Angela was 36 when she married Tony in June 2009, and ready to start a family. At 48, Tony was much older but that didn’t matter because they were in love. He was loving and caring and made her feel very special. Tony was a widower. His first wife died about eight years earlier, ironically, during childbirth.
Angela recounted their infertility story during a recent encounter, recalling how they had plans and looked forward to raising a big, happy family. They even chose names for their yet-to-be born children and the likely months they were to be born. If it was a boy, he would be called Anthony, while a girl would be Angelina. Read on:
“I clearly remember it was in October 2009 when I thought I had become pregnant. We set to work with our baby making home work; unfortunately, things didn’t go as planned. A few weeks after we had begun our plans, I got my period, and we were a bit disappointed, but kept on going, then kept on trying the next and the next and the following months without success.
After three more months of trying, I went to see my gynaecologist for some tests and all came back normal, except that I had high levels of prolactin. He put me on a drug called bromocriptine which I took religiously. Another three months went by, yet I did not get pregnant and there was no baby.
In June of 2010, I remember I missed my period. It had been quite a while since that happened, and excitedly, I took a home pregnancy test. Lo and behold, it returned a positive result. I was pregnant! I was ecstatic. Tony was beyond happy! Over the next few days, he didn’t allow me to lift a finger. I wasn’t allowed to do anything. Tony did everything for me, washing, cooking and cleaning. I was treated like a baby, carried, fed and even bathed. All I did was eat and sleep.
Sadly, the pregnancy wasn’t viable because I was spotting from the first day. I went back to my gynaecologist, who put me on permanent bed rest, but that pregnancy was doomed, and despite all efforts, I ended up having a miscarriage after around five weeks of pregnancy.
We were devastated but encouraged each other to get over it and continued with our monthly baby making ritual. Five months later, I missed my period again and another pregnancy test turned out positive. But again, just like the last time, I began spotting from day one.
O, God please, not again! I was horrified. The sad experience with the first pregnancy was still fresh in my memory and I knew right away this was not a good sign at all. To be honest, that experience had robbed me of much optimism and all of a sudden, I really wasn’t so enthusiastic about this second pregnancy. Nevertheless, I carried that pregnancy all the way to the 12th week. I was permanently on bed rest, walked on eggshells and was very, very careful not to get upset.
Despite my efforts, I had a second miscarriage. Once again my heart was filled with unhappiness. It was really bad. I withdrew into a shell and cried my eyes out.
My third pregnancy occurred in May 2011. Like previous occasions, I missed my period after several months to trying and a quick test confirmed I was pregnant. I later got to know that this third pregnancy was what doctors call a chemical (false) pregnancy.
Sure enough, two days later I got my period (the day I was supposed to get it) and it was just normal, like every month. We started trying again and exactly three months later, I found out I was pregnant again. My hope returned but we remained cautious. I was placed on 24-hour, bed rest. Alas! around the 10th day, I started having some light brown spotting. In the pit of my stomach I was concerned something was wrong again.
In a healthy pregnancy, the HCG levels double every 48-72 hours. Mine didn’t double fast enough. The doctor was certain I was going to lose the pregnancy. And I did. Four miscarriages in just over one year! I was utterly defeated.
I started to think, for the first time, that maybe there was something wrong with me. Maybe this was more than just “bad luck.” The last miscarriage itself physically wasn’t difficult, just like a heavy period. But the emotional turmoil was devastating. It hurt so much to know that I lost my baby, yet again, but strangely, I didn’t cry. I just sat like a robot for days, not talking, eating or sleeping.
There was a heavy weight bearing down in my heart and a deep, hollow feeling in the pit of my stomach. All through this period, Tony was fantastic, cuddling and comforting me. I tried to be responsive, but the burden in my heart was too heavy.
The storm broke one evening about a week later. We were at home watching TV. It was a comedy feature and quite arresting. I was so engrossed I didn’t know when I burst out laughing. Tony was startled; he looked at me in concern, but immediately, began laughing too. He laughed so hard he fell off the sofa and that made me to laugh even more.
Tony pulled me down on top of him and we rolled on the floor as we continued laughing. I was laughing so hard there were tears in my eyes and Tony held me close and laughed in my face. It was a magical moment. It had been a long time since we shared such closeness. But quite unexpectedly, the laughter choked in my throat and for a moment or two I could not breathe.
I felt an overwhelming sadness and despair. One moment I was laughing, the next I was weeping uncontrollably.
I cannot remember how long I cried, but I slept off and woke up much later still lying on the living room floor with Tony beside me. I had a throbbing headache, but at that point in time, I felt an uncontrollably strong urge to make love. The doctor had advised us to wait until after I had my next period to try again, but I couldn’t wait to get pregnant again. My wish did not come true until about two months later, I knew without a doubt that the journey to my next conception began that night.
This fifth pregnancy felt completely different right from the start. It felt strong. I had very strong symptoms shortly after ovulation. The HCG levels were encouraging. It went from 79 to 250 in just two days—more than triple. This pregnancy was a strong one and I went on to have a healthy baby boy in August 2012.
When my son was a little over a year old, we decided to start trying again for a second child. The doctor said we could start trying to get pregnant right away, so we did. We went to the village on a vacation, which coincidentally was right around ovulation time. The last day of our vacation I felt very nauseous and threw up. This was very similar to my last pregnancy, so I excitedly told my husband.
A week later, a pregnancy test confirmed my suspicions; I was pregnant again…first try! I was excited, but I couldn’t really believe it had happened so fast. I went in to get my HCG levels drawn and my first number was 112, which seemed okay. However, my second number came back and it had dropped to 76. I was losing another one. I was very sad, but mostly just shocked. I hadn’t really expected to get pregnant so fast and it was gone before I even had a chance to get used to the idea.
We tried again and, immediately I became pregnant again. This one also felt good. I went in the morning I got a positive test but the HCG numbers were low and quickly droppedto 7; another failure.
We tried to get pregnant again and succeeded. My first HCG number was 54, the next draw was 72, doubling time 79 hours. At this point I knew it wasn’t going to work.
My third draw came back—94. Not even close. It was over again, even though I had done everything right, eaten well, no stress took all the medications, exercised right, rested well, prayed fervently, I did it all, and I still lost it. It was one miscarriage too many.
At this point I was just confused and angry. My body let me down again. I am not “infertile” because I have a son and I get pregnant every time I try. My problem is recurrent early trimester miscarriage. I’m grateful for the miracle of my son, but how many times do I have to go through this? How many times can I withstand the trauma? Is there really is something wrong with me? Is it fixable? My story continues.