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Too Young for Options

01 February 2017

As a nurse, I consider myself a well-educated individual when it comes to my medical options. When I found out my pregnancy was no longer viable, I was aware of various diagnostic tests available that could give me closure to this horrible time in my life. Unfortunately, I was surprised to encounter roadblocks as soon as I inquired about such testing. I was shown the exit to the emergency room without being given any information on what I could do to find out what happened to me.

My miscarriage occurred when I was a month shy from my 32nd birthday. As it relates to a pregnancy, this is considered very young. However, that does not make the loss less perplexing or difficult to overcome. Nothing in my life had prepared me for this type of experience, not even the years of training as a labor and delivery nurse. I never thought I would be forced to travel this road. I had already delivered a healthy first child, how could I suffer a loss of this kind with no one offering to help me find out why? The minute my miscarriage was confirmed in the hospital, I was quickly discharged. Looking back, I am shocked that I was never offered counseling or a the option of genetic testing.

Once I saw my OB, I wanted further tests to find out the reason behind my miscarriage. My OB told me, “Sometimes these things just happen, without any explanation.” I did inquire about genetic testing, but because I was young and it was my only loss, it was easily tossed aside as a one-time occurrence. She told me if it happened again, only then would they consider genetic testing to figure out if the problem was more complex than initially presumed. I couldn’t help but think, “I feel broken and the only way you’ll attempt to give me answers is if I shatter even more?” The fact they would blindly assume I was strong enough to withstand another miscarriage seemed barbaric and quite devastating. I was emotionally drained, just trying to get through each hour of the day without crying. I couldn’t fight this battle without a clear head. It felt impossible. But as the years have passed, I have had the opportunity to think about all those moments with clarity.

As I’ve spoken to other families who suffered loss, it seems I’m not alone in this experience. Many people I’ve come in contact with have been told that their age and the fact it was their first loss were not sufficient grounds to seek further testing regarding the cause. The resistance in the medical field regarding this topic seems very ‘old fashioned.’ I know if I had been given an actual explanation for my loss instead of a vague possibility, I could have had closure. I am a person who relies on facts, not on mere guesses, as to why something so distressing could occur. I needed real answers as to why my body could not carry this miracle. I think what medical staff fail to realize is that for them, loss is common, something they may see multiple times a week. But for the person experiencing this type of loss, it’s new and it’s shocking. This isn’t something we even think about when we are trying to conceive. Although miscarriage is incredibly common, it does not seem fair for families to have to just chalk it up to the norm.

I feel it’s my job to use my voice to tell others that we can speak up and ask for more answers. I haven’t ever been able to shake how easily the medical staff swept my questions aside. They did not explain my options, even if the financial aspect would be overwhelming to consider. I feel it should have been my choice as whether to move forward with testing or move on without any concrete answers. Knowing why I miscarried would not have saved my lost child, but it would have given me a better idea as to why it occurred. If it was something that could have been avoided, my subsequent third pregnancy would have had more clarity. When they rejected my requests for further testing, they took away my opportunity to find the closure I needed. As with any loss, closure is an important step in moving forward. Instead of finding the answers I longed for, I feel that a door has been left open, with no possibility of a conclusion. Had I known about specific laboratories, such as CombiMatrix, who offers testing on miscarriage tissue, I feel I could have sought more answers and taken a different journey in my healing process.

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