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.
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