comfortable with showing emotion. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I'm still dealing with this issue. It's a real struggle in my life today. I don't actively seek to remember the loss because it's with me every minute of every day. And I know it always will be to a certain degree, even after we become parents.

Anyway, I think it's fine for people who choose to remember their miscarriages in different ways, and fine for those who don't want a memorial. I can understand both points of view.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Where We Are Now (May 2008)

Our doctor felt that since we had been able to find and correct some problems with the surgery in January, we should be safe to try again after I recovered. The most surprising thing to us was his simple approach. No shots, no progesterone supplements, no standing on my head (ok, I’d never tried that third one before). Just prenatal vitamins and continue with the baby aspirin and my usual thyroid medication. (I haven’t mentioned that before but I have hypothyroidism. Thyroid problems run in my family so I’ve been on top of it from the beginning.)

It feels like starting all over again but it almost feels good to start from scratch. That’s a weird expression to use here since nothing we do from here on out is from scratch! We have been down a very long road and now that all of that is behind us I can’t pretend it didn’t happen. I’ve hit most of the major points here. If you have read all three parts of My Story let me just say, “Wow.” You deserve a medal, or at the very least, a cookie. (I’d choose a cookie over a medal any day!) I really do appreciate the time it took for you to read it all and share in some way in our story.

So here we are at another crossroad. I’m not sure what will happen next as we try again. I do remain hopeful, which may seem ridiculous to someone who just read all of that. I know it doesn’t make sense. But I believe it can happen. And if doesn’t I’ll be very, very sad but we will be ok. I know that one way or another there are great things to come somewhere down the road.

My Story - Part 3

Pregnancy #4
The next pregnancy was in June of 2005. Feeling very encouraged about having fixed a problem, we were on cloud nine. We were a little nervous, of course, but we felt like this would be The One. My first blood tests looked great – HCG was high and progesterone was good. It was time for what had become for us the dreaded first ultrasound. The ultrasound showed only a gestational sac but we weren’t too terribly worried just yet, especially with the good blood tests. The worst part of the visit was when we discovered that our beloved doctor had moved away since our last visit! We were very sad and to make things worse, we REALLY disliked the other doctor at that office. The new doctor totally squashed our hopes when she said she thought the numbers were too high and the sac looked too large. Even though I loathed her bedside manner, I was sure she was a skilled doctor, so we tried to keep ourselves level-headed and just hear all the facts. We had blood drawn again and a few days later heard that the numbers still looked great. We were so confused.
Now we were dealing with a new problem – finding a new doctor. Not because she gave us bad news, but because our personalities just didn’t click. At all. We had another ultrasound at that office with the hopes of seeing a yolk sac – and we did! But Dr. Doom stepped in and again said not to get our hopes up. She said to come back in two weeks and then we should know for sure. Two weeks later, it was the best ultrasound we’d ever had. The baby measured at a little over 8 weeks and we could see a heartbeat and even tiny little leg buds on the body. The doc had to admit that the baby looked great! We breathed a huge sigh of relief but were still thinking we wanted to change doctors.
After some investigating we found out that our other doctor had simply moved to another practice in the city. We gave her a call and she kindly invited us to visit her at the new office. About a week later we went to see her and she did another ultrasound. I remember it was the toughest day of our whole infertility experience at that time. The baby had grown to 9 weeks but the heart was no longer beating. No one knew why. We had no clue that something had gone wrong. We were devastated. A few days later we had one more ultrasound to be certain that there was no change. It was definitely over, so we scheduled another D&C for July 22, 2005. We felt we were back at square one.
The next few months were filled with more doctors: a high-risk pregnancy doctor, a genetic counselor, our fertility specialist, and even a urologist (to check my husband’s sperm for fragmentation – that didn’t pan out). It was really disheartening to see that our specialist was just about as stumped as we were.
I have to admit at this point that I was very, very frustrated. It made me angry that we had thus far tried everything the doctors could think of and we were continually given the advice, “Try again and see what happens.” That’s extremely hard to hear. I want to keep trying to have a full-term pregnancy, sure, but as I keep trying we keep losing one baby after another. That’s just not ok with me. We are very serious about being cautious and wise about these decisions. We refused to try unless we had made some change that hopefully would work. We’ve never had an “accidental” pregnancy. It’s always very well thought out and planned according to our treatment. When we don’t want to get pregnant, we use protection. Along the way we’ve never been told by a doctor that this just will never work out.

