I struggled for six years to build a family. My first pregnancy ended when my daughter was born twelve weeks premature. We thought her early birth was just bad luck, related to an infection. I later miscarried my next two pregnancies. Our doctor said not to worry, to just keep trying. And when I discovered my fourth pregnancy, with twins, I felt blessed. Fortunate. Redeemed. Then I lost them at twenty weeks.
To Full Term is a memoir about my fifth pregnancy. The story begins when I discover that I’m again pregnant, a moment so shadowed by fear that all joy is cold. My story is about the anguish of loss, the lingering effects on family and marriage, and the anxiety of pregnancy after loss, when women battle the daily fear of yet another tragedy. It’s also about possibility and hope, and how women can protect their own pregnancies.
The book weaves in medical information that can help prevent loss, and urges women to seek testing after miscarriage to protect future pregnancies. Medical guidelines don’t require physicians to test for a cause of miscarriage, saying that doctors can consider testing after two or more losses. So unless families ask for testing, many get no diagnostic evaluation.
I didn’t know this. I was correctly diagnosed only after enduring my daughter’s preterm birth and losing four children. Sadly, my experience is not rare. Doctors who specialize in diagnosing causes of loss regularly see patients with three, four, even five losses – and no prior testing has ever been completed.
The lessons I’ve learned can help other couples know the privilege of parenthood. Through this book and my nonprofit organization, PreventPregnancyLoss.org, I hope to reach families with a critical message: Seek testing after loss.