After 19 Miscarriages, a Miracle
Pregnancy loss survivors find hope in one mom's incredible story
The story of a British woman who gave birth to a baby girl after enduring 19 miscarriages is giving hope to other women who have struggled with pregnancy loss.
“Being a mum is wonderful, everything I expected and more. It is what we’d wanted for so long,” Jo Short, of Newport in Wales, told the British newspaper The Sun.
Short, 37, is now the proud mom to daughter Emily. She and her husband tried for 15 years to have a child, only to have each pregnancy end in miscarriage, the newspaper reported.
Short suffers from endometriosis and, last year, underwent surgery to cut away scar tissue from the condition. Though endometriosis is not known for causing miscarriages, it is a common cause of infertility. Short became pregnant with Emily just two months after the surgery.
The news is heartening to women like Devan McGuinness, 31, the founder of UnspokenGrief.com, a site dedicated to supporting those who have been affected by miscarriages, stillbirth and neonatal death. McGuiness, a mother of three in Toronto, is the survivor of 12 miscarriages.
Short’s story “can give many other women and families hope for their own family planning, which is something women who have been through repeated miscarriages often need—hope,” she said.
Causes of repeated miscarriages include chromosome problems in the fetus and medical conditions in the mother, such as lupus, heart disease, diabetes, hormone imbalances and blood disorders. (For a full list of conditions, see this FAQ from the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
Though the causes of recurrent miscarriages in individual women often can’t be identified, patients should still seek help from clinicians, said Dr. Kim Thornton, the Clinical Director of Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis at Boston and a member of the board of RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association.
She said her best advice is to see a reproductive endocrinologist for a comprehensive evaluation.
“If there’s a cause that’s identified, very often the risk of miscarriage can be significantly reduced so that they can have a healthy pregnancy,” she said.
Beyond medical hurdles, would-be parents must also overcome psychological ones.
“The issue with recurrent pregnancy loss is it’s a very emotionally taxing condition and I think it’s very hard for patients to emotionally handle multiple losses,” Thornton said. “Often times, they have to be willing to continue to try despite the emotional toll it may take on them.”
New Jersey mom Susan James, 62, said she and her husband stopped trying to have children after five unexplained pregnancy losses. James had given birth to two healthy children before the miscarriages.
“I just got sick of grieving and decided to stop,” she said. James said that, in retrospect, two children was probably the right number for her family, but she still has her regrets.
“Today, as I long for grandchildren, I wish I had asked more questions, done more research and tried harder. I always wanted a large family. (Jo Short’s) story makes me feel like it would have been possible for me,” she said.
Couples may be comforted to know that statistics are on their side. Sixty to 70 percent of women who have suffered unexplained, multiple miscarriages later have successful pregnancies, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.
Melanie Capriglione Early, 31, of Fredericksburg, Virginia, is among those who’s seen reproductive success after pregnancy loss.
Early, who blogs at AngelHeartsForever.blogspot.com had a full-term pregnancy and gave birth to her son Nathan in 2006, a year after her first child, Ian, died immediately following a premature birth.
She experienced a miscarriage in 2010 before giving birth to Nathan’s younger brother, Caleb, in 2011. During her pregnancy with Caleb, doctors performed a cervical cerclage—a cervical stitch—to reduce the risk of miscarriage.
Though she suffered two more miscarriages since then, Early said the pain of pregnancy losses “did not take away the joy of my living children’s births and formative years.”
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