Life After a 2nd Trimester Miscarriage: Recap of My Year in 12 PhotosAela Mass
It’s so hard to believe that in 6 days, it will be exactly one year since my water broke and I lost my twins at 17 weeks pregnant. When I think back on all that has happened over the last 12 months, I get overwhelmed and can hardly believe that I’ve survived any of it.
This time of year, it’s customary to reflect on the year as a whole, but I think I would have done this even if New Year’s wasn’t approaching. They say the first year is the hardest after a loss, that getting through “the firsts” is tough. And it has been. I look at all the pictures from the last year — some that I include in this post — and I look so happy. Sure, there have been happy times since last December (though even happiness is different now), but putting together this post proves how inaccurate photos are.
Any of us can smile for the camera. But none of us ever take a picture of the tears. Of the days you don’t want to — and sometimes actually don’t — get out of bed. Of the fights with God. Of the fights with yourself. Of the fights with your spouse. Of the incredible and immeasurable sadness, guilt, and rage you feel after you lose a baby. Of the so-low lows you’re not sure you will ever lift from… but somehow do.
My water broke 3 days before Christmas last year, and I lost my babies. On Christmas morning, I woke to breasts engorged with milk, but no babies to feed. That is how this part of my life story begins. I still can’t comprehend how those words belong to me.
My life has continued on. Somehow.
I still write for Babble’s Pregnancy channel. I should have moved on to Baby’s First Year months ago. But here I am. Still childless. Still not pregnant. Still praying and dreaming and wishing to someday have a family. And still writing about it all — as I always will.
They say the first year is the toughest. Here’s hoping 2014 proves that to be true.
January 1 of 12
When I was being released from the hospital after we lost the twins, the doctor said to me, "We recommend waiting a couple of months before trying to get pregnant again." My first thought was I'm never trying again. Two days later, I thought that maybe someday down the road I'd be able to try again. It was in January that we decided that I would, in fact, try again -- and just as soon as the doctors gave me the green light.
Photo: A hike through the woods one month after my miscarriage.
February 2 of 12
By early February, my RE gave me the okay to try again. Since we had frozen embryos from our last IVF cycle, I was able to do a less invasive and much gentler FET (frozen embryo transfer). I was certain it was successful. It wasn't.
Photo: Snow-shadows of my wife and me.
March 3 of 12
In March, I "celebrated" my 35th birthday. I've never been big on celebrating my own birthday, nor have I been one to care about my age, but this year it was emotional. I should have been pregnant still. But also, turning 35 changes so much in the fertility world. My entire fertility plan was changed, simply because I had now entered "advanced maternal age."
Photo: My wife redesigned her favorite mug.
April 4 of 12
Out of the blue, I was transferred from one department to another in April. It was a huge shock, and while I was still grateful to have a job in this terrible economy, I was devastated to no longer be working with my amazing coworkers -- coworkers who had seen me through my fertility struggles, who were there the day I found out I was pregnant with twins, and who were there after I lost my babies.
Photo: The view of the NYS Capitol building from my old office.
May 5 of 12
May. Mother's Day. May. What was supposed to be our twins' birth month. It was a terrible month.
Photo: A geranium bloom, from February.
June 6 of 12
After the sudden department change, we decided to take the month of May off from trying to get pregnant in order to give me time to settle in to my "new job." But in June, we tried again. Another FET, which turned out to be another failed FET. No pregnancy, again.
Photo: Our sweet dog patiently waiting to go for a walk.
July 7 of 12
After our failed FET in June, we decided to take the rest of the summer off from fertility treatments. We had a couple of vacations planned (I told you the year wasn't totally devoid of good times), and there was no way to properly schedule treatments with our travel plans. On one of those getaways, we struck a deal to purchase a business, which has proven to be the best thing that has happened this past year. My wife now proudly owns CrossFit Martha's Vineyard.
Photo: Kettlebell swing at CFMV.
August 8 of 12
Because my wife needed to be present for the new business and I needed to stay in New York for work, she moved a whole state away. We'd continue to live apart for the next two and a half months, which was not easy. I travelled to visit her on the weekends, and she came back to New York when she could.
Photo: My wife and me, Autumn 2011.
September 9 of 12
Since my wife was now living in a different state, I underwent my first solo FET. It was strange and lonely to go to my fertility center without her. I realized how brave single women are who do this alone. And I prayed it'd be "our cycle." It wasn't.
Photo: A September hike on Martha's Vineyard.
October 10 of 12
By October, we had no more frozen embryos. I'd have to undergo a fresh IVF cycle. I took the hormone injections. I swallowed the medications. I did everything I was supposed to. But my cycle got cancelled because my body "didn't respond to the medications." My ovaries were producing a single egg -- not enough for an IVF cycle. We decided to use the last of our donor sperm -- the sperm that had created our twins -- for an IUI (intrauterine insemination). This was our last chance at ever having a baby that would be a sibling to the twins we lost, a baby that would maybe someday give us look into who our twins might have been. The IUI failed.
Photo: My wife and me at a beach on Martha's Vineyard.
November 11 of 12
The same day that I found out the IUI didn't get me pregnant, I was offered a job on Martha's Vineyard -- which meant I could finally return to a life with my wife and our "first baby," our dog, Darla. This was good. This was so good. But it also meant that I was walking away from a job that covered my fertility treatments 100%. This decision was a game changer. And because we had no more of our donor sperm, we truly were back to Square One on our road to motherhood. But something had to change.
Photo: My family.
December 12 of 12
December. Here we are. Six days away from the day in 2012 that my water broke and I lost my twins. That day has forever changed my life, my outlook, me. This year has been filled with so much greatness, yet I feel as though so much of the joy has been dimmed by my loss.
Photo: Angel ornaments given to us last year by a dear friend.
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