Did you know that 1 in 4 women have experienced miscarriage or infant loss? Yesterday was October 15th, and I luckily was too busy to be on social media to see that it was National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. It’s a hard day for me because of the extreme amount of empathy I feel for all the other Mamas that have experienced a loss. I am reminded of the 4 times I have gotten pregnant and it ended prematurely. I am reminded of the what if’s and why’s. I am reminded that I may or may not have babies in heaven looking down on us. I am reminded of how incredibly lucky I am to have my TWO healthy, beautiful children. It is definitely a day of remembrance for me.
The first time I took a pregnancy test was two months after my husband and I were married. We were wanting to start a family soon, but not quite yet. I saw a faint line and had no idea until later on that even a faint line Is a positive. I only spent a week knowing that I may or may not be pregnant. Then, while out of town for my brothers wedding…it happened. The horrible cramps, the traumatic bleeding. What was happening?! I wasn’t able to see a doctor until I got home to California and that’s when I learned I had an early miscarriage. It is very common and there was no reason to worry about conceiving when we were ready.
That time came quicker than we expected, as my husband was offered a job in Arizona and we relocated. My job as a hair stylist was in Newport Beach and we made the decision for me to commute back every five weeks to take care of my clients. We decided that since I would not be able to keep up that schedule forever we might as well pull the goalie and see what happens! After getting home from my first trip for work I was a week late and had symptoms I couldn’t ignore. I took a test, and it was a very clear positive! One cycle after my miscarriage was all it took. “Well, that was easy we thought”. Nine months later Ryder Michael was born!
Ryder was an easy baby but from the time he started walking, he pretty much never stopped! I wanted my kids to be close together in age but I wanted that two year gap. Thinking of how easily we had gotten pregnant twice I wasn’t willing to start trying again until Ryder was 15 months old as to ensure we would not have two under two.
It was 5 months of monitoring my cycle before I got pregnant again. At the same time, I also came down with a nasty cold AND the nausea started. Earlier than with Ryder, so I figured maybe I was having a girl this time! Since I was already sick, and I was refusing cold medicine I figured we should tell our family the news. I went and purchased a big brother shirt for Ryder and when my parents came over to visit I made sure he was wearing it. My parents were thrilled!
The joy was only temporary. The very next day I started spotting. I was furiously googling what was happening and convinced my self I didn’t need to despair yet. I called my doctors office to make sure everything was okay. I came in for a blood draw to test my hormone levels, and then was to come back in two days to see if they were doubling. Two days later, very early in the morning I woke up to excruciating pain, as if I was in labor. I realized my bed was damp with blood and I quickly got up to go to the bathroom. I’ll spare you the horrific details of what occurred next but if you have passed a miscarriage at home, you know what happened.
Sure that I had lost the baby, I tearfully went to my doctor appointment that morning. My blood was drawn again and I was informed that my hormone levels had doubled! This wasn’t typical if you have just experienced a miscarriage but I needed to come back again later in the week to test, AGAIN. Because of my very first experience with miscarriage, I was sure that I had lost the baby. BUT, there was that tiny ray of hope that it was a subchorionic hemorrhage. That week was terrible. My emotions were all over the place, I was still dealing with a cough from what I thought was a cold (more on that later) and Friday couldn’t come soon enough. I went to my doctor appointment and my hormone levels had started to go down so I indeed did miscarry. Why did it have to get drawn out over a week?! Why did they have to give me that tiny glimmer of hope? Then I started to blame myself. Was it because I was sick? Should I have eaten better? Rested more? My thoughts were all over the place.
Weeks later I still had a cough so I visited my primary care physician. He ordered an X-ray to check for pneumonia but found something else. To confirm the suspicions that the doctor had I was scheduled for a CT scan to get a clearer look at my lungs. Two more weeks went by before my appointment. Over this time span my first period, post miscarriage had came and gone so my husband and I had began trying again, this time with lowered expectations as to how fast I would conceive. The morning of my CT scan I started spotting and assumed I was getting my period, so when I was preparing to get scanned I told the technician “No” to the common question “Are you or do you think you may be pregnant”. Literally the next day I started having pregnancy symptoms. I was a little worried because I had just had the CAT scan, but remembered that the technician draped my lower body with the radiation vest, even though I answered no to his question.
