Two really clear lines on the day my period was due.
After our first loss, I was more pragmatic. I didn’t think of this pregnancy as a guaranteed baby. I was anxious every day since the positive pregnancy test. This anxiety turned into a really bad inkling at 5 weeks. I didn’t feel pregnant. I did more pregnancy tests from the same pack, the lines were more faded than they were when I first tested. I wasn’t surprised when the bleeding arrived.
What hit me hard this time was not the loss of the baby that could have been, but the loss of time. The last four months had been such an emotional investment, it had seemed like such a long time with no hope and no idea what my dodgy cycles were up to. I couldn’t believe that we were back at square one. We were going to have to do this all over again. After one miscarriage, you can talk yourself into thinking that will be it. “Most women will have one, but most women will have only one” – my GPs words reassured me second time round. But third time round… there will be no reassurance, just pure anxiety.
I had another hard week. It’s the end of the world in that week. Nothing is going to make it better. Nothing can bring back that lost time. There’s nothing to propel me into the future where things are not so bad.
After the second time, I tried to act like I was OK. That I had a plan, that this month’s set back wasn’t the end of the world for me. I didn’t mention to Sam that when he is at work and there are no distractions I just stare blankly into space or google the same things over and over. That Arlo has had a shit week. Not only has his mum’s head been completely elsewhere and he’s had hardly any attention, but he’s been struggling to adjust to being refused milk all of a sudden. That I am holding on for the weekend when I have less time to be alone with my thoughts. By the end of the week I am drained of everything. Admitting that it is hard is a big thing, saying it out loud is admitting it to myself too. He doesn’t realise what it means for me to simply say “It’s hard. It’s hard now, and it’s hard to know I have to do this again once more before I will get any help from the GP”. He doesn’t realise the weight of what I’m saying, that’s why he shoots me down with the worst response ever. “It’s not hard. It’s up to you how you choose to deal with it.” If anyone needs a therapist, apparently I live with one.
I obsessed about the age-gap. (I’m still obsessing about the age-gap, but I’m starting to accept that babies choose you and the timing is all on their terms, not the other way round). I didn’t want there to be 3+ years between them, but it’s all out of my control. Any assumptions I had made about being able to easily conceive and sustain a pregnancy are no more. I now have no idea how long we will be waiting.
I can’t concentrate on anything but this. I am meant to be finding ways to advertise my business, getting word out there, earning some much needed money. But I have no enthusiasm or energy for it. All I want to do is lie under my duvet. And be pregnant.
I have now discovered that my very short luteal phase of 7-8 days means any conception will always end in miscarriage. Although I knew about my short luteal phase after the first loss, it took until after the second loss for me to realise this fact. I had previously thought that it might just make things difficult to get pregnant, that getting pregnant was the hurdle, and once I was pregnant there would be a chance. I have no idea if my cycles are short because of my first miscarriage, or if they were short beforehand, and that’s what caused both early miscarriages. In hindsight, I wish I had started keeping track of my cycles before we made the decision to try for another baby, just so I could be sure.
My gut feeling tells me the changes to my cycle have happened since having Arlo. When I think about all the hair loss I’ve suffered from 6 months post partum up until Arlo was 18 months old, the painful periods when I never had any period pain pre-Arlo, the couple of fainting episodes I had last winter that coincided with specific points in my cycle…. it all seems obvious that my hormones were messed up.
Most women have no trouble conceiving whilst still breastfeeding, however, a small number may be affected by high prolactin levels (the breastfeeding hormone), as prolactin suppresses progesterone. Dropping a feed abruptly is apparently the best way to decrease prolactin levels, so I’ve completely cut out Arlo’s post-nap feed and any ‘snacking’ between his morning and bedtime feeds. I hate the idea that there is a possibility that Arlo’s needs are already in conflict with a new baby’s needs, before the new baby even exists. I hate the idea that I could stop breastfeeding and still have another miscarriage, it would be so much harder to handle knowing that prolactin wasn’t my issue and I weaned Arlo against his will for no reason. Even if stopping outright were to help, it might not be an instant effect. It could be months for my sluggish cycles to catch up. I hate the idea that ‘my body just isn’t ready’. It’s almost as bad as ‘It wasn’t meant to be’. As if knowing my body isn’t ready is enough to give me comfort or magical instant closure. Everything’s OK now, because I know that my body just simply isn’t ready and my miscarriages were meant to be. (Since I wrote this my prolactin levels have been tested and are fine, so that’s not the problem).
Nothing about this process is fun and exciting anymore.
How the hell we managed to conceive Arlo despite contraception becomes more and more of a mystery and a miracle to me.
That pretty much brings us up to today. I’m taking various herbs and vitamins which are meant to encourage my hormones to get back into line. Since the first miscarriage, I haven’t felt like it’s the three of us anymore. It’s the three of us and one waiting in the wings. I wanted to share all of this once we had some good news to accompany it. But it can’t happen right now, so we have to wait. I do have faith in my body, now that Arlo has finally started to sleep through, and with the help of these pills I’m taking, I’m hoping that my body will remember what it’s supposed to do.