I am so insanely proud that you keep sharing your stories with me. I am very, very happy and touched by the confidence you show me and each other by sharing. Thank you.
Today you’ll hear a story that touched me profoundly. I’m really, really sorry that today’s writer has to go through such a tough process.
The story was written by a young woman, who wishes to remain anonymous. Which I fully respect. It can feel overwhelming to share your story; that everyone suddenly knows something that’s so private. We really had a lot of concerns and considerations before sharing. But it can still feel very therapeutic to get your words down through your fingers and out on screen. Whether you share it here or elsewhere – I highly recommend writing grief out of your body to prevent it from clenching and pulling mentally.
“The image symbolises the fact that we haven’t been able to take the ‘straight road’
My boyfriend and I are also one of those couples that had to come to terms with the fact that the road to a life with children isn’t easy. I can share lots of experiences from what I allow myself to refer to as the ‘conventional fertility treatment world.’ About what it feels like to get the message, ‘inexplicably childless,’ about cancelled attempts, about being in treatment in the public vs. private sector, about the suspicion of chromosome disorders in your own genes, about suddenly getting indications that menopause isn’t that far off, which I, at the age of 33, thought it would be, about the surreal aspect of having to inject yourself with such a high dose of medicine in one go rather than across 8-9 days as you’d done at earlier attempts, about the side-effects of the drugs, about having to take them every 8 hours week after week, about the emptiness that swells up every time they shout ’empty’ from the lab when the lab technician acknowledges that this follicle (liquid-filled balloon) didn’t contain an egg either, about the relief and joy at every fine egg being inserted against all odds and, not least, about getting those positive test results. But most of this is something that a lot of other women and couples can explain.
Unfortunately, our story has an extra layer, which is what I want to tell you about. Every positive pregnancy test has been followed by a pregnancy loss – either by means of biochemical pregnancies or spontaneous abortions, which again are succeeded by the body struggling to regain normalcy, the perhaps even bigger mental fight to accept another loss and the following fight for a new pregnancy – while your hope just keeps fading and the eggs in your ovaries start to disappear.
The first positive pregnancy test was a reality after a year of fertility treatment, and now, 1-and-a-half years later, I look back on 4 pregnancies and losses spread across 1st trimester from the very early biochemical pregnancy to the latest spontaneous abortion after 11 full weeks of carrying a little life in my belly. And my story is far from unique, as there are several other women who go through the enormous grief and pain it is to lose several times in a row. Women, who like me are examined further. Some will get an answer as to the cause, and for some it turns out that the foetus had a chromosome disorder, while others (like me) will hear the verdict, ‘unknown cause.’
But even though it unfortunately isn’t normal to lose several times, I still do experience the taboo of several pregnancy losses to be incredibly huge. When I first started talking about our fight in terms of the fertility treatments, I would receive all of these (good or bad) standard responses, which Cathrine, as far as I recall, have mentioned on the blog as well. But when I talk about the losses, I’m often met by a noisy silence. And I partly do understand people, as it is tragic, and it’s not like my story has any sort of entertainment value, but I do believe that it (and similar stories) is necessary. Even though it’s so incredibly hard to talk about. Partly also due to the fact that others might be affected as well, who may also have lost! But also because it could overstep your own and the listeners’ boundaries. It’s also just so hard to share because of the fear of making yourself vulnerable and being met by silence.
My 3 first pregnancies ended in various degrees of bleedings and pain. The first was intense. There was a lot of blood and it hurt so much, and I was so scared and sad, but I was at home during the entire abortion, and my boyfriend was there with me, and we got through it together. The two subsequent losses were simultaneously the two earliest ones, and those were definitely the hardest mentally, while the physical aspect was tolerable.
So, after 3 losses, I thought I was prepared for anything. But when I had to realise that my 4th pregnancy was headed in a wrong direction as well, and I had to go the hospital, it taught me a different lesson. The pains were similar to intense contractions, and they were accompanied by vomiting. On the way to the hospital, the blood just kept coming, and I had this sensation that the ‘water broke’ and that the blood was sort of pumping out of me. Despite having brought my ‘abortion kit’ (which faithfully has followed me ever since my first abortion), consisting of extra-large sanitary pads, I was fighting the blood in vain, and in the end I had to try and absorb as much as possible with a towel, and meanwhile, the contractions kept growing increasingly unbearable. And at the same time, the realities were just more and more clear to me – that the chances of a miracle were as good as gone. Once we got to the hospital, I had to walk the humiliating trip from the carpark, blood running down my legs and leaving a bloody trail, through the hospital to the emergency room, where my boyfriend installed me in a chair with a far too small bloody towel wrapped halfway around my body. And there I was, sitting next to the construction worker, who’d hurt his shoulder at work, and was just overwhelmed by unhappiness.
I was probably already aware that the pregnancy was coming to an end when I was sitting in the car. Once again I’d tolerated a number of insufferable weeks in the first trimester with nausea, vomiting, infinite struggles with eating, drinking and taking medicine, and, not least, several smaller bleedings succeeded by scans showing that everything looked normal – and again for no use at all. When it finally was my turn to be examined at the hospital (I probably wasn’t waiting that long, but when contractions are washing over you, it feels like an eternity), we got the message that nothing was alive inside my uterus any longer.
I was hospitalised with painkillers so intense that I no longer sensed what was going on in my body, and the only thing I could think of was the relief of being painfree and that the bleedings were decreasing. Unfortunately, it seemed as if none of the doctors or nurses had considered what was in store – I wasn’t warned. The shock was therefore enormous when I had to give birth to our little lifeless foetus the next morning in the toilet. I am forever thankful that my boyfriend was allowed to spend the night at the hospital with me, as it meant that he was only a few seconds away and I wasn’t alone in the situation. But to see such a small being is indescribable and incredibly unfortunate. It’s really a micro-sized baby, and I will never forget the sight.
It only occurred to me several weeks later that I’d become a mother. Even though it feels a bit weird to say and think, I know that deep inside my heart I became a mother after my fourth pregnancy – mother of a small angel. One that never got a chance.
Only time will tell whether I’ll ever become the mother of a child, who will make it out of my body alive. So far, the process has left some scars, and unfortunately it may not be over, because there’s no 100 % efficient cure, and the statistics show that there may be additional losses in store before it may or may not end up with a success. The fear of a new pregnancy is also big, but I have no choice – I have to try again. But it’s hard work! At first, there will be additional treatments and concurrently the experiences have to be processed as well, in order for me to hopefully be able to enjoy even just elements of a pregnancy and can look forward to going through with a birth.