I am a miscarriage magnet. In the past five years I’ve had five; most ended super early and they vacated on their own, but the last was a set of twins that stuck around a while before I needed a D&C, and I was quite attached to them. OK, that’s an understatement. My world was turned completely upside down for a good while, and the only way I was completely able to move on is when I conceived again and carried a baby to term.
Whether it’s right or wrong, I don’t think much now about the babies I lost. That wasn’t always the case, but when I was finally given the gift of a healthy baby, I felt that the fulfillment I got from being his mother was plenty enough for me, and I’ve been content ever since I had him.
Sometimes in my thoughts I can reduce the miscarriages all the way down to simple balls of cells with chromosomal abnormalities--defects of nature--and that my grief over the losses was based solely on my own disappointment (I soooo wanted to be a mom and I had my hopes up for nothing). Sometimes it’s not that easy. Or other times, if I’m feeling “cosmic”, I view them as souls that weren’t ready to sign on for the specific life my husband and I would have provided. I even recall my husband saying, “It must have changed its mind-- it signed up for the job but then it read our file and was like oh hellll no, these people are nuts! But it’s OK--someday we’ll get a tougher one who can handle us, and that one is meant for us when it’s ready.”
Regardless of how normal or abnormal my husband’s and my coping mechanisms are, I feel like there is one miscarriage thought most of us Lymies have in common, and that is the heart-dropping-to-your-gut feeling when you discover you’re miscarrying and you immediately curse your body for failing (yet again).
I think it’s a given now, even to the skeptical doctors, that Lyme and Co. can cause miscarriages and fetal abnormalities. We see this a lot in women that didn’t know they had Lyme and had trouble conceiving and/or carrying... it seems to click with them once they finally get a diagnosis: “My whole system is shot and infested with bacteria--no wonder I couldn’t carry a baby.” And that’s when the guilt, anxiety, disappointment, depression, or whatever you want to call it sets in, and what all of those words really mean is, “Lyme is ruining my life, my partner’s life, and now it just ruined my baby’s.”
For the most part, these miscarriages happen very early on--(though I’m sure people would be quick to report some rare exceptions), and the further along you are in treatment, the better your chances of a successful pregnancy. Of course, this is why the doctors stress pregnancy-safe antibiotics ASAP. Some (not all) will even treat your pregnancy as high-risk and will take extra precautions to make sure your baby’s growth is monitored from the beginning.
Some might disagree, but I feel like many of us are quick to blame all miscarriages on Lyme Disease, much like every ache and pain some of us experience is attributed to the disease as well. Is it ever possible to just have a bad headache without it being a cranial nerve flare-up? Could the bloated painful belly be due to the fact that you ate a ton of ice-cream and you’re on dairy overload? Can a miscarriage just be a miscarriage? Sure it can. After all, early miscarriages happen so often in all types of women, Lyme ridden or not (according to the American Pregnancy Association, there’s a 15-20% chance in healthy women). But unless the fetus is tested for spirochetes, there’s no way of telling for sure.
I have to admit that I’m incredibly afraid of a miscarriage right now, just based on past experience.
Does this have to have a bad outcome? Probably not. My hormone levels are rising as they should, I’ve already started getting morning sickness, and I’m cranky as hell. I mean, reallly cranky. Plus, I’m bloated beyond belief, my boobs are huge and they hurt like a mofo, and toothpaste is still disgusting. To me, that indicates all systems go.
But as you know, it’s hard. You want to get excited because this really is one of the most greatest experiences on the planet, but you’ve seen (or heard about) the outcome for many with our disease.
Lately I find myself superstitious when I normally pretty level-headed. For instance, I’ll tell myself that if I get rid of my old maternity clothes, this pregnancy will stick due to Murphy’s Law. I can’t even start thinking of names yet, unless I consider “NewBaby” a name, because that will surely lead to another miscarriage, and it sucks mourning something you’ve already named. I’m already expecting dooms day to happen because I’ve shared all of this info with you before the recommended 12 weeks! (Trust me, I struggled over when to post about the pregnancy but figured I’d tell you all if I miscarried after the fact, so I might as well include you on the pregnancy journey as it unfolds.)
I’m scared, as I know many of you are, because a lot of you have experienced the same kind of loss before.
But you know there is always a hint of hope in these posts:
If we let our fears about the past stop us, we will never have children to love. Quite frankly, I can’t imagine life without my son, and each of those miscarriages was worth it to get him in the end. Will it be 12+ weeks of self-inflicted torture in the beginning (OMG I haven’t felt like puking for over an hour!--am I still pregnant?!?!)? Most definitely, and if you have a cure for that, please share.
