Hi I’m Erin, and this is my husband Aaron. No, really, I’m not making that up. And yes, it does get confusing at times. But caller ID helps and most of our family and friends call us A and E or him Double A, so we’ve got that going for us. And, we have this weird knack for being able to know when someone says “Hey Aaron/Erin” who they’re talking about.
Will CarryOn is not about us. Well, that’s not true. Of course it is about us, our experiences and our story. But it is really about all of us. All of the women and men, wives, husbands and partners, grandparents, family and friends who have been dealt a hand they didn’t ask for. In fact, probably never would have thought in a million years that miscarriage, stillbirth and loss would happen to them. And definitely not repeated 7 times. Yes, 7 times.
To give a quick synopsis, I’ll tell you we met in January of ’05, married in October of ’07 and got pregnant on our own, after a month or two of trying in May of ’08. That first loss was a chemical pregnancy, coming just two days after the excitement of seeing that first positive pregnancy test. We were sad, but told ourselves that miscarriage is pretty common, and we’d try again. Afterall, I got pregnant so quickly, of course we’d be OK. We found out about #2 in late August of ’08, again after trying on our own. That took a turn for the worse at the second HCG blood draw when they said the numbers were going up, but not as fast as they should. Three agonizing weeks of knowing later, I miscarried naturally.
Something was up. This wasn’t right. Off to the fertility specialist we went, a plan was created and testing done to show nothing but a MTHFR (which we like to call the mother f*cker) gene mutation. A switch of doctors (because we like a doctor who cares as much as they’re knowledgeable), 3 failed IUIs with gonadotropins, and laparoscopic surgery to “clean things up a bit” led to a 4th IUI and pregnancy #3 in Oct. ‘10. We saw a heartbeat this time, and it wasn’t until 7w that we found that the baby wasn’t measuring correctly and that we learned we were on our way to our third loss. With disbelief, tears, sadness and anger, I had a D&C and we gained the knowledge that chromosome #17 was the reason. Determined not to give up, we went for IUI #5, which led to pregnancy #4 in Jan. ’11. In spite of spotting which started at week 7, this pregnancy was moving forward and took us to points we’d never reached before. We were cautious, but hopeful and grasping at each milestone. And then, on the morning of April 10, 2011, at 16 weeks, 6 days, my water broke and I delivered a baby girl, Baby K, who never had her first breath. Test results showed that the baby was perfectly healthy, and left us with so many unanswered questions.
While the first 3 losses were hard, the 4th one wrecked us. Each time, we say, we’ve survived the worst, and each time, the worst got even harder. With the help of a strong therapist, a support group filled with some of the most courageous people we’ve ever known, we slowly began moving forward. Determined as ever, we switched to yet another new doctor, “THE” specialist in recurring miscarriage, yet found nothing.
As we continued trying on our own, we found an adoption agency we meshed with, and “went live” in Feb. ’12, with the thought that one route—or both if we were lucky—would lead to baby.
Fast forward to many months of trying on our own, the use of clomid, with and without an IUI, and then back to one cycle with gonadotropins. In June ’12, after our 7th IUI, we found we were pregnant with #5, and soon after realized it was with #6 and 7 too. Triplets turned to twins at week 10, and while sad, we continued forward, putting our hopes in our two babies, in our quest toward family. Weekly monitoring with an amazing maternal fetal medicine group (not to mention countless sessions with the therapist, acupuncturist and support from our loss friends in the know), helped keep our fears in check, and at 19w5d after two healthy Amnio reports, we “came out” to elated and shocked family and friends. Little did we know that happiness would turn to devastation and heartbreak, when less than a week later, contractions would start, leaving the doctors without recourse and Double A and me back to a place we thought we had finally left behind. Our beautiful twins—a girl, Sarah Hana, and boy, Benjamin Samuel —arrived in this world on October 9, 2012 at 20w5d. Perfectly healthy, with no chance of survival, leaving us once again with so many unanswered questions. Never in a million years would we have seen ourselves here: Mom and Dad to 7, Parents to none.
To say we were devastated wasn’t enough. Once again, with the help of therapy, anti-depressants, family, friends, time, and most importantly, each other, we learned another new normal. We were not giving up. And while we were done trying to conceive on our own, we put all of our efforts into the adoption front.
Then in March ’13 we received the call that we had been chosen by a couple, and in May, we welcomed our son, a beautiful, healthy and breathing baby boy into our lives via domestic adoption. We are so grateful and overwhelmed by the love we feel for C (formerly referred to as Baby Boy or BB) and the joy he brings to us.
Fast forward to December ’13, and we found out we were pregnant for the 6th time. (Yes, it happened on its own. No we weren’t trying. And no, it doesn’t always happen like that.) Terrified, yet excited, we found ourselves back with the maternal fetal medicine group, where I told my doctor that I needed him to play G-d, and tell me everything was going to be alright. With weekly monitoring, a fair amount of anxiety and much patience, I fared through a relatively “normal” pregnancy. And at 38w2d, we welcomed a healthy, breathing, beautiful son, J (formerly referred to as Little Guy or LG), into the world with the most amazing cries…from all of us.
In January ’17, we were once again surprised to learn we were expecting again. We navigated this pregnancy one day at a time, only this time, we didn’t hide. And we were thrilled when our son E was born healthy and living at 37w2d.
Bringing home C was such a gift that turned a light back on in us that we thought was gone forever. J’s arrival was a bonus. And Little E was the icing on the cake we already thought was so sweet.
We remain grateful, and in shock over our boys. At the same time, we know we will never make sense of any of our losses. We know we will never forget any of our babies. And while we don’t know what the future holds, we are trying to focus on the now, while honoring the past.
But like I said, Will CarryOn isn’t just about us. After going through this so many times, I realized that there is so much information out there, but it is a challenge to navigate through to find what we needed when we needed it. The hope is to help others who find themselves on this unwanted path through shared experiences and a collection of resources that are essential to survival. And while I have my go-tos, I’d love to expand that and hear what has helped you through. Please email me with the organizations, support groups, blogs, books, articles, websites, etc. that have helped you, so we can help others.