It’s not that I haven’t been working on my bucket list the last few months. In fact, I am a year away from crossing off #39 (completing my Master’s degree), for a while I successfully stopped biting my nails (#36) and I’ve been close to #46 (read one book a month). But, for the most part, I have been working hard on #50 – being a mom. I always knew that Crohn’s disease would make pregnancy difficult but I guess I never realized just how excruciating the process would be.
We started officially trying 3 1/2 years ago. After about 6 months of no luck, we saw a fertility specialist who recommended moving on to more aggressive options. Before we started that process, I had a routine colonoscopy to make sure my disease was still in remission and, unfortunately, it was not. That pressed the breaks on the baby plan and I spent the next year working with my GI to get my Crohn’s under control. Finally, at my colonoscopy a year later, we saw no signs of active disease and operation baby was back in motion.
It actually didn’t take us long to get pregnant. After only two months of trying I finally got to see those beautiful two pink lines on a pregnancy test. We were ecstatic. At 6 weeks we told our parents because that was the week our baby’s heart was supposed to start beating. Whether it ever did or not, I will never know. We lost that little miracle at 7 weeks after a night of bleeding and cramping took me to the ER. It was an incredible loss. Up until then I had never quite experienced pain like that. And I have lived the last 19 years of my life in pain.
But we pulled ourselves back up and started again. When we struggled to get pregnant on our own we sought the advice of the experts. After embarrassing and invasive testing, we were diagnosed with unexplained infertility. It is the absolute worst diagnosis because although you know something is wrong you don’t know what it is or how to fix it. They theorized that I have so much scar tissue from my previous surgeries that it is making everything a bit more difficult. So we started IUIs (intrauterine insemination – essentially the turkey baster approach). Our doctors recommended we do three IUIs and if none of those worked that we should move on to IVF.
So we did our three and none of them were successful. It is a cruel and horrific process. Every month there is an indescribable hope followed by a soul crushing disappointment. But our doctors were confident IVF would work for us so we decided to try. I started injecting myself every day with the very expensive medications that were supposed to bring me a baby. Before we started the second medication I had another scope to make sure my Crohn’s was still behaving itself. It was but I had a severe complication and ended up in the ICU for four days needing a blood transfusion.
Whether it was the almost bleeding out from my scope, the wrong drug protocol or some other unknown factor, I simply didn’t produce enough eggs to warrant a retrieval (the next step in IVF). Our doctor recommended we cancel that attempt and try again the next month. I was devastated and after a very emotional conversation with my nurse, they recommended trying another IUI. Why not, right? It only had a 10% chance of working but it was worth a shot. So we went for it. And two weeks later I could not believe my eyes when I saw those glorious two pink lines. We were pregnant.
I went to our fertility doctor’s office to confirm the pregnancy and heard the most amazing sound I had ever heard, our baby’s heart beating strong. It was something I had been robbed of with our first miracle and I cannot properly explain the emotions I felt when I finally heard that tiny little heart beat for the first time.
Unfortunately, I started bleeding soon after. We ended up in the same ER as before and I couldn’t believe we were going to lose another baby. But, again, there was that glorious heartbeat. I was diagnosed with a subchorionic hematoma (a blood clot in the uterus) and was told to take it easy but also not to worry. It’s kind of hard not to worry when you are pregnant yet bleeding every day. We ended up in the ER again a few weeks later after I started to seemingly hemorrhage but, again, everything was okay.
As we got farther along I started to feel a little more confident in the pregnancy. We told our parents, we announced it to my whole family at my grandma’s birthday party, and we told my stepdaughter that she was going to have a brother or a sister. We bought baby clothes, we planned the nursery and, at our 12 week appointment I was wearing maternity clothes to cover my growing belly. At that appointment, we got to see our little baby actually looking like a baby and not just an embryo. We saw the little hand wave at us and again, heard that wonderful sound. The hematoma had grown considerably but I was told, again, not to worry. That everything looked perfect. We had our genetic testing done and my mom and I started to talk about a baby shower. I was out of the first trimester. If something bad was going to happen, it would have happened by now. I was actually going to have a baby.
Because of how complicated the pregnancy had been, I had ordered an at-home baby Doppler so I could hear the heart beat on my own and put my nerves at ease. It arrived the Friday after our Monday appointment and I tried for an hour to hear that wonderful sound. But all I heard was silence. I tried not to worry. I mean this thing was $40 at Walmart, how reliable could it really be? I tried again on Saturday and again on Sunday and still all I heard was silence. Now I was starting to worry. I emailed my OB to see if I could come in Monday to have her find the heartbeat and she agreed. I had done this once before after one of our big bleeds.
Somehow though, this time was different. I think I knew, even then, that something was very wrong. I made Josh go with me to the appointment because I couldn’t shake my growing fears. Our OB came in the room and immediately went to put our minds at ease by finding the heartbeat for us. But couldn’t. She told us not to panic and brought in an ultrasound machine. It took just a second too long and I knew, in that instant, our baby was gone. She grabbed my hand and told me that the beautiful sound I had grown to love had stopped. There was no heartbeat. I think mine stopped beating too. It was the most mind-numbing, soul-destroying, unexplainable pain I have ever felt. I thought Josh was going to punch a hole in the wall or jump through the window. I wanted to die. As my world was ending, I heard my phone ring in my purse. I found out later that it was our high risk doctor calling to tell us that our genetic testing results were in. That everything was perfect and we could know the gender.
They were calling to tell me I was having a healthy little girl the very moment I was finding out that she was gone. I don’t want to talk about that anymore.
What followed was a D&C where I couldn’t go home until I stopped crying and I couldn’t stop crying. We named our little miracle Amelia, a name we both fell in love with those 3 wonderful months she was with us. We buried her ultrasound pictures at the base of a beautiful tree on the edge of a cliff in one of our favorite parks. We said goodbye.
It’s been 6 weeks since we lost her and the pain feels as real and excruciating as it did the day we found out. I don’t know what’s next for us. I don’t know if I can do this again. I’m actually not worried that we won’t get pregnant again. I’m worried we will. I don’t know if I can lose another baby. I don’t know if this is the end of the road for us. I don’t know anything anymore.
What I do know however, is that even though our sweet baby girl was only with us for a few short months, I will always be her mom.