We're excited to feature Natasha Marchand today! Natasha is a fierce advocate for women and maternal care through Bebo Mia, an organization dedicated to providing education and support for women starting or growing careers in fertility, pregnancy, birth, and parenting.
Thanks for sharing your story!
1) What is your personal experience with infertility/miscarriage?
I consider myself lucky to finally be able to look back on my infertility struggle with a new lens. I’m done having children and my family is complete so the tumultuous emotions that I once had around this topic have calmed. This post would be very different if you had asked me these question 10 years ago.
I have always wanted to have children; my dream was to have 6 boys, all at least a foot taller than me. I have 2 girls now, and although they still have a chance to be taller than me, that doesn’t matter, they are my world.
Getting pregnant with my first daughter took us over 4 years. It was the hardest 4 years of my life. Although much of the memory has faded, what I remember the most now is the turmoil I must have put others through. I was not a happy person for myself and I was unable to be happy for others, even close friends and family who announced their pregnancies. If there is one thing I regret during this time, it is that I put my happiness on hold for those years, focusing only on what I did not have.
During those years we tried everything, I am a doula so I had many friends in alternative medicine, thank goodness. I was also under the care of a fertility clinic here in the city where surgery for Endometriosis and IVF was recommended. It sounds so simple, this plus that equals baby, but back then there was no funding for IVF and it was not a possibility for us.
Instead, I chose to leave this clinic and found a pelvic specialist who not only specialized in endometriosis, he also specialized in QiGong and applauded our efforts with alternative medicine. His practice completely opposite from how our clinic. He too recommended the surgery, but gave us the option of IUI.
Although he said my chances of conceiving with IUI would be around 5%, he encouraged us to move forward ‘stranger things have happened’ he said, his positivity was contagious after all these years of bad news. So, I had the surgery, continued with acupuncture (both my husband and I), Chinese herbs, QiGong and yoga. During the procedure I walked myself though I guided meditation and I prayed like heck. Then to everyone's surprise, the IUI worked.
My second baby came 6 years later, and it was a shock. After a year or two of trying for baby #2 we stopped, recognizing that I did not want to go back down the infertility path again. I was happy with my my daughter, and as she grew I loved her more and more. But then one day everything changed, you can read more on this unplanned pregnancy after infertility on our blog, as I recognize my answer has gotten quite long!
2) How has it made your life worse? How has it made your life better?
Like I was saying above the experience made me feel like I missed 4 years of my life, not only that, I feel like I missed out on my pregnancy experience. I was terrified the whole time I was pregnant, every twinge, every movement worried me, I found myself unable to trust that I would actually have a baby after this. For this, I am once again filled with regret.
In a way though, I am thankful for my experience (now that it is over). I have a tendency to ‘do’ when I find myself struggling, and my infertility struggle was no different. During this time I realized there were not a lot of places I could turn to for support. My clinic was very structured and unfeeling, my friends and family didn’t understand, and I didn’t know where other women going through the same experience were hanging out. So I created the space I needed, first by starting a Meetup Group in the city, then eventually taking my knowledge as a yoga instructor/hypnotherapist and creating a fertility yoga support group.
I am intensely proud of that program and now, all these years later I am able to teach the fertility certification to other professionals, so that this support can be available to more people in more locations. I know for me, getting to sit with other people who completely understood made all the difference.
3) When & how did you realize that you were going to be able to carry on after infertility/miscarriage?
I don’t think I realized this until she was in my arms, I know it sounds funny, but I had lost so much faith in my body that I could not actually believe in myself. Losing trust in the pregnancy/birth process was very difficult for me as a doula. The moment I actually held that baby was the very best moment of my life. She was here and she was amazing.
I had the best of intentions to enjoy my second pregnancy more than my first. Having spent many years repairing the damage in my self confidence I had started to see this as my second chance, but at 24 weeks I was diagnosed with Complete Placenta Previa. This left me again white knuckling through my pregnancy, praying that everything would turn out ok.
4) What have you learned through this experience?
What I have learned, looking back on this experience...I wish more than anything I was able to trust in the process and the journey that was meant for me. As hard as it is to see this when you are ‘in’ it, sometimes there is a higher power that knows how to give you a life better than the one you have imagined.
Of course, if anyone had said that to me during my struggle I would have socked ‘em one but as I get older I am beginning to see more glimpses of this. What would have happened if I had been able to control this situation? What would I have learned? Would I have been able to truly bring understanding of infertility into my work that I love so much? Would I have 6 towering boys instead of my incredible girls? Who knows?
What I do know is that if I had given in to a little bit of trust in something bigger than me, I may have been able to enjoy other aspects of those years more, rather than trying to control, push and fight my way through
5) What do you hold on to for hope/courage/strength on your bad days?
I gained the most strength from the women around me who were going through similar struggles. I would look forward to our next meeting, plan the sweetest little trips so we could forget about it all for a while, laugh over the latest bit of unsolicited advice. I also spent much of my time blogging, maybe too much of my time blogging. It was back when blogging was just getting big and the blogs were so real and raw and truthful. I formed real friendships there, full of love and support, on really hard days I would scour the blogs to see who got their BFP (big fat positive).
6) How do you feel about your experience with infertility on your good days?
On the good days I could peer into the future and feel confident that I would one day be a parent, even if the journey looked differently to me than I had planned. On good days I would practice yoga, I would write blogs with a positive spin, I would eat what I wanted without obsessing over how it would affect my fertility. The good days were good, they were just entirely too far apart. Although I would never wish infertility on anyone, it was during those years that I learned the value of self-care, something I still try to keep in my life, even when things get overwhelming.
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?
Everyone has had their own way of dealing with my infertility. Some were 100% there for me, asking only how they could help, calling after important appointments. Some tried to help by offering advice, It may or may not have been good advice, but at that time it was advice I was unable to hear it. Some found it too difficult to be around me and were not in my life for a while, or I found it too difficult to be around them so I stepped out of their life for a while. Every relationship I had I navigated carefully, trying my best to smile and nod, trying not to create too many awkward situations. Sometimes that worked, sometimes that didn’t.
One of the big reasons I do the work I do now is to help others be better support/companions for the people in their lives who are struggling with infertility. Long before I decided to start a family I was a doula, I still am. I would work with clients after years of infertility and not really give too much thought to what they may have been through/are going through. Now I know their journey is different, their pregnancy, birth, parenting will be different and so is the way I support them. Now as a doula trainer I have included this fertility support to the doula training so that we can all be better support both during infertility and after conception.
Oh, and what I hated hearing the most was being told I was lucky to not have kids because….insert complaint about children here.
8) Tell us about you. What are your hobbies/passions/pursuits?
My passions are my family and my business, bebo mia inc. I have been a doula for years and I love every minute of it. I even doula-ed through the thick of my infertility journey and considered myself blessed to have such a job. I love creating, I love teaching. I love being active, long walks and yoga being my favourite. Traveling with my little ones, showing them new things and seeing their faces light up. My big dream is to be able to spend my summers back home in Nova Scotia, perhaps in a cottage by the water. I have an image of a cottage next to my bed so I can keep dreaming until it happens.
9) What is your favourite quote?
‘Those who are certain of the outcome can afford to wait, and wait without anxiety’ - A course in miracles.
I absolutely love this quote and wish I had heard it while I was in waiting. Although I likely would have passed it of as unsolicited advice, I can see the truth in it now. There are so many times in our lives where we want something so badly we can taste it, we work and we work and we work towards it, but it doesn't get to us fast enough . Learning to feel okay in that space between asking and receiving is my daily work.