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My Story

Here is `My Story' that I wish to contribute to your page.

Karen Saxe

I have had (in this order) a stillborn daughter, four miscarriages, an adopted son, and biological twins (a boy and a girl) born with the help of infertility drugs and after a difficult pregnancy via c-section.

I have been meaning to write this story for three and a half years. I have always want children, although, I guess there were times, especially in my late teen years, when the thought did now seem so enticing. Even if at times the immediate idea of family was not always appealing to me, I certainly was always sure that the desire would be there later and that my family would always be the central thing in my life. I did everything right. I finished college, I finished my Ph.D., I found a man who supports my very demanding career , and I got a post-doctoral position at a school where having children was not viewed as a hindrance to my professional development. Everything was going right. I knew I could be the woman who somehow managed to balance profession with family, and do a good job at both. The scene was set, and I even got pregnant within three months of no birth control, and was due during the summer. In my seventh month of pregnancy, it became apparent that things had gone wrong, very wrong, with the baby. On May 3 I had my usual monthly checkup, where it was determined that I was 'small for my due date'. The next morning an ultrasound revealed the worst; that our baby would most likely not be born alive. The next week was devastating. On May 16, Rachael was 'delivered', dead. If only I had known then what I knew now. We were offered no means of remembrance; no birth-death certificate, no naming ceremony, no choice about what to do with her body, not even consoling words from the doctors and nurses. In fact, one of the nurses even asked what I would do about birth control in the future. It was not until about two months later when I realized that I could call her Rachael, and not for another year until I realized that I could let other people (Peter included) know her name. Somehow, it was a private thing; there was something that her and I shared that no one else did and somehow her name had come to represent this private thing for me. Of course, now that it is 'out' it is better for me, but it is still very difficult for either of us to speak her name, and we still refer to her as 'our first pregnancy'. Also, it is difficult to use her name with close family and friends; I hope that in the future this becomes easier for us. As these first few sentences of this story indicate, I still have a lot of healing yet to go. Life is not easy. Of course, at that stage, everyone told me that within in a year I would no doubt have a healthy child. Well, almost four years later, four miscarriages later, a blood transfusion later, many, many, awful diagnostic tests later, four years of hormonal therapy later, four years of welcoming friends' babies, and welcoming friends' second babies, and of watching these children go off to school later, years that have involved months of antidepressants later, months of acupuncture later, months of counseling later, months and months and months of temperature taking, ovulation testing, timed intercourse, and cycle evaluations later, years of telephone calls to doctors, labs, and insurance companies later, even one trip to a doctor in London later, here we are, with no children. Those things sound easy compared with the strain on our marriage and my job, and the falling out with family members and old friends over this stuff.

But, what exactly is gone from my life? My daughter? Sure, she's not here, alive, with me. But she wasn't here before all this started anyway. In fact, she is more 'here' now than she ever was before. What's really gone is the dream. I will not get big and uncomfortable. I will not be not able to sleep nights. I will not be the pregnant woman getting attention from colleagues and in shops; no one will ask me when I'm due, or marvel at the fact that I seem to be able to handle a pregnancy and a profession. I will not have to tell my husband that I think it's time. I will not get to lie in a hospital, screaming in pain, giving birth for the first time. I will not get to see a child that looks like my beautiful husband come out from between my legs. I will not get to breastfeed. These things are sad. Very sad. At times, so sad that I have wanted to end my life. No reason to go on. It has been four years since I have felt really and genuinely happy. Will such a day ever come again? I used to be a very positive person; in fact, everyone even told me that. It is hard to believe it was me. Now I guess I am at the point where I want to start this story. Today, February 27, 1994. Less than a week after my husband's fortieth birthday.

I have been wanting to write this for years, but it never seemed to happen. I guess it was always just too difficult. It is difficult now too but the time has come. I guess in the above that I could have gone in to details about the events of the first half of May, 1990, about the events surrounding subsequent conceptions and miscarriages, but I chose not to Perhaps I should have; what if I forget them someday? It is hard to believe, but I actually forget one or two of my (exact) due dates. Most dates though (conception dates, miscarriage dates, due dates, important doctor's visit dates) I remember. Is it OK to forget? I find myself feeling proud of myself when I do, so I guess it is an OK thing.

So now, it is late February, and we have been waiting since late September for a phone call saying that we are to become adoptive parents. I think that this is a good time to write this first installment. I don't know yet if this will be a diary, or exactly what form it will take. People tell me that I think about things too much and that I should sometimes be more immediate in my actions and response. Well, here I am , trying to make an effort in that direction. We shall see. The main idea, for me anyway, is to record feelings at particular time, and not necessarily to record events. I've read lots of books on grieving the death of a child, on grieving miscarriages, on dealing with the trials and tribulations of infertility. But I have hardly seen anything written on the aspect of infertility that I have been a part of, that of repeated child and pregnancy loss, and that of coming to grips with a marriage that is not turning out as desired. I hope, eventually, that this will turn in to some kind of printed document that will help people in the same way that so many books and papers have helped me.

It has been about two years since I wrote what you've just read; today it is February 16, 1996. Well, the phone call came, in mid-March of 1994. It was from a woman, due to give birth on May 30, and committed to giving the baby up for adoption. We flew to New York to meet her on April 3, and on April 28 received a call very early in the morning from her that her water had broken and we better think of a name fast! It is hard to believe, Julian is now the most wonderful 21 month old that we ever dreamed of. When Julian was 4 months old, I wanted to try again. He had taken over 5 years to have, and I expected the same to happen again; it was time to get to work. I figured that I wanted to try biologically but assumed that I would miscarry and then we would put in for another adoption; hopefully we would have another child by the time Julian turned three. Well, we started another fertility treatment with Peter giving me nightly injections. The first two months I produced too many eggs and fertilization was considered too risky. The third month I had 5 eggs - a good number. I ovulated 3 of them and on November 19 conceived. The twins were due on August 12, 1995. My first thoughts involved conjecturing about when and how I would miscarry. The first trimester was filled with bleeding, doctors visits, and anxiety. The second trimester was great physically, but the barrage of amnios and weekly ultrasounds was tiring. On May 23 I was told to go on 18 hours a day of bed rest and on June 22 (after going in to preterm labor and a night in the hospital) I was instructed to be horizontal all but 2 hours a day. About mid-June I started believing that they might actually come out alive. I wondered how they could possibly be as wonderful as Julian. During all this time I drove, twice a week, an hour each way to the doctor for fetal monitoring. Happily, Alexander and Zoe were born healthy on July 17, 1995.

After a daughter born still, four miscarriages, and the giving up of the dream to be a mother, I find myself in the throws of managing three delightful children under the age of two. It is a dream come true.

We have been very involved in support groups for all three issues: child loss, infertility, and adoption. We've met many wonderful people and made some probably life-long friends, particularly among local people involved with adoption. I have seen that there are many ways to create a family, which may or may not involve being parents, and that each of these ways can be full of joy.

Return to Pregnancy and Infant Loss First Person Page

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