Pregnancy #5
After another full year of tests and doctors and with a new plan we attempted another pregnancy. It came along in July of 2006. I had previously been diagnosed with the MTHFR mutation and had been on extra folic acid along with baby aspirin for years. But the high-risk pregnancy doctor I started seeing suggested that we have tests to check for any blood clotting disorders. After reviewing the tests he thought it was possible that, although my homocysteine level was not unusual, I may have problems related to Thrombophilia, and thought that using the blood thinner Lovenox during pregnancy might help me. I immediately started using the Lovenox injections in my stomach when I found out I was pregnant. It wasn’t a pleasant thing to do every night, but I felt if it worked that it was a small price to pay.
Unfortunately it didn’t seem to help anything. I woke up the morning of August 8 feeling crampy and I had started bleeding. I had blood work just to verify that the numbers were dropping and that was miscarriage #5. It was over pretty quickly as I was just a few weeks along, and I did not have a D&C.

Pregnancy #6
This was my last pregnancy to date and it began in November, 2006. It was really more of the same with the doctors, blood work, and Lovenox injections. The HCG and progesterone levels looked good but the ultrasounds never did. We had a lot of them and although we did see some progression of the gestational sac and yolk sac, we never did see any growth of the baby. After 2 weeks had passed and we could still see no development, we knew that once again it wasn’t going to happen. I had a D&C later that January of 2007, just a few days before my 30th birthday.
That last pregnancy did bring about a few more changes. After a few visits with our trusted specialist where the three of us basically looked at each other and shrugged our shoulders, we realized that maybe it was time to move on. We have no hard feelings toward her but it was just time. I think she was truly out of ideas. We decided to seek out a different doctor. We felt like we had exhausted all of our options locally and decided to find another fertility specialist downtown. We began seeing him in July of 2007 and he has scheduled many tests and a couple of surgeries over the past year.
Here’s a quick rundown:
August 2007: Hysterosalpingogram (HSG) test – another dye test to check that my fallopian tubes are open and to look at the uterus by x-ray.

October 2007: Endometrial Function Test (EFT) – basically a biopsy of cells from the uterine lining.
Those samples along with some of the tissue samples from past miscarriages were sent to a doctor at Yale University. The biopsy showed Glandular Developmental Arrest (GDA) but the overall diagnosis did not identify one problem that could be linked to all of my miscarriages. It was a little like getting punched in the stomach. Instead of one problem, we likely have several problems that contribute to recurrent miscarriage. (From what I understand, GDA is a problem where at certain stages of your cycle, the glands in the uterine lining cease to go through their normal changes or development.)

January 2008: Laparoscopy – Our new doctor wanted to do an exploratory laparoscopy. I could understand why. We had transferred hundreds of pages of our medical records to his office with tons of tests and some previous surgeries, all done by other doctors. His main areas of concern were the shape and condition of my uterus after the septum surgery, and the possibility that I may have developed any scar tissue or endometriosis. It did seem like a big deal for me to have yet another surgery just for a big “maybe,” but at the same time I knew that it could help. I was glad after it was over and we got the report. The doctor was able to use a laser to clean up the scar tissue that had formed where the septum had been (basically creating another septum although smaller) and he did in fact find and also clean up some endometriosis. That was a first for me. I had never been diagnosed with it before, but I do know that it can appear later even if it didn’t exist before. The doc definitely seemed pleased that we’d gone ahead with the surgery.

