Since my last post, I’ve received some questions from fellow baby loss Mom’s who wanted to know when my husband and I decided to try for a second child and in what matter we tried. I feel some guilt that I wasn’t writing during the majority of that process; because, now that we are pregnant, it’s exceptionally difficult to remember what it was like when we weren’t. If there is any good news I can share about the emotional journey of trying to conceive your rainbow baby after losing your angel, it’s that the sting of it is truly overshadowed when you see a positive pregnancy test again.
We were informed by my doctor that we could begin the process of trying for another baby as soon I was cleared for my 6 week postpartum check up. My OB also recommended that I seek a pre-pregnancy consult with my Perinatologist who recommended that we wait approximately three months before trying to conceive. The grief nurse at the hospital recommended we wait at least a year. You could talk to a hundred Mom’s, specialists, counselors, OB’s and Perinatologists and on average you will likely be told to wait at least 3 months before you are physically ready. Mental readiness is a completely separate animal and can only be determined by your feelings and that of your spouse or partner.
My husband and I didn’t seriously embark on trying for another child until at least six months after Claire was born. Even then, there were months where we still too fresh from the loss and too deep into our grieving, to actively participate in trying to have another baby. At times it felt completely natural to want to have another child, but more often than not I felt empty without being pregnant with Claire, not empty because I wasn’t pregnant with our next child. My biggest advice is to begin the process of trying to have another child when you have fully come to terms with the fact that you are no longer pregnant. I had phantom kicks for months, I continued to express colostrum for about the same amount of time, and it was at least twice that long before my body had returned to it’s pre-pregnancy state. Until then, I don’t think I would have been able to healthily distinguish my two pregnancies and it’s a blessing that it took us nearly year before we got pregnant with Zoey.
After trying to conceive au natural for a few months, my OB decided to put me on Clomid. This fertility drug is designed to increase your egg production, which, presumably had not been occurring since I had not been able to get pregnant. I took 100-150 mg of Clomid for three cycles along with 500 mg of Metformin, daily. I continued to take my prenatal vitamins which I had not discontinued after delivering Claire. During these Clomid cycles, my egg production was not monitored so I do not know whether or not the Clomid was working or not other than knowing I did not get pregnant while using the medication.
At the end of the 3 months, I was referred to a Fertility Specialist who performed a variety of tests. At some point, I’ll pull my records and results to explain what they were, how they were done and what happened but the end result was that I was completely healthy with the exception of two very important things:
1) Ultrasounds revealed that I had several follicles but none of them grew to maturity to be capable of producing a healthy egg, if any egg at all.
2) I had an unusually high FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) level. By unusually high, I mean my levels were more indicative of a pre-menopausal woman than a 26 year old woman.
The fertility specialist recommend that we repeat all of the tests again in another month and that we consider the use of IVF and/or injections to try and produce a quality egg for harvesting/insemination. The news was painful. I felt more infertile after those results than I had in all the years I knew and struggled with PCOS. I was depressed and my husband’s advice was that we stop trying so hard to have another baby and just let nature take its course. I know all of you women who struggle with infertility problems understand how difficult it is to trust in nature, when naturally we are various degrees of infertile. But, my husband was persistent and regaled me with stories of people who had tried and tried and tried and tried and didn’t get pregnant until they finally threw in the towel.
I hated those stories. I hope you don’t hate me. Because 6 weeks after throwing in the towel, stopping my Metformin, my Prenatal vitamins and dismissing the fertility specialist- We got pregnant with Zoey. She was conceived during the only month I didn’t track my cycle or my ovulation, and the first full month I didn’t have a single medication in my blood stream. She is as natural and unexpected as you can get.
The journey of infertility and baby loss is painful beyond measure. I still grieve, but I also cope. I cry, but I also smile. I mourn, but I also rejoice in all of the blessings that I have in my life. If you desire a second child, do so at your own pace and recognize that that the path to every pregnancy is different, just as our children are different. What may have worked for your first born, may not work for your second. Your second may come naturally, as ours did, through even more intense fertility treatments, or through alternative means like adoption or surrogacy. At the end of it, it doesn’t matter how or when your family expands, because whenever it happens, it will feel like it was the “right” time and with the baby meant for you and your family.