There is no such thing as too much of a good thing right? When something is good, you always want to have it. But when it comes to fertility, apparently that isn’t always the case.
Where fertility is concerned, everything has to be within normal to average range for it to work well. Having super-anything attached is obviously not a good idea. For instance, super fertility! This sounds great, but in reality is anything but. A super fertility diagnosis often leaves a TTC mom with aching arms and tiny angels in heaven, when all you want is to hold them right here and now.
It was not until after two consecutive miscarriages that Tolani and her husband Jeff found out what was causing them to conceive, and then lose the babies. They had been married for two years before they decided to start trying for a baby. On the first try, they got pregnant! Wow! What great news! They did not know it was going to be that easy for them to get pregnant. God is good; He must have been waiting for them to get ready too. The young couple thought.
Everything went well…they even heard the heartbeat of the baby when they did a scan at around the 9/10th week, but some days after that scan, the spotting started. She thought nothing of it, until, it grew from little to full on bleeding and she was rushed to the hospital…only to be told, she had miscarried. It was devastating news. Tolani did not know if she would survive till the next day. She couldn’t possibly have miscarried her baby…the same baby whose heartbeat she had heard a few days ago! Her promised child?! How could she have lost it? Tolani was consumed by her pain.
After some weeks, she was fairly recovered, and was the one who was rushing her husband into trying again. Who knew, they could be lucky and the next one would stick. So, they started trying for a baby again, and they indeed got lucky. Tolani conceived. However, the experience of their last pregnancy tinged their joy. Until it got past nine week mark, they were on edge. She refused a scan at first; she said she did not want to jinx it…after all, it was the same week she had had a pelvic scan the last time, that she had miscarried, so she was trying to avoid doing same thing happening again.
Eventually, she and her doctor found some middle ground, especially as they both wanted the same thing, a healthy baby. So, she agreed to a scan. During the scan, she felt the radiologist freeze at a point, and seemed to trail off the conversation they were having. He recovered soon enough, and even answered well, when she asked him if everything was okay. When he was through, he wrote out his report and told her he would forward it to her doctor. Thinking nothing much of it, she left.
It was the same radiologist who had performed the first scan, and also knew about her miscarriage subsequently. But what he saw on the screen pretty much made him conclude that she was likely in for another miscarriage, as the baby was not growing at the rate it should have been, given the number of weeks of the pregnancy.
When the doctor got the scan report, he too came to the same conclusion as the radiologist- that another miscarriage was looming. He actually dreaded telling Tolani, considering how badly she had taken the news of the previous one. But it had to be done, she once again heard the news that her baby was not growing as expected, and that she would most likely miscarry very soon.
Very soon came sooner than expected, and she woke up to the familiar bleed. She cried, she screamed at the heavens, she swore, she went through a range of emotions, as she was admitted and treatment started, to manage the situation as much as the doctor could.
While on admission, Tolani learnt that the babies she had miscarried had chromosomal abnormalities. They just would never have made it to term; her body would have done the business of getting rid of them sooner rather than later. You see, Tolani fell into the group of women who could get pregnant at the first touch, smile at them and they were pregnant. It was that easy for her.
However, their womb is the type that does not discriminate against any embryos, whether good or bad, her uterus grows towards it and helps it to grow into a baby that the mother can detect with a pregnancy test, and even scan. However it gets to a stage where it is not just the womb that has the final say any longer. The other organs, and hormones in the body take over and they recognize that the baby the womb is nurturing shouldn’t exist, thus kicking into action and kill it off. It sounds barbaric, but the security agents in the body are doing what the womb should have done in this instance.
The womb is not supposed to be receptive to every fertilized egg. It is supposed to read the DNA of the embryo and, if it passes muster, allows it to implant, if not, it goes with the cycle. That is nature’s way of ensuring it replicates only the best of itself.
That said, Tolani still struggled to accept that those babies she lost were not really normal, and if they had been born full term, would have had serious complications in life. No, that was a thought she really struggled with. To her, those babies were perfect. They were angels, whose lives were cut short.
What does science say about super fertility? A UK-Dutch study published in the journal PLoS ONE found that the wombs of some women are too good at letting embryos implant, even those of poor quality which should be rejected, and the resulting pregnancies would then fail.
To arrive at this conclusion, the study authors placed high or low-quality embryos in a channel created between two strips of womb cells from women with normal fertility, and those with super fertility.
In the course of the study, it was discovered that the cells from women with normal fertility started to grow and reach out towards the high-quality embryos. Poor-quality embryos were ignored.
However, the cells of women who had recurrent miscarriages started to grow towards both kinds of embryo. Prof Nick Macklon, a consultant at the Princess Anne Hospital, said: “Many affected women feel guilty that they are simply rejecting their pregnancy.
“But we have discovered it may not be because they cannot carry, [but] it is because they may simply be super-fertile, as they allow embryos which would normally not survive to implant.”
He added: “When poorer embryos are allowed to implant, they may last long enough in cases of recurrent miscarriage to give a positive pregnancy test.”
Even with that knowledge, Tolani and her husband have still suffered two more miscarriages. The doctors are however hopeful that they can come up with a treatment plan to help the young couple.
Godspeed and baby dust to them…and other moms on the journey!
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