My Story - Part 2

Pregnancy #2
There were very hard times that followed that first experience. I was still nervous about trying again and afraid of what might happen. It was hard to escape the sadness of my situation and the feelings of emptiness and loss. My sister had her second baby boy that December and I got to be in the delivery room for that amazing experience! As thrilled as I was then and as much as I adore that 5-year-old and his big brother today, it was hard not to feel that same old pain.
In February of 2003 I found out I was pregnant for the second time. My fears came true when things progressed much like the first pregnancy. We knew for sure that things weren’t going well when the ultrasound at 11 weeks didn’t look good. This time I scheduled a D&C (in March, 2003) after I started bleeding the next day. I didn’t want the trauma of what had happened to me before. I definitely don’t feel that the surgery is an easy way to handle it. You still have the emotional pain and sadness, and you have to recover physically but for me it did take out the guessing and saved me some physical pain.
Of course, the worst part about miscarriage #2 was that now we realized we might be dealing with a problem. I’d had two very similar first trimesters and it seemed unlikely that it was just a coincidence. In August of 2003 we started seeing a fertility specialist. We live near a big city, but we were glad to find a good place that was just 15 minutes from home in our smaller town. We really liked our doctor and immediately felt a connection with her. My husband and I both had lots and lots of tests run to see if there was anything obvious that might be causing us problems. The tests revealed nothing “bad” – in fact they showed that my husband’s fertility was fantastic. Sure, that’s great news, but it did make me feel… well, crappy. I was pretty sure already that the problem was with me and it was really easy to let the guilt creep in. Fortunately, my husband reassured me that this was our problem and we would get through it together, no matter what any tests showed.

Pregnancy #3
The next year was really hard. It hadn’t taken us long to conceive either time before but now it didn’t happen until a year later, in September 2004. I’d spent the whole year counting cycle days, using progesterone supplements, having blood drawn twice a month, and taking pregnancy tests. This time, however, the pregnancy didn’t advance very far. I was only 6 weeks along and the HCG levels never got very high. I had the miscarriage at home and the next week we decided to go on a vacation. It was definitely time to get away. We spent a wonderful week in New England that October, making good memories in the midst of very difficult times.
After we got home we began talking to our doctor about having exploratory surgery. She thought it would be a good idea to have a look at my uterus and see if I had any kind of “structural” problem. We scheduled a hysteroscopy for that November, and the doctor did find that she could not see both of my fallopian tubes with the scope at the same time. This suggested that my uterus had a different shape than normal, but to be certain she wanted to do an MRI. The two possibilities were either a septum (or division) in my uterus or what was called a bicarnuate uterus. We set up the MRI for the next month, in December, and also did an IVP test – where dye is injected while they watch your kidney function by x-ray. Apparently some women with developmental problems of the uterus may only be born with one kidney, so the point of the IVP was to test my kidney function. My internal organs checked out fine and the MRI showed that I did have a septum, like a wall, dividing my uterus. We actually felt relieved. At last, an answer! The doctor reassured us that it was a fairly easy thing to correct. She was pretty sure that it may be the cause of our miscarriages since the septum creates concave areas in the uterus where it can be difficult for a baby to implant or grow.
(*By the way, I’m writing this based on notes I took in my journal at the time and am not going through the trouble of looking up all the official medical terms. Please excuse me if I’ve muddled it up too much!)
We began 2005 with a renewed hope and I was just sure it would be the year we’d have a baby. In January I had the laparoscopy/hysteroscopy to correct the septum. The doc said everything else looked fine – she didn’t find any signs of endometriosis or any other problem. We were feeling pretty good at that time that after I recovered we would be able to have a healthy pregnancy. I even had my wisdom teeth pulled a little while later so I could take care of that before the baby came along!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

