Recurrent Pregnancy Loss and Resilience

Recently, The Common Ostrich made a comment on one of my posts that really got me thinking. She commented about my resilience for surviving all the crap that we have faced in the last few years – her exact words were “the fact that you’ve been through all this crap and are still a functioning human is a testament to your resilience”. And, at nearly the same time Infertility U Suck wrote a post entitled Recurrent Pregnancy Loss AKA RPL and in that post, she talked about why some of us keep trying.

So thanks to these two ladies, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about why we keep trying and is our desire to keep trying the result of being resilient or being slightly insane?

So, today I’m attempting to put my thoughts down for anyone to read, should anyone feel so inclined.

…………………….

So, here are the basics about recurrent pregnancy loss (RPL). It is defined as more than 2 consecutive miscarriage. This happens to less than 1% of couples. Within that, 1%, 90% of couples will be diagnosed with some sort of medical cause. Some are curable, and some are not. 10% will be diagnosed with unexplained RPL, where no medical cause can be determined. My husband and I are in that 10%. Not exactly a club that any sane person wants to be a part of.

In our circumstance we have been told we have about a 50% chance of success with a future pregnancy (keep in mind that normal pregnancy have an 80% success rate). And, there will be no “safe” time for us. By this I mean that in a normal pregnancy, the chances of losing a baby after the first trimester drop drastically. This will not be the case for us. We could make it all the way to week 25, 35 or 39 and the baby could die. (I have no idea how the doctors can tell us this considering they have no idea what causes our babies to die, but we’ve asked for the statistics and they are just telling us what the statistics say. And, I love statistics so I would rather have them then not).

So, once we became part of this horrible club, why do we keep trying again? What drives us to put our physical and emotional health on the line? What drives us to be willing to risk losing another baby to miscarriage or potentially a still-birth at some point later on during a pregnancy? What drive us to put ourselves and our marriage through such excoriating agony?

Just as, Infertility U Suck wrote – all it takes is one. So, for us, everything is all about the next try in hopes that it’s the one results in a healthy baby. One good one, and we will get out very own little baby to raise and encourage for the rest of our lives. How could we turn your back on this type of hope? At this point, we cannot, so we put our hearts on the line and we roll the dice, one more time.

I know that if the losses keep adding up, at some point there will be a time where we cannot continue to risk everything and roll the dice. At some point, I know we will cash in and walk away with whatever is left. But, both my husband and I know for certain that we have not reach that point just yet. So as we look forward into our immediate future, we know we are trying one more time and we are focusing on our next one and making it the healthiest try possible. And, all I know right now, is that we will hope that the next one works, and if we have to we will hold onto hope until there is none left. We also both realize that we must get through the next one before we even begin to think too much beyond it.

So, for now, we focus on try number 6 and we choose to focus on hope.

But, does this experience make us resilient? Does the very fact that we’ve survived 5 loses, and we are signing up to try again, does that make us resilient? Or does it really just make us insane/crazy?

So, being me, I decided to dig into the actual definition of resilience:

I see two very distinct components of the definition. The first, about becoming strong, healthy or successful after something bad happens. So, I guess for us, this is very true for the most part. To me, surviving our somethings bad (i.e. 5 miscarriages), and moving into a recovery mode means that there have been bad days, and there are likely to be more, but for the most part we are becoming strong and through this. You could even say I am successful in that we have survived and grown as in ways I never thought possible (the very fact that I can see success in this situation, in a very different light then I have ever defined success, is a very substantial change from just last week).

And, then I think about the second part of the definition. I find the graphic visualization of being pulled, stretched, pressed, and bent almost funny because they are great words for the emotional side of going through RPL. I would also add the words poked, prodded and scraped to describe my physical life as a lab rat both while the doctors have tried to figure out the cause of our miscarriages and while the doctors have had to remove pregnancy products from my uterus. But the only thing I won’t agree with in this definition is the idea of returning back to my original shape. I will never be the same person as I was before we lost our first baby and even more so now that we’ve survived losing 5. I have changed, I have scares on my soul that I will carry with me forever. This experience, and how I choose to live with it and the outcome will shape the rest of my life. I also know that I will continue to change as I continue to heal.

So, I guess for us to go through RPL, means that I have been resilient. To survive dying and dead babies, has required me to work on recovery (physical and emotional) and continue on with living. I think anyone who has lost a child to miscarriage, regardless of the number, has to be resilient to survive and to be willing to try again. I think we have to be. Even if we chose to stop trying one day, we will still be resilient for surviving all the emotional bending, pulling, stretching and all the physical poking and prodding.

If you like this post, please feel free to share it and please return to myperfectbreakdown.com to follow my journey.

32 Comments on “Recurrent Pregnancy Loss and Resilience

  1. Great post! It is that hope that keeps us going and the strength to keep going. It really does just take one good egg! I just heard about a fellow RPL’er who had 9 miscarriages before she had her daughter and that “good egg” is now going off to college:) She said that she just knew her baby was coming and had to keep going. Thanks for the link up and I am hoping our “good egg” is coming soon!

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    • I too have heard the stories of people who had 8 or 9 or 10 miscarriages then had a few healthy babies. But, I always struggle to think that we could do this for that many more attempts and that many more years of our lives. I don’t have the answer to when enough will be enough for us, but I just cannot imagine going through another miscarriage 3 or 4 more times.
      Anyways, I too hope our good one is our next one! 🙂

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  2. Great post that I could completely relate to today. After a breakdown this morning because my 3rd US is in less than 2 hours and I know my chances aren’t very good, I asked myself that same question, “Why do I keep trying?” and you answered that perfectly. Thank you for continuing to share your story. I find such strength in your posts.

