I always told my husband it would take a while for us to get pregnant, but I never thought recurrent pregnancy loss would happen to us.
Ever since I was diagnosed with Endometriosis in college, it was in the back of my mind that having a baby would be a challenge. I always thought I was mentally prepared for it to take a while, but living that reality is still draining. Still, I foolishly thought that once we got over that hurdle, once we were able to get pregnant, that would be it.
I thought a positive pregnancy test would mean that we would get to take a baby home in 9 months just like everyone else. That wasn’t the reality for us.
After nearly a year of actively trying, we finally got a positive pregnancy test. But not too long after that, we were told we were miscarrying. The doctors told us how common it was. They told us “at least” now we know I can get pregnant. They told us it would all be fine and that I just had low progesterone as if that would make us feel any better.
It was nearly another year of trying before we started Clomid. We got another positive test. We had another loss. The doctors called it a fluke. Apparently, two back to back losses was not concerning to our OB and her team.
I ended up convincing myself that I was crazy for having a feeling in my gut that there was a bigger problem. I felt like I had no other options than to trust my doctors and believe that they were doing what they knew to be best for us.
A few months later, during our last round of Clomid, we got our third positive pregnancy test. Everything seemed fine. We heard a healthy heartbeat for the first time. While in my heart I felt a love like I had never experienced before, I still knew something was wrong. I was just waiting for something terrible to happen like it had two times before.
Three days after that scan, our baby stopped growing. I didn’t find out until a week and a half later. I had the most awful feeling that something wasn’t right so I booked a private scan. I left in tears, immediately calling my OB’s office. I begged them to get me in that day to confirm, and they did. Our third loss.
I stopped progesterone, but I never miscarried on my own. We had a D&C at the beginning of January. Genetic testing on our baby came back as inconclusive. No answers.
It took 3 losses for the doctors to stop saying that our situation was “normal” or just “bad luck.” It took 3 losses for them to acknowledge that we needed to do further testing. What’s even more heartbreaking is that I’ve talked to numerous women whose doctors required MORE than 3 losses for them to do further testing. Why?
We met with our Reproductive Endocrinologist a few weeks ago to go over my results and to make a plan for our upcoming IVF cycle. He told us my recurrent pregnancy loss blood panel and genetic karyotyping came back as normal. That there was nothing wrong with me. That they had no answers for the devastation and grief we were living with. I was crushed.
I could not bring myself to ask any of the questions I had prepared. I became numb just trying to figure out how all of that made me feel. I hated thinking that the losses of our children were completely senseless, that there was no greater purpose leading us to an answer. I felt cheated. All I wanted in the world at that moment was for there to be something wrong with me, something that I could tangibly grab on to and say “THIS IS WHY,” something I could manage or treat, something to give me hope for the future. But guess what? That information was wrong.
I accept that there is always space for human error. It happens. I make mistakes all day long. It is only fair to extend the grace that we give ourselves to our doctors as well. But while considering that, after feeling so overlooked and pushed aside by the doctors that should have been caring for us for the past two years, I have learned to double-check lab results, medication dosing, and scans. I just need that reassurance I guess. It has become second nature, and thank goodness for that.
While combing through the numerous results that came through for our RPL testing, I saw that there actually is something that could explain our infertility and our recurrent losses. I have never been so relieved. I have a genetic mutation. This mutation can lead to blood clotting and in terms of fertility-- it can cause implantation failure, infertility, and recurrent pregnancy loss. Ding, ding, ding! We found our cause.
The specific mutation I have doesn’t always have these effects on every person, but it does for me. As soon as I found the results in my lab work, I contacted my RE immediately. He confirmed that yes: it does cause blood clotting that can result in pregnancy loss. He also confirmed that it can 100% be managed during pregnancy with aspirin and Lovenox. That’s it. He reassured me that with that combination, this will become a non-issue and we can go on to have a healthy pregnancy.
Next, we will be moving forward with IVF+ICSI+PGT and if all goes well, we plan to transfer an embryo as soon as we are able. Since reaching out to other women within the infertility community, I feel so much better about our plan of attack. Women who have suffered loss after loss after loss who also have this diagnosis have told me that they have gone on to have successful pregnancies with similar treatment.
I know that we still have a long way to go in our journey, but to us, this feels huge. I am so thankful for this diagnosis. I always knew that something was off, that there was a part of our infertility journey that we didn’t understand. If you have that feeling, fight for answers, for understanding, for treatment, for the future you want. You are your biggest advocate. No one can fight for you like you can.
Check the labs, ask questions, and request further testing if you feel that you need it. I wish I would have had the RPL blood panel done after our second loss. Maybe I would still be pregnant right now. I don’t know, but now we do know how to move forward. We feel prepared. We feel like we have had our hope restored, and we feel confident that we will be blessed with our rainbow baby soon.
Chrissy Cavins lives in the Dallas, TX area with her husband, Christian, and their two dogs. They have been dealing with infertility and pregnancy loss since the beginning of 2018. They are currently starting their first round of IVF. Chrissy loves reading psychological thrillers and watching bad reality TV in her spare time as well as connecting with other infertility tribe members through Instagram on her account @rainbowhopes_ivf.