My Story - Part 1

Back in 2001 my husband and I had been married for three years and I had graduated from college two years earlier. It was an exciting time for us as we had decided to move away from my husband’s hometown so he could pursue a wonderful job opportunity. The new chapter in our lives had us thinking about the future and about the possibility of having children. Growing up I’d always wanted to be a wife and mom. My mom had stayed home with my sister, brother, and me and I always admired that and hoped to do the same with my children. We decided that with the move and new job it would be a great transition time for me to stop working and have a baby. I was 24 years old and healthy and never imagined we’d have any problems. I didn’t know of anyone in my immediate family who had had trouble having children, and to tell you the truth I just never really thought about it happening to me.
We lived in an apartment in Texas that first year after our move and the following summer we began looking to buy a house. Right about that time was when we got the wonderful news that I was pregnant. Making it even more exciting, my sister had just discovered that she was expecting her second baby. Things were falling into place. I started seeing my new doctor and everything seemed to be going along fine, at first. We had all those grand moments where we shared the news with our families and friends and got to see their reactions. It was such a great time for us and I sort-of look back on it with envy. Yes, I’m envious of myself – the innocence, the excitement, the anticipation, and the newness of it all, all the things I feel that I’ll never get back now that they’re gone.

Pregnancy #1
At the time of my first ultrasound I was uncharacteristically optimistic, even when the doctor said the baby looked “really small.” No one seemed worried and we all chalked it up to late ovulation or wrong dates or something like that. After all, my blood work looked good, so we scheduled another ultrasound for the next week. That day in May of 2002 we saw our baby for the first time: that tiny 4mm “bean” and a beautiful little heartbeat. We were so relieved! Except that about a month later I started spotting, and I felt in the pit of my stomach that something really wasn’t right. By this time we’d found a house and were in the process of getting it all fixed up while finishing up the lease on our apartment. The next few days were a whirlwind of ultrasounds, exams, blood tests, fear, worry, and disappointment. Our doctor finally told us that I would miscarry. I just remember thinking that at 11 weeks along I thought I’d done everything “right.” I couldn’t believe that our baby had died. I had no idea what to expect next and I was terrified. I made the decision not to have a D&C and just wait it out. For my own reasons I think I made the wrong decision for that time in my life. I don’t always think a D&C is the best option, but I realize now that it’s the one I should have chosen that time. I spent the next week and a half not knowing what would happen or when it would happen, and when it finally did it was almost more than I could handle. I went to the ER at 4 am after hours of intense pain and when I finally made it to a bed I had already passed everything and it was over. It was July 6, 2002 and my first miscarriage.
When I look back at the bright, cheerful, floral-covered journal I started as my “pregnancy journal,” I read about how sad I was that we had devoted a total of 6 months to trying for that baby and then going through the first trimester. All that time had been lost. Six months now seems like just a drop in the bucket. I was so scared to try again, and I guess something about reading that makes me feel a little brave. I did try again, and again, and again, and again, and again. I’m still trying and I still haven’t given up.

What Not to Say

The list that follows is not intended to be a crazy rant (although it will feel kinda good to get some of it off my chest!), nor is it meant to point a finger at anyone in particular or make them feel awful. In our 7-year-and-counting struggle with infertility my husband and I have heard a lot of things, mostly from well-intentioned people who we know care about us and would never mean to be hurtful. That being said, there are just some things that are hard to hear or just plain not smart to say when someone is hurting. These examples are specific to our situation but perhaps you can relate if you have had some other painful experience.

1. “Think Positive!”
We have heard this one many times. Although I believe that positive thinking is certainly a good thing, especially when the other options are fear and worry, what I don’t like about this advice is that it suggests that there is something simple I can do, just a change in thinking, that will solve the problem. If I just think positive thoughts I’ll surely be able to overcome this problem and everything will be fine. I wish it could be so easy! The fact is that it becomes increasingly hard to be positive when you are stuck in a situation where the thing you desire seems within your grasp and then slips away. Repeatedly. I really do have a hard time in this area of remaining positive and it’s something I constantly work on. But it’s just not that easy piece of the puzzle that I’ve been overlooking for years.

2. “Relax.”
Very much like the positive thinking advice, telling someone to “just relax and everything should work out” is actually even worse. It suggests that there is something I am actively DOING to hinder myself from having a successful pregnancy. I am just too worked up and worried over all of this and if I just relax and get my mind off of it for a while it will happen. I do know that stress and worry are not the best environments for pregnancy, but again I don’t think it’s an easy answer. Obviously there are other things at work here medically that I can’t resolve by having a day at the spa.

