I'm not big on sharing my bad days or the tough times on social media because I don't want my bad day to influence another's. However, sometimes bad things should be shared so we can learn from them and maybe help someone else. I also share because my story of loss is very intimately tied with NFP, and I hope maybe it will benefit others.
When I started charting several months postpartum my cycles weren't the greatest. There were some signs of potential issues that I hoped would work themselves out as my daughter nursed less and less. However, after 6 months the charts didn't change much, and I didn't get a positive pregnancy test like I kept praying for.
I am no medical professional, but I had my suspicions that something was wrong. The nursing hormone prolactin is nature's way of spacing pregnancies. It often remains high until the baby weans or nurses less. This keeps the hormone progesterone low so ovulation does not occur and thus a woman cannot get pregnant. However, sometimes the prolactin isn't high enough to keep ovulation from occurring but just high enough to make progesterone too low to sustain a pregnancy. This was my guess as to what was happening.
So I decided to try and get my levels tested. I asked my OB's office and my family doctor to have my progesterone and/or prolactin level tested. I was assured by both that many nursing women can get pregnant. I told them I understood that, but that I was seeing signs of low progesterone in my charting. My family doctor tested several other things, but never my progesterone after multiple visits. The OB nurse didn't even have me in.
When my daughter turned 18 months old I weaned her fully and became pregnant the same week. I was absolutely elated. I so desired a sibling for my daughter. It was practically all I could think about. However, my elation soon turned to worry when the spotting started. I didn't have that with my first pregnancy, but I tried to assure myself that it was fine, as did all the doctors I called. The spotting continued on and off for a few days and I called my doctors again and practically begged that they test my progesterone. They assured me again that spotting was normal and testing wasn't necessary.
Then one Sunday evening I knew something was very wrong. I can't even describe the feeling that came over me. I knew I was losing my baby. We went to the ER right away where they took my HCG (pregnancy hormone) levels and did an ultrasound. I asked if they could check my progesterone levels once again. They said they didn't do that, but would look into it. They took some more blood to run tests. After nearly 4 hours in the ER they came back and couldn't tell me much. I asked about the progesterone levels, and they said they didn't run them. Defeated might be an understatement.
The next day my OB's office called, and I continued my broken-record request to have my progesterone level checked since things seemed to have gotten a little better. She said that was a good sign and to rest. Hope was a cruel thing during those 2 days. At about 2 a.m. I experienced something like a mini labor and lost the baby.
My doctor called later that day to tell me my HCG levels had dropped significantly. I had assumed as much, and I preface my next question with a "please don't think I'm crazy, but I chart and ...." I asked once again if they could check my progesterone when my body had recovered. Her response, "Oh yeah. We do that all the time." I think I sunk to the floor. I had nothing left to say.
A month later I had my progesterone level checked. It was a 4. The lowest it should be, at the point I had it tested (progesterone has to be tested on a specific cycle day for accurate numbers, about 7 or 8 days after ovulation), is an 8 with a more ideal number of 12 or higher. My progesterone wasn't just low; it was abysmal. My doctor said she'd like to have it tested once again to confirm that we had tested on the right day. Having charted for so long I knew we had, though I agreed. But I got another positive pregnancy test a day later, and by the time I lost that baby the doctor agreed to supplement future pregnancies with progesterone without running further tests. (There haven't been any studies to suggest that too much progesterone during a pregnancy is a bad thing.)
Miscarriage is not uncommon in my family. I actually always expected it, but to experience it was heartwrenching. What made it even more difficult is that perhaps it could have been avoided. Maybe not, as miscarriage is frequently because of genetic abnormalities, but I feel like if one doctor had done as I requested, if one doctor was familiar with NFP, maybe we could have saved that first baby's life with progesterone support. I understand that the medical world has to run a certain way in order to keep up with demand, but it seems like a simple blood draw wouldn't have been much of an inconvenience.
Today I'm exactly 20 weeks pregnant. It's a bit bittersweet grieving the baby due today, and yet to be so elated to be carrying this little girl. I truly believe she's here today because of the progesterone I was finally put on, and I'm so thankful for the knowledge I was given through NFP. I know also that God's plan is for every mama to hold their baby, but with sin comes tragedy, but He can make beauty from any tragedy.