Guest Writer Wednesday: Mary Kate's miscarriage stories

Guest writer, Mary Kate, shares her and her wife’s experiences with miscarriages. I love her description of where she is at now with the miscarriages…she has made “peace-ish” with them. Please welcome Mary Kate to the Unicorn Mission as she openly and honestly shares her story!

Making Peace-ish with Miscarriages

Can anyone truly make peace with miscarriages? This, unfortunately, is a question I have had to ask myself too many times to count. My wife and I are a same-sex couple. As with many couples we share a lot of things, we never wanted to share the same diagnosis of unexplained infertility. We are not alone in this diagnosis,  1 in 10 couples are infertile. So does that make us 2 in 10?

My trying to conceive journey consisted of 5 ICI’s, 7 IUI’s and 1 fresh IVF embryo transfer.  We first learned about miscarriages after our 6th IUI. My Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE) told me to come in for routine blood work, and, to her surprise and mine, I was pregnant. My beta hCG blood test was positive for pregnancy, but my numbers were low.  I didn’t care at the time, all I could think about was we are pregnant. But the words that my doctor told me, to be cautiously optimistic, stayed in the forefront of my mind. I couldn't wait to finally tell Nicole the good-ish news.

Our minds ran with excitement, we had never received a positive pregnancy test.  

A few days later I went back to the doctor for another blood test. I couldn't leave the doctors office until I had the results. I was paralyzed with fear, my entire body was heavy.  I sat in the waiting room for what felt like days. Finally, our nurse told me that my numbers dropped drastically and it no longer was a viable pregnancy. She took my hand and she gave me the biggest hug that I needed but at the time didn’t want or feel like I deserved. My eyes started to fill up and I thanked her and said I had to leave.

I was due back at work, but I couldn’t go back.  I walked around Manhattan for hours, with no direction or destination in mind. To this day, I don’t remember where I went. In the streets with thousands of people, I was alone and scared.

I had a chemical pregnancy. This happens to many women and they are not even aware of it. I was aware because I was being treated at a fertility clinic. Before that day, I never heard of chemical pregnancy and I thought that news was going to be the hardest thing we had to deal with regarding trying to conceive.

For this part of our story, I am grateful and blessed to say we were able to conceive our daughter through one cycle of IVF. She is now a happy and healthy two-year-old.  

Fast forward to 2017 when it was my wife’s turn to expand our family. My wife is a true warrior. She has undergone six IUI’s, one fresh IVF embryo transfer and two frozen embryo transfers and is currently prepping for her second IVF cycle.   

After the fresh embryo transfer didn’t work, we had no clue how to begin to pick up the pieces of our life. We had never been down this road before. With our daughter, she was the only embryo that made it. But we became pregnant on that first try. Our only option was to focus on the two frozen embryos that reminded.

We transferred one embryo and about 8 days later we got the news our hearts were waiting for -- pregnant. My wife told me I couldn’t keep the news to myself. A good friend actually could tell I had good news by just looking at me. I got another hug that day, that reminded me of a hug I got years back from our IVF nurse. But this time I had happy tears and didn’t want that hug to end.

We were on cloud nine with the pregnancy.  We started to imagine life with two kids, the hurdles and joyful moments, picturing what our daughter would be like as a big sister. When my wife told me the news, I never asked for the beta Hcg numbers.  When she got the results for the second beta hcg, she said they went up but the first round must have been a mistake. When she told me the beta number, my stomach dropped and all I wanted to do was cry. That number was all too familiar to us from my chemical pregnancy. I didn’t want to freak Nicole out, I asked her to get a copy of the report. The next day she showed me and there it was. Her numbers did rise, but they did not double. Hcg levels were in the ’40s and that’s where I was when I had the chemical pregnancy.  

I honestly thought this was all a mistake. I got so upset at myself for not asking Nicole for the numbers sooner.  I was upset at myself and I took it out on Nicole. Not a proud moment, but a real one. I told her I was upset that she didn’t ask questions when she received the news. I have more knowledge in this realm of the world compared to her. After I checked my anger- AKA fear and apologized, I asked her if she wanted to know what this could mean. She wanted to know, she didn’t want to be protected.  I told her I would have never been excited because I knew what this meant, we were going to lose this pregnancy. She responded, that the doctor said not to worry yet.

