1) What is your personal experience with infertility/miscarriage?
This is a long story about my experiences with fear of motherhood, the blessing of becoming a mother, the many losses that followed, the release of expectations, and the joy and excitement of baby number two on the way, or so I thought.
In my late 20s I was a little bit, let's just say alternative in my life choices. I chose to live at night more than during the day. I got pregnant from lack of protection while being sexually active and had little awareness of preventative measures. There was very little that aligned me with this life changing event. I chose to abort. Very little emotion was experienced for the months that followed. A couple of years later, I got pregnant again. This time with a man I totally admired, but it was so early in our relationship. I chose to discontinue with the pregnancy and for this I am always sorry to have made this decision without having had enough conversation about it.
A couple of years passed and the passing of my father just years earlier left me with the great realization that family is the one and true experience that I really valued above all in my life. At this time I decided to realign with my true self and real path in life. I also decided I wanted to be a mother. In honour of my past two “mistakes” I chose to tattoo my belly with two stars right over each ovary, to always remember the two babies that I didn't have and to request or “call onto” the two babies I would have.
Soon after I met the most wonderful man. The one who I saw as an incredible father, the father of my children. We met later in life so I was already 35. With the natural flows of life and enjoying new found love and a terrific relationship, I was able to get pregnant at 39. It was all natural and truly a blessing as we both felt like we were a little bit late with this baby thing, unlike many of our other friends who already had kids in school. A few months before my 40th birthday we welcomed our son. It was divine. As with any new parents we were elated and physically deflated at the same time. Love, patience and lots of communication got us through. Our son is healthy, happy and a pleasure to be with and fills us with pure joy. When you’re a single 30 something and all your friends are experiencing this, you think it might not ever happen to you.
My partner and I had spoken early in our relationship that having two children would be what we really wanted. We were both in our own business startups, we worked a fair bit, but without planning it we got pregnant when our son was two years old. A little bit surprised, we were very happy! We were also moving soon and that was the source of quite a bit of stress. Shortly after the move, we lost the baby. It was a natural miscarriage at home that I barely remember the details of at this point. It put a lot of strain on our relationship, but we eventually made it with the help of our son’s daily smiles.
It took us a year to recover and start talking about trying again. It really didn't take long and I was pregnant again. I was almost 43. We got to 12 weeks, not counting the extreme nausea and being really ill. It was not like my first pregnancy with my son at all. By 3 1/2 months it was a loss. A heartbreaking loss. Worst yet was that we had already announced the news to our son. He was very sad. But somehow he understood, and he was okay. I, on the other hand, was not so okay.
After this event we spoke to a few specialists and we were assured that what had happened to me has happened to numerous women and not to let it discourage us from trying again. Given our health, our ability to conceive naturally, they said it was not a huge factor and gave us the green light.
With some reservations we started trying again even though it was only a couple months after the last loss. By this time the only thing keeping me going was the desire to conceive. It took months, and each month that I’d get my period I'd be so sad for the days that followed, but I got right back up on that horse in my pursuit, my quest, to be a mother again. It was tiring and stressful for both my partner and I. When we did get pregnant in the late winter/early spring I thought that it had finally happened. That I would finally have a second beautiful child. The first trimester anxiety was there but this time I’d been seeing a naturopath who also did acupuncture so I was definitely feeling more calm and centered. I was also now, at this stage, more accepting of whatever fate had in store for my family. But despite my attitude, it didn’t get any easier when we lost this pregnancy, our third, particularly because it was a very long, painful process as the pregnancy left my body naturally.
This time, just exhausted, frustrated and simply at a loss with why this kept happening, with the referral from my family physician, we decided I would go visit a fertility clinic to get some answers. Today I feel different about what I was told at the fertility clinic, which was that ”Your egg quality is simply not what it used to be”. So basically, they politely told me I was getting too old, despite the fact that I was completely healthy and consistently ovulating every month no problem. They just didn't see the IVF process working for us since I didn't have enough eggs left to warrant it a success.
So this left me feeling totally empty, I felt old, just turned 45, with one kid (a great one just to be clear) and all my friends already had little brothers and sisters for their children. I was pretty ruined for the next few months. I didn't care about myself so much, but I tried to fake it as best as I could. I’d drag myself out of bed each day to the delight of being reminded how lucky I was each and every time I looked into my little angel’s eyes as he told me “I love you mama”.
It took many tears and a lot of self work but I decided to pick myself up. I made a choice to live happy and be in gratitude for the beautiful son and partner that made up my family. It was going to be okay.
Of course giving our son a playmate was something we finally caved into doing. Despite allergies, we had success in choosing the proper breed of cat and our son is obsessed with his new loving playmate. My second baby is a fur baby.
The funny thing is this. The weekend we were picking up our lovely kitten, I did a pregnancy test that showed to be positive that came as a surprise. And then again not. We had agreed to try up until my son’s 6th birthday, which was around that time. If we weren’t pregnant by then, we said it would be officially over.