3. “Have You Considered Adoption?”
Absolutely! I think most people in this situation for this long have had adoption cross their minds. I think adoption is a fantastic option and have so much respect for folks who choose it. Maybe it is in our future, too. At this point I just can’t say for sure, and I think that’s part of what makes this a hard question to hear over and over. I think it such a huge decision with many steps and emotions involved. I have known people who have never been through infertility at all yet have just “always known” that they would adopt someday. I think these are some of the most special people on the planet! For others (like me), the dream was always just to “be a mom.” I never really broke it down and thought about how I would become a mom. I suppose I always just thought I’d get married and decide to have children and nine months later we’d have a baby. It hasn’t worked out like that at all and I constantly have thoughts about becoming a mom through adoption. I haven’t given up just yet on having biological children (and I know I don’t have to give that up in order to adopt) but my husband and I think adoption is wonderful and we are keeping that option open. Don’t get me wrong here – I don’t think this is a “horrible” thing to ask someone! It does, however, get a little awkward when we are asked this by people we barely know since we think it is quite a personal decision.

4. The Adoption That Leads To Pregnancy
If you are anything like me and have shared in these experiences, I’ll bet you a shiny nickel that you’ve heard a story like this about 7,000 times: “I have a friend who had tried to get pregnant for years. When they finally stopped trying and adopted a child, just a few days later she found out she was pregnant!” As often as I’ve heard this it must be happening pretty frequently. I don’t doubt at all that these are true stories but I don’t really know how they should make me feel better. I’ve even had folks suggest that we begin the adoption process and expect a pregnancy, as sort-of a way to trick fate. Strange, I know. The idea, I think, is that we would get our minds off of trying to have a baby and that’s when it would happen. Kind-of like thinking of a big white horse to make you forget about having the hiccups (my great-grandma’s trick and yes, it works… sometimes).

5. “I Know How You Feel”
The reason I tend to shy away from giving this advice to people who are hurting is because it really is rarely true. I may think I know how they feel but do I really? Can we ever really know how another person is feeling? Maybe sometimes. But I do think it is rare for all of the circumstances to be so similar in our two cases for the statement to hold any water. Then again, I guess I’m writing this to reach out to others who may have experienced these things. It’s like I’m saying, “Hey, read my blog. I’ve been there. I know how you feel.” Ok, so this list isn’t perfect! But the more specific “I Know How You Feel” moment that is hard for me to hear right now is coming up next.

6. The Person with 17 Kids Who Had a Miscarriage between Numbers 11 and 12
The risk of me sounding very coldhearted is very great right here, so I want to start by saying that I know the pain of miscarriage is something that has been felt by many women. There is emotional pain as well as physical pain and such an overwhelming sense of loss (which of course is shared by the men involved). That feeling is certainly relatable by all women who have experienced it, I would guess. Where I often have a problem is when I encounter someone who has a house-full of kids and tells me that they know how I am feeling because they have had a miscarriage before. As I mentioned in the last point, it’s so hard to say that and genuinely know. How could she know how terrifying it is to wonder if you will ever, ever be able to have children? The pain of her loss is every bit as real as the pain of my loss(es) and there certainly may be a time and place to discuss that shared experience. In fact, it has helped me at times to talk to people who have actually experienced miscarriage and I have been able to share some of my experiences as well. But my point is that just as it might be hard to take financial advice from someone who is very wealthy and has never had to do without while you barely have a penny to your name, it’s hard to look at someone who has children and hear, “Hey, it’s ok. I had a miscarriage once too. You’ll get through it,” when you’re right in the middle of that trial and have no idea what your future holds.

