My fertility journey began about 5 years ago, when my husband and I were trying to conceive our first baby. After a year of trying on our own with no success, we were referred to the fertility clinic in Calgary where we were diagnosed with unexplained infertility. Our doctor recommended first trying fertility drugs in combination with Intra Uterine Insemination (IUI) before moving on to more aggressive forms of treatment. (IUI is a form of assisted reproductive technology that is less invasive and less costly than IVF). After our first round of treatment, we were so surprised and excited to learn that I was pregnant! My pregnancy from then on was textbook and I loved every minute of it, even the morning sickness that lasted all day... I was just so happy to finally be pregnant! When our daughter was born I was filled with an indescribable love, and desire to do it again!
When our daughter was about a year and a half old we decided to start trying for baby #2. We figured we would need treatment from the fertility clinic again so we were shocked when we got pregnant the first cycle of trying on our own! I was over the moon, I couldn’t believe I was finally going have a “normal” pregnancy experience. Around week 6 I started having some very light spotting. I had had some spotting with my first pregnancy so I wasn’t immediately concerned. When the spotting continued on and off I brought it to my midwife’s attention. My midwife reassured me that what I was experiencing was likely normal, but sent me for an early ultrasound just to check and put my mind at ease. The ultrasound showed a tiny little baby measuring about 7-8 weeks with a strong heart beat. I should have been relieved, but almost as soon as I got home my bleeding became much heavier and bright red. I panicked and called the midwife, who told me there was nothing to do but wait and see. The next two days were complete agony. Unfortunately, my bleeding became heavier and heavier until finally I started getting contraction-like cramping one night, and this is when I knew I was definitely having a miscarriage. It felt like the biggest betrayal, how could my body be doing this to me? It felt like my heart was being ripped apart. That moment, when I lost the baby, will forever be etched onto my soul. I don’t think I have ever experienced something so traumatic. My midwife assured me that it was a “good thing” that I was able to miscarry at home versus needing a D&C, and that she was sure she would be seeing me again soon. The days and weeks that followed were awful, I felt hollow and empty and my only focus was on getting pregnant again.
We tried for 7 months with no success, and then in the middle of a chaotic move from Calgary to Vancouver Island I found out that I was finally pregnant again! I cried with relief. I felt that I had had my due serving of suffering so surely this pregnancy would be straightforward. I wanted to make sure that I was doing everything I could to make sure this pregnancy was successful so I checked in with a doctor right away who ordered some blood work. When the doctor called back to tell me that my HCG level and progesterone were too low for how far along I was (5 weeks), it was like the floor dropped out from underneath me. How could this be happening again?! Sure enough, the next day the bleeding started and I had another miscarriage.
After two losses, my husband and I decided it was time to seek help from another fertility clinic- maybe we needed the help again after all. We got into a clinic in Vancouver quite quickly and they ran a lot of tests that all came back relatively normal which was both reassuring and frustrating. The doctor at this clinic recommended fertility drugs and IUI, which we agreed to right away. After our first round of IUI I knew before they tested me that I was pregnant again. I was filled with such relief, knowing that I would finally be “okay” once I was able to carry a pregnancy to term. When the nurse phoned with my blood work she said “you’re pregnant...but your HCG is very low”, I felt like I was stuck in a nightmare that kept looping over and over. That number never came up and eventually I got my period. This loss was probably the hardest one to deal with because both my husband and I had been so confident that things would now go according to plan now that we were getting help from a fertility clinic.
The months that followed were very dark for me. I became depressed and anxious, I barely slept and I cried every day. I felt like I had lost control of every aspect of my life, I was barely holding it together for my family at home and I felt like a failure as a mom and wife. After several months of this, with the support of my loving husband and a few close family members and friends I was able to pull myself out of this dark pit. I started taking care of myself again. I saw a counsellor, I went to a miscarriage support group, I started exercising, doing yoga and meditating. I finally allowed myself to process the fact that I had lost three babies. The grief was excruciating and healing at the same time. When I was finally feeling in control again, we decided it was time to try again. We transferred to a clinic in Victoria and they also ran every test imaginable, everything coming back relatively normal. We have now had 4 IUI procedures and no pregnancies. My emotions about this are so complicated. I have a beautiful, smart, loving 3 year old that fills our hearts and home with love and laughter every day, how can I have so much and yet at the same time want more? I feel guilty that wanting another baby so badly makes me ungrateful, or even a bad mom. I also feel guilty that I might not be able to give my daughter a sibling and she will miss out on so much in life as a result. Our doctor has told us the next step is IVF and this makes me so nervous. With IVF, the stakes are so much higher and if it also fails... then what?
I’m not sure what the future has in store for our family. After my first pregnancy loss, I thought that everything would be ok once I had my “rainbow baby”. I’m starting to realize I may never get that rainbow baby, but maybe for me the rainbow isn’t a baby after all. Maybe my rainbow is weathering this storm and coming out the other side bruised and hurting and broken in places, but somehow so much stronger than I ever could have imagined.