A Year of Gains and Losses

Big GainBy Sharon Munroe

Looking in the rear-view mirror, it’s easy to see that some of our best days are intermingled with those where we experienced significant challenges. 2009 was that period for me, a year filled with both significant gains in many areas and painful losses and dreams dashed.

 

In January 2009 my husband and I began trying to grow our family. Our son was a year old and we were feeling especially excited about his development. As parents we beamed with pride and a sense of accomplishment. As we were 41 (me) and 49 (him) at the time, we did not feel we had a lot of time to spare but we had no preconceived notion that conceiving another child would be challenging.

That month I did get pregnant and excitedly rushed to the OB’s office for an ultrasound at 5 weeks gestation. I went alone, confident that I knew what to expect. Imagine then the feeling that I (and some have you may have experienced), of hearing no heartbeat. The ultrasound technician, a caring woman and my long-time OB assured me that often the heartbeat is faint at five weeks. “Let’s re-check next week and hope for the best,” said Dr. B.

I was worried but optimistic. Just 13 months prior my baby boy was born without complications and I was very healthy. I felt terrific and ready to have a baby again. I returned to the ultrasound table exactly a week later to find more of the same. 

No heartbeat. The tiny vision inside was a group of cells that would not be growing a baby.

Worried about my work schedule that month and not having experienced a miscarriage, I scheduled a D & C. In hindsight, it was a pretty invasive procedure to remove the cells on my schedule versus waiting for them to come out on their own as often happens in similar circumstances. My biggest fear at the time was having potentially heavy, unexpected bleeding while on an airplane or in a client meeting. The outcome from the D & C and examination of the cells indicated that this was not meant to live. This event would not impede my ability to get pregnant again I was assured.

After this setback, I wondered if we could conceive again. If we could we would, my husband and I agreed. We went on with our daily lives. I achieved great accomplishments at work. I landed new clients and led meaningful work for my market research agency. I spent quality time with my husband and son, documenting his whole year in photos and scrapbook pages. Life was rich.

Family In IrelandThe Next Chapter

We planned a family trip on a large scale. My husband’s family and our little family of three, eight in total, would spend two summer weeks in Ireland. We would visit the family homestead and farm and tour Ireland’s scenic west coast and famed landmarks. During a spare few moments in those two busy weeks we conceived again. I was hopeful and thankful for the time away from the everyday. A positive home pregnancy test result came two days in a row.

This time I waited to return to the OB and waiting was hard. I always prefer to know the facts and quickly. At approximately 5 weeks, the harsh reality of what felt like a heavy period hit. I was visiting a college friend Lisa and her family in Chicago following a week of meetings with my work colleagues. Lisa was a good friend and had been a part of many happy times: we had a similar major and activities in school and many common friends and interests. A year behind me in school, she celebrated my college graduation. A few years later she went to graduate school at N.Y.U. when I lived just blocks away in the East Village of Manhattan and we saw each other frequently. She was a bridesmaid in my first wedding. It was good to see her and her growing family, meeting her husband and two young boys for the first time.

Lisa too had experienced miscarriage and knew what to do. She armed me with pads, comfort and reassurance. I wept behind sunglasses much of the way home on the plane.

These two losses in the same year were significant and with my 42nd birthday approaching that meant we had a lot more challenges than we expected and a lot less time. I was sad but not defeated

I knew the reality, egg quality is proven to decrease with age. Ovarian function is finite.  More and more, eggs are not viable.

A chance conversation with our son’s classmate’s mom, Dr. Natalie Burger would lead us down a different path, which I will cover in another story. Dr. Burger shares her expert voice with us next.