Infertility

Miscarriage: Take One

So I’m that guy, sitting in the room with an ultrasound tech and his wife, anxiously looking for a heartbeat.

 

Kinderzimmer mit Wiege für Baby

 

This was our second pregnancy. Our daughter was 2 ½ years old. We had been trying for about 6 months to get pregnant, so we were excited when we found out we had become pregnant again. My wife was dealing with worse morning sickness than she had experienced before but there were really no other worries at that point. In the past everything had always gone perfectly normal throughout the pregnancy and we had no reason to expect anything different.

At about 11 weeks we went in for the first prenatal visit with our OBGYN. She was unable to locate a heartbeat with the Doppler so she scheduled for my wife to have an ultrasound the next day to measure the development of the baby.  We went to the ultrasound appointment really feeling like everything was fine. As the tech took more and more time, and we did not hear that tell-tale rhythmical beating of a baby’s heartbeat, we were more and more concerned.

The ultrasound tech, not knowing how to handle the situation, excused herself and went to get her supervisor. He came in and spent some time trying to find the heartbeat with no success.  At this point we knew that something was wrong, but we were still not prepared for what came next. He said to us, “I am sorry, but there is no heartbeat.”  He continued to explain that the baby had stopped developing at about 6-7 weeks into the pregnancy. I don’t remember anything that was said after that, as he left the room, I tried to process the situation we were in.

Taken by surprise, we really did not know how to react to this news. Time stopped for a moment with my wife still on the exam table and I was standing next to her.  She sat up, we hugged, and tears flowed as we realized our hopes for this new pregnancy were over. We knew these things happen, but we never expected it to happen to us.

The rest of the day is a blur. We went to the doctor again and she advised us to have a D&C rather than waiting for the pregnancy to end on its own.  We spent the rest of that day in the hospital and at home as my wife recovered from the surgery.

This was one of those experiences that kicks you in the teeth and makes you realize bad things really can happen, just that easily. I struggled with at the time, and still have the “what if” thoughts that naturally occur with such a loss.  It was probably the first real tragic event that had occurred in my life and it took me time to work through it.

As hard as it was for me, I think it was probably 10 times worse for my wife to deal with. When my wife finds out she is pregnant, she immediately plans the next year of her life. I think a mother has an instant bond to the baby as soon as the test comes out positive. That is what kept her going as she suffered through two months of morning sickness, and all the other difficulties associated with the first trimester of the pregnancy.

What hurt me most was watching that bond taken from her. It seemed like there were reminders every day.  Someone was always announcing they were pregnant.  There were friends and  family members who were pregnant and had babies when ours should have been born. Even to this day there are reminders of that horrible day when everything fell apart. If I had the power to take that pain from her, I would do it in a heartbeat.

It was impossible to understand at the time, but looking back at that tragedy in our lives, we can see that it was a pivotal turning point in our lives. It was not the end of the struggles and difficulty.  In fact it was the beginning of an ongoing battle with infertility that has not allowed us to have any more biological children.  But had it not been for that first step, we never would have started down the path to adopt the three beautiful children that have filled our home since that day.

Awkward Infertile Moment

So I’m that guy, standing at the front desk of a women’s clinic with his sperm sample in outstretched hand trying to explain why he really is in the right place.

specimen cup

 

I believe that people struggling with infertility are some of the most mistreated people in our society. When stricken with the ailment, through no fault of their own, they somehow lose all rights to privacy and dignity. We have what is called secondary infertility. We were able to have a biological daughter, but following a miscarriage we were unable to get pregnant again

When my wife and I were first diagnosed as “possibly infertile,” she was put through a battery of invasive, painful procedures that according to the doctors had very little chance of having any positive result. To add insult to injury, the cost of the procedures was very high as our insurance would not cover any of these procedures.

This is what I like to call “The Infertility Rollercoaster.” We would save our money for a few months for new treatments. We would go to the new doctor that we were referred to after the last one concluded that we needed a more specialized physician. We would be given hope in the procedure and the steps they told us they were going through in order for this to be a successful attempt. My wife would get the shots and pills for the preparation for ovulation. Then we would go in for an IUI (Intrauterine Insemination), and the waiting game began. Two weeks later, we could not stand the suspense anymore so we would purchase a pregnancy test. Every test was a crushing reminder of our powerlessness in the situation, but we gathered ourselves back up and rode that rollercoaster several times.

So on one such occasion, we were finally at the day to perform an IUI. We had to go to a clinic in a town about 30 minutes from our home, so time was of the essence. We collected my “sample” at home and hit the road. We were told that it would be best to hold the sample under my armpit until we reached the clinic in order to keep it warm and alive until they were able to process it and to get it to them as soon as possible, so when we arrived at the clinic we knew time was running out.

I got out of the car, with the sample under my arm and walked into the lobby of the Women’s clinic. For some reason, I had been nervously anticipating this exact moment for weeks now. At the front desk there were three receptionists watching me as I entered the front door. I went to the desk and reached out my hand with the cup that contained my still warm sample. The looks on their faces were not encouraging. One woman said to me,” You must me in the wrong place.”

Those were not the words I had hoped to hear at that moment. I asked if this was the clinic we were scheduled to have our procedure in. The ah-ha moment came as one of the receptionists explained that their company actually had two clinics, and that the one we were looking for was on the other side of town, about 15 minutes away.

I got back in the car with my wife and as we drove to the other clinic we could not help but laugh the whole way there as we thought about the ridiculousness of the whole situation we were experiencing. Sometimes, the only way to make these things bearable is to laugh.

Long story short, that IUI, with the shots and visits leading up to it, cost us about $800 plus the negative pregnancy test that we had a few weeks later. That was a dark period in our lives. Thankfully, we had a beautiful 4 year old daughter to soften the blows that came with each failed attempt at growing our family.

Looking back and knowing that the difficult, humiliating, invasive, painful experiences we had with infertility, pushed us towards adopting 3 more amazing children, I would do it all over again. It helped us open our hearts to adoption and prepared us for the challenges we would face throughout the adoption process.