Just because my pregnancy didn't make it to term, doesn't mean I didn't lose a child!! 

Three times I wanted to scream that sentence out at the top of my lungs so that the whole world would hear it! Three times I felt like I was being punished by God and wondered what I did that was so bad that I would suffer this much pain. Have you ever felt this way?

The pain of miscarriage is felt so deeply by a mother, yet it is rarely talked about. People will say "Oh I'm so sorry", but then they expect you to suck it up and pretend like it never happened. Or worse, they ask when you are going to try again. Even the doctors shove it aside like it's no big deal and that is just so wrong. Woman need to have their feelings acknowledged and they need answers. 

In December 1995 I gave birth to a healthy, full term boy and had a pretty routine pregnancy. I was 25 years old when he was born. In 1998 we decided that it was time he had a sibling, after all, he was 2 years old and wasn't 2 years of separation the ideal? Well, we got pregnant fairly quickly and just less than 10 weeks into the pregnancy, I had a miscarriage. We were devastated and the doctor said "about 1 in every 8 woman suffer a miscarriage, it just happens" and told us that it was normal. It didn't feel normal to me but the doctor knows what he's talking about right?

Well, we got pregnant again in 1999 and at 9 weeks we had a sonogram and saw a strong heartbeat and a few weeks later I started having severe cramping. Next thing I know I'm passing a fully intact amniotic sac and bleeding heavily. The doctor told me to come right in and to bring the sac with me. I drove myself to the doctor's office and before I knew it I was having a D&C in the office without any anesthesia. I was hemorrhaging and at serious risk. I was supposed to be 12 weeks pregnant but was told that based on the size of the sac I had lost the pregnancy within days of my last ultrasound. To say that I was heartbroken is an understatement! How can a seemly healthy pregnancy go so wrong in just days after a routine sonogram found that everything was going great? I asked the doctor's office to test the tissue to determine what happened and was told "We don't do any testing until a woman has had at least 3 miscarriages." After 3 miscarriages! What the heck! Again I felt like I didn't matter and I wasn't being heard or taken seriously. Why would they expect someone to go through that pain 3 times before they looked for reasons why?

In 2000 I got pregnant again and this time I was being monitored a little more closely but, sadly, at about 10 weeks we ended up with no sign of life and I was scheduled for a D&C immediately. I did not want to miscarry naturally like I did the last time, I just wanted it taken care of as soon as possible. This time they tested the tissue and I was told I had miscarried a son and he was afflicted with a disorder called Trisomy 16. My child had 3 copies of the 16th chromosome instead of 2 like he was supposed to have. This prompted genetic testing of both me and my husband. The results were not what we expected. 

For the last 3 years I had been feeling like I was a failure and that I was being punished and everyone expected me to just suck it up and move on with my life. One of my biggest issues with my miscarriages is that I never really got any closure. The baby is just gone and you are expected to act like it never happened. People don't even really acknowledge it was a baby because it was never born.  You aren't really encouraged to grieve or express your feelings. I was fully expecting to be told that my genetics were to blame that something was wrong with my 16th chromosome and that is why my pregnancies didn't last. At least then we would have a reason.
When we got the results of the genetic tests, we were told that my husband had a chromosomal abnormality called a Balanced Translocation of the 14th and 15th chromosomes. The doctor's were just as surprised as we were and they had no idea how our son carried a Trisomy 16. We were told that it was just a fluke but that we only had a 50/50 chance of having any successful pregnancies because a Trisomy 14 or 15 always ended in death of the fetus, or if carried to term, the newborn died within days. Any successful pregnancies would either be totally normal or would have Balanced Translocation, there weren't any other possible outcomes.

Under the care of a Reproductive Endocrinologist, I reluctantly tried again to have a successful pregnancy. When we got pregnant again I was a basket case. I was monitored very closely, especially the first few months as I was told that if I got passed 12 weeks we had a good chance of survival but I lived in a constant state of fear. Every time I went to the doctor I expected to hear bad news. I didn't breathe until they found the heartbeat each visit. In August 2001 I delivered a healthy baby girl and I couldn't have been more pleased. Now I had a handsome 6 year old son and beautiful newborn daughter. I went on to have one more successful, although unexpected, pregnancy in 2003 and delivered another handsome boy but I suffered severe emotional issues throughout that pregnancy due to the fear of miscarriage. 

The most important things I've learned through this experience is that God has a reason for everything and you have to be your own advocate. I thank God that I went through this experience because if it wasn't for the miscarriages I wouldn't have my two youngest children at all and I can't imagine life without them. 
Doctors may tell you that miscarriage is very common and write it off as "Just one of those things" but push them to try to get them to do tests. I knew, in my heart, that something wasn't right and nobody would listen to me.
If they won't do it or your insurance won't pay for it, I strongly suggest that you start going to counseling and also examine your overall health.  Making sure that you are eating right, exercising, and minimizing any toxin-filled products will go a long way to helping you to have healthy pregnancies.  I will never know if all three of my miscarriages were a result of chromosomal abnormalities or something environmental but I really wish I'd been encouraged to seek counseling. My feelings were never validated by my family or my doctor and that played a major role in my struggle with depression in subsequent pregnancies. 

My family's struggle is not over, even though my kids are all adults now, they could be carriers of the same Balanced Translocation of 14th and 15th chromosome that their father is. I tried to get the cord blood tested from my daughter and youngest son's birth and both times I was told that insurance wouldn't pay for these expensive tests. They will have to advocate for themselves to get tested before they decide to have children so that they know going in what they could be dealing with. It's not going to be easy because insurance doesn't want to pay for these types of test proactively. I can only hope and pray that they don't have the same struggles that I did but you can bet that they will have the emotional support they need from me.  Their feelings of loss will be validated by their mother, who knows all to well what it feels like to be ignored and overlooked. 


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