A couple days later, on Mother’s Day, I decided to take a pregnancy test since the spotting never turned into a period. I got a very clear positive and I was sure this was my Mother’s Day gift from Heavenly Father. The same day we were leaving on a trip for our anniversary. During the drive out I had an ache in my side, but didn’t think much of it since I had hurt that same hip earlier in the year. I blamed it on sitting in the car for 5 1/2 hours, popped some ibuprofen and tried to enjoy our trip. The pained seemed to lessen to a dull ache during the trip as I was distracted by Disneyland, going to the beach and visiting friends. Then on the drive home the dull ache turned into pain.
When I got home i went to the doc to start the blood draw process. My hormone levels were rising, but not doubling every 48 hours like they should. They decided to do an ultrasound. The technician was a little quiet and then asked if I was in pain, I said mostly just when I sit down but other than that it was manageable. She called the doctor in and that’s when I was informed I had an ectopic pregnancy, and a high pain tolerance because I wasn’t doubled over in pain! In hopes of saving my tube I was rushed into surgery hours later for removal of the potentially fatal pregnancy.
Luckily, my doctor was amazing and saved my tube! I then had to spend the next week on complete abdominal rest, which meant no lifting over 5 pounds and minimal activity. That was a rough week for me, I couldn’t hold my son, I couldn’t exercise, I couldn’t do much of anything! This was not an easy task for me since I prefer to be busy and if I’m going to be lazy it’s going to be out of my own free will- not because that’s what my body needs it. But I had family around and plenty of distractions- so it ended up not being too bad. I also received the results of my CT scan during this time confirming that I had nodules on my lungs and needed to now schedule with a pulmonary specialist as well getting PET to check to see if I had CANCER. Cool, just what I wanted to deal with now.
It was a torturous two weeks waiting for my appointment. I had been praying for a best case scenario and felt some comfort from above that it was not cancer and that everything would be okay. But, fear aka. Satan- can put some crazy thoughts in your head, causing doubt. This doubt caused me a lot of anxiety until finally receiving my results from my PET scan that showed no sign of cancer. It was then confirmed that the illness I experienced earlier in the year was Valley Fever and had caused the nodules on my lungs. That was the biggest relief of my life! Not only did I not have cancer, but now I was cleared to try to conceive…again.
A couple months later I got pregnant. I was happy but very nervous because of my previous losses. This being the third time getting pregnant in a year, I figured “third times the charm” and was determined for this pregnancy to be my rainbow baby. So, it began- the blood tests. Things were looking good as my hormone levels shot up. Then at 6 weeks it was time for my first ultrasound. It was hard for the technician at first but then she found the mass of cells that resembled an embryo, but no sign of a heartbeat. Now, at this stage of pregnancy some details can be hard to see, so I was scheduled for another ultrasound in a few weeks. I started to get SUPER nauseas at this time, and knew (again) I would have a hard time hiding this- so we decided to tempt fate and tell our family with that Big Brother T-shirt and so badly wanted Ryder to be able to wear. Everyone was so excited for us, since I had been through so much to get to this point. I had no idea another heartache that was headed our way.
I went to my next ultrasound at almost 9 weeks pregnant. Feeling like garbage, but very excited to see my baby’s heartbeat for the first time. As a laid on the table in the ultrasound room I made some small talk with the normally, very chatty ultrasound tech. She was very quiet. I would see her zoom in, screen capture, zoom out, squint…all in complete silence. I knew it couldn’t be good. She didn’t say much as she sent me off to see the doctor. I was numb but still hopeful. Maybe the doc just wanted to tell me in person? Well, yes but deep down I knew it was not going to be what I wanted to hear. “Lisa, I’m so sorry but there’s no baby” Wait- what? I had rising hormone levels, a 6 week ultrasound pic that looked like I was growing a baby and pregnancy symptoms that made me feel very pregnant. He then informed me that I had a blighted ovum, which meant the egg had been fertilized, but no baby developed. It is common for your body to act as if it were a normal pregnancy, which is why I was feeling all the symptoms. I was devastated. Why was this happening AGAIN?! Was I ever going to have another baby? It was decided that I would be scheduled for a d&c the next morning, to clear out the remnants of what could have been but once again- wasn’t my rainbow baby.
