Written by Sarah Banks, guest blogger
I’ve often wondered how I would tell this story. Where do you even begin, after 10 years of infertility and loss, when the journey is still underway? I can still vividly remember the first miscarriage – it was 2008 and we had just moved to Colorado Springs. I was doubled over in excruciating pain, crying at work. I didn’t know I was pregnant, so I didn’t know what was wrong, and I remember saying to a coworker, “If I didn’t know better I would think this is what a miscarriage feels like.” When the Doctor told me I was pregnant and that I was having a miscarriage, a flood of emotions and thoughts washed over me. Most of all, I felt desperate for this life that I didn’t even know was there before that moment. I immediately loved this child and longed to meet him or her. Now it was all gone. Weeks of tears, waves of sadness and shock, lots of questions, and a lot of guilt came and went during that time. Miscarriages 2, 3 and 4 are more of a blur.
“I’m sorry, it looks like you’ve just rolled snake eyes too many times,” one of the Doctors said to me. Snake eyes? Really? You’re making a craps reference about my fertility? Do people even say that? Apparently they do because I will never un-hear those words being spoken to me.
Over the course of the next 4 years, I saw 3 different Reproductive Endocrinologists in 2 different states. I had every test they offer administered, and re-administered after another couple of miscarriages, only to be told that I’m perfectly healthy and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with me. Except, of course, for the fact that I couldn’t carry a baby past 9 weeks with no medical explanation of why. I think it might have been easier over those years if there was a reason, some kind of medical diagnosis that I could wrap my head around, undergo treatment for….something.
Pregnancy #5 is clear, too clear to forget any of the details, much like pregnancy and baby #1. Baby #5 and baby #6 were twins. I hadn’t taken any fertility drugs or undergone any treatment, but I do have twins that run in my family. I was so excited and so hopeful, but I was also cripplingly terrified. My anxiety and panic over something going wrong was almost suffocating. At my 8 week appointment baby A had a heartbeat but baby B did not. I was crushed, but also hopeful for baby A. A week later during ultrasound, baby A no longer had a heartbeat. During those moments I was so angry with myself and my body. It had failed me, yet again, and I didn’t know how to cope with that. I went through a long period of anger and resentment about why this was happening to me. I questioned my faith. I questioned why others could have children but I couldn’t. I questioned the fairness of it all.
I knew it before I even missed my period. After 5 pregnancies I knew my body so well, I knew I was pregnant days before my period was due. My chest was swollen and tender and it hurt to walk around my house without a bra. That was always my first sign of pregnancy. This time, pregnancy #6 and baby #7, felt different. I was nauseous, incredibly tired and I wasn’t as panicked and anxious every waking second of the day. I had a calm and peace about this pregnancy. That whatever was going to happen, was going to happen, regardless of what I did or didn’t do. I travelled to Peru at 8 weeks and rubbed the water at Machu Picchu on my stomach. I prayed, I begged, I bargained for the life of this child, but I maintained a sense of peace like I hadn’t in the pregnancies before.
I remember sitting at the Doctor’s office at week 38 and begging the Doctor to induce labor. I didn’t trust my body, even though my pregnancy had been fine, and I wanted her out. My beautiful miracle daughter was born on November 6, 2014. I have never loved anything or anyone as much as I loved this little girl.
I wanted more children, but I just didn’t know if it was part of the plan for me, and I was ok with that. I didn’t know how much more loss and fear my heart could take. Even before the positive pregnancy test, I knew I was pregnant with baby #8. We were thrilled and hopeful, and the Doctors assured me that after carrying my daughter to term I should absolutely be able to carry another pregnancy to term. But this was just like babies #1-6. I knew it, because I knew my pregnant body too well, and it was a blessing and a curse. After you’ve had as many miscarriages as I have they will see you before the 8 or 12 week mark, so at the 6 week appointment we could clearly see a baby on the ultrasound but I was measuring behind and there was no heartbeat yet. At the 8 week appointment they confirmed that the baby had stopped growing at 6 weeks 1 day. The inevitable conversation with my Doctor followed, “Would you like to do a D&C or try to miscarry naturally?” I’ve had this conversation too many times and I had become numb to it. We lost baby #8 in October 2017, 9 years after this infertility journey began, almost to the day.
As I write this, 15 weeks pregnant with baby #9, I think about the sweet souls in heaven that I’ll never meet. I wonder whether they were girls or boys, what they would have looked like, what they would have become. I wonder if I will tell my children about their brothers and sisters in heaven. This has been a devastating journey filled with too many tears to count and too much hurt to measure, but it has also taught me more lessons about love and loss than I could have ever imagined. I cherish every waking second with my daughter and am hopeful that I will get to meet baby #9 in October.
Infertility is painful beyond words, but I haven’t lost hope. I lost it at times, but I didn’t lose it forever. If I had given up, I never would have become a Mom, and I know that I was meant to be one, to all 9 of these children.