We received the genetics report back from my doctor yesterday.
I had been anticipating yesterday’s phone call since my D&C took place a month ago. I worried that the report would bring us results suggesting that I had done something wrong. (I think every parent thinks that.) I worried it might be something on Toby’s end. I thought the report might inform us that there was something horribly wrong with our genetic makeup. I mostly worried about my age and the eggs I have left. But none of that was the case with this pregnancy.
Our fetus had something called triploidy, a rare condition incompatible with life.
A fetus with triploidy has 69 chromosomes, rather than 46. The majority of fetuses with triploidy are spontaneously miscarried during pregnancy. Those that survive until birth will have severe growth retardation and multiple birth defects. This condition is incompatible with life.
This baby had a whole extra set of chromosomes, 69 instead of 46. It hadn’t had a trisomy after all, which is precisely what I had been feverishly researching.
I was floored by this information. The biggest question weighing on my mind at that point was: OH MY GOD. How did I go 11 whole weeks?
“That’s what I wondered too.” She said. “I’m shocked you didn’t miscarry sooner.”
She went on to tell me that this means there’s nothing inherently wrong with my eggs or my genetics and there’s nothing wrong with Toby’s either. She said there’s nothing I could have done to stop this and there’s nothing I did or did not do that caused it. She reassured me that should we ever wish to try again, there’s nothing that suggests we’ll have problems in the future.
We talked a bit more about how I have been and I thanked her once again for being so kind to me that day. She said I can thank her when she delivers my second child. And I wept.
It should go without saying that Toby Joe and I yearned for and imagined a healthy baby. But this was not that baby. This baby wasn’t the one we named or pictured in our minds. This fetus didn’t stand a chance at life at all. This baby simply wasn’t meant to be no matter how much we wanted it.
This information helped me immensely, but I still wish my body figured it out sooner. I wish it hadn’t worked so hard at keeping this fetus alive and for so long. And I’m left wondering if this is why I was so completely wrecked with sickness. But that’s something I’ll likely never know.
After we got off the phone, I began researching the information she had given me. I plugged terms into Google and it spit back answers. As I combed through information, I realized that she had inadvertently given me the gender. And I was surprised to discover that knowing as much didn’t bother me as much as I thought it would. I think that’s because I knew that this fetus never stood a chance at life, so this wasn’t the person I had imagined and named after all. (Or maybe it’s a defense mechanism, either way, I’ll take it.)
So, how does triploidy happen? Do you care as I do? The researcher and forever wonderer in me does care and so…
There are a few different ways triploidy pregnancies can occur:
The most common mechanism for triploidy is the fertilization of a single egg by two sperm.
This is what is referred to as paternal inheritance (2 sperm, one egg). It accounts for 60% of cases of triploidy. The placentas are small and non-cystic.
The other mechanism is an error in cell division in which an egg cell ends up with 46 chromosomes instead of 23.
This is what is referred to as maternal inheritance (egg with 46 chromosomes fertilized by sperm with 23). This accounts for 40% of cases of triploidy and is often referred to as partial molar pregnancy, where the placenta is enlarged and cystic.
My placenta wasn’t enlarged or cystic. A partial molar pregnancy had been ruled out for me.
In our case, this egg was most likely fertilized by two sperm (but I am by no means a geneticist).
Had you told me about this disorder a year ago—even two months ago—I would have thought, “Wow, that’s some crazy rare weird genetic stuff. What are the chances?”
Triploidy occurs in about 1–2% of all conceptions, but most of these pregnancies end in early spontaneous miscarriage.
Yeah, no chance that’ll be me.
A month ago, when my life became such a blur I’m not even sure I was the one living it, my doctor called to give me my options. After we decided to schedule the D&C, we spoke more about doing a biopsy and running the genetics. I wasn’t sure if that’s something I wanted to do at the time. I went back and forth with her on this and finally just asked her, as a friend, to tell me what I should do. She replied, “Well, knowledge is power.”
I agreed to do it.
Yesterday was a bad day all around for many reasons, so when her call came in, I prepared myself for the absolute worst. If there was one day I needed some power, it was yesterday.
I realize that this post may read a little matter-of-fact, a little stony compared to other posts I’ve written on this topic. You’ll have to forgive me for that. But yesterday’s news brought me some closure, a little more strength and a bucketload of hope.
I’m still not sure if we’ll ever have a go at this again. I am, after all, 35 and not getting any younger. But I know now more than ever before that some things truly are outside of my jurisdiction, completely beyond my control. I now know that for whatever the reason may be, this happened to us because it had to happen to someone.
Instead of asking, why us? Today I’m asking, why not?
So, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to do something I’ve never done before: I’m going to buy a lottery ticket. Because I reckon our place in the universe (statistically speaking) has a little bit of leveling out to do.