But seven weeks in, I miscarried again, and it was fast and so much easier on my body this time. Physically, and emotionally, it was like a little blip. I had been hesitant to get excited when I found out and I think that in my gut I knew it wouldn’t happen.
Ready to move on with my life, finally, I’d started doing things I enjoyed again, like more writing, music, teaching yoga, and really getting excited about working on me and my contributions in the world. I had been working and getting ready to relaunch myself in my business again which was starting to take a on a new presence.
Low and behold, I got pregnant. Again. For the eight time in my life. This time, totally different than a few months prior, I completely embraced it. I was so full of joy, excitement, love. I was so happy to finally welcome my little girl into the world. I had previously received two gender confirmations of a baby girl and had become smitten with the idea that this baby would be a girl, too. I felt nauseous but not excessively, tender in my chest, and the first ultrasound at seven weeks’ showed a heartbeat. All good signs. I was feeling so light and finally free of this fear of losing her. I pressed my hands on my belly every night before falling asleep to say thank you. This time was different. She was coming.
On a Friday morning, I received great news from my doctor’s office, calling to let me know my NIPT test came back and it was all good news. I was getting my hair done thay day and then had lunch with a friend. I was so happy and crying tears of joy.
But about three hours after lunch, what was normal brownish spotting turned bright red. Later after dinner, heavy period-like contractions started. I knew.
The next morning’s ultrasound confirmed everything and by Tuesday I was much further along in the process of miscarrying. I am very grateful that two wonderful doctors made it happen for me to have the procedure done, the D&C, so I didn't have to relive the physical pain again of going through the torture of losing a pregnancy naturally. This time I would only need to heal my heart and pick up those pieces again for the fifth time.
As I write this story at the cottage, I am unsure of where I will go next. It's only been two days since my procedure. My body is still quite sore, and the rain keeps falling and might for days to come. Perhaps to cleanse, to let Mother Nature heal me, so I can find those tears deep inside of me and let them flow into the pool of sorrow where all “mothers-who-thought-they’d-be” place all of their tears.
2) How has it made your life worse? How has it made your life better?
There will always be that “what if” feeling, particularly now after getting new information about why we weren’t monitored more closely by the fertility clinic and put on baby aspirin and/or progesterone in our last two pregnancies. If anything, it has made my relationship with my partner so much stronger and we are much better at communicating as well as have learnt more about how we each deal with sadness and loss.
3) When & how did you realize that you were going to be able to carry on after infertility/miscarriage?
Each miscarriage has been different. After the first, it was the hardest since it had never happened to me before and of course you take on a lot of that blame. That was a bit amplified after the second and third times since it was my “egg quality” that was to blame. That took so much real emotion and release in order for me to feel like I could live happily again. And with the two losses this year, it’s just not clear for me what my current place is. In the past I used to think that being a mom again as a way of covering up the fact that I didn’t really know what I wanted to do for work or as my community contributions, where my place in the world was. You kinda lose connection with the real world and with yourself after having a kid. Once I came back to me and found my love for music, art, teaching and writing again it felt right, like I knew it was all meant to be the way it was. My feelings today are mixed though. The door of hope has been reopened and the fighter in me wants to keep going, keep trying. But deep down I know I have no fight left. I just want to live happily. It’s just that I know I had so much to learn from a daughter.
4) What have you learned through this experience?
I’ve learned that I’m strong yet still feminine. The softness of my femininity is within even though it’s not so obvious from the outside. I am proud of this delicateness and fragility. It allows me to fully feel and appreciate all my female facets.
5) What do you hold on to for hope/courage/strength on your bad days?
I hug and kiss my son. I thank him for choosing me.
6) How do you feel about your experience with infertility on your good days?
I feel like a strong and feminine force.
7) In three words describe yourself before/during/after miscarriage (in miscarriage specific situations)?
Each experience was certainly different but generally it is like warm rain on a hot day, to a thundering and lighting storm, and then back to calm. That wasn’t three words was it?
8) In what ways has your experience with infertility/miscarriage changed you as a person?
Physically it has wreaked havoc on my body. Hopefully it hasn’t left any unwanted effects or conditions. Mentally and spiritually, I know myself a lot better.
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’ve lost a few friends from it and made new ones. My partner and I have had some readjustments but even though we’ve never done IVF, I can understand how multiple attempts can be damaging to a relationship. It just wears you down. I’ve always wanted to be as natural with this process as possible, but I suppose in my case I feel more professional intervention and monitoring may have been good for us to help lift the load of responsibility a bit.
10) Tell us about you. What are your hobbies/passions/pursuits?
I’m a pretty simple person. I love nature, creating, writing, cooking, and being with people. I love to take from my varied life experiences and share them with others so that everyone can feel comfortable knowing that they are never alone in sadness, extreme joy, whatever feelings and events that happen, we’re all in this together.
11) What is your favourite quote?
Faith makes all things possible. Love makes them easy.