The Conundrum of Recurrent Pregnancy Loss

co-nun-drum ~ \kə-ˈnən-drəm\
noun ~ an intricate and difficult problem

Once we officially started trying to make a baby, it took ten months before we saw our first positive home pregnancy test, but, in hindsight, I wouldn't describe it as a BFP.  Our excitement was brief.  I was spotting from the beginning and the series of subsequent blood tests by my OB/GYN revealed that my HCG levels were decreasing instead of increasing.  My first pregnancy ended in my first miscarriage shortly before Christmas 2008.  The pregnancy was over basically at the same time we learned it even existed.  We were sad and disappointed, but we had conceived within a year's time so we weren't technically "infertile" by textbook standards.  If I wouldn't have miscarried, we would be celebrating that baby's second birthday right about now.

We spent the next two years, or 23 months to be exact, trying to conceive again.  First on our own, later with the assistance of various artificial reproductive technologies and then, again, on our own for a bit.  The goal was to just conceive again.  Get pregnant, that's all.  How hard could it be, right?  We technically did it once before even though it didn't result in a take home baby.  We were assured that the chances of a second miscarriage were unlikely.  Month after month the pregnancy tests were negative.  Were we considered "infertile" yet?  Maybe "subfertile" was the more appropriate term.  Month after month I wanted that darn second line to materialize.  It didn't show up again until November 2010.  Needless to say, when it did, we were thrilled.  Our second baby was conceived while we were on a long vacation to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary.  No clo.mid, no jerking off into a cup, no doctor intervention.  Just the way nature intended.  My HCG levels were doubling.  No signs of spotting like the first time.  Our goal was accomplished!  Surely this was it and miscarrying twice in a row wouldn't happen. A couple of weeks went by.  We attended a pregnancy info session at my OB/GYN's office and had our first ultrasound scheduled.  Then one morning, the unlikely happened.  I rolled out of bed to get ready for work, half awake like I usually am in the morning.  I went to the bathroom before heading into the shower and was jolted awake by the sight of bright red blood on the toilet paper.  Because it was early and no one was answering my OB/GYN's 24 hour call line, we headed to the ER and confirmed that I was miscarrying again.  How could this happen a second time?  This wasn't supposed to be happening.  I think our grief was worse this time.  At moments I felt betrayed and angry.  At moments I felt depressed and numb.  At moments I felt all and none of these things at the same time if that even makes sense.  We wanted answers.  We were still determined to make a baby of our own.  Baby number two's due date would have been next Friday, July 8. 

Another five months pass by and we conceived for a third time after an IUI.  I blogged about the  progression and ultimate demise of this pregnancy in March.  It seemed to start off on the wrong foot right from the get-go.  I had bleeding that started right around 11dpiui and mimicked Aunt Flo despite multiple positive HPTs and the best and most promising HCG levels I've ever had.  The bleeding eventually stopped and my HCG levels continued to rise.  The doctor and nurses at our clinic assured me that many women bleed early in pregnancy and it doesn't mean anything.  Given my history, I don't believe that.

So where does that leave me now?  Three pregnancies, three miscarriages, no babies.  Not technically infertile, but not really fertile either.  I'm left with a problem, the conundrum I don't know how to resolve or reconcile.  You see, after multiple losses, I find myself conflicted.  Still hoping for a miracle take home baby that is biologically ours, but honestly afraid to get pregnant again.  Hoping each month I'll see that second line on the home pregnancy test, but honestly a little relieved when only the control line appears because at least I know I don't have to worry about facing yet another loss.  Testing each month even when I start bleeding and I'm pretty sure it's my period just to make sure I'm not pregnant because based on my past experiences bleeding doesn't mean I'm not pregnant. 

Some people have said to me, "at least you know you can get pregnant."  I'm not sure why anyone thinks that comment is reassuring or comforting.  Is it somehow better to have been pregnant just for a little while than never pregnant at all?  I honestly haven't figured out the answer to that question and don't know if I ever will.  Maybe my inability to stay pregnant is a sign that any new pregnancies or pregnancies of longer duration will only be plagued with complications.  Maybe it doesn't me anything at all and is just bad luck.

As we approach our first IVF cycle, tentatively scheduled for August, I find myself conflicted about the possibilities.  Wanting to believe that it will be successful, but fearing a BFN or another loss, only this time with thousands of dollars involved.  It will be so worth it if it works, but even more devastating and disappointing if it doesn't.  And that's the conundrum I face as a wounded veteran of recurrent pregnancy loss.


  1. Your last paragraph really resonates with me. I'll be starting stims in a few days and have the same fears. Best of luck to you with your ivf cycle.

  2. I totally get it. I'm lucky enough to get pregnant pretty easily, but they refuse to stick. I think passing the 3 losses threshold makes things much harder. Trying to be optimistic is hard. I sincerely hope that it sticks for you this time around. Crossing all appendages!

  3. Your whole post is eerily familiar. The weird part is that I started with IVF. The grass is always greener when an IF girl meets a RPL girl. Empty arms is the only thing in common though and many cycles of broken hearts.

    August is so close! I'll be keeping fingers crossed for billions of follicles and lots of eggs to fertilize :)

  4. I'm so sorry you've had to go through so many losses. I'm sure moving on to IVF has to be scary. Wishing you so much luck with it. Looks like I'll be on IVF#2 in August myself. we can keep each other company.

  5. I am so sorry for your losses!! I have had one miscarriage, and we are no longer TTC after learning that my chances of conceiving are very low. But you post really resonates with me. I have also gotten the "at least you know you can get pregnant" line, which offers no comfort whatsoever.

    Wishing you all the best as you take the next steps in your journey. I hope IVF is successful for you!

  6. I'm so sorry for everything you've gone through. Will be reading & hoping for you as you head for IVF. And because I have been enjoying the blog, here's a blog award! http://writebaby.blogspot.com/2011/07/big-thank-you-to-kelly-versatile.html :)