‘I’ll say this straight away,’ the consultant says as he pushes opens the door to his office. ‘I’m not going to tell you anything bad. It’s not bad news.
‘All the tests results came back negative. We didn’t find anything. And that’s good. I’ll quickly explain why.’
He starts rattling through all the different clotting disorders I don’t have. I have barely taken my coat off.
This was the answer from the recurrent miscarriage clinic, where we’ve been being seen for the last three months or so. This was what we have been waiting for. But now we’re here and there is no answer.
The answer is nothing; there is nothing wrong with us.
‘I know it doesn’t feel like it, but this is good news,’ says the consultant, again.
I nod. I know logically he is right. I should be relieved.
But inside my head I want to scream and cry at once. That or sleep for 100 years.
It doesn’t matter that I have been prepared for this. All along, I’ve been telling myself and anyone who’s asked about the testing process that the reality is they may not find anything. That I’d be surprised if I had antiphospholipid syndrome (one of the most common clotting disorders implicated in recurrent miscarriage, sometimes referred to as ‘sticky blood’ or Hughes syndrome) or something along those lines.
I am an almost freakishly healthy person. I have no other symptoms or health niggles. I don’t even really get headaches. Or period pain. It is no exaggeration to say I have been to the doctor and to hospitals more in the last year than I have in the rest of my adult life. An underlying condition just wouldn’t fit with what I think I know about my body.
Even so, when the answer I’d expected actually arrives I am crushed.
How could the answer be nothing?
I don’t know how to cope with nothing.
That it is nothing; that there is no diagnosis, no reason, makes it feel more of a failure somehow. It puts it back on me. If there’s no medical explanation, what’s my excuse? What is it about me that is so incompatible with keeping a baby alive?
I am not disappointed to be told that I’m healthy, of course I’m not. I realise how perverse this must sound. I know how fortunate I am, in so many ways. But being discharged, with only the advice to come back for early scans when I am next pregnant, has stripped away a tiny little layer of comfort I realise I have been clinging to.
The hope of something to try. Something – anything – to do differently next time.
I am quietly devastated that we won’t be one of those reassuring stories friends of ours tell their other friends. ‘Well you know Dan and Jen? They had three miscarriages, they did some tests and put her on blood thinners and then next time they got their baby.’
But that isn’t going to be our story. There is no ‘fix’ for what we are, which, as far they can tell, is simply unlucky. We cannot anti-coagulate our way out of this – not even on the ‘it can’t hurt’ basis that so many of us miscarriage/ttc desperados in the online forums tend to operate on.
The consultant tells me explicitly I shouldn’t take even low dose aspirin, as – presumably because my blood is clotting normally – it will actually raise my chance of miscarriage.
‘You are not a statistic,’ he says kindly, at one point during our appointment. But from the way everything else is explained to me, that is exactly how I feel. ‘According to the data’. ‘Live birth rate’. ‘Good chance’.
This is what it boils down to. Recurrent miscarriage – more than three in a row – affects one in 100 couples, and out of 100 of those, roughly 40, like us, will have no medical issue. The thinking is it’s just a bad run of chromosomes, which could happen to anyone. It’s a tricky business marrying up two people’s genetic material and sometimes things go awry. Sometimes three times in a row.
‘I know this can feel like disappointing news,’ the consultant adds, concluding the ten-minute appointment, after I’ve asked him a series of increasingly desperate questions (Could it be this? What about this? Is it worth trying this? Answers: No, no, slightly bored expression…no).
I want to shake him. I want to shout at him that disappointing doesn’t begin to cover it. That his numbers are no reassurance. That I don’t think I can endure another loss. That I have already haemorrhaged too much of myself.
Does he really understand what he’s asking of us? What pregnancy after loss feels like?
Imagine if you had failed to get the last three jobs you interviewed for. Jobs you know on paper you are perfectly qualified for. You get down to the last few candidates each time. Imagine that disappointment and depression when you lose out – again, and again. Think about what it might do to your confidence. How you might feel about your chances next time.
Now imagine what you would want to do in preparation for interview number four when it comes along. Mug up a bit harder on the company, perhaps. Read up on interview technique. Practise your presentation skills. Have some better questions to ask the panel. Revise your CV. Buy a smarter jacket. Get a better night’s sleep beforehand. Have a stronger coffee that morning. Maybe all of the above.
Now imagine this is not just any job. It is your dream job. Something you always pictured yourself doing. Something that in your heart of hearts, you can’t imagine reaching the end of your life having not done.
This is how I feel about the prospect of pregnancy number four. Except I cannot be pregnant harder. I cannot prepare myself better. I cannot train for it, revise for it, or take a different coloured pill. I must simply face that interview panel blind, with no ace up my sleeve, in the same increasingly worn out clothes. I must do exactly the same as I’ve always done, but this time expect different results.
This, I feel, is what the consultant is telling me, rather blithely, that I must do. And it feels like certain madness.
He shuts the door behind me and I step back into the waiting room with tears in my eyes.
I absolutely sympathise with you on this. We too were told nothing was wrong – i was even sent for further testing to scan my uterus and I received genetic testing – everything came back negative. It IS extremely frustrating and you are absolutely right to feel frustrated. We NEED answers – it helps us cope better. The constant ‘why did this happen’ is so hard to deal with. BUT.. he is right.. medically speaking, its the best result.
I’m totally with you though – at this point, you don’t care what the “best” result is.. you want him to say “ok it happened because of this.. and here’s a pill to fix it”.
