Bonnie’s Story

For the past 6 weeks I have felt like I did not have a place to belong or where anyone could possibly understand what I have been through and what I am going through now. I do know that I need to grieve. My heart is heavy with sorrow and loss. I am finding it so very difficult to find any place for good feelings with this pregnancy (not for lack of love but for overwhelming sadness and fear). Yet I am terrified of what the future holds for the two babies I am carrying. I am afraid they won’t be healthy or that they will be very premature or that I will lose one or both anyway. I have so many emotions I don’t know where to start.

We went through 4 years of infertility treatment to conceive our daughter who is now 16 months old. When we started treatment again we had no idea it would happen so quickly or with such an outcome. When we first found out about the quintuplets and the doctors kept recommending we reduce I felt I had no right to grieve. How could I when the loss was a decision of ours that was made? But now with it over yesterday, I feel I have no choice but to grieve. I have all these feelings and no place for them to go. I desperately want to deal with this before these babies come in June. I know it’s important for me to do so if I am to be a good mother to any of my children and to be able to live with the decisions we have made.

By the way, we didn’t do IVF. We did IUI with injectibles. It was the fact we were poorly monitored that caused us to be put in this position. When we were in treatment for our daughter we were under the RE’s care strictly. This time around his nurse came in and did our monitoring and our treatments. We assumed (our fault) that she was consulting with the doctor about our meds, how much to take, how my ovaries were responding and such. Apparently she wasn’t. This has left us with mixed feelings for our RE too. On one hand he and his staff have helped us to conceive our daughter who is the center of our universe. Then on the other hand, we have lost three babies because of this situation and with no guarantees on the remaining two. It’s hard to be grateful and angry at the same time. I am angry at our RE that other options, such as follicular reduction, were not given to us, even to cancel the treatment cycle because the risks for multiples were too high. We would have been disappointed but it would have been far better than the outcome we have now.

I did feel that my RE thought things could be “fixed” or “corrected” by doing SR. I just never saw it that way. Like I was telling my husband the other night – if we were to have gotten pregnant with only one baby who didn’t survive, we wouldn’t have considered it “okay” because we had our daughter, would we? So why should we consider this situation “okay” because we “still have two babies on the way”?? I still feel as though I am a mother to 6 children. I don’t see that ever changing. I guess it is something that my heart will never understand.

My husband and I can’t talk to anyone except our doctors, definitely not our families. I was given a name of a counselor to contact but I am not sure I am comfortable with calling her. She is not a counselor who deals specifically in pregnancy loss or infertility. I was given the name of a pregnancy and infant loss support group but am not sure about calling about it. I mean there is part of me that wonders if my situation applies? I would not want to go there and be judged. So I am hesitant.

I do think it helped me tremendously to talk to as many doctors as possible when trying to decide about SR. I reached out to four doctors and gathered facts. I asked all their medical opinions and then tried hard to separate my heart from my mind. Over the weeks before the SR I had found that I was searching desperately for reasons that my heart would understand having to do SR. It took nearly a month of struggling with it to realize it’s something my heart will never understand. I think so many women don’t forgive themselves for that. But it is true. We were about 9 weeks pregnant when we decided that we would reduce to twins and that was after searching all avenues for facts on both sides of SR and carrying a HOM pregnancy. It was at that point I had an epiphany. I realized that even if the doctors had told me that all our babies were ill or would not live a good quality of life, reducing wasn’t something my heart would EVER understand. That is when I realized my heart could not lead in this decision but my head had to look at all logical and medical aspects and facts. They all pointed to our best chance with reducing to twins.

I think every person is so different in what they need to heal. I have talked to women who have written letters to both the babies that were reduced and to the babies that survive and it has helped them. I know talking to others sometimes brings people to heal. Tuesday evening I realized that I would not “get over” this but would have to learn to find a way to live with it. I guess there is a huge pressure not to talk about SR, there is shame and guilt attached to it. That I all understand too well. But Tuesday night I found that I am the mother of 6 children, 3 living, 3 dead. I will ALWAYS be the mother of 6 children. I was given the advice before having the SR that I should make the decision, do it, and never look back. This was even given by women who had been through it. I can understand why they would say that. It does no good to second-guess what is already done and I believe if you do what you can to be informed before making that decision, it helps. But I know personally for me there is no way I could live my life without acknowledging all my children. I think maybe some people think it’s not okay to grieve for these babies because of the circumstances in which they were lost. In the beginnning I thought the same. But I found I had no choice but to grieve… my heart won’t have it any other way. I told my husband that I will always look at the faces of my 3 living children and think of the 3 who didn’t survive. There is no shame in that. In fact lately I have been looking for ways to memorialize these angels. Something just for myself. I have a few ideas of what I could do, but I know what I need most is to never forget them.