Updated: Dec 18, 2020
This was my first pregnancy. My husband, John, and I had been together for 7 years when we got married. The "When're you having a baby?" questions poured in daily. We chose to keep it to ourselves so that we could surprise our family. We naively thought it wouldn't be long. Oh how I wish I could go back to that girl and just hug her. She had no idea of the pain she was in for. After being on the pill for almost 10 years my body was NOT happy. It took me almost 5 months to even see a period. Guess when I finally got it? On our honeymoon! Yup! We had a late honeymoon and that is when my first period decided to make a grand appearance. After that, my cycle was random.
So first, a little about my lifestyle. I am a personal trainer and yoga instructor. I grew up in the industry and have always been active and mindful of nutrition. I lift weights, but not too much. I do yoga, but not too much. I don't smoke and I rarely drink. I eat vegetables, fruit, drink my bodyweight in water, take all the vitamins and yet I still wasn't conceiving. I thought it was my fault. Something I was or wasn't doing was affecting my chances of having a baby.
I started to hate my body.
As the months went on I panicked. Each month, I grew more and more concerned. The questions kept coming from friends and family, "What're you guys waiting for? You have a house! Where are the babies?". At that time I was so invested in still surprising them that I kept my pain quiet. I really wish I didn't. The comments stabbed at me in the stomach right where my anxiety festered.
I went to my OBGYN to get her advice. "You're young, don't worry about it", is the only thing she said. I pleaded for help, she said to just keep trying. I felt dismissed. I felt like I was overreacting and I began doubting myself. So after many more months of the bloody physical reminder that I wasn't pregnant I decided to see Midwives that my friend recommended. They were amazing! I finally felt heard. They were also concerned that we hadn't yet conceived. We went through a battery of baseline blood tests and a semen analysis. They all came back a variant of normal. I tried to "just relax" . This was a good thing right? We're normal, it's ffiiiinnee. We just need to keep trying. Trying for me looked like meditating, exercising, driving 2 hours a week to get acupuncture, trying to keep sex fun, put my hips up, peeing on a billion ovulation & pregnancy strips and who knows what else. If you told me to sing supercalifragilisticexpialidocious backwards while gargling essential oils, standing on one foot, I would have done it. All that and nothing. Another month, nothing, and another and another and another. It kept going this way until one Tuesday in November I went to go visit my girlfriend, Katy. She started trying the same time as I did but she got pregnant after a few months. I went to meet her new babygirl. My period was due that day and I had been spotting so I knew it was coming. As I arrived to her house she handed me this precious, delicate newborn. I sat on her plush couch with this babygirl light in my arms. My eyes fixed on her. I held back tears every second that I was there. I was jealous. I was angry. I cried the entire way home. When I arrived, John was on the couch. I didn't tell him what happened. I went to get in the shower and by habit I took a pregnancy test. I didn't even time it or tell him because I knew it was going to be negative. As I stepped out of the shower I patted my skin dry as I glanced up at the stick. There was a second line! I started screaming for John. Shaking and shocked we ran to the store to get a digital test. We got back and watched as the screen read "pregnant". I must have taken 5 more. We were ecstatic. We hugged and kissed and had a pizza feast to celebrate!
That Saturday was my mom's birthday. My whole family was coming over to do a yoga class and have dinner together. We decided to tell them.
I am so grateful for that memory. It was fun and special, and I'll never see that again from pregnancy. That is more maddening than anything else. The fact that miscarriage steals those moments from you. The happiness behind seeing that second line is gone. The excitement that should come along with pregnancy is replaced by sickening fear and anxiety.
I lost my first baby at 10 weeks. It was my first prenatal appointment when I found out. I never had my HCG tested but I did have a sinking feeling that I would never meet my baby. I had spotting on and off throughout the 10 weeks; but, I was told that could be normal so I chose to overlook it. I'd like to think I'm so connected to my body that I knew what was happening inside of me, but reality is that I didn't. I still went on my 3 pregnancy apps everyday, listened to pregnancy podcasts, and followed pregnancy advice. I chose to ignore my gut but in the back of my mind the thought was still there. I didn't know the statistics, I didn't know how common it was. Even when I shared that I was pregnant with my closest friends, I hesitated. At that prenatal appointment with the Midwives they were concerned that the spotting had increased. They immediately got me into an ultrasound - which was not easy to do given it was the day before New Year's Eve. It was their lunch hour and a kindhearted ultrasound tech stayed to see me. I'll never forget her for that. Her manner and tone showed her experience with this situation. She asked me to provide a urine sample. When I was exiting the bathroom I distinctly remember thinking, "She is going to tell me that my baby is dead". John stood beside me as she inserted the probe. We could see the little beginning shape of a baby, but it wasn't moving. We both knew before the words even left her lips. She said "I'm sorry", and at that moment those words were the heaviest thing I had ever heard. My hands reached for my face. I covered my eyes and whispered , "This isn't happening". It couldn't be happening.
