Tuesday, January 1, 2019

My Story

We knew before trying to get pregnant that we had some obstacles to overcome. I was diagnosed with a septate uterus and was told from a specialist that it was unlikely I would ever carry a baby to full term. There was no certainty, so we had to just go for it and see what happened.

After a few months of trying, I found out I was pregnant. We were excited and cautiously optimistic. It did not take long for the worries to begin. I started spotting at 6 weeks and went in for an early ultrasound. I was a nervous wreck. The doctor said that the pregnancy was progressing, but they could not find a heartbeat. She did not seem concerned because of how early I was, and said to come back in a week. The next week we had another ultrasound. Unfortunately, it was the same response. The pregnancy was progressing, but there was still no sign of a heartbeat and I was told to come back in another week. Finally, at the next appointment, we had some answers. It was not the answer we were hoping for. There was no heartbeat at 8 weeks, which meant the pregnancy was not viable. I was devastated and in complete shock.

They said I had already started bleeding out so I had a choice to get a d&c or wait for a natural miscarriage. I was hoping to avoid a surgery and start trying again as soon as possible, so I opted to let things happen naturally. I waited two long and emotional weeks for my body to recognize what had happened, but nothing was progressing. It was agonizing to try and go about my days as if everything was normal, but still know that this baby was inside of me. I chose to schedule a d&c so I could start moving on with my life.

We began trying again when we were physically and emotionally ready. Month after month went by and I continued to see negative pregnancy test results. At first, we were laid back about it, and tried to remind ourselves that everything happens when it's meant to happen. After a while, the desire to get pregnant consumed me and it was all I could think about. I spent endless hours researching different fertility tips. I tried supplements, fertility tea, yoga, meditation, Pre-Seed, ovulation sticks, fertility monitors, basal temperature tracking, a dream board, and baby dust by my bed (This was basically baby sequins that came in a package of something I ordered and it was supposed to bring good luck. It sounds crazy, but I was desperate). Nothing was working.

After a year of unsuccessful trying, we started clomid and progesterone cycles. On the fourth month of clomid, I found out I was pregnant. We were so relieved to know it could happen again, but of course had major anxiety about how things would progress. Right after the positive pregnancy test, I was asked to do the two day HCG blood tests to see if my numbers were doubling. They had not doubled, but had gone up significantly. We stayed hopeful. Our first ultrasound was at 6 weeks. The doctor came in the room and told us that the heartbeat was not found, but the pregnancy still looked viable at this stage. We were told to come back in a week. I could not believe that I was hearing these exact words again. This could not be happening.

Finally, we were given a blessing. At the next ultrasound we saw a heartbeat. It was the most amazing thing I had ever seen. The doctor was very open with us and said the heart rate was slower than they like to see and things could go either way at this point. The expected due date based on the ultrasound picture was October 17th. My husband and his dad both share the same birthday, October 18th. I knew this baby was meant to be, and meant to share an October birthday. I was so excited to have our first ultrasound picture to take home and show my close friends and my family.

The next morning, I woke up with heavy cramping and bleeding. I called my doctor knowing the worst but praying for a reason, and she said it was most likely a miscarriage. I tried to convince myself that it was going to stop and everything would be fine. I miscarried at home that night.

After that, I was an emotional mess and had a difficult time handling the pregnancy news and baby announcements from friends and acquaintances all around me. I avoided many situations out of fear of crying or reacting in a bitter way. Old friends would run into me and say they had heard I became a hermit. I was so sad and broken, yet also felt angry at myself and guilty for not being strong enough to share in the happy times of others. I kept wondering what was wrong with me. The close friends I had once relied on for comfort became some of the most difficult people for me to be around because they were fortunate enough to have healthy pregnancies and babies. For years, it felt like my life was on pause, while everyone around me was moving forward.

When we were ready to try again, my doctor referred us to a recurrent pregnancy loss specialist. This was where we really started finding answers as to what we were dealing with. After some testing and procedures, I was officially diagnosed with a complete uterine septum, a blocked fallopian tube, and Hashimoto's Thyroiditis. As much as I didn't want anything wrong with me, I was happy to have some answers.

I was given medication to help treat the thyroid condition. The complete septate uterus was more complicated. The doctors discussed information about the risks of surgery, as well as the risks of not having surgery. Nothing sounded ideal. While my husband and I were losing hope and trying to decide how we wanted to move forward, I found out I was pregnant.