For now, I will sit here and eagerly await the first ultrasound (January 4th), blowing things out of proportion, and then talking myself down to a more optimistic, rational state. Seriously, if you’re scared of Lyme pregnancy, you’re not the only one. We have a lot at stake here, because our health is so unreliable and we are conditioned now to expect the worst. But life only happens when we give it a chance to, right? I guess I’d rather take the risk and be nervous about a miscarriage than regret the time I spent wondering what could have been. My fingers are crossed for all of you in the same boat right now.
And hey, Lyme moms: please share how you’ve gotten through this anxious time in the past. Also, if you’re a nervous, newly pregnant Lymie, go ahead and express your fears here if you like. Knowing that we’re not alone in this is comforting.
*Note: I’d like to share statistics and studies about miscarriage occurrences in Lyme patients, but honestly, whenever I research these findings I just get pissed off. There’s so much conflicting info out there, and I refuse to be part of the group of Lymie fear mongers on a mission to prove that Lyme is going to kill your fetus before you’ve even thought of conceiving it. Most of these studies were done on mice anyway, and I’m not comfortable believing any test that’s not based on humans.
Just two weeks ago I had a hard time deciding what to do with this blog. Wyatt is now 5 months old, I barely have time to write as much as I want to, and as much as I’d love to devote all of my free time to Lyme pregnancy research, I just don’t have it to spare.
I entertained idea of starting a Lyme parenting blog (which I will do eventually). Then I told myself to stop whining and write two blogs--one for pregnancy and one for parenting. And then I finally got frustrated enough to say that maybe it’s run its course, it’s time for this journal to end.
And then something weird happened. One morning last week I made my usual egg-whites for breakfast. They tasted off, and by the time I was 3/4 finished I was ready to hurl. I had to spit out my last bite. Nothing like bad eggs first thing in the morning, right?
The next day my husband lumbered down the stairs and grumbled good morning after soothing a cranky teething baby all night. I don’t even think he opened his mouth wide enough for real words to come out, but I could smell from across the room that he’s just brushed his teeth. Mint. Gross. Gross? Gross mint and and an overwhelming wave of nausea?!
Ohhhh, this was way too familiar.
Between the Lyme symptoms and caring for an infant, I can count the number of times I’ve had sex on...well...I’m actually too ashamed to finish that sentence, because it’s so lame. But all it takes is one time, right?
I ran to the dollar store and bought 7 pregnancy tests because I’m weird like that (whatever--they’re a dollar). I peed on four of them. Guess how many came out positive? Oh yeah.
Remember that part in the movie Juno when Ellen Page pees on the stick and shakes it and the guy tells her it’s not an etch-a-sketch and you can’t erase it (or something to that measure)? That was me.
And then it hit me: Holy crap. I’m pregnant! YESSSS!!
And then it hit me again: Oh God, I’m pregnant. I’m still fat, sick, and exhausted from the first one! I’m officially ruined...
Back to, YES! Maybe it will be a girl this time!
For hours I experienced an emotional spectrum ranging from blissful elation, all the way to sheer panic and fear, and quite honestly, some quick moments of dread. In the end, elation won, but I do realize that I will be viewed as insane by most of the community.
And so my question regarding what to do with this blog resolved itself.
I’m friggin’ pregnant.
So here I am, (happily) signing on for another nine months of experience and research, all of which I will share with you lovely Lymies.
Now that I know what I’m dealing with this time around, I hope to enjoy this pregnancy more (as much as one can enjoy pregnancy, anyway), and I will use this opportunity to grill every doctor I come in contact with for useful information for all of us.
Merry Christmas, everyone. Hope your holiday season was filled with good surprises too!
Just a note to say I'm still here, and holy crap, I have a lot to say. Between reader stories, testing instructions, personal updates, and a few surprises, the majority of my day is spent thinking about how much I have to catch up here.
I'll start back up again shortly--I'm usually not this pokey, but I really had NO idea a four-month-old could require so much energy! For the record, I'm typing this one-handed because I have an over-tired baby in my arms, there's a puddle of spit-up in my lap, and you don't even want to know what time I woke up this morning.
All is well and we're making progress. Please stay tuned for the latest adventures in Lyme Pregnancy. I promise, it will be worth the wait.
I am a mother and writer with Chronic Lyme, on the road to acceptance and recovery. I was bitten in 1996, diagnosed 2008. I am living proof that it is possible to live meaningfully and have happy, healthy children while battling this terrible disease.