It’ll take time to come to terms with it all, but just know that i share your thoughts and it’s totally ok to be feeling the way you do! Sending you love xxx
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thank you – I am so glad you understand (though sorry you have been through it too, obviously). I am beginning to get my head around it a bit more now. I do feel it is the best answer… just hard to ignore that nagging feeling that they missed something. But….onwards! xxx
LikeLiked by 1 person
I love this analogy. Sorry you are going through this. I just had my first MMC. I am already think about how much more sad/disappointed I will be if this happens again.
LikeLiked by 1 person
I’m so sorry… I think it’s quite hard to get people to understand how that feels to be pregnant again or to think about the next pregnancy. I felt like that from the first miscarriage. God knows how I will feel next time (assuming it happens again easily). I am trying to coach myself to go into it happy and at least trying to enjoy it. Anticipating the worst doesn’t protect you from the reality of it, just robs you of that fleeting joy when you had it. SO much easier said than done, I know! Will have everything crossed for you. xxx
LikeLiked by 1 person
Sorry to hear that you were left with no answers but yes, being told that you are completely healthy is really good news. I felt relieved when we finally found the reason for my four miscarriages (antiphospholipid syndrome) just to realise how stupid it is to feel relieved when you were just diagnosed with a serious disease. Anyways, I wonder why your doctor really wouldn’t try any treatment on you. I live in Austria and here they give women with unexplained recurrent miscarriages a combination of prednisone, progesterone, baby aspirin and sometimes lovenox. The live birth rate is 80 % with treatment compared to 30 % without treatment. I really don’t want to be one of those annoying people who act like they know it all and I’m also not a medical professional. I just wanted to share the experiences I made here in Austria. I really hope that things will work out for you in the near future. Recurrent miscarriage sucks!
LikeLiked by 1 person
Not annoying at all… really interesting to hear what they do differently around the world. There are some doctors here who look for high levels of a certain type of immune cell (NK cells) and the treatment for that is prednisone, I believe. Not all doctors here are convinced by it though, so intriguing that it’s standard in Austria. And it DOES suck, doesn’t it! Hope you are getting on OK. xxx
I’m sorry to hear that they can’t offer you anything to take and I totally understand how you feel.
I had a “normal” “straightforward” pregnancy and gave birth to a little boy in 2014. We then tried again and got pregnant in 2016, I had a MMC and a D and C at 12 weeks. We had seen a heart beat, then it died. I was totally unaware and devasted. We tried again and got pregnant again 5 months later, only to have another miscarriage at 7.5 weeks. When my periods came back I started trying again and got pregnant. I immediately started taking 75mg aspirin, once a day. My sister is a obs and gynae doctor and her friend who scanned me every 2 weeks both advised me to. There is no harm taking it and the benefits are outstanding. I took it everyday until I delivered my rainbow. My sister even said they are going to advise all women who have had miscarriages to take it eventually.
I’m not sure if we just got lucky or the constant scanning helped my anxiety, or it was the 75mg of aspirin once a day, but I really think it’s worth a try. Xx good luck xxx
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thank you… I had been planning to try aspirin anyway, before we got our results. But then my consultant was so insistent about not taking the aspirin, so now I don’t know what to think. It is curious, as that does seem to be what so many women are advised, even if they don’t have clotting disorders. It’s really interesting (frustrating, too) that there seems to be such variation in what women are offered in terms of treatment for recurrent miscarriage. They are at least going to scan me every two weeks next time though. Thank you for sharing your hopeful story. xxx
Hey there. I really didn”t like this RMC clinic. It felt like an utter esste of time fir me – esp as i had to wait four months to even get the appointment. I went to see Professor Brosens at Warwick University in Coventry (among other crazy things like having Chicago blood tests in Athens but that’s another story) and got a treatment plan that worked for us. They are doing research there on miscarriage every day – science! – and adjust the plans every other month. It costs about £500 but worth looking into. I have had another mc since the birth of my son and I had stupidly decided to try no meds. My tests showed nothing, nor did the tests on the “products of conception”. Good luck to you two 🤞
Thank you for sharing your journey. I too have had three recurrent miscarriages over the past 18 months (all around 7-8.5 weeks) and find your posts so relatable. We were referred for tests after two MMCs due to my age (39 at the time) and we decided to go privately to speed up the process. The results also came back with no reason for the miscarriages, however my egg reserves were low and my partners sperm had a high level of deformity. We quit drinking completely on the advice of our consultant, and so began a strict regime of taking high-dose vitamins, hormones and drugs, including chlomid and 75mg aspirin. Like one of the comments above I’m surprised your consultant advised against.
Much to our delight got pregnant again first cycle and I really thought this time would be successful and we’d just been unlucky the previous two times. At the first scan at 6.5 weeks we saw a faint heartbeat but the pregnancy didn’t look as far as it should. We had an anxious 2 week wait for another scan where I swung between fearing the worst and then feeling positive as my body felt more pregnant than ever before. I was never sure how much I could trust it though do to all the drugs and hormones I was having to take. We guessed it was bad news after the nurse didn’t say anything for what would be an unreasonable time to keep us waiting if she had found a heartbeat.
This time we had the ‘remaining products of conception’ tested and 5 weeks later found out that there had been a chromosomal abnormality. The consultant handed over the report and it was until I reread it the next morning that I realised it also included the sex of the fetus. Information that I would have preferred not to know that made it hit home – would have been good to have been made aware of that so we were prepared.
There’s nothing they can do and apparently it was just ‘bad luck’ so next month we start it all over again and just have to hope that next time we will be luckier.