Infertility, Miscarriage and Pregnancy Loss

I have seen a few posts lately on social media calling awareness to infertility, miscarriage and pregnancy loss. While I can honestly say I am glad this chapter is over in my life I certainly will not forget it. How could I? It was painful and embarrassing and traumatic. My hope is to normalize these experiences for other people (and myself) by writing this.

About a year and a half after Reese, our oldest was born, I was shocked to find out I was pregnant. (I was on Clomid and Metformin when Reese was conceived and I assumed I would have to do this again).

I had no idea how far along I was as my periods have always been irregular. My first ultra-sound was in Byron. When the ultra-sound tech told me I was pregnant with twins, I screamed. I was dated around 9.5 weeks. We were shocked but excited.

The next ultra sound was around 12 weeks at Victoria Hospital. At this point, I found out that I had identical twins swimming around in the same amniotic sack. The doctor was concerned that he couldn’t find a thin membrane separating the twins. He and the ultra-sound tech looked for at least 45 minutes.

I had no idea what this meant. First of all, the doctor explained that no one really knows why identical twins happen. The fertilized egg just decides that it is going to split. Wow.

Because my egg split after the placenta was already formed, the twins were sharing the same sack and same placenta. The pregnancy is referred to as a mono/mono. pregnancy. The chances of this miracle happening are around 1 in 10 000 pregnancies.

Survival rate of mono/mono twins is only about 50%. I was told this from the beginning, yet still Emil and I hoped that everything would be okay.

I had ultra sounds every week and everything was okay until it wasn’t. As the fetus’ grow they start to move around in their environment. As the ultra sounds continued, I was told the umbilical cords were already starting to form a large, tangled mess.

Around 14 weeks, one of the twins was starting to develop issues from their cord being impinged. It was difficult to know that I had no control of what was happening in my body.

The doctors in London couldn’t do anything for me and I was desperate. There was no way that I wanted to lose my babies. I was sent to Mount Sinai in Toronto.

The doctors at Mount Sinai proposed that I could do a few things:

1. I could allow them to try and untangle the cords via microscopic incisions. This would be an experiment. I was told it had never been done before. This was not an option. It didn’t make any sense. The babies would get tangled again and the procedure would have to be repeated until the babies were big enough so that they couldn’t move around.

2. I could selectively abort the weaker twin, which involved a microscopic incision and cutting it’s umbilical cord. I wasn’t going to do this either, I didn’t feel comfortable with it even though there was some logic to it.

3. I could do nothing and let nature take it’s course. Live or die, I had to wait.

They wanted to give Emil and I a few days to think about the selective abortion. Ultimately, it just wasn’t going to happen. *This choice is not meant to diminish anyone’s decision to choose this procedure or have an abortion.

Ultra-sound at 15 weeks both babies were alive.

Ultra-sound at 16 weeks and both babies died.

I remember she was scanning several spots on my belly. I knew…it was taking longer than expected. The ultra-sound tech told me they died. She didn’t know when. I remember what I was wearing and I remember the wailing. It was something only a mother who lost a child would know.

This was a trauma for me. I was sent to the doctors office and it was explained that I was going to need a D&C. When? He didn’t know.

Going home, knowing that I had dead babies inside me was another trauma. The doctor had made me an appointment with an abortion doctor at the hospital.

Day 3 at home and I started to noticed that I was loosing a lot of fluid. I was terrified to go anywhere. I looked like I was around 30 week pregnant. I was petrified that someone would ask me about being pregnant.

I started to develop a fever. I called the hospital and the abortion doctor agreed to see me right away. He said no need to do an exam, he was certain that my body was starting to expel the dead fetus’. He said that the problem was all of the anesthesiologist were booked solid for the next week. But he said he was going to be a bully…and he got me in the next day. *Women should not have to wait for this service.*

Sitting in the abortion clinic waiting room was a different experience all together. I seen women of all ages, at all different stages of pregnancy. It felt odd to me. I wished that my babies were still alive. Emil and I would have done anything. Anything.

I wished that I would have seen them. Even though they were only about the size of avocados. I think they asked me before hand, and I said no. It was all too much for me.

I wished that they would have lived.

The aftermath of the D&C was horrible. I was bleeding like I had just given birth, yet I had nothing to show for it. A few days later, my milk started to come in. This was another reminder.

I started therapy a few months afterwards including EMDR. If I hadn’t done this, I am certain that I would be much worse off.

The loss still enters my mind every now and then. I still shed tears when I think about what they would have looked like or who they would have been. But I know that they are at peace and no longer suffering.

This is something every mother hopes for as well.

Karla

Love is…Remembering.

“What is lovely never dies, but passes into other loveliness”

Thomas Bailey

I sit sometimes and think about my first memory. It always comes to me. I am around 2. We were outside on a summer day. Side door to the garage. Old lawn chair with an Orange Crush underneath it. I remember the black dog too. Chopper. Then I don’t remember anything. I still have a few faint scars under my right eye as proof. I think Chopper was gone after that.

I remember having a knit sweaters and getting to pick out the colours and pattern. You would let us do that for almost every grade.

Fruit Loops in the mornings, bread, salami and gouda for lunch or we could choose mouse turds if you had them. Margarine. I think it was called Blue Bonnet.

We always got cookies. That was a given.

New school picture? Had to run it over to grandma’s house.

Running away? It was to grandma’s house.

Wanted a cookie? Guess where I was going?

I remember trying to beat Nintendo, in Uncle Mike’s room. We ate all of his snacks, and then some. Pretty sure we left peanut shells all over his bed.

Later I remember WWF stickers on Uncle Mike’s furniture. Then his bedroom was in the basement.

Speaking of the basement, there was always lots of cool stuff down there. Ponies, He-man. I am pretty sure we wrecked the pool table.

WWF must have been entertaining. Because I remember watching it there a lot.

Pigeons were always in the silos unless someone paid to come shoot them for meat. No one ever told me we were eating a pigeon. *If this has changed, I don’t want to know.

Peacocks were running all over the place. That was cool.

I remember going over there once, no one was home. I wrote a letter with markers. “Grandma, I was here. If you get this, call me right away”. I took a few cookies too.

I remember going to the place where we made rosaries with our cousins and other older women. And we got holy water. I wish I could remember where this was.

And of course I remember the Pow Wows at Kettle and Stoney Point, followed by the Grand Bend flea market which seemed way cooler back then.

And I remember being so tired at Gerry and Irene’s. You played cards and spoke in Dutch while we fell asleep on the couches.

As you got older, I remember helping you with painting and wallpaper. You said to me that you weren’t young anymore and couldn’t go up and down the ladder like you used too. I didn’t mind. I liked helping you.

After, I moved to London I didn’t see you as much as I should have. After your stroke, I came over to play cards with you and you wanted to show me your pictures as a little girl in Holland.

In 2005 when you got sicker I went away on a vacation down south. I wish I hadn’t. Even though I got to see you before you died. I still wish I had spent more time with you. Perhaps this is always the way.

Miss you grandma. xx

Karla