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16% of Canadians will experience infertility in some way, shape or form. 

This is a space where we will share their stories, to let others know they are not alone, and to let the healing begin. 

Elycia's Story

Elycia's Story

1) What is your personal experience with infertility/miscarriage?

My husband and I had been married for just over two years when we decided to try for the family we had dreamed about. We had bought, and majorly renovated, our old century home and decided parenthood was the next project to tackle! We initially got pregnant very easily and were over the moon sharing the news with family! After buying pregnancy books and telling our parents, I woke up in the middle of the night with cramping and bleeding at 13 weeks. I found myself teetering, knowing this was either nothing to worry about or everything to worry about. I went to the emergency room and began what was an extremely emotionally taxing time in my life.

I was the first woman in my family to have a miscarriage, so it hit me like a ton of bricks and was absolutely devastating for me. I had been unaware and naïve to the reality that miscarriages could even happen in pregnancy and so the experience sent me down a scary rabbit hole, wondering if I was going to be able to be a mother at all. The experience left me feeling very isolated and alone, even though I had a support system of people around me. At the time I knew very few people trying for children and even less who had tried and lost babies in pregnancy.

I had assumed I was skipping into what would be a celebrated and joyous season in life and, instead, I found grief as a close companion. Even though I would later learn that miscarriages happen to many women, it didn’t change the fact that I already felt like a mother. That baby was the very beginning of my motherhood journey, a longing inside me that had beat since I was a little girl. Motherhood was something I had dreamed of with so much of my being.

And then, somehow, in my first weeks of being a mother, I found myself folded over in pain in an emergency room, holding onto hope until I delivered my little bundle, alone in a stall of a public restroom, a few days later. Knowing then that it was over. I felt completely emptied, like a walking ghost in my own nightmare. I say this quite rawly, as it is the truth. And, as ugly as it might sound or as awful as it might have felt, I promised myself that my child’s stories would live on in me. They wouldn’t end with the awfulness of how my baby had left my womb. Any woman who has had to endure this type of brokenness might describe it differently, or they might know exactly what I mean.

I somehow put one foot in front of the other and allowed myself to dream again, all the while carrying my first loss close to my heart.

We were blessed with a healthy pregnancy and baby girl a year later and I felt my confidence slowly return with the experience of my body doing what I had hoped it would do. I felt a renewed sense of confidence knowing that I had endured a difficult experience and believed that now I would have smoother sailing from here. Again, overtaken by the naïve idea that life would only give you one tough thing to handle.

After finding out I was unexpectedly pregnant again when my daughter was still in her first year, I adjusted life’s plans accordingly, as we did want more children. I went full-swing into excitement for our growing family and was giddy to see a glimpse of this baby at my 20-week ultrasound. But, I was met with the heart-wrenching news that my baby had no heartbeat. This was an extremely challenging and devastating time for us. My baby’s heart had stopped beating around 16 or 17 weeks, but we didn’t discover this until my ultrasound at 20 weeks. I had been carrying a lifeless body for several weeks and still was showing no signs of my baby passing on its own, naturally. I had to be induced to bring this little baby into the world, lifeless.

We walked this fine-line of emotionally feeling like we had experienced a stillbirth, but, in technical terms, the hospital called it a miscarriage. It was a rock-bottom experience for me, walking the halls of the hospital, trying to bring on labour to deliver my baby who was no longer living, right beside other women delivering healthy babies. It felt like a hopeless scenario to live through.

But, of course we had to keep on living, and so we did. My husband and I decided to bury our stillborn child on a family plot. Although I never chose to name them, I am thankful they have a resting place and I have somewhere tangible to visit and think of them. I also have a small Rose-of-Sharon tree planted at my home that blossoms every August, which was the month my first child was due. These little beautiful markings of them help me continue to feel their existence in my life.

Since our second loss, we have been very fortunate to have had two healthy little boys join our family.

2a) How has it made your life worse?

Bringing a healthy child into the world is a beautiful miracle to experience. But, losing and delivering a baby you loved and dreamed of, straight to death, is a deep deep sorrow. Experiencing my losses broke me. Those hospital beds saw me in my lowest of lows. The passion and love I have for life were drained from me. A tearful mother hugging a baby who I wanted so badly to bring home. A shattered dream. Those experiences are very painful to revisit. Tears can be brought on in a second when I sit in those memories. I don’t wish them upon anyone.

But yet, as this site clearly shows, women everywhere are in hospitals or bathrooms experiencing this heartbreak. And, as I said earlier, I refused to let my babies’ stories completely end there, in that awful place and feeling.

2b) How has it made your life better?

I am living beyond the heartbreak. Everyone says grief is a journey and you always want to fast-forward it for yourself, or anyone you know and love who has to go through it. But, the people that live through the grief and keep going through life’s heartbreaks are admirable people. I have that same respect for myself. I know that I can do hard things. I have put one foot in front of the other when I absolutely didn’t want to. I can choose to turn the horrible nightmares that happened to me into beautiful markings on the woman that kept going.

