1) What is your personal experience with infertility/miscarriage?
I am a healthy 37 year old healthy female...or so I thought. It wasn't until I had my second miscarriage that I started to wonder if something was wrong. The first time it happened I was in a long term relationship and when I went for the second ultrasound the baby’s heart had stopped when it would have been 11 weeks. After many years and a divorce, I grew past it and met someone new. He has 5 kids so when when I had the second miscarriage I was broken. I felt lost and angry. Not at him, but at me at my body for not doing what all women are supposed to do naturally. This time the baby’s heart stopped at 13 weeks and our family doctor at the time sent me to a specialist. I saw Dr. Sierra at a fertility clinic at Bay and Elm, we started with blood tests and an image of my uterus--all not super invasive, but uncomfortable to say the least. A few months later the blood work showed that I have Antiphospholipid Syndrome, an autoimmune disease that would require daily Fragmin injections to keep my blood from clotting.
Being terrified of needles I knew this would be hard but my need and want for a family was much more than my fear, so we started trying. Every other day I would have blood work and an internal ultrasound. Not long after, I became pregnant and started the Fragmin. It hurt, but I pushed on, only to have it end in miscarriage again. I was spent. Both arms were bruised, my stomach was bruised from the Fragmin injections and the medical professionals had nothing to say other than for me to wait for the uterine test, which came back saying that I also have a unicornate uterus, meaning that it only has one “horn” and is shaped like a banana, making my risk for miscarriage that much higher.
They said for us to try again, so I did more blood work every other day. Weeks later I was pregnant again and this time with twins. How exciting, right?! Except this pregnancy also ended in miscarriage at 14 wks with no heartbeat. By this time I felt like a complete failure. I hated when I looked in the mirror, I hated me. We tried one more time, which also ended in miscarriage, and by this point my relationship was on the fritz. I didn't want to talk, I didn’t want to touch. In fact, all I wanted to do was cry and I had no one to cry to because no one wants to hear this kind of stuff, In December of 2012, we were on the verge of separation when it happened--I am pretty sure by immaculate conception because we weren't even talking, let alone sleeping together--but I found out I was pregnant. His first response was...HOW??? I started the Fragmin right away. It was Christmas time, the fertility clinic was closed, so I told myself if it’s meant to be it will be! I didn't want any ultrasound, I didn’t want any blood work, I just wanted to let God take the lead and if this was for me it would be for me.
The first month flew by, the second month came and went, and then right before my first trimester ended , I lost the person who had been my rock through everything. I remember the morning like it was yesterday, it never fades and it never dulls. My grandmother had been battling breast cancer for close to 8 yrs and that morning she decided she had enough and she left me. I wanted to die, I really did. I wanted to die with her so I wouldn't be alone. She was my everything. I cried, I screamed, I hurt, all while this little baby grew inside me. Some people tried to rationalize and tell me that when God gives he must also take away and that this baby would make it. I was sad, and angry and didn't want to hear that and was sure that when I went for the second mandatory ultrasound that I didn’t even want that they baby’s heartbeat wouldn’t be there. And yet, when I went in, lo and behold there was a wiggly little peanut with a strong heartbeat. I again refused any non mandatory ultrasound or blood tests and continued the regimen of daily Fragmin injections, a dose of Advil and prayer.
6 months passed and I was getting bigger and bigger giggling and as happy as can be, I think there was always a fear of the unknown but I really chose to leave it up to God. We found out we were having a girl, that she was breach and although they thought she had lots of room she was actually quite squished, due to me only having half a uterus. I was under the care of the high risk unit at Mount Sinai, which happens to be the hospital I was delivered at. I was scheduled for a C-section at the end of August, however being the Leo that she is my water broke on August 16 at 11pm and Gabriella was born at 2:28am August 17. I always consider her my miracle baby, my gift from God with a whole lot of my Yinyin (grandma) in her.
2) How has it made your life worse? How has it made your life better?
Going through all of this, the process has made me stronger. Although when I think of all the loss it saddens me, in the end Ii got through it. I never gave up. I may be broken but now I know I will not be defeated.
3) When & how did you realize that you were going to be able to carry on after infertility/ miscarriage? I don’t think I ever knew one way or the other, I just left it to God. I had no control because after all the loss, I too was at a loss.
4) What have you learned through this experience? Never give up hope, just never give up. And pray. God does work miracles.
5) What do you hold on to for hope/courage/strength on your bad days? I have decided that 1 is enough for me. When I get sad about the loss and all that I had to go through, like having to take a baby out of the toilet so that I could bring the remains to the hospital for them to test, I remember that I am blessed with my miracle baby.
6) How do you feel about your experience with infertility on your good days? I think that being open and able to talk about it gives others hope. I have friends that have or are going through trials and tribulations of their own and when they do they always call on me. My story gives them hope, which makes me happy.
7) In three words describe yourself before/during/after miscarriage (in miscarriage specific situations). Before: Angry During: Hurt After: Broken
8) In what ways has your experience with infertility/miscarriage changed you as a person?
It has made me realize how strong I really am, that there is no mountain too high for me. That despite all that I had against me, I have this little girl who looks at me like I am super woman!
9) 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 think that most people are dismissive, saying things like “Ah, don't worry, next time” or they just don't really know what to say. I think there is a grey area when it comes to miscarriage and infertility because it’s so personal and it’ not known how common it is.
10) Tell us about you. What are your hobbies/passions/pursuits? I am a cook, we have a Caribbean family restaurant in downtown Toronto and I love what I do. It’s difficult to own a business and have a family, but we make it work. I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world.
11) What is your favourite quote? “You never know how strong your are until being strong is the only choice you have”