As my friends and I have gotten older, it has become clear that starting a family is surprisingly often a messy, heart-wrenching, unpredictable, and totally unfair process. Briefly, I’ve had three pregnancy losses, including one in the middle of the second trimester, and one live birth so far (my beautiful, amazing son S). Here’s the Cliff’s Notes version of our family timeline:
- I threw away my birth control pills in June 2013, and my husband and I started trying to conceive in earnest around September 2013.
- Several months later I had a relatively mild infertility diagnosis (oligoovulation — or irregular cycles). In the 11 months before we got pregnant for the first time, I had everything from 27- to 66-day cycles. Our RE said it probably wasn’t PCOS. I was ovulating consistently, just not predictably. Once I figured out my wacky cycles and started using digital OPKs we conceived on our second try, just as I was about to start Letrozole (May 2014).
- My first pregnancy ended in a second-trimester loss at 18w 2d, probably due to placental abruption. They induced labor, and I delivered a chromosomally normal little girl (September 2014).
- My first loss was complicated by retained products of conception and intrauterine adhesions (relatively mild, obscuring ~10% of the cavity). The abruption and adhesions give me a high (~30%) probability of developing placenta-related complications in future pregnancies. All my future pregnancies are now officially high-risk.
- Post-loss bloodwork uncovered a genetic mutation that predisposes me to blood clotting (Factor V Leiden), and between that and the clotting they found on the placenta in the autopsy, I’ll be giving myself daily injections of anticoagulant in my next pregnancy.
- After 6 months of trying with clockwork-regular periods following our first loss, a repeat HSG revealed significantly damaged fallopian tubes (loculated flow and partial hydrosalpinx), apparently courtesy of the same infection that scarred my uterus (which was symptomatic, but went untreated by the midwife). RE recommends moving to IVF (May-June 2015).
- Hold that thought! I’m spontaneously pregnant with #2! (June 2015)
- Baby boy S has arrived! (February 2016)
- We are officially trying again (spring 2017)
- First-trimester miscarriage, anembryonic (May 2017)
- First-trimester miscarriage, anembryonic (November 2017)
I’m also a tenure-track physical science professor at a small liberal arts college. My reproductive issues started in my first year on the tenure track, and my life as a scientist has been superimposed on my reproductive experiences, resulting in some unique interference patterns. This is a place for me to write it out, and try to connect with other people going through similar challenges, either baby-wise or science-wise. Thanks for visiting, and I’d love to hear from you.