*Trigger warning* The topic of loss & miscarriage is discussed
One of my goals for my 39th year on this Earth is to conceive my second child. I did just that in August one month after my 39th birthday and after my daughter went on a 3-4 day nursing strike with Hand, Foot & Mouth disease. It was only my third postpartum cycle and the first cycle of retuned ovulation (practicing ecological breastfeeding, I did not get my first period until 24 months postpartum).
At the end of August, with a brief spotting incident followed by a week of no period, I took a home pregnancy test and it was positive! I took another 2 days later, one week later and they were all positive. By week 4 or 5, my appetite dropped, food was no longer appealing, nothing tasted right and by week 6, I was sick. Not just in a hang-over type way, but like I had the flu and my life literally stopped for the next 5 weeks and I experienced mood swings, exhaustion, nausea, migraines and the dreaded BLEEDING.
From the go, I new this pregnancy felt off. I was unable to function, eat, taste, or get excited about being pregnant. The heart beat was found at 5 weeks and 6 days, despite bleeding. The ultrasound showed a “pool of blood” next to but separate from the gestational sac that was the cause of the bleed. I was told this is not uncommon and will bleed out or reabsorb.
At six weeks and 4 days, I was seen again with bleeding. The heart beat was good and the baby was growing, so I would come back in a week and a half. October 5th, I was now 9 weeks and 4 days, the heart beat was great and the baby was looking more like a baby. But I was REALLY struggling. Physically I was not doing well.
I came home with the ultrasound pictures and put them on the side table. I was disconnected, tolerating my symptoms, and miserable. I was not like this with my first pregnancy and I chalked it up to the adage that “each pregnancy is different”.
The weekend began and my nausea did not kick in at 3 am, it waited until 8am. It was lessening, ever so subtly. Monday night, I was bleeding, but it was different. It was rust color, not bright red. In the morning I called the nurse and was scheduled for an ultrasound at 3pm. I saw right away that there was no heartbeat. My baby was safe with me, peaceful and still. There was fluid building up on the spine indicating an issue with development. I felt love and relief in a way I had never experienced before. I knew this was meant to happen, as sad and unfortunate as this experience is, I felt LOVE.
I know this may have been a ‘strange’ response to a sad moment, but I was thankful for my body too. Such an intelligent machine, my body was doing exactly what it is designed to do to keep me safe and end an unhealthy pregnancy. I trust my body more than ever. The bleeding was my body signaling me that the pregnancy was terminating. The tears I cried later that evening were a mix of grief, hormones, and relief that I was fertile and OK.
Following the loss, I was due for a D&C the next afternoon. It was unpleasant, I felt dizzy, crampy, but relieved. 48 hours later I am no longer nauseous but feel like I am starving. I have barely eaten in 5 weeks and barely weigh 112lbs now.
So where does this leave me? I am 39 years old, still nursing my toddler and waiting for the return of my cycle again. Will we try again right away? Will we wait a few cycles? This I am not sure. On the positive side, this means I got pregnant pretty quickly once my period retuned. I am 39 and fertile. On the not-so-positive side, this also means that my risk for miscarriage has increased quite a bit since my first pregnancy 3 years ago. My husband is also 45 years old, further increasing our risk of miscarriage.
According to the American Pregnancy Association, women who are 35-45 yrs old have a 20-35% chance of miscarriage. This increases for women who have had a previous miscarriage (me) and if the father is also 40 years or older.
However, after pouring over the statistics I came across this brilliant article. Any woman reading this who is 35 years of age and older, hoping to conceive, this article will put your mind at ease.
Another great read can be found at the blog Expecting Science. This post analyzes numerous studies and debunks some of the popular statistics out there than create the gloom and doom version of pregnancy for mothers over 35 years of age.
I am not debating that the chromosomal risks for my age group are not real (they are!), but fertility does not decline the way popular media portrays. Trust your body, it has been designed to create life for millions of years.
Hugs and baby love,
Mrs. Mother Dirt