Health

Miscarriages: Facts & Faith

Having a miscarriage can be a devastating event for a family unit, one that can lead to friction and separation. On the other hand, it can lead to closeness and perseverance to move forward and try again. Most commonly, when family units remain steadfast, one can move forward and have a normal, healthy pregnancy. It is only in 1% of cases that women will experience a concept called, recurrent pregnancy loss, a condition where one has two or more miscarriages. If you or a friend is in this 1%, there is hope! Let’s learn about miscarriages and recurrent pregnancy loss.
The Facts
  • Most miscarriages are by chance. There is nothing that the mother or father did nor a health condition that caused the pregnancy loss.
  • 80% of pregnancy losses will happen in the first trimester.
  • Most miscarriages aren’t identified because women experience vaginal bleeding around the time they expect their menstrual cycle.
Single Pregnancy Losses Can Be Due To:
  • Genetic Abnormalities- The genes from mom and dad don’t meet up properly.
    • Most common cause.
    • Accounts for 50% of miscarriages.
  • Reproductive Aging: As women approach 35 and older, their chance for genetic abnormalities is more common.
Multiple Pregnancy Losses Can Be Due To:
  • Medical conditions like, antiphospholipid syndrome (your body makes fighter cells that kill normal cells in your body, as if they were fighting a cold), uncontrolled diabetes or high blood pressure and others.
  • Abnormal reproductive tracts: There can be fibroids, polyps or other issues inside the uterus that prevent pregnancy.
    • Note: After 3 miscarriages, a provider will complete a full evaluation by doing blood tests for medical conditions and abnormal genes) and imaging (sonogram of the uterus and others).
    • Sadly, 50-70% of the time, no cause is found.  
What are the symptoms and what do I do if I think I may be miscarrying?
  • Many women have no signs.
  • Vaginal bleeding (spotting or heavy bleeding) and/or cramping/contractions are the most common symptoms.
    • Note: These symptoms are common in normal pregnancies as well.
  • If you experience these symptoms, call your provider for advice if the symptoms are mild. Visit your local hospital for heavy bleeding with pain.

Sarah and Larry’s Story

Larry & Sarah at their wedding ceremony

Sarah Lee married the love of her life, Larry Lee II, in 2004. They were very excited when they became pregnant in 2005. Their excitement came to a halt when they attended the sonogram appointment to hear a heartbeat, only to find a blighted ovum – a pregnancy without the development of an embryo. She underwent a dilation and curettage (D&C) to remove the pregnancy. After this miscarriage Sarah and her husband were “disappointed, but hopeful things would happen at the right time.” Six months later, they were surprised by a pregnancy with triplets! As the saying goes, “God will give you double for your trouble” – they had received triple! After noticing some vaginal spotting, Sarah immediately went to the hospital.  There, she passed two of the triplets in the emergency department bathroom. She was quickly taken to an exam room, where she passed the last. As you can imagine, “this was another disappointment and left me slightly depressed for a moment,” Sarah reflected, as this was the second miscarriage, and the loss of 4 potential children. Sarah didn’t remain in a depressed state for long. She began to inquire of underlying issues that could be causing her miscarriages. She asked her physician for an evaluation but was told that infertility workups are not undertaken until three miscarriages occur. Sarah and Larry remained hopeful.

After their third miscarriage (potential 5th child), she began seeing a Maternal Fetal Medicine (high-risk OB doctor) and a Reproductive Endocrinologist (fertility specialist) who began her fertility workup. Sarah was tested for lupus, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), antiphospholipid syndrome, and more. Her reproductive organs (uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes) were also evaluated with an imaging study called a hysterosalpingogram (HSG), which shows the structure of the uterus and determines if the fallopian tubes are open for a sperm and egg to meet up.  Everything was determined to be normal. Ultimately, “it was determined that [she had] antiphospholipid syndrome. [She] didn’t have a problem getting pregnant but maintaining a pregnancy,” she reflected during our interview. Moving forward, for each pregnancy, she took Aspirin and Lovenox injections (a blood thinner) as soon as she thought she may be pregnant. She experienced swelling in the abdomen from the shots and she stated, “these medicines played an important role in the pregnancy.”

Sarah’s fourth pregnancy was a success, in that she was maintained her pregnancy into the third trimester. She remembered, “My husband and I were very nervous, but this was a good nervous, as each month we were progressing and getting further. We were only taking it one day at a time. We didn’t share (the pregnancy) openly until we were 5 months pregnant.” She shared that they had a sonogram and learned they were having girl but also received news that their baby was exceptionally small. Sarah began having sonograms every 2 weeks. The baby was developing properly, but not growing. She was finally sent to St. Louis, MO to be evaluated by high risk OB doctors. No new information was found, but the plan was made for an early delivery once the baby grew a little more. The following week, Sarah and Larry were devastated to learn that Londynne had passed away (approx. 28-30 weeks). In retrospect, she noticed that her baby’s movements had become less robust over the final three days, but she could not think of any other signs that Londynne had passed. After the news, Sarah became numb to her personal state, feelings, and to those around her. She went to eat with family and went to the hospital for delivery. She lamented, “I just went through the motions to deliver the baby. I was numb, until the point where we had to have a funeral.” Larry stated, “When I learned the news, I was highly upset…furious! The most difficult part was (having) a graveside funeral, and my dad was unable to attend…” Sarah recounts this as her most difficult life event. Prior to leaving the hospital, the nurse proclaimed, “People either stick together or drift apart after a stillborn.” She and Larry defied the odds and are still together, 14 years later! They felt blessed to have such a great support system.

