Sunday, November 9, 2008


I don't want to wallow. So I turn to anger, that all too easily accessible, less than authentic, wonder bread of emotions.

On Friday, I found myself on the couch, clutching Darci Klein's To Full Term until I had turned the last page. It is the story of a mother who, after having a daughter prematurely at 28 weeks, suffers two subsequent miscarriages and then goes onto another pregnancy with twins. At 20 weeks, the twin boy's sac ruptures and she is faced with the impossible choice of having to agree to abort both twins. By the time she becomes pregnant a fifth time, she had spent an inordinate amount of time researching miscarriages and learning more about the subject than some of her doctors. By insisting that she receive the tests and care she would not otherwise have received, she saves her pregnancy and carries her baby to full term.

I read her story, and my attitude about miscarriages has changed. I have been so passive about my pregnancies, accepting what my doctor told me and just waiting to see what happens. Now I wish I had insisted on the whole set of tests after my first miscarriage and demanded additional monitoring during my second pregnancy. I accepted my doctor's cursory statement that 70% of miscarriages are caused by chromosomal abnormalities and that the causes of the remaining 30% cannot be determined. Apparently, this statistic is not correct for women in my age group. And for miscarriages that are not caused by chromosomal defects, there are a slew of tests that can be used to assess other possible causes. I know I read about the other tests after my first miscarriage, but for some reason, I focused on the language regarding chromosomal defects, possibly because I wanted to believe there was nothing that could have been done to save the baby. Now I wonder if I could have saved this baby had I insisted on testing after my first miscarriage?

So I am angry, about the poor quality of research available about miscarriages, the wait and see attitude that I had accepted for the past several months, my failure to inform myself, the unanswered questions. According to Klein, NIH spends not even 1% of its funds to research miscarriages, indicating that they treat miscarriages as inevitable conditions instead of treatable disorders. So I focus on this anger and map out a plan. Compliance and complacence will be checked at the door. I will put on my litigator hat, put skepticism and scrutiny on high alert, and filter for glib responses. I will scour the web and bookstores and squeeze whomever I can for answers.

Even with this anger, I know that I could take the entire slew of currently available tests and come up with no answers. That the tests could say nothing is wrong, even though something is obviously not right. That months and months later, we could find ourselves helpless, with not much more knowledge than we have now. And that we could find ourselves traipsing from day to day, wondering again what the hell went wrong.

But that thought is more than I can bear right now. For now, I will embrace this anger and let it nurture me and nourish the emptiness echoing throughout my body.


  1. I'm so sorry for your loss. I'm glad that you've gotten a renewed determination and strength, though. You're in my prayers.

  2. My mom had something like seven miscarriages before getting pregnant with my brother (who stayed in there almost a month past his due date). Because of that, she started trying to get pregnant a second time earlier than she actually wanted a baby, figuring she'd have to go through a few rounds of miscarriages again, but got me on her first try. Thus, my brother and I are 22 months apart.

    If you can, definitely take somebody with you to doctor's appointments who knows what your agenda is. That way if you get overcome with emotion, they can take over the asking of questions until you can compose yourself and take back control.

    The last time I went to a doctor someone came into the exam room with me and just having him there made me feel calm and I didn't get teary.

  3. Hi, I am glad to see you able to be a fighter in this and advocate for yourself & future family. I am sure it's painful, yet I have been told by many that it's so helpful to find purpose in pain, this being said by people who have suffered much. I hope you get answers. You & your loved ones are your best advocates!

  4. I don't mean this to sound insensitive, just hopeful.

    As a two-time mother by adoption, I can imagine no greater joy than having and loving a child who literally has no one in the world. Women sometimes pity adoptive mothers or the children. They don't understand because they have not adopted. The truth is, I could not possibly love my children any more. That's true in many more adoptive families than mine. I encourage you to read more about adoption.

    Maybe the solution isn't the right tests and pills and shots. Maybe you're looking for your baby in the wrong place. You'll get the baby you long for, one way or another.

  5. RESPONSE TO Anonymous @ November 10, 2008 5:05 PM:

    You sound like an incredible person, with a big heart, and a wonderful family. It is truly a blessing that you have chosen to adopt two children whom you love and cherish. You are lucky to have them, and they are blessed to grow up in your love.

    But I have to be honest and say that I found your post to be insensitive, even though that was not your intention. Let me explain why.

    As a woman who has had had more than one miscarriage, I find it very painful when people, here or there, tell me that "there's always adoption." It's not that adoption is bad. (There is no "good" or "bad" decision in this journey.) A woman who wants to bear her own child/children, despite the sting of miscarriage, wants to hear that there is hope, that there is a chance. The fact of the matter is that most women, even older women, can go on to bear a child. Adoption, or other choices, only come into question when one has come to that point in one's journey when one no longer wants to hold out that hope. Until a woman has reached that specific point, she wants others to either give her encouragement, or remain silent.

    I can't speak for Shinyung, obviously. But I bet that she is not at a point where she is willing to entertain the thought of adoption. Right now, she wants to fight to have her own biological child. And there is nothing to suggest that she can't. Adoption, as wonderful as it is for you, and millions of others, is not the right topic of discussion for a woman who has JUST had two miscarriages and continues to want to have her own biological baby.

    And Shinyung, forgive me, if I appear to have misrepresented your view about this.

  6. Anon at 11:38, you said EXACTLY what I was thinking, except more gracefully. It's not that adoption isn't a wonderful choice and it's not that Anon 5:05 was in any way pushy or harsh or inappropriate. She sounds like a wonderful caring and giving person. But I'd bet that her comments are not welcomed by Shinyung right now, since Shinyung remains determined to fight for the biological child she wants so badly. She's not at a place where she can or even should think about adoption. Two miscarriages do not make someone infertile!

    And Shinyung, I hope that your determination in the face of possibly ill-informed doctors and a medical establishment that is less than enthusiastic about treating miscarriage as anything but unpreventable gives you what you need to keep fighting for your baby. I continue to have faith that you will succeed soon.

  7. Everyone, thank you for your comments as always.

    I have to admit the comments about adoption weighed heavily on my mind last night. It isn't that I'm not open to adoption. I actually am, and I have talked to several friends about it already (and had before I even met Jeff). But it's that whisper that things may not work out for me biologically. I can't face that suggestion just yet, and I find myself putting my hands up to plug my ears and singing loudly to myself. The thing keeping me up is hope, and I desperately need it right now. Thank you for understanding.