I had my first D&C on 01/02/2020 (great start to the new year right! YAY 2020!) It went as good as it could've gone. The staff and doctor I had were absolutely amazing and really made me feel as comfortable as I could have. They escorted me away from John to go to the operating room. That walk was the longest I've ever taken. I knew when I woke up it would be final - I would no longer be pregnant. They guided me onto the table, shifting my hips, placing my arms and legs in position as I gazed up at the circular surgical light. They worked quickly to sedate me. It probably was only a few minutes but it felt like hours. I closed my eyes as tears ran like cool streams down my cheeks. This is where all the yoga came in. I focused on my breath and before I knew it I was waking up with John and my mother by my side. It was over.
At the time, I was working as a one-on-one personal trainer at a high-end gym. I lied and told my clients that I was sick with a stomach bug. I shouldn't have. I only took 3 days to physically and mentally recover. I shouldn't have. I needed time but I didn't allow myself it. Going back to work was hard. Focusing on them, or anything, was hard. Every minute that I wasn't there I sat on my couch and had moments of fog and sobs. I joined online support groups which helped but I really wanted to talk and connect with someone in person which is what drew me to this profession.
Sleeping became difficult for me. Every time I closed my eyes I was back in the operating room staring at that stupid light, or I was back in the ultrasound room looking at my still baby. Weird things became triggers. Putting my hands on my stomach, heartburn, raspberry jam all would send me back into the fog.
As soon as I was cleared to workout I went back to my yoga studio. I didn't always want to go, but every time I did left with a little less anxiety and a little more room to breathe. I kept going and slowly I was able to put my hands back on my stomach and smiling came easier. I was healing.
I wanted to be pregnant so badly but I was also terrified of it. These two emotions played at each other constantly in my head. Then, just 2 months after my first miscarriage I saw the second line again. It was the first month we tried. That two-week wait was BRUTAL. It made me into a complete psychopath. I tested obsessively and way too early. I spent most of those days staring at the stick in the sunlight until my eyes went crossed. When I could actually see the second line clearly, it was not joy I felt. It was fear. 100% earth-shattering fear.
After my first loss I had scheduled an appointment with a reproductive endocrinologist to get further testing. To my surprise (and hers) we went to our first appointment already pregnant! I told her of my worry and she assured me it was going to be okay. I didn't believe her. I just didn't think I could get that lucky. They had me get my blood drawn every 2 days for 2 weeks. My HCG was really good the first 2 draws. Then it wasn't. After 2 weeks it plateaued with a very small increase. This can be a sign of ectopic so they made me come in for a vaginal ultrasound. It's terrible to say, but the second time isn't as bad. Maybe because you expect it to happen? I don't know. Anyways, the doctor inserted the probe and there was nothing. No sac and no baby where there should have been. This made them fear that it was ectopic even more so they scheduled me for a D&C 2 days later. We arrived to the hospital, just a few days before our state went under quarantine for COVID. They put me in the same damn room. Same deal- nice staff, great doctor, slow walk away from John, stupid surgical light. Breathe, breathe, breathe, unconscious, wake up no longer pregnant. It wasn't ectopic. My tubes were still there but any tissue that could have been my baby was not.
The second time around I was honest with everyone. I told all of my clients what was going on. They were amazingly supportive and understanding. I took a week off, (joke's on me - the state took 2 months off following that). I even shared it on my personal social media accounts, which was very cathartic. All these women I knew personally, messaged and commented on my post sharing their stories. I was blown away! I felt less alone and comforted by their words. I do this work for them. It is for all the women who were scared to share their story or didn't have the information, support or tools to feel like they could. We walk hand-in-hand moving forward together.
Today, John and I have proceeded forward with IVF. We now have some answers! For a long time I was resistant to IVF but now I've come to embrace it. It actually feels pretty good to give someone else the job at making a baby.
As time passes I've learned how to reconnect, love and appreciate my body. There are still days I struggle but now, fewer. That is why I'm here to share this story with you. To tell you that you are not alone. To tell you that you CAN be happy and I can help you find it. I sit here with no baby to hold but I have hope for all of us.
I am breathing, and for today, that is enough.