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.

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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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One thing I’ve learned from the infertility community is that we all have dates. Most remember the date they pulled the goalie (i.e. started trying). For those of us who have gone through miscarriage(s), most remember the expected due dates of their lost babies. Some remember the dates of devastating ultrasound news.

For me, I have a weird relationship with our dates.

I have a list in my phone of all my CD1’s, beta levels with each pregnancy, fetal heart rates with each pregnancy, date of confirmed fetal demise, etc. But, without looking, I don’t know any dates except for my current cycle date.

But, here’s the odd thing. I have never really known any of our expected due dates, and I have never really kept track of our daily/weekly progress. I knew the first one’s due date, but then deleted everything from my phone and scratched it from my memory in the aftermath of our loss. I was told our second due date, but then never paid attention to it. I never even bothered to learn our 3rd, 4th or 5th due dates. With the exception of our first loss, I have all the CD1 dates in my phone still, so I know I could figure it out with a couple quick Google searches if I really wanted to. But, I have not bothered and don’t expect to now. At the time, for better or worse my thought process was to just take it it week by week and focus on the one in front of us. And now, I don’t look them up because I just don’t see the point on marking multiple days out of every year with sad memories. I would rather hold onto the happy memories that we do have, then to dwell on the negative.

Some might say not knowing these dates is a practical approach that is true to my personality; others might say it’s sad that I don’t know these dates to honour our babies; and, others might say that it’s about self-protection. I would venture the guess that all these perspectives are at least partially true.

See, just like I said, I have a weird relationship with our dates, mainly because I don’t really have a relationship at all. From what I can tell, nearly every other person in the infertility community knows there dates, particularly their expected due dates that never happened.

But, I have to share that I out of all of our experiences and all of our losses, I have engrained only three dates into my mind and my heart. Yes, that’s right, only three.

First, I know the date of our emergency D&C that was the end of our second pregnancy. I know it because it was also the very first surgery I ever had and it was also just before my 30th birthday.  I don’t really hold onto that date as important – in fact, we’ve already had the first anniversary of the date and it really didn’t bother either of us. At the point of the D&C we had already experienced waiting for our baby die and learning that it was actually dead. So, the D&C was more of a necessary evil, and little emotion was wrapped up with it. For me there was no fear on the surgery day, probably because I was so emotionally drained by then that I just want it to be over (although I think my husband suffered miserably as he waited at the hospital without being able to help).

The second date I remember is the day we found out we lost our 4th baby.  You see, for the first time ever with this baby we had a healthy fetal heart rate.  My husband was over the moon excited.  I was convinced something was wrong from day 1 to the point of annoying the heck of my husband.  This gut feeling prevented me from really embrace the good news of the fetal heart rate.  I couldn’t, call it mother’s intuition, but I just knew something was wrong.  In the end, I was right and our baby died without us knowing it.  Anyways, we found out this baby died 3 days after my 31st birthday.  For 2 years in a row, my birthday has been marred by absolutely horrible experiences.   So, now I know, for the rest of my life, I will always remember these two babies when we celebrate my birthday.

The third date I remember is our darkest moment – the day we terminated our third baby. The first anniversary of that date is today. It has been one year since we made the decision to let our little baby go. A decision I would never wish upon anyone. A decision that still hurts, even though we felt compelled to make in order to potentially save my life while knowing that our baby would eventually die regardless. A decision that will undoubtedly stay with us for the rest of my life. A decision that no parent should ever have to make.  My husband, he’s much more clinical about this decision because the possibility of losing me simply wasn’t an option in his mind. Me, I know, I absolutely know, it was the right decision.  But, I was and am much more emotional about it. Regardless, we both loved that baby so incredibly much. I will continue to love her, and hold her in my heart for the rest of time.

So, today, I will not dwell on this anniversary.  I learned long ago that for me the anticipation of hard anniversaries (i.e. April 7), is actually harder than the day itself. So, I am confident that the worst of the anxiety is behind me. I will silently honour our memory of our baby girl (I have no idea how, but I’m sure I will even if it’s just within my own thoughts).  I will cherish the conversations I had with her when she was still with us, and the glimmers of hope that we had when she was part of our lives.

And, just in case the day is harder than I anticipated, I should be okay as by some coincidence, we have out of town family who stayed with us last night and we are off to celebrate my Great Uncles 80th birthday tonight. For me, this means that I have a great distraction, and will be surrounded by mostly unknowing family members who will double as a great distraction. And, I highly doubt the only two people at the party outside of my husband and I who know about this anniversary, will remember the actual date.

Anyways, that’s it for today. I’m off to keep myself busy and to find a few happy moments where I can.

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

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