After the scan showed that our baby had died, I sat with him still inside me desperately wishing I could go back in time and fix whatever it was that was broken and make my pregnancy successful.
I know that it probably wasn’t something to do with my body going wrong and the pregnancy ending because of that – I didn’t have a fall or trauma or illness and it all happened in a gradual way. Three different doctors told me that most first trimester miscarriages are caused by a chromosomal abnormality in either the sperm or egg, and the following article (really useful in general) puts the figure at 70%: www.ourbodiesourselves.org/book/excerpt.asp?id=80.
But why were the chromosomes abnormal? Is there something wrong with my husband or I? Another really useful although very depressing article puts the figure for chromosomal abnormalities at 50% of miscarriages, but explains what “chromosomal abnormalities” means really well: www.marchofdimes.com/baby/birthdefects_chromosomal.html.
Chromosomal abnormalities usually result from an error that occurs when an egg or sperm cell develops. It is not known why these errors occur. As far as we know, nothing that a parent does or doesn’t do before or during pregnancy can cause a chromosomal abnormality in his or her child.
In most cases, an embryo with the wrong number of chromosomes does not survive. In such cases, the pregnant woman has a miscarriage. This often happens very early in pregnancy, before a woman may realize she’s pregnant. More than 50 percent of first-trimester miscarriages are caused by chromosomal abnormalities in the embryo.
Parents who have a late miscarriage or a baby born with birth defects can learn whether it’s likely that there’s a fundamental genetic problem, but for us it’s just a case of not knowing. Apparently if it’s your first miscarriage, they basically refuse to do genetic tests – I suppose I can see that it’s not a priority for health spending, but I would find it comforting to have some answers even if they were scary ones. Also then I would know if it wasn’t a chromosome thing. What could it be then? That’s almost scarier.
Some other likely causes are explained here: www.pregnancyloss.info/causes.htm. I have always been worried about hormonal factors, as I have pretty irregular periods, so I was glad to read that some hormone problems are treatable (although only in advance – you can’t save a pregnancy that’s already afflicted with a hormone problem). Since my miscarriage I’m ten times more worried about hormones, as my ovaries showed up on the scans as being polycystic – the doctors say this won’t make any difference to my chances of conceiving again, or of having another miscarriage, but it’s just one more scary things to worry about. It’s nice to see, though, that most of the problems listed on the Pregnancy Loss website – hormonal and more structural – have some kind of solution attached to them.
This is the truest statement of all:
The hardest thing to accept is no reason at all. You live in fear, wondering if the same terrible cause of your first baby’s death will cause another one to die. You scarcely dare to try again. I have been in this situation and I tossed my doctor’s statistics aside. I had already been on the wrong side of the statistics; I didn’t care for anymore. But I do know this. One miscarriage hardly raises your chances to miscarry again at all. You are simply back at square one. Try to put the risk as far back in your mind as possible and enjoy another pregnancy. But I understand if you can’t.
I am trying to put the risk to the back of my mind, and I hope that when I’m pregnant again I’ll be able to feel positive about that, and about being able to conceive, and not to worry too much about a second miscarriage. But I’m not sure I’ll be that pragmatic. If our chromosomes didn’t mesh the first time, who’s to say they will a second time? And if it wasn’t that, what frightening truths lie in store for us to discover?