Not to worry yet.  How? I knew this pregnancy was very early on but I let my guard down and began to dream of our second child and the possibility of having a third child.  In two days, I don’t think I thought of anything else. How could I not worry?

We were hoping her numbers would have skyrocketed at the next blood test, but they didn’t. The numbers didn’t double but were increasing. At this point, we couldn’t even speak about it. Nicole was going through beta HELL and I was crumbling inside but tried to make it look like I was ok.  I was trying so hard to be strong for Nicole. I reached out to the community I built a few years ago on Instagram. I went to a family that I remembered went through a similar situation. This mom was great, she gave me the hope that I needed to hold onto. I learned that all the worrying in the world was not going to make a difference, and I tried so hard to just enjoy this pregnancy.  

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Nicole's numbers continued to increase and we made it to our first ultrasound.  Nicole went into the ultrasound with realistic expectations and I had a mixed bag of emotions.  When we saw that little spot, in the uterus we were floored. We were in complete disbelief that this baby still had a chance, our dreams were not over.  Again, more out of fear, we kept our conversations minimal. Wholeheartedly, I believe if this baby made it this far we were going to be ok.

The following week, we had another scan.  We both knew it as soon as we saw the ultrasound, the doctor didn't need to tell us. I don’t even remember what she said to us, but she made us feel like we mattered.  She gave us options and we didn't have to make a decision that day, and we didn't.

Ultimately, we chose to stop all medication and hoped for a natural miscarriage.  Who hopes for a natural miscarriage? I never pictured that hope in my life, but that's where we were at.  It was helpful in the process to make decisions for us and not have a doctor tell us what to do. I believe that helped in the healing process.

Our hope did come true, Nicole was able to have a natural miscarriage. We were excited and nervous to start over, but we moved on.  We transferred our last embryo and eight days later we found out we were pregnant again. But this time, the beta numbers were extremely low.  I could tell Nicole was breaking when she told me. Me, I went with anger. How could this be happening again! We didn’t fully finish processing the last miscarriage and we are going to be dealing with another one? I stayed angry for that entire pregnancy, I had zero hope that it would turn into a healthy pregnancy.  Just like last time, the beta numbers slowly increased and we made it to two ultrasounds. Those two weeks of ultrasounds were grueling, we had to go back the second time to see if the pregnancy progressed. It didn’t. The only time I had a glimmer of hope was during the second ultrasound, we saw something again in her uterus.  I got this warm feeling of pure hope. Then I looked at our doctors face and knew it was over.

I regret not enjoying one minute of the second pregnancy.  I didn't honor that little one at all. I didn't allow myself to be vulnerable again because I couldn't feel that kind of pain again.  I actually thought, if I stayed angry and act like I didn’t care, it wouldn’t hurt so bad. But the thing about trying to protect me from this emotional pain, it didn't work at all.  The pain for the second miscarriage hurt much worse.

How do we make peace-ish with two miscarriages?  This experience has individually made us stronger people and a stronger couple.  We talk more about our actual feelings and not just about the miscarriages. We express more when we are overwhelmed and we try and help the other out before they shut down. But seeing Nicole go through this and want to continue has made me appreciate and love her even more. She is stronger than I knew, and for that, I will forever be grateful.

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I work out and I can’t believe how much that has helped me overall with handling my emotions.  In the past, I have advised people to work out to deal with stress, but I never truly believe it.  But now, I’m a believer. My thoughts are not racing around as much, I'm in a calmer mood.

Social media and other online platforms have been helpful to know we are not alone.  I listen to podcasts, read blogs about trying to conceive, infertility and miscarriages.  Instagram, has been one of the best outlets for me. I have made connections with women and we have provided advice and emotional support.  

We have also received comfort from our close friends.  For me, this has been so important, because for so long I was trying to be “the strong one” for Nicole.  Having many conversations with close friends made me open my eyes to the fact that I am also going through this grief process and it's ok for me to feel this way, even though I was not the one physically going through the miscarriages.  

If you connect to our story at all, my heart goes out to you.  Please be gentle and take care of yourself.

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Bio: Hello, my name is Mary Kate and I am married to my wife Nicole.  We have been together for 15 years and have been married for 4 years.  We have one beautiful, spunky daughter, two cats, and a dog. We are from the suburbs of New York City.  If you would like to follow along on our ttc journey, you can find us on instagram @Sterlingmoms.

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