7. “Hang In There”
No, “Hang in there” isn’t an inherently bad thing to say, I’ll admit, but one time I was told the following story: “I met a lady today who’d had 10 miscarriages before she ever had her first child. So, hang in there!” I think this came when I was recovering from my fifth miscarriage. I remember thinking, “Dear Lord, please don’t let that be me! I can’t go through this five more times.” In my friend’s defense, she did call me back a few minutes later to apologize because she realized that it was the wrong thing to say. That meant a lot to me. I think it’s safe to assume that a person who is suffering wants out NOW! It’s excruciating to think of enduring that painful circumstance a minute longer before finally having some relief.

8. “Hello, my name is _________.”
Every time I first meet someone I know what’s coming. They are going to ask me how many children I have. Now, I’m not crazy enough to blame a person I don’t know for not knowing my situation! However, I have learned that I don’t need to be a question box when I meet someone. There are plenty of ways to let a conversation flow and get to know someone without firing off 100 questions. And I try not to assume things about people because you just never know where another person is in life. I know men often get asked, “What do you do for a living?” or “Where do you work?” as an ice-breaker, which I’m sure is awkward for the guy who is “in-between jobs right now.”
Never mind the follow-up questions and statements I get after they learn that I, in fact, do not have any kids. To complicate the whole thing, somewhere in the conversation (because yes, women also get the job questions right after the kid questions) they will learn that I am also a homemaker (a “stay-at-home... wife”) and this totally blows their minds! Here are a few of the common ones: “What in the world to you do all day?” “Oh, do you guys just not want any kids?” “How long have you guys been married? Are you just waiting?” And my very least favorite, “Well, if you want some kids I have some you can borrow!”
In order to avoid these moments and simultaneously explain my situation I usually find myself responding with some strange story-of-my-life, run-on sentence like, “No, we don’t have any children yet but we would like to have some it’s just been a struggle and we had no idea it would take this long and be so difficult and I just always wanted to grow up and be a wife and mom so I made the decision to stay home and before we knew it seven years had passed so here we are.” Anyway, you can imagine what a great first impression that makes on people.

9. “Life Is So Unfair”
This is another comment that has come up so many times in conversation. Someone will tell us, “You know, I just don’t understand why God won’t give you guys children when so many other people are having them and don’t deserve them.” What I have to say to that (here, in the privacy of my living room but I wish I had the guts to say it in those moments) is summed up in one word: Mercy. The fact is that, thankfully, God doesn’t give us all what we deserve! As a Christian I believe in a just, loving, and merciful God who created me, loves me, and has a plan for me. That doesn’t mean that I’ll get everything I want or think I should have. Yes, I can pray confidently that one day the Lord will give us children. And I pray that prayer to a God for whom nothing is impossible! But I really don’t think God sits around figuring out how to hand out his blessings. We can’t do anything to earn his grace. He gives it to us as a free gift. We live in a fallen world where bad things sometimes happen to good people and good things sometimes happen to bad people. I have no idea why I’m having trouble having a baby and someone else is not. It’s even hard to envision myself as the “good” person in the scenario. But I can rest in the knowledge that God isn’t considering what we deserve then giving or withholding his blessings. That’s just not biblical. The other point is that God loves that unwed teen who “made a mistake” just as much as he loves his most faithful child (and I don’t mean myself here). Infertility has taken me on a journey that has had many dark and lonely paths. I’m sure the spiritual aspect of it all will be touched on in a separate blog since there’s so much for me to cover. It’s amazing how the same issue has at different times brought me as close to God as I’ve ever felt and as far away.
To sum up this point I would just like to say that in general when someone is hurting and you want to encourage them or give them a compliment, I think the best way to go about it is to come right out with it. If you want to say, “I think you guys would be great parents,” that would be a very nice thing to say. Usually when people look for a round-about way to say something nice it ends up getting lost somewhere in all those words.

