1) What is your personal experience with infertility/miscarriage?
My personal experience with infertility began in 2014. I had an inkling my husband and I would have trouble conceiving, but felt somewhat positive and optimistic that my inner-thoughts would be wrong and all those years of hormonal fluctuations and ovarian cysts wouldn’t come back to bite us in the butt. We started ‘really trying’ a year after we got married and my suspicions were confirmed true about 4 months in. My cycle was way off, and my luteal phase was much too short. Don’t know what that is? I didn’t either until it became the reason we couldn’t conceive.
[With a short luteal phase, the body doesn't secrete enough progesterone, so the uterine lining doesn't properly develop.]
My family physician was quick to get us on the waitlist to speak with a fertility specialist. Approximately 4 months later, we were seen by Create Fertility (a clinic based out of Toronto). The entire fertility process was emotionally draining for both my husband and myself, but ultimately was probably about as positive as it could be. I went for daily cycle monitoring for 2 weeks the first month. The second month, we beefed up the process with Femara - an oral drug to help stimulate egg production - plus cycle monitoring, and in the third month we went all in: Femara, injections, a trigger shot to ovulate, and IUI – intrauterine insemination. Low and behold, we got pregnant – with TWINS.
We couldn’t believe it. We were overjoyed, surprised, a bit overwhelmed, but happy. Everything for the next few weeks went smoothly. I was sick, I mean super sick, but was reassured this was in fact a good sign. My 6 week ultrasound showed strong heartbeats, another good sign. I had completely normal ultrasounds for the next 6 weeks – we had nothing to worry about until we did.
At 17 weeks, long after we’d shared the news and I began showing, on Sunday - Mother’s Day of all days - we were watching a movie at home and I felt a gush. My water broke, what I’d later find out to be called Pre-Term Premature Rupture of Membranes (pPROM). We rushed to the hospital in shock and in tears, and were… sent home. We were told it was nothing, and that even if it was my water, there was nothing they could do. Thankfully, we went straight to my OBGYN located at a different hospital and a sense of urgency set in. I was advised to go on bed rest immediately and to start taking anti-contraction and anti-infection medication. We hoped (and prayed) the babies could still stay in for at least, gulp, 8 more weeks at a minimum. This was one of the worst days of our lives.
Exactly one week later, shit got real. While watching TV, I felt moderate cramping. I convinced myself it was normal pregnancy pains and went to bed and thought nothing of it. I woke up at 11pm to sharp pains. I went to the bathroom and had in fact, started to deliver. I won’t go into the details, but it was a flurry of 911 calls, ambulance and EMT’s running up the stairs to our house, a rush to the hospital with IV’s and tears, an epidural, another epidural, an ultrasound and by 4am, we were no longer pregnant with twins. I miscarried twin boy “A” but was holding onto everything that twin boy “B” would still make it. Sadly, another 3 intense days later of waiting, wishing, and hoping – we were no longer pregnant. We left the hospital a mere hours later in a haze.
2) How has it made your life worse? How has it made your life better?
This is a loaded question. Obviously the next few weeks and months were shaped by our experience. I couldn’t get through the day without crying. I didn’t want to be around anyone, it was rough. Thankfully, I had so much love and support from my husband, family, and friends that I slowly started crawling out of the hole. We didn’t spend much time before jumping back into fertility treatment and eventually, again, we got pregnant with our rainbow boy, who is 2 and a half now.
3) When & how did you realize that you were going to be able to carry on after infertility/miscarriage?
I realized quickly that life is short. My fertility path wasn’t getting easier and for us to move on, we wanted to be pregnant again, as quickly as possible. I felt that the only way I was going to fill the void of our loss would be with a pregnancy, and hopefully, if we were lucky – a healthy baby.
4) What have you learned through this experience?
So much. To not take anything for granted. That nothing was my fault. That I couldn’t have done or changed anything. And that for the love of god, I never want to hear “everything happens for a reason” ever again in my life.
5) In three words describe yourself before/during/after miscarriage (in miscarriage specific situations)?
Before: Cautiously hopeful
6) In what ways has your experience with infertility/miscarriage changed you as a person?
While I wish it didn’t, infertility and miscarriage defined me as a person – for far too long. It was all consuming. I was trying to have a baby, pregnant, miscarrying twins then trying to get pregnant, then pregnant again, for what felt like a really, really long time. I became negative, cynical and unhappy. I treated my body poorly and became depressed and anxious. Thankfully, I’ve been able to since start moving my body daily, eating (relatively) clean, and seeking help for postpartum anxiety.
7) How have others responded to your infertility situations? Has it impacted your relationships? What are some things you’ve been told that have been helpful/harmful?
I have been open about our fertility struggles and loss. I think, or at least I hope, I’ve been able to share any (welcome) advice, or at times, be a shoulder to cry on. It can feel really isolating when you’re going through it, so I think it’s important to be open and transparent – the more people who are open, the more normalized and less isolating it will eventually become.
8) Tell us about you. What are your hobbies/passions/pursuits?
I exercise daily – for my physical and mental health. I read, I do yoga, and I see my friends as often as I can. I love spending time with our little family (my husband, son, and French bulldog), and no matter what happened in the past, it has changed and shaped our family, we’ll never forget about our twin boys. But we will always be thankful to have had our son.
9) What is your favourite quote?
“Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations.” [Zig Ziglar]