Woman, 27, who has suffered EIGHT miscarriages in seven years details her ‘traumatizing’ struggle to have a child – insisting she won’t give up despite being left with PTSD, depression, and a $25,500 IVF bill
- Andrea Leon, from Maryland, first learned that she was pregnant in January 2014, weeks after marrying her husband Irving, 30
- At the 12-week scan she was told that she had suffered a miscarriage – and she went on to lose four more pregnancies within the following 18 months
- Her early miscarriages triggered a condition known as hyperfertility, which meant that Andrea was likely to conceive every time she had unprotected sex
- The neuro technician fell pregnant for the sixth time in May 2017, but once again discovered at the 12-week scan that she had lost the baby
- Because it was a holiday week, Andrea had to wait a week before undergoing a D&C procedure to remove the fetus, and she says the delay was ‘traumatic’
- She has since been diagnosed with endometriosis, and two other conditions that cause miscarriages and blood clots in the uterus
- Andrea is now undergoing IVF in the hopes that it will help her carry a baby to full term, however the process – and the miscarriages – are straining her marriage
A woman who was left with PTSD and depression after suffering eight devastating miscarriages is opening up about her struggle to cope with the trauma of infertility and infant loss – which was made all the more severe when doctors laughed at her pain.
Andrea Leon, 27, a neuro technician from Maryland, and her husband Irving, 30, met while they were both in college studying healthcare. The couple got married in December 2013 and just weeks later, on January 1, 2014, Andrea got a positive pregnancy test result.
Although the baby news had come earlier than they had anticipated, the couple were thrilled – but disaster soon struck, and they were left devastated to learn at the 12-week scan that Andrea had suffered a miscarriage.
Heartbroken: Andrea Leon, 27, has suffered eight miscarriages since January 2014, and is now opening up about how the devastating losses have left her with PTSD and depression
Devastating: The Maryland resident and her husband Irving, 30, first discovered they ere pregnant on January 1, 2014, but learned Andrea had miscarried at the 12-week scan
Hopeful: Between November 2, 2014, and April 5, 2015, Andrea (pictured during her fourth pregnancy) got pregnant four more times, however each resulted in a devastating loss
‘My husband is truly my best friend, that is why everything seemed so fast for people outside our marriage, but for us it seemed just right,’ Andrea told Jam Press.
‘This pregnancy seemed to be going well, and we heard a heartbeat at eight weeks.
‘However, at the 12-week appointment, it was diagnosed that I had what was called a “missed miscarriage” where my body had not processed the loss and continued to act as if I was still pregnant with a growing baby.
‘We were unprepared for such heartbreak and loss. I was told that I could have a procedure done called a dilation and curettage (D&C), which is where they put you on general anesthesia and scrape out the baby’s tissue from your uterus.
‘A day before my scheduled procedure, I was having strong jolts of pain and heavy bleeding. This continued for hours, but for me, it felt like an eternity.
‘I was rushed to the hospital and had an emergency D&C.
‘The doctor looked into my eyes as I cried in pain, and said, “Imagine what real labor feels like,” and laughed.
‘I felt defeated and helpless, I remember thinking, “Is this real life?” It was one of the darkest moments of my life.’
Unfortunately, this was not the end of Andrea’s struggle; between November 2, 2014 and April 5, 2015, she got pregnant four more times – and miscarried each time.
Struggle: Andrea’s earlier miscarriages triggered a condition called hyperfertility, which made it even easier for her to get pregnant, however she lost each baby
Heartless: According to Andrea, she faced little sympathy from medical experts, with one doctor ‘laughing’ at her during her D&C, while her OBGYN shrugged off her losses as ‘bad luck’
According to Andrea, her earlier miscarriages led to a condition called hyperfertility, which means a woman is likely to conceive almost every single time she has unprotected sex. This caused Andrea to get pregnant over and over again within months, leaving her little time to deal with each miscarriage.
She said: ‘I was never educated that miscarriages could trigger hyperfertility, I then found myself pregnant yet again with little time to recover from the previous back-to-back losses.
‘Losing four babies in a year was devastating, [and] each positive pregnancy test came with anxiety, fear, and stress.
‘My fifth pregnancy, I naturally miscarried in my home at about four weeks.’
Andrea and her husband then spent an agonizing two years trying to conceive again, while dealing with unsympathetic comments from those in the medical world.
She said: ‘My periods became irregular and painful.
‘My gynecologist at the time ignored my pains and told me that my pregnancy losses were just “bad luck”.
‘I refused to accept that answer and it motivated me to keep searching for answers and other opinions.’
In May 2017, Andrea learned that she was pregnant for the sixth time, and for the first 12 weeks of her pregnancy, the couple dared to hope that they would be given the all-clear. However at the 12-week scan, they were once again delivered a heart-breaking blow, and informed that Andrea had suffered another miscarriage.
‘We thought that we were finally in the clear but at the 12-week appointment, it was confirmed that there was no heartbeat,’ Andrea recalled.