Through it all, “My Spirituality Never Waivered”

That was Sarah’s answer when asked how her spirituality was affected by her pregnancy losses. She stated, “At some point I (asked) why? I remember thinking of how many women had no problems getting pregnant or had no interest in mothering, and I had the desire to have children.” She declared, “Because of my faith in God, I BELIEVED and prayed with my husband for a child. (Our) fourth pregnancy, (was) a true answered prayer. We prayed for a baby, and God did that. Even though Londynne didn’t live, God answered the prayer.” Sarah’s hope and faith comforted her. She just knew she would be blessed to have children at some point in the future. Larry stated that although “we kept believing, it felt that there was no light at the end of the tunnel. (To cope) we had fish. We named them after family and friends and watched our fish have babies. We had our own little family within our fish tank.” Over five years, the couple had 40-50 fish. Now that’s definitely a faith move on behalf of this couple!  

The Word, My Sweet Motivation

When asked what kept her motivated, Sarah recalled, “My Pastor told us to speak the Word. I held on to Psalm 113:9, “He maketh the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children. Praise ye the LORD.” And Romans 4:18, “Who against hope believed in hope, that might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, so shall thy seed be.” She also had her internal motivation, which was her overall desire to have a baby, along with the support of her church family and close friends. She reflected, “After the stillborn we had come too far to give up and were too close to (stop) believing”.

Lee Children

By the Grace and Will of God

Sarah and Larry have now finalized their family after welcoming their three children, Larry III (age 9), Lawson (age 7), Shynel (age 3) into the world. She reflected about the excitement she had when realizing her first child would be born alive and well, “I can’t explain the joy of knowing that we are in the safe zone. The real excitement happened (each time) when we were greeted with living, breathing, healthy child after the delivery”. I personally know this couple and remember being at church with them when Larry said to a group of people in passing, “Sarah is going to have a baby y’all!”. The excitement in his voice and face at the time, was breathtaking. It was similar to the excitement of a child on Christmas morning, in anticipation of seeing what gifts he would receive!

Now that their children are alive and well she states, “I enjoy looking at my children as miracles and little blessings from God.” She teaches her children the value of faith, morals and confidence. “We don’t have dull moments, and my children brighten my day” she reflects.

Words of Wisdom

When asked what advice they would give to others with similar circumstances, Sarah advises, “Never stop believing in the possibility or God’s (ability). Be open-minded. Is there a desire to be a mother or to be pregnant and (then) a mother? God sends people and children in our lives to fill voids, if we are open to it. Also, consider fostering or adopting.” Larry advises, “Don’t give up on God. Don’t take no for an answer and get plenty of opinions. Support your wife, (because) it can easily drive a wedge in a marriage if you’re not careful. We stayed faithful and continued to date like we normally do. We never had an attitude (with one another) about the situation. We remained positive.”  

If you or someone you know has had several miscarriages and has not been fully evaluated for it, please urge your provider to do so or to refer you to someone who can/will do so. At the very least, you should be seen by a general OB/GYN and better yet, a maternal fetal medicine (high risk OB doctor), if you have access to one. If all else fails, motherhood is a very sweet thing and there are so many children who need adoption or foster care who will love you as their mother, unconditionally. Please consider this as an option.

We thank Sarah and Larry for their willingness to openly discuss their story. Please keep them and their children in your prayers!

As always, each one, teach one…

Dr. Jay

Resource: American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: Practice Bulletin 150 and frequently asked questions.

Dr. Jay is excited to educate our readers on different health topics in Nouveau Exposure Magazine! She is a recent graduate from Southern Illinois University School of Medicine and is currently training to be an OB/GYN at University of Mississippi Medical Center. She enjoys being an advocate for health and wellness and teaching about career and personal development. She is the founder of Jay’s Love Your Life Foundation, a nonprofit organization, which educates women and young ladies to about health and wellness topics through the Facebook page and workshops. She recently created a Facebook page, “Livin’ Well With Dr. Jay” to share health information, career and personal development tips and share her success stories and journey as she trains to become an OB/GYN. Feel free to follow her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/LivinWellWithDrJay and/or https://www.facebook.com/jaysloveyourlife as well as Instagram @ jaleensims01. She loves receiving topic requests so if you have a topic you’d like her to cover, feel free to contact her!