Let’s start by addressing the elephant in the room.
I have been away from this space for a long, long time. I’m so sorry for that. But life has been shredding all of my words and I’ve been busy trying to glue them back together again.
Let me start from the beginning.
Just over two years ago, baby number one popped into my belly and the world was beautiful. For nine wonderful months, I was the magical pregnancy unicorn. Apart from the odd bout of pizza face and a few random pains along the way, life was good. The bub-aerobics soon began to twist and stretch my belly, and growing a baby was every bit the miracle I’d hoped for. It seemed too good to be true. But despite my fears, I remained untouched by the pregnancy trolls, and my precious little boy was born at 39 weeks; perfect in every way.
A year after his birth, it was time to expand the team. Mummy and Daddy got to it, and to our absolute delight we conceived a couple of months later. Our precious toddler was going to be a big brother. I could already see our little family doing all the things a family of four does. What I did not see was a miscarriage. I’d had a baby. I knew how it all went. You got pregnant, pranced around with a big belly for a while, then hello: baby.
When the spotting started at six weeks I turned to my old friend, Dr Google. I was clinging to the hope that spotting in early pregnancy was normal. And that’s exactly what the good Doctor told me.
‘Everything will be fine,’ he said.
But everything was not fine. Forty eight hours later, I was bleeding. Really bleeding. My belly was tightening and cramping—much like a mini version of labour. Emotionally, I was all over the shop; crying one minute and laughing the next. And because no one talks about miscarriage, I had no idea what to do. Do I go to the Doctor? Do I ride this out at home? Do I need a shot of Anti D? I mean, I had no idea how to have a miscarriage. There are no birthing classes for miscarriage.
So I booked to see the Doctor, figuring that would be the safest bet. It turns out, I did the right thing. She sent me for a thyroid test, which was all clear, and she determined the miscarriage to be just one of those things. Go away. Try again.
I became pregnant right away but, at five weeks, I got spooked. No spotting, but the area around my kidney was aching and my asthma had worsened— identical symptoms to miscarriage number one. The Doctor tested for a kidney infection and confirmed there was none. I waited for her to suggest a blood test, but no. You’ll just need to wait and see, she said.
Two days later, Miscarriage two happened and it ravaged me, physically and mentally. This time I was left with more than just the sadness of losing a baby. I was left with a feeling that something must be really wrong with my body.
I went back to my Doctor and she referred me to a psychologist for a bit of an emotion dump. But what I really needed was for her to tell me why my body kept killing my babies. I questioned her. Was it something to do with my aching kidney? What about my breathing difficulties? She shook her head. No. Too soon after the previous miscarriage, she thought. But her skittishness and wide eyes were a dead giveaway—her prognosis was just a guess.
Next stop: the obstetrician’s office. I expressed my Doctor’s concerns that perhaps it had been too soon to try again.
‘No,’ the OB said, firmly. ‘Your body would not have been able to conceive if it was not ready. Miscarriage is common. Even two or three miscarriages can happen. Just try again as soon as you are ready.’
To my relief, she sent me for an ultrasound and some basic blood tests. No nasties to be found. This brightened my outlook and I walked away shaking my head in bewilderment. The miscarriages really must have been just two shocking cases of bad luck.
We waited a month—just to be safe— and then, confident in the OB’s firm encouragement, we tried again. Boom: pregnant. We could not believe our luck. To my surprise, even after two miscarriages, I was excited. This was definitely it. The OB had assured me that my chances of carrying to term were good and I really did believe that the miscarriages must have been some sort of unlucky fluke.
When my kidney area and my asthma flared up again, I prepared for the worst. Then, at five weeks, it was all over.
For the third time.
The obstetrician looked a little sheepish but, once again, she turned me away. She told me that if I had a fourth miscarriage, that would be our indication that something was really wrong and that we needed to ramp up investigations. Three miscarriages could still be a fluke.
I came away from this appointment really disappointed and a little bit angry at the medical system. Three miscarriages were not enough to get a bit of support; perhaps another test? No. The fact was that I had previously given birth to a live baby. This meant that my body was not the likely culprit and, once more, I would play Russian roulette.
So I made the choice to begin acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine. I had to try something; a losing team doesn’t just move on to the next game without addressing their issues.
This brings me to today. This quiet world of infertility can be a frustrating place— running around in circles, seeking answers that may never be found. Society has a long way to go when it comes to treatment of miscarriage and recurrent miscarriage. More research needs to be done. More discussions need to be had. More answers need to be given.
Until then, I’ll keep loving life with my little family of three, and embracing the bitter herbs of China. After all, the Chinese Medicine man was always going to get a healthy baby out of me, one way or another. You can read more about that here.