10. The Ambush
This next scenario is one I call “the ambush.” Let’s say I’m in the car on my way to a party I’ve been looking forward to attending. My family and friends will be there and I’m just minutes away. I’m giving a friend a ride and just as we’re approaching our destination she turns to me and spills her guts about how I’ve really been on her mind lately and she’s really been praying about my situation. She’s just heartbroken and is hurting so badly for us and just wanted to let me know.
Well, these aren’t necessarily bad things to say to somebody. These are typically very sincere and heartfelt moments. But here’s how the story ends: we pull up to the party and my friend gets out of the car feeling like a weight has been lifted off of her shoulders because she told me something that had been on her mind for months. I, however, am usually in tears by this point. I spend the entire evening having people ask me what’s wrong, and I sit there thinking of how this problem in my life really stinks instead of enjoying what would have been a delightful party.
I have been ambushed in almost every place that I visit on a regular basis: the grocery store, church, parties, reunions, but the worst place of all to ambush me is at a baby shower. I’ll tell you why. Chances are that I’m already doing my very best to put a brave face on and keep it together. The slightest sympathetic word or even look is all it would take for me to lose it. Oh, and if you’re the organizer of the baby shower and there’s someone in the crowd who you know is in the middle of going through infertility, it’s probably not a good idea to suggest that we all go around the room and take turns describing how wonderful it was when we gave birth to our daughters. Yes, that really happened.

11. “Have Fun Trying!”
I won’t dwell on this one for too long but we have heard it and think it’s kind of silly. I’m not being stereotypical, but we have mostly heard it from men. The reality is that if you’ve ever been a couple going through infertility, you know that the “trying” isn’t always what you’d call fun. It can be a challenge to view sex with your spouse as something other than trying to make a baby at just the right time, and it can become very stressful for a couple.

12. The Worst
This list may grow longer (although I sincerely hope it doesn’t!) in the future but for now I have intentionally saved the worst thing for last. I have heard this before and I’m sure that others have been on the receiving end of this one as well. I believe it is the absolute worst thing to say to someone who has had a miscarriage. It is, of course, “It’s for the best because there was probably something wrong with the baby.” Even if there were any way of knowing that I just don’t see how this remark could ever be helpful to anyone.

*Maybe you’re reading this and you are the friend or family member of someone facing infertility. Maybe I’ve overwhelmed you and you think there’s absolutely nothing you could ever say to make your loved one feel better. That may actually be true, but please don’t give up on them! Here are a few great things to say to someone who is hurting - as long as you mean it and as long as you’re careful not to “ambush” them!:
1. I’m sorry you have to go through this horrible thing.
2. I love you and I’m here for you.
3. I’m praying for you.
4. And finally, if you don’t know what to say, that’s ok. Just say “I really don’t know what to say…” on its own or followed by any of the others listed above. It’s ok that you don’t have just the right words. There are no right words. Sadly, there are lots of wrong words. But don’t let that scare you. Your friend will know when you are sincere. I’ve felt abandoned by many friends who just don’t know what to say and so they don’t try. They just give up and we pretty much lose touch completely. If you have said the wrong thing (which I have also done), don’t be afraid to apologize.

Thanks for letting me talk about one of the many bad things that I’ve had to deal with in this situation over the years! I hope it has been helpful to you in one way or another.

Why Blog?

I decided to start a blog mainly to have a place where I could just sit down and write about some of the feelings that accompany recurrent miscarriage. I thought that if I put it out there, maybe it could encourage someone else who might feel that they are alone. Infertility can be a very lonely battle, even for married couples who are in it together and people who have great families and friends. It’s hard to find others who feel the way you feel.
The other reason I wanted to blog at this time is because I’m in the thick of it. I’m not looking back at a dark time in my life while standing on the other side. I’m in the valley now. Maybe you’re like me and you find it easier to hear someone who’s in the valley with you. I hope to someday be on the other side of this horrible problem. But I thought the time to write about it was now.
The last thing I want to do is use this as a place to air all of my grievances and hurts! Sure, those may come out here and there, but what I want to do is try to create a well-balanced and honest picture of what we’ve been through. My aim is to not focus on all the bad stuff but to just be honest. Believe it or not, there are good things too! Sometimes they are hard to find but I’ve spent years trying to discover them and hold on to those good things.