TW: Multiple pregnancy loss and miscarriage.
Two days before Mother’s Day 2020, I found out I was pregnant with our second child. I felt safe, secure and elated from within our four walls as the country around us grappled with the emergence of Covid-19 hitting our shores and we all remained in lockdown. The bold lines on the home pregnancy test fuelled confidence, I embraced and bonded with the pregnancy immediately, wondering who that person would be and envisioned life as a mother of two under two.
The pregnancy was confirmed with blood tests. I’d been through the process before. I knew the steps and planned accordingly. Would we tell our family earlier, perhaps after the 8-week scan? I calculated its’ due date being around January 17.
I lay on the sonographer’s bed, completely at ease. The gel hit my stomach as she began to scan making small chat. The scan looked different, a black empty bean shape, I knew this wasn’t right. She queried me multiple times over whether I had miscalculated the due date and was earlier than I thought. This gave me so much anxiety, what was she not telling me? She commenced an internal scan with the same result. She noted it was too early and referred me back to my doctor and to scan again in two weeks. My partner and I left to pick up my son from daycare, left in the dark.
Bloods were drawn every two days, HCG levels continued to rise. We returned for a second scan at 10weeks. “I’m sorry but there is no baby” the sonographer communicated. The GP called the same day and communicated a blighted ovum and instructed I could wait to miscarry naturally or gain assistance via medication or surgery and referred me to the EPAS clinic at the Women’s Hospital. The clinic called the following day, I delayed my appointment for four days, in hope my body would do what it needed to do on its’ own.
My body continued to hold onto the pregnancy; first trimester symptoms continued which left my head, heart and spirit in confused knots. I was instructed at the clinic I could have a D&C or be given medication, but this could take up to two weeks and may result in the need for surgery regardless. With a 16month old at home and enduring Melbourne’s second lockdown, I opted for the surgery.
My Husband dropped me at the front door of the hospital, due to Covid-19 restrictions, I was unable to be accompanied. The lift doors opened, to the right, the maternity ward and left surgical theatres. I checked in and waited, amongst many pregnant women excitedly awaiting cesareans. Tears fell as the anaesthetic kicked in on the operating table. I awoke alone in the post-operative ward.
A month later the hospital called, for what I thought was a general check in call. The baby’s tissue had returned from pathology and noted a partial molar pregnancy and I was promptly referred to the GTD registry. Bloods were drawn fortnightly to ensure HCG levels dropped to normal levels and ensure the tumor had not embedded in my uterine lining requiring chemotherapy. Thankfully they dropped to normal.
I fell pregnant the following month after discharge from the clinic. The pregnancy test line took a little longer to develop. I bled on and off throughout the first 6 weeks. I was at the GPs office fortnightly communicating this doesn’t feel right, searching for answers. I would routinely do bloods two days apart, HCG levels continued to rise as the should. “Some women bleed throughout, it’s all fine.” The GP would say. I didn’t believe them, my instinct told me this wasn’t right. I stopped bleeding between 7 and 8 weeks for a solid 7 days. I started to believe it was all going to be ok. I nervously attended the 8-week scan with my husband. We went to a different clinic as I couldn’t return to the one for our prior pregnancy. There was a baby. Relief flowed over my body. The sonographer searched for a heartbeat, then tried again internally. “I’m sorry, there’s no heartbeat.” They left the room and I cried into my husbands chest. The routine followed. EPAS and D&C alone.
Investigation into why miscarriage is occurring cannot commence in the public system until 3 miscarriages have occurred. I asked to be referred to my ObGyn privately. 10+ viles of blood taken and results concluded all normal and we’d been “unlucky” and to try again. We fell pregnant instantly. I miscarried between 5 and 6 weeks naturally on international women’s day. I was disconnected to the pregnancy and praised my body for recognising an unviable pregnancy early and getting rid of it. I was referred to a fertility specialist and started seeing a naturopath.
Further viles of blood drawn for more obscure investigations, sperm testing and a uterine biopsy – all normal. We commenced IVF counselling, as the only unknown factor was the egg itself. We decided to give it three months. The first month, a negative pregnancy test - the second negative I’d had in my lifetime. I felt so grateful my body had the ability to be selective. I fell pregnant the following month, and despite the confirmation on blood test, I knew it wouldn’t stick. I knew too much now, the HCG not being strong enough on the home pregnancy test was a dead giveaway. I miscarried naturally a week or so later.
I called the IVF clinic and arranged to start the hormones for the egg retrieval. They instructed to wait until one normal cycle for dating. We tried again, that month with all loss of hope and ready to commence fertility treatment. My period never came. I was pregnant.
Sadly, a positive pregnancy test no longer holds joy, it resembles a “here we go again” cocktail of anxiety and grief. The weeks ticked by, the pregnancy held. I was disconnected. I had a scan at 6 weeks, there was a heartbeat. I immediately broke down in tears - relief for a viable pregnancy and sorrow for the four babies lost. Scans at 8 weeks and 13 weeks, all normal with a heartbeat. I broke down with the same emotions each time. NIPT test normal. Again in another lockdown, all my first trimester scans were attended alone.
It took until 22 weeks to be content that the pregnancy was most likely going to be ok. Even at the 21 week scan I was using phases like if this baby makes it. I was so hard on myself, for wanting this pregnancy so badly, yet almost wishing it away to have the relief of a safe arrival of baby in my arms.