I had lived in Milwaukee less than a year when the symptoms began. Suddenly, I was exhausted all of the time. My body ached and my stomach churned unexpectedly throughout the day. It was a stressful time at work and I thought the stress was getting to me physically. And then I started doing the math. You know what I’m referring to: THE MATH. The when-was-my-last-period math.
At the time, this was a particularly difficult equation to work through because a year prior, I had an IUD placed after the birth of my second child.
After purchasing a box of pregnancy tests, I rushed home to watch the second line appear on the stick. For reassurance, I used the second test in the box and once again, I saw the sign. And then I panicked. My other two children were very much planned, practically down to their moment of conception. This was not supposed to happen, at least not when I had an IUD! What was I going to do? I didn’t even have a midwife or OB/GYN yet, I needed to find one! Should I be worried that I’m pregnant with an IUD? Will this child be ok? How far along am I if I haven’t had a period in months due to said IUD?
Once I shared with the doctor’s office that I had two positive pregnancy tests in my hand plus an IUD in my uterus, she scheduled me for the first available appointment. When I arrived, I was tested twice, once using a urine sample and the other using a blood sample. Both showed that I was, in fact, pregnant. The midwife announced that she had never come across a pregnancy with a Mirena IUD. Not one to want to feel special in this particular category, I asked what would happen next.
The answer was an ultrasound and a series of blood tests. We rushed from one specialist to another. In between, we experienced panic at the thought of adding a third kid when our duplex, car, and budget wouldn’t fit another baby. As soon as my husband and I shared a laugh and a shrug signaling we would find a way to make it work, this twist of fate left as quickly as it came.
After almost a week of tests and phone calls, I began to miscarry at home.
I had so many emotions all at once. At first, I felt immediate relief from not having to answer so many impossible questions. I had just begun to accept our fate as a family of five when the moment was gone, and I felt guilty. Had I done something wrong to cause this? Was it my thoughts that inevitably willed my body out of this pregnancy? Or was it the IUD? Was it nature’s course? Am I getting what I deserve? How can I feel any sense of relief when there are families who would love to have a child but keep going through this or worse? Questioning everything made me feel worse, and, once the miscarriage began to get more intense, I then felt grief.
There were no answers, but this was a moment that reminded us that anything can happen at any time. Life is not certain and even the most progressive technology and medicine cannot always stop nature from doing its thing. We never found out why our IUD failed, we were simply the 0.8% of people that this happens to. And even though this moment could have meant a totally different life for us, I am thankful that there was joy at that moment. I now know what millions of women know: miscarriage is one of the most confusing, difficult, and conflicting experiences, often experienced in silence. Three years later, I still haven’t found the words, but I got a lesson in being thankful for what I have that I will never forget.