Sandra Athens, Greece

Athens, Greece

It was September 2009. I had just turned 30 and we had just moved into our new house. I had a wonderful job and we were finally ready to start a family! We had almost everything: the big house in the suburbs, the nursery and the garden for our future kids to play in. The kind of lifestyle you would read about in a magazine. I had more than I had wished for. I felt so lucky. We had worked so hard for years to buy that house (although we had a huge mortgage). I was lucky enough to have a great teaching position at a prestigious school. Everything was going according to plan. Only the last piece to complete the puzzle was missing: the happy girl with the big belly… the baby shower with the bunch of girlfriends laughing and opening presents… a cute little creature keeping you awake at night… cuddles and kisses…

I was never the “mother” type. I didn’t spend my life dreaming about my babies. I wanted to find love, travel, study, have a career and, eventually, have children. I thought it was only natural that at some point you have kids, that we all deserve a family, and that it comes naturally when you are ready to have it. I thought I would make a good mommy. I had dreamt of the moment I would see my dear husband singing our little baby to sleep, like Hugh Grant in “Nine Months.” I never knew how difficult having children would be and how much it would change me, my husband, our relationship, our life.

Back to September 2009. First month of TTC: Big Fat Positive. I couldn’t believe how easy that was. Happy as can be, we started announcing the wonderful news, only to find out six weeks later that the baby’s heart had stopped. D&C number 1. I asked my doctor at that time: “Can’t we wait for it to pass naturally?” I was always against surgeries!

“No, it’s been in there for too long, you might get an infection,” she replied.

There was no discussion about the risks of a D&C. Scared and disillusioned, I went into the OR the next day and tried to pick up my pieces in the months that followed. Six months later, I was pregnant again. I prayed that things would turn out OK this time but no. Baby’s heartbeat stopped again at 8 weeks and I found myself in the same position the following day. I had never heard of the risks of a D&C, and the new doctor didn’t mention anything either. I was so perplexed, so absorbed and devastated in trying to find out why this was happening to me again, that I never thought about the possible consequences of the procedure. The second D&C was much harder for my body to handle. It took me longer to recover and my period started getting lighter and lighter. Somewhere around that time, I heard the words “scar tissue” for the first time. The new doctor I went to wanted to investigate all the possible causes of my miscarriages, but she was also concerned about my uterus since my periods weren’t what they used to be and my lining wasn’t thick enough.  She suggested having a hysteroscopy.

I had never had a “real” operation before. It was painful, scary and there was no guarantee that my lining would ever grow back. It was also the first time it was implied that my gynecologist at the time of my second miscarriage was probably the reason I became familiar with a new, frightening term: Asherman’s Syndrome. That is what I heard my doctor whisper to the anesthesiologist in the OR before I was put under – a new word, a new reality that I needed to come to terms with. She did her best, but I knew my uterus would never be healthy again. I was willing to try to get pregnant naturally again, since I was told the reason for miscarriages was chromosomal abnormalities and the only thing I could do was to keep trying.

Pregnancies three and four followed, and every time I hoped for the best. And every time the baby’s heartbeat would stop. I was in so much pain, not only because of the loss, but also because I had stopped trusting my doctors. I kept changing doctors trying to find the right one for me. I had two more D&Cs, although I had begged the gynecologists to let the babies pass naturally. They had said the risk was too high. I had said I was prepared to take it and play the waiting game. I couldn’t stand the possibility of never getting pregnant again because of scar tissue. They didn’t listen. They could not handle Asherman’s and I thought that nobody could. I ended up with a cervix that was sealed shut. Another unsuccessful hysteroscopy followed. A few months later, I found the Asherman’s forum. I found consolation in the forum. I finally felt I was not alone, not unique, not defective – only unlucky.

They recommended a doctor in Germany. In August 2013, I travelled to Hamburg from Greece, had the scar tissue cleared and I have just started my first IVF. I don’t know whether I’ll ever manage to have a baby in my arms. What I know, though, is that the journey that brings you closer to your baby can only make you a stronger, braver, better person. You learn to look for answers, to listen to what your body is telling you and to stop trusting doctors.

Before it all started, I thought that doctors were little gods. They know everything and people should always do what they say. I was always a good patient. Now I know this is not the case. All of you girls out there: please listen to your body and do your own research. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. Nobody knows that better than you. Trust yourself, trust your body!