Ongoing: In May 2017, Andrea suffered her sixth miscarriage, and she was forced to carry her ‘lifeless’ child for a week because it was a holiday and nobody was available to do her D&C
Treatment: After her eighth miscarriage, Andrea was diagnosed with endometriosis and two other conditions that cause miscarriages and clots in the uterus and she was told to try IVF
Persevering: ‘My body rejects pregnancies, so I had to do IVF to help control future pregnancies from start to finish,’ Andrea explained
Costly: Andrea’s IVF treatment has already cost the couple a whopping $25,500, however she says they are determined to keep going until she carries a baby to full term
‘I went home with my lifeless child inside me and carried it for about a week because it was a holiday week and there wasn’t availability for a D&C.’
Andrea was then forced to endure a devastating wait before undergoing the D&C procedure, and she recalls being left unable to sleep and eat during that time – while also suffering other traumatizing side effects.
‘There was a foul smell coming out of my private area, which traumatically impacted my mental health as I knew it was the smell of my deceased child,’ she revealed.
‘It made me feel dead inside and out.’
After enduring two more distressing miscarriages, Andrea sought the advice of a reproductive immunologist who diagnosed her with antiphospholipid syndrome, methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) and endometriosis.
MTHFR is a genetic mutation that has some research linked to miscarriages and risk for blood clots, while Andrea believes antiphospholipid syndrome is the most likely reason why she ‘developed hemorrhages in the uterus while pregnant’.
She said: ‘I have already been on Lovenox and aspirin to help minimize the potential of clots during pregnancy but it did not work.
‘My doctors plan to increase my dosage of blood thinners for my next pregnancy.
‘My doctors explained that MTHFR could affect not only pregnancy but also my mental health. This explained why the trauma was heavier to overcome.
‘Endometriosis revealed why I had sharp and throbbing like pains in my pelvic area. Endometriosis has affected my sexual life too, as it caused pain so severe to the point I would have to go to the hospital or desperately search for pain relief through medication, hot baths, heating pads, etc.’
Battle: As well as her fertility struggles, Andrea (pictured on her wedding day) is also struggling with PTSD and depression as a result of her ‘traumatic’ miscarriages
Fight: Andrea admitted that the couple’s fertility struggles have ‘taken a toll’ on their marriage, and they have turned to couples therapy to help them through this tough time
Difficult: ‘Baby showers, gender reveals and even holidays are difficult to enjoy when it triggers my PTSD and depression,’ Andrea shared
Andrea revealed how her fertility journey has affected her mentally and physically, saying it has been tough on her relationship with Irving.
She said: ‘It has for sure taken a toll on my marriage.
‘We have gone through couples therapy, which I highly encourage for couples going through this.
‘Mentally, I struggle with PTSD and depression. I have done TMS [transcranial magnetic stimulation] treatments and therapy to help me overcome the trauma.
‘Baby showers, gender reveals and even holidays are difficult to enjoy when it triggers my PTSD and depression.
‘Physically, I had sharp shooting pains most likely from all the surgeries from lost pregnancies.’
But despite the tragedy of the many miscarriages, the couple remain hopeful that they will one day get their baby – and have recently tried IVF, which has cost them $25,500 so far.
After 37 injections, six ultrasounds, and nine blood draws in the span of two weeks, 24 eggs were retrieved.
She said: ‘I just had IVF with genetic testing in hopes to better control my pregnancy.
‘My body rejects pregnancies, so I had to do IVF to help control future pregnancies from start to finish. ⠀
‘Our goal was not to get pregnant; it’s to stay pregnant full-term.
‘To keep me ready, I have a nutritionist who helps me keep a constant healthy diet and a plan for pregnancy.
Horrifying: After her sixth miscarriage, Andrea recalled the agonizing wait for her D&C, revealing that she could actually ‘smell’ her deceased child during that time
Heartbreak: ‘There was a foul smell coming out of my private area, which traumatically impacted my mental health as I knew it was the smell of my deceased child,’ she revealed
Determination: Andrea and Irving (seen holding the ashes of their eighth baby) have said that they will try surrogacy and adoption if their IVF treatment fails
‘If IVF fails, we would like to try surrogacy, but that is an extreme cost as well as adoption.’
Andrea now aims to educate others about infertility and pregnancy loss by sharing her story on Instagram.
Speaking about divulging details of her story online, she said: ‘I started this because it helped me cope as I help others with overcoming their losses or infertility.
‘I tell them to allow themselves to grieve and dwell in the sorrow but not forever.
‘I also recommend taking a short vacation or trip to help remove yourself from the trauma and grief.
‘This also helps you focus on your marriage/ relationship. I advise you to take breaks and allow time to recover from pregnancy loss but again, this is all on how they personally feel about the loss and how they are recovering.
‘This can be a very lonely journey, especially with ignorant comments and lack of support from loved ones.
‘No one prepares couples or educates them on what to do when it comes to pregnancy loss or infertility, so I like to share resources and personal experience to help others in their journey.
‘Recovery is a daily challenge, but I find that talking about my experiences and helping other women going through this has helped my own trials.’