My Story: Natural Options for Recurring Miscarriages
April 23rd through 29th is National Infertility Awareness Week and I’m not sure if it’s because I’m of child bearing age and am now aware of this issue or what but it seems like infertility is an escalating problem for women. The statistic is that one in eight couples struggle to build a family or roughly 15% according to the CDC. A lot of people I know have struggled with miscarriage and the inability to conceive; including myself. So, for National Infertility Awareness Week, I’m going to share my story and the natural options for recurring miscarriages that I tried. I hope that it helps some women out there find hope, comfort and maybe even solutions to their infertility issues.
My infertility journey started to reveal itself before I even had a child. The first time I got pregnant, I lost the baby and had to have a D&C to remove the missed miscarriage. It was traumatizing. I waited six months and got pregnant two month after that and gave birth to a perfect little boy.
Two years later, we were ready to try again even though my cycle had gotten shorter from 28 days to 25. A few weeks later, I felt symptoms! I took a test and it was negative. I took a test every three days for two weeks with no positive result. Then, I got my period and all symptoms went away. They called that a chemical pregnancy.
I went for Day 3 hormone levels testing on the third day of my period to test for reproductive health from egg quality to quantity. I was told that I had low egg reserves and low egg quality. I went to see a Reproductive Endocrinologist who looked at my ovaries and told me that one ovary looked good. He asked me to do another round of Day 3 testing when my next period came.
In the meantime, I decided to get acupuncture at a natural fertility clinic in Manhattan. I went there once per week to get treatment and herbs for the week. When my next period came, I did the testing and everything came back normal! The RE said to try naturally for 6 months before making another appointment. I was so excited.
The next month, I had a positive pregnancy test. I started to feel symptoms. Everything was normal for a few weeks and then I just stopped feeling pregnant. A few weeks later, I started having some pain and started spotting. I went to the OB again and we saw the heartbeat and baby was measuring a little bit small but within normal range. I was 9 weeks pregnant. That weekend the bleeding intensified. I called the OB on Monday and went back in. The baby had stopped growing and my cervix was dilated. It was aborting itself.
The baby coming out on its own at 10 weeks was traumatic for me. I saw the baby. I saw the sac. It was horrifying. I couldn’t speak for a few minutes. I just cried. Then, depression happened. I thought about suicide as a relief to my feeling of failure as a human being. My closest friends were worried, my husband was worried. I had post-partum depression and anxiety after my son was born and knew of the Seleni Institute here in NYC and how they help every woman struggling with fertility and post-partum issues on a sliding scale and can even offer Skype sessions if you can’t travel to them. But, I didn’t even want that help.
So, summer passed by. I was heavier than I’ve ever been and felt simply exhausted. I was just going through the motions trying to do my best at being a mom and a professional. I avoided trying to get pregnant again and used the Zika outbreak as a (rational?) reason to wait.
I knew that the best way to get over my depression was to have a healthy pregnancy but I was terrified of failing again. I had been tracking my daily basal temperature and my cycles and everything seemed to be fairly stable although I still had a short cycle. Tracking my temperature revealed that I had a short luteal phase. That means that there’s a short time between when a cycle ends and when the next egg drops. This is pretty much a doomsday diagnosis. Eggs just can’t successfully implant and grow in that environment.
Then, I discovered Fairhaven Health. They are the biggest online store for women’s health products in the USA. Their live chat and 1-800 number has a great reputation for helping women find the right supplements to help them conceive and have a healthy pregnancy (with your OBs approval of course). So, I bought a bunch of supplements and a natural progesterone cream to apply like lotion to help strengthen my egg quality, lengthen my cycle and lengthen my luteal phase. Progesterone is what your body produces more of in order to support the development of a baby until the placenta takes over. When there isn’t enough progesterone…you miscarry. Progesterone is vital to successful pregnancy.
Every month, on the day of my due period, I would take a pregnancy test that came back negative. But, after about 3 months of taking the supplements, I was pregnant! And, I was worried that it wouldn’t last. I am now beginning my third trimester and only recently told my grandparents that I am pregnant.
I’ve had light nighttime spotting almost every night since 12 weeks. The OB says that nothing is wrong. The baby is perfect. My body is developing perfectly. It’s a crappy reminder of how things can change in a second and to not get too excited.
My OB recommended that I go to the dentist for a check-up. After a really painful cleaning I was told that I have pregnancy related gingivitis; which affects 50% – 70% of pregnant women. I’m a normal 2x a day brusher and nighttime flosser and rinser so I was shocked. I’ve never had gum problems. The dentist said it’s super common because your gums swell during pregnancy and unless you brush after every single snack residue will get trapped under your gums. Once it’s trapped…gingivitis. Hooray. He also said that if I brush, floss and rinse at least 2x per day for the rest of my pregnancy my spotting will probably go away. How those issues are related, I can’t tell you, but it’s been a week and my spotting seems to have gone away!
Honestly, it has been hard for me to get excited about this pregnancy. I wish that I could get into it more. I haven’t thought about names much. I haven’t really worked on a birth plan or thought about what we need for the baby. It took me forever to tell people that I was pregnant even when it started to be obvious. I just want to minimize my heartbreak if something does go wrong. I finally stopped using the progesterone cream at 23 weeks even though my OB said it was fine to stop at 12. I could never forgive myself if I miscarried a week after I stopped. And he said there wasn’t any harm in continuing.
So, if all goes well, I’ll have my second baby in early August and will be one happy mama. I’ll be free to cuddle and be excited about the littlest, newest member of my family, finally!
I think the key to any woman’s infertility journey is for her to listen to her body, listen to experts, and take an active role in her fertility. Doctors can help inform and educate you but you need to know your body in order to make the best choices for you. And please know that there are natural options for recurring miscarriages.
One of the most vital components to getting through my fertility journey was talking to other women! Their experiences can teach you so much and you can support each other through the ups and downs. Most of all, give yourself a hug and know that you are not alone.