Mom to Elena and Baby
March 19, 2015 and July 8, 2015
Lake Grove, New York
After just about 6 months of fertility treatments, I was fortunate enough to get pregnant with my daughter with my first IVF cycle in 2011. After threatened miscarriage and third trimester high blood pressure, my beautiful girl was born perfect in July 2012.
We had one snow baby left from that cycle, so I waited until our daughter turned two to start trying again. This time, getting pregnant became even more difficult. After the first two FET cycles were cancelled due to poor lining and polyps, I had a D&C and gave myself the holidays off to recover. In January 2015, I had a successful transfer and got my positive pregnancy test in February 2015. The numbers were low to start (HCG was 30), but they rose at a steady rate and from the time I saw the first heartbeat, I was in love. I slowly began to believe I was lucky enough to get pregnant 2x in a row via IVF with no further complications. My husband and I told all of our close family and friends and by week 8, we began to tell our jobs. I have the apps in my phone to follow the development of the pregnancy and spent my nights before bed dreaming that my family would soon be complete. I couldn’t wait for October 24, 2015.
I had some trouble with my blood pressure from the start, which caused me to race to the ER during work one day, but I was also glad to get another look at the little bean on the screen. Both times the heartbeat was strong and the baby looked bigger and more formed every time. I even had my two year old and my mother join me for a sonogram once I had heard the heartbeat for the first time. This was finally real.
On the day I was to be discharged from my fertility clinic, I asked my sister to join me for the sonogram. I immediately noticed two things once the baby flickered on the screen. “He looks bigger than last time, but where is his heartbeat?” My sono tech said he wasn’t willing to call it yet and searched furiously for any type of sign that everything wasn’t going to come crashing down for me. He was crushed and my nurse was crushed. My sister was hysterical. I felt like someone had pressed my heart through my chest, through the table and down to the floor. I didn’t know how to move forward. I didn’t know what to think. In the back of my mind, I was afraid if my sister went with me and this happened, this would deter her from the fertility treatment she might need, forever. But I don’t think I ever truly thought this would ever be anything other than one of my paranoid, negative fleeting moments. And now that it was here, I was paralyzed by it.
So I did only what I could. I called my husband who was home with our daughter. He was hysterical. I text messaged my colleague so they wouldn’t expect me at work. I called my mom who wanted them to do another test. She couldn’t fathom this. I arranged right away to have a D&C and went straight to pre-surgical testing for clearance. The baby had stopped growing between 5-7 days prior and I had no symptoms of miscarriage. I hated the thought of carrying around a deceased baby, and I hated the fact that I didn’t know my baby was gone even more. I then went home, ate a roast beef sandwich and sushi and took cold medicine and woke up right before my procedure with a stomach flu that landed me in the ER. They ended up post-poning my D&C for three days. I felt a lot better once the baby was physically removed. I was afraid to miscarry naturally and wanted to have the baby tested for genetic abnormalities.
I took my daughter to the store to buy a box for the baby. My husband and I each wrote the baby a letter, and I put them in the box with some dried flowers that my job had delivered, along with our hospital bracelets and positive pregnancy test. I found this small ceramic angel that sits on top. After about 5-6 weeks, we found out the baby was missing an X chromosome and had Turner’s Syndrome. Although she could have survived birth and lived a relatively normal life, the chances are extremely rare that these pregnancies come to term. It was a little girl, so I named her Elena. I miss her everyday and still cry whenever I think of her.
It took a lot of courage and strength to move forward with a fresh IVF cycle, but we did as soon as our doctor gave us the green light, two cycles later. My cycle was a success – with 18 eggs retrieved, 11 fertilized, ending up with 4 blastocysts, of which 1 was transferred and 3 were successfully frozen. My grandmother who was my nearest, dearest best friend started going downhill very quickly from her recent diagnosis with metastasized bone cancer about halfway through my cycle. My focus immediately shifted to her as I sat vigil by her bedside for three days before flying home to take a late pregnancy test. I knew when I got the results that 15 days past ovulation and my HCG level was 7.3, that this wasn’t going to be a good outcome. My grandmother died the next day and I began one of the worst roller coaster rides of my life. My HCG tripled every two days for 5 consecutive blood tests. I was scheduled for my first sonogram, but two days before the appointment, I ended up having a horrific pain in my left side and some light bleeding. At an emergency doctor’s appointment, I was told I miscarried and was sent home. When the nurse called me two hours later to tell me my numbers were still rising slowly and the pain got worse, I knew it was an ectopic pregnancy.
I went to the ER and after four hours in the OR and three surgeries later, I sit here tubeless, baby-less and heartbroken. The doctor said I had about 1/2 liter of blood accumulated in my abdomen and a large sac that ruptured my left tube. He luckily saved the ovary, but there I sat broken hearted. I don’t know if I can put myself physically at risk anymore to continue with another IVF cycle. I have my daughter, my peanut, the love of my life. She has already given up 6 months of me in her second year of life because of my inability to focus fully on any one thing. But yet, my family is so incomplete and I want so much for her to be a big sister to someone.
It’s only been a few days since my ectopic pregnancy, but I wanted to post my story on this site. I poured over it for weeks after my first miscarriage and wanted to be a source of understanding and comfort for others going through miscarriage. I also don’t want to hide anymore. Miscarriage and infertility have been sources of shame and secrecy for me and they shouldn’t be.
The emotions that I felt with my missed miscarriage vs. my ectopic pregnancy are very different. With my missed miscarriage, I had formed a bond with the baby because everything had been moving along very normally, I had seen the heartbeat and growth week after week. Because I had miscarried before, with the ectopic I was very disconnected from the beginning of the pregnancy and was surprised to feel such a loss now that I am no longer pregnant. I wish I knew what my next step was. I’m a very goal-oriented person and it’s hurting me not knowing what to do next. I feel everyone will judge me if I try again, like that would make me a bad mom for putting my health at risk after almost dying for the chance at another baby. At the same time, if I don’t try, I feel I failed myself, my husband, my daughter and my three frozen embryos, who will never have a shot at life.
You can email Dominique at firstname.lastname@example.org.