Loss After Life: A Story of Secondary Infertility

by Megan Mangiaracino

Loss After Life: A Story of Secondary Infertility

My husband and I were thrown into parenthood head on. We found out we were expecting after 2 years of adventuring around the world together. We had no idea what was to come or what to do, but we were so excited that we jumped right on the train and never looked back.

My pregnancy was a cinch. I followed the rules (with moderation) and had a happy, healthy, easy birth (within reason). Penelope came along and life was grand. She created an extension of us that made us feel complete and full of love. It was almost too easy.

Naturally talk quickly became serious about having another child. I have 2 siblings, as does my husband, and we agreed that we wanted our daughter to share in the experiences we had with a sibling of her own. So around the time Penny turned 1, we got our first positive pregnancy test and became ecstatic about the thought of baby #2.

The naivety of my first pregnancy with Penelope and the ease and grace with which we breezed through every step of the way, made each pregnancy afterwards feel all the more real.

My first miscarriage was at 14 weeks and physically it was worse than labor; emotionally it was indescribable.

The next miscarriages are all a blur. There were 5 following the first all ending at different intervals of pregnancy. Each time we got a positive pregnancy, I just expected it to end in a miscarriage. I had no hope.

My husband and I were both so emotionally exhausted that we decided on one last attempt to get pregnant and if it didn’t work out, then it just wasn’t meant to be. I had been on a vitamin and medication regimen prescribed by my doctors to help me “not miscarry”. And as it turned out, after 2 years, it finally worked.

We got pregnant (again) and at the first appointment, we saw our baby and her heartbeat. I was under more scrutinized attention because of my miscarriage history, so had more thorough bloodwork done. We were encouraged to hear that all the bookwork looked good and things were moving in a positive direction. I found it odd that we never had another sonogram considering how worried they constantly were about our condition, though I tried not to let that bother me and I put my trust in their hands.

We were required to see a specialist at 20 weeks for a more specialized treatment. I had been assured everything was going smoothly, and in fact looked really good, so not to be worried at all about having to see the specialist.

That appointment was a day I will never forget. We went in so happy and hopeful and left completely heartbroken. Our baby girl was not going to live. In fact she was barely alive as it was. The only thing keeping her alive inside of me, was my body. I was 22.5 weeks. A very long way into what we thought was our miracle pregnancy. Our sweet Piper.

In the hope of explaining my viewpoint, I should note some of the specifics about Piper that we learned and saw that day. She had no kidneys, she had 1 lung, her brain was 90% fluid, her heart was 50% developed and beating at a rate 10% what it should have been. I had never felt her move inside of me. Quite literally, my body was her life line, and my body was at risk for my own health. I was told I needed to have a medically necessary procedure as soon as I could. Our baby was going to die.

At 22.5 weeks we were at a threshold. At 24 weeks a baby is considered “viable” and a surgery of this nature would not be allowed by law. Around 20 weeks, most doctors will not perform the procedure for risk of being pulled into political turmoil. As hard as it is to write these words now, I was heartbreakingly thrown into that terrible category: abortion. We wanted that child more than anything in this world. We tried for years over again to have her. I cry myself to sleep countless times when I think about her and what could have been. Our political system makes it hard to understand that sometimes there are circumstances where there is not a choice and each person’s journey is a unique one. The whirlwind of emotions I went through during that time is completely indescribable. I had never appreciated the expression “in her shoes” until I was in a pair of shoes I never wanted anyone to be forced to wear ever again.

The next month was a blur. After my surgery, it was hard to face the day. It took a lot of self searching to turn my questioning and consternation into positivity toward my living daughter. My sadness was inevitable, but my happiness for Penelope could not be masked by it. I had to power on and be strong for my family. (Therapy helped a lot).

Secondary infertility is extremely common and something I knew nothing about until I was hit with it right in the face. The difficult thing for me to grasp was how easy pregnancy and birth was the first time around, and how confusing it was that it wasn’t always that way.

I have since really embraced our lives as a family of 3 and know that we were meant for this journey together. We are all stronger for having made it through those times side by side. I have the most caring and supportive husband, and the kindest, sweet daughter. That opportunity in itself is remarkable; a healthy pregnancy is not to be overlooked or taken for granted. I will always hold a special place in my heart for all of our angel babies, especially sweet Piper.

Mary-Mychael lives in Jacksonville with her husband Eric of 5 years and 5 year old daughter Penelope 😉 She wears many hats including helping her husband operate their family Bed and Breakfast as well as a full time practicing Realtor. She loves a good glass of wine, exploring the world, adventuring with her family and quiet time on the couch watching Game of Thrones or reading a good book.

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