Sunday, December 26, 2010
Lyme and Worrying About Miscarriage
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.