I have three children in my care and in my home right now. I know for a fact that even though I may complain or get exhausted daily in this season of life, I carry a deep gratitude that runs in my veins to be called a mother. My babies in heaven are a part of the mom that wakes up every day and takes care of the little ones that I did get to bring home. And that feels pretty awesome to me.

3) When & how did you realize that you were going to be able to carry on after infertility/miscarriage?

I guess for me it was the chance of another dream. As terrifying as the idea of possibly losing any pregnancy I had, the possibility of loving a child and bringing them home also was there. I often think of Ed Sheeran’s lyrics, “loving can hurt sometimes” when I think of my experience in pregnancy. I fall in love in any pregnancy, braving the possible cost. And, having some of my dreams come true, definitely fed the optimistic side of myself.

4) What have you learned through this experience?

I think that there will come a point in everyone’s life that something will not go the way they planned it, the way they hoped and dreamed it would go. And in those often heartbreaking and difficult times we are forced to ask the big questions of what do we really believe? And we must come to terms with the fact that we really have no control over some of the circumstances life brings.

Having my motherhood journey jolted with immediate loss made me ask many questions:
Where does my joy come from?
Where does my meaning in life come from?
Would becoming a wife and mother really be the only way to feel that joy?

Because as great as all these things are, people will fall short in some way or form. My husband may disappoint me in some way, and even my healthy children may upset me with their choices and the reflection that might make on me. People aren’t perfect and circumstances change frequently in life.

Through my experiences, I gained a renewed strength and confidence in my faith in a God that is bigger and greater than all of life’s hurts. A God that is good, despite not good circumstances. For me, it is very affirming to believe that it isn’t all up to me and, even as beautiful a gift as this life is, there is also a lot of pain and suffering. But I believe this isn’t all there is. I believe there is more.

I work hard to live in that identity rather than the roles I have in my life that I value greatly. I think the deep sense of knowing I am loved makes me a better wife and mother, roles I have been blessed with in my life. But, it is a constant journey and while mothering children, I still find myself inclined to put my identity in them and how they will turn out, but that is not where I will find a deep peace and contentment. For me, being loved by my Heavenly Father grounds and humbles me, as I take my roles in life with the utmost care, while believing that it is not all I am.

5) What do you hold on to for hope/courage/strength on your bad days?

I am a Christian and I truly believe we live in a fallen world. Women losing longed-for babies points me right to the firm belief that things are not as they should be and we need a Saviour. My faith in the belief we have a Saviour is affirming.

6) How do you feel about your experience with miscarriage on your good days?

I adore the name of this site and the work that they are doing. It is why I jumped on saying “yes” to sharing my story here too. I honestly clearly remember reading the statistics about infertility, miscarriage, and pregnancy loss when I accepted my place in the 16 percent. I hated that I was in it. I felt alone in it. I wanted to be on the other side. I wanted to be the one who only had to celebrate her motherhood and not grieve in it.

But, have you looked at this site and seen the beautiful women’s faces and stories poured out here? I feel a sense of pride in belonging with them. We have beautiful stories amongst our heartbreak. I am learning to embrace my place in the 16 percent and I am happy to have all these other women alongside me. We have stories worth telling and our stories are no less beautiful than anyone else’s story.

Although it comes in different shapes and forms, there is light after darkness. And watching light glow on a face that has seen the darkness is stunning.

7) In what ways has your experience with infertility/miscarriage changed you as a person?

I was always a happy child, full of optimism, the one wanting to make others laugh. Exuding joy.

Living through grief challenged my understanding of myself. Learning to still love and feel like myself through the good and bad feelings was a huge way I grew through this experience. Knowing that I am loved and valued, whether I am bringing joy or not, was a big game-changer in understanding my identity and relating to others.

I also know that becoming a mom isn’t something to be taken for granted. There are so many women still waiting or wanting to have the gift of being called a mom. I feel that gratitude daily.

8) 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 very distinctly remember being amazed that even my mother, who had not experienced this type of loss herself, was capable of providing some comfort in my pain. She brought the softest blanket and one white flower to the hospital on the day I delivered my stillborn. I remember her card telling me that although she couldn’t stop the rain from falling in my life she would stand in the puddles with me. Those words touched me deeply and also taught me that other people, whether they can relate exactly or not, can hurt with and for you. In pain we also need companionship.

9) Tell us about you. What are your hobbies/passions/pursuits?

I am an Early Childhood Educator and right now I am at home with my children for this season of life. I still teach an arts-based preschool program part-time out of my home. This is a cool adventure that started after I had my second loss. Arts and creativity ebb in me and I love to teach young children and their parents about making the arts a part of their lives. You can check out my program @ejmarthouse on Instagram if you are interested! I also love people and cultivating relationships, reading, being outdoors, and journaling life.

10) What is your favourite quote?

Oh, I have loads of quotes I love! But for this journey specifically, I like this one:

“Sometimes when you are in a dark place it feels like you have been buried. But really you have been planted.” Author unknown

Elycia runs an art school out of her house, which she feels was a blessing and an adventure after her losses. Please check out the Art House at:
https://www.facebook.com/The-ART-house-1420362738056470/
Or on Instagram: @ejmarthouse

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