This time hit it me HARD. The two other miscarriages that I had that year, I tried to be strong and just move on with life. I was distracted by my other medical issues and just life in general so, I never mourned the loss of those babies. Well, as we probably all know when you suppress feelings and emotions long enough they are bound to come out one way or another. My delayed grief of now 3 lost pregnancies that year showed up. Depression set in, and it wasn’t pretty. I was miserable. I had to stay away from any social media that talked about babies, I didn’t go to church for a month because there were babies and pregnant women everywhere. It was a dark time for me. I finally decided to talk to a counselor to help make sense of all I was feeling. She helped come to terms with all my suppressed feelings and taught me that it was okay to grieve. It was what my mind and body needed.
Weeks went on and I slowly began to recover. Then, one of my best friends started to experience what I knew was a miscarriage. She had never had one. Three healthy babies prior and then it happened to her. I hated that I knew exactly what she was going through but I was also grateful that I was able to support her through a difficult time. (as was she) Knowing someone else literally feels your pain is comforting and heartbreaking at the same time.
I got my first post d&c period about 6 weeks after my surgery. The dreaded topic “should we try” of course came up. I told my husband that I couldn’t put myself through that emotionally right now, but I also didn’t want to take any actions to prevent pregnancy either. A few weeks later, guess what?! I started having pregnancy symptoms. I didn’t even want to take a test this time. My Husband knew this drill all too well and kept telling me I was pregnant and to just take a test. I told him I wanted to wait a week to take a test. I waited a few days, couldn’t get it out of my mind and took a test. Instead of joy I had no feelings. I couldn’t let myself get emotionally invested in this until I knew things were going to be okay. I had an ultrasound at 4 weeks 6days and never got such a quick response on an early ultrasound. “Oh, there we are- thats definitely a baby” Well, it was a tiny blob to me but I was officially growing a human! I couldn’t let myself get too excited yet, even though I feel like God whispered to me that everything was going to be alright. I anxiously awaited my next appointment in which I was supposed to see a heartbeat.
That was a truly beautiful moment. Even though I had had several ultrasounds that year, this was my first time seeing a heartbeat and having a calm feeling instead of anxiety. I continued to have healthy ultrasounds which gave me comfort, but it was hard to push the feelings out of my head that I could lose her at any time. Yes, early on on just new it was a girl. So, when I had my gender check at the earliest time possible (it helps if you have a sister in law who does ultrasound) I could hardly contain my enthusiasm of my baby GIRL growing inside of me! I was 14 weeks by this point and my husband convinced me that we didn’t need to keep it a secret anymore and we could go ahead and announce this pregnancy! We waited a few more weeks until after another doc appointment to announce the gender because I wanted to feel more confident.
I didn’t have a the greatest pregnancy. I had horrible nausea, GI pains that sent me to the Hospital twice and crippling sciatica that made me waddle like a walrus when I wasn’t even that big. It was also hard having the constant worry of wondering if she would be okay and making sure I felt her moving enough. It was really hard, but it was one of those “Jesus take the wheel” moments that I had to put all my faith in the Lord. I was truly given comfort when I asked for it and relied on God for help. I also realized that although my grief was delayed with my other pregnancies he was with me during that time as well.
37 weeks pregnant with Eden
To all the Mamas out there trying to conceive, I feel for you.
To all the Mamas that have lost a pregnancy, I am with you.
To all the Mamas that have lost a child, I pray for you.
We all have our different experiences, trials and scars in this motherhood or parenthood journey- (Here’s looking at you Dads!)
We need to not be afraid to share, grieve and celebrate with each other. No one should have to go through any of this alone. When the storms of life hit, remember you can’t have a rainbow without rain.