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    • I am just so sorry that you are stuck in this position again….
      I too find so much strength in your posts and am thankful you are sharing your story. There are not many of us who have had this many miscarriage, so as much as it sucks, I am thankful that we are able to support each other.

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  3. I love that you are you!! And I love that you acknowledge this:

    “I will never be the same person as I was before we lost our first baby and even more so now that we’ve survived losing 5. I have changed…”

    There is such power in saying and feeling those words. For me, I haven’t changed for the worse, which is surprising to me. But I am different. I don’t think anyone could suffer such pain and not be.

    Thank you for continuing to make me think and feel.

    With heart,
    Dani

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    • I think you made a really good point in this comment when you say that you haven’t changed for the worse. Some days I think I have changed for the worse – in a way I’ve lost some aspect of innocence that I think women with “normal” pregnancies and happy babies have. Yet, when I think about it, I know that some of my changes have been for the better too. 🙂

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  4. I also like data and statistics–and 50% chance of success is too good to pass up. But even if they said 1% chance, I think I (and probably you & others) would still try. Also, in the last year RPL has been re-defined as 2 miscarriages in stead of 3, which is great because now insurance will cover testing, etc. after 2 consecutive losses–I never understood why a woman should have to lose 3 babies before they would start helping her. All my best to you as you continue on this difficult journey. XOXO

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    • Funny enough, I actually quoted the stat on RPL being 2 or more miscarriages wrong – for our clinic and our province it is still 3. So, if you live here, until you have 3 you cannot get into an RE and get the medical testing. But, I just did a quick google search and it does appear that some clinics use the 2 consecutive rule, and others still use the 3 consecutive rule.

      Anyways, I think part of me would still try even if the chances were only 1%, yet I think the rational part of my thinking would take over and we’d stop trying if we knew the chances were that low. I dunno…maybe?

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      • Good point, I’m in the US and just assumed the parameters were the same (2 not 3) for mc’s. If it was really a 1% chance of a bio child, then I would look at other options–we aren’t wealthy. I’ve always liked the idea of donor embryos, because it’s economical (no IVF, just an FET) and I truly want to be pregnant & give birth. XO

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  5. I have never thought of myself as resilient when going through this. I am part of the 90% that a cause was found…..perhaps. My last pregnancy and subsequent loss were in January and I haven’t been pregnant since. I thought that if they found a reason I would have a baby easy peazy. In fact my odds at conceiving each month are going down and down.

    Every day I am so overcome with sadness for what could have been, I am paralyzed. Sometimes people can see the pain, but so often it goes unnoticed. What we don’t see is that we are stronger now than when we started….a little beaten and bruised but stronger.

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    • Thank you for sharing your perspective. I too had not thought of myself as resilient, but when presented with the idea, I realized that maybe we are rather resilient. I really think we have to be. But, I love what you said in your comment – a little beaten and bruised but stronger. That just rung so true to me.

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  6. First, what a thoughtful post. I commend and thank you for that.

    Second, about the question you raised: “is our desire to keep trying the result of being resilient or being slightly insane?” If I were to answer I would have to say “neither”.

    For me, trying has no causal relationship to mental wellness or lack thereof or to my resilience. (Let’s assume for present argument’s sake that I have mental health issues and am resilient.) They may be related, but not causally (i.e., my mental health/resilience is not reason for my TTC in the face of a RPL diagnosis).

    I keep trying because (a) I am a mom to one living child (after pregnancy losses) and (b) as a result, I know what I am missing *every time* I conceive and lose a baby. Every single freaking time. Before we had our one successful pregnancy, I was much more inclined to accept it would never happen and that if IVF didn’t make it happen, I was done with TTC although I had not ruled out adoption then. At least if I look back on my journaling then, that appears to be the case.

    Since having a living child and falling in love 1000 times over and since touching into my the spirit world where I believe(d?) there was another child that is meant to be part of our family, I have felt *driven* to keep trying. Maybe this does speak to my mental health and an imbalance there, but I don’t think it is the causal force. And I know it’s not because I’m tough that I keep trying. If I know one thing, I know that is NOT the reason.

    The reason is complicated but it definitely is about the love and joy and light I have experienced since birthing our one miracle. Perhaps one could say it’s greed that propels me forward. I should be happy with the one I have. But that’s not how this kind of love works.

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    • You raise a really good point – my question of trying again being the result of resilience of insanity isn’t really fair or comprehensive. There are about 1000 other descriptors for why people continue to try. And for me, I’m not trying again because I’m resilient, I think resilience has come out of this experience.
      I know our main driver to continue trying is hope. Hope for everything that you have described with your one living miracle child. Hope that we will get to have that one day, and hope that we can share our love with a child(ren). Hope.

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  7. Beautiful post hon. I completely agree with everything. I know for me, the hope of that one is what kept me going too. Praying for #6 and hoping for that one for you and your hubby too. And yes, while the definition of resilience is pretty accurate, I will never go back to who I was before my losses either. It’s impossible. Hugs friend ❤

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    • I absolutely wish I weren’t so resilient and that I never had to go through this experience! And even more so, I wish no-one ever had to experience this type of strength. Your comment is so on target with my feelings. Thanks so much!

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  8. I’m proof it only takes one. I have no idea how he did it but my Little Man got through and has been a strong one from the start. He rarely gets sick and when he does he’s over it quickly – I secretly think he might be like Bruce Willis in Unbreakable. The percentages of him getting through (with my track record of losing) were 20%. Never lose hope – it’s what keeps us going.

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