This time there was very little excitement with the news, but mostly fear and anxiety. When I shared the news with others, I approached it in a very casual manner and told them not to get excited. I just needed prayers. I thought the stress alone was sure to cause problems with the pregnancy. Despite my feelings of panic, I was able to push through the stages one by one with the support of my family and friends. My HCG test came back exactly as they hoped. Our first ultrasound was amazing. There was a healthy heartbeat and everything looked great. I took one day at a time, making sure to feel gratitude for each moment I was given with this pregnancy. I also meditated every day to keep my anxiety level down. We were monitored very closely and only looked ahead to the next appointment.

Despite all of the possible negative outcomes, we were fortunate and blessed to welcome our baby boy into the world at 39 weeks. He was perfectly healthy. The only concern we had was his clubfeet, which we knew about while getting ultrasounds. This was corrected and he has no problems with his feet at three years old.

Two years later, we welcomed another miracle. She was a beautiful baby girl. I was so fortunate to conceive quickly and have very few scares with her, but even after having my son, I found it difficult to enjoy pregnancy. I continued to be filled with fear and worry and looked ahead to only one appointment at a time. I remember feeling sadness that my anxieties would not allow me to experience things that many blissful pregnant women do, like surprising my family with a big pregnancy announcement, talking with other pregnant moms excitedly, throwing a cute gender reveal party, or designing the nursery months in advance after finding countless cute ideas online. While these things seem trivial now, they were things I imagined and dreamt about long before trying to start a family and I was sad to have to give them up.

When I was holding my little girl in my arms at the hospital and my son was sitting next to me giving her kisses, the sadness washed away and I knew that those details were not important, and the only thing that mattered was having a healthy baby.

Our journey to parenthood had its challenges, and I often wondered if I would ever be happy again. Looking back, I see that the plan for me was different than anything I could have imagined. Life is not perfect, and will continue to have its ups and downs. I still deal with many anxieties that were established around that difficult time in my life, but this experience taught me to have more faith that the sun will shine after dark times.

Infertility and loss are painful to the core and will change you forever, but will also show you how amazing, courageous and strong you are. Reach out to others who are also struggling and share your story so you do not have to carry this burden alone.

Much Love,


Melissa's Story

I once was a fresh 26 year old with a mint reproductive system, dreams of having a large family, and no awareness of how dreams can become your worst nightmare. My fight to come out on top was quantified by two simple questions. Number of times pregnant? Number of births?
I didn’t know at that time those two questions would become an agonizing, merciless score for me. I was defeated by those numbers continually for years, but I never abandoned the mission to somehow have the score commence in my favor.
My husband, Ryan, and I dated for seven years before we got married, so the moment we tied the knot we had had our fill of couple bonding time, and were ready to throw a lot of kids into the mix. Two months after our wedding, a seemingly strange period snowballed to realization I was pregnant, and then a miscarriage. However, I was perfectly fine with it. I had no doubt we would get pregnant again, and we could put this little blip behind us.
A couple days after learning I was miscarrying, an excruciating amount of pain began to accompany my bleeding. All night I laid in a ball, whimpering, but I had no frame of reference. I had never miscarried before, and just thought this was what it was like. No one hypothesized my miscarriage would be abnormal.
The next day, however, everything became far from normal. I was making dinner at the stove and could no longer stand on my own two feet. I collapsed to the ground when I couldn’t grit through it any longer. I told Ryan I needed to go to the ER immediately.
When we arrived my seemingly unscathed baby making factory continued to fool the ER doctors. “I’m sure you are just trying to pass the baby, but we’ll have a look on the ultrasound and see what’s going on,” the on-call OB said matter-of-factly.
The OB took one look at the ultrasound and things rapidly spun out of control. I was put under and rushed to surgery within minutes. I remember Ryan trying to update my mom over the phone and crumbling. He could barely get the words out before breaking down. I distantly heard him say, “They’re taking her to surgery…She’s bleeding inside…There is a ruptured fallopian tube from an ectopic pregnancy, and they need to take it out.”
I woke up and saw there were now staples covering my stomach. Years later, Ryan told me when I was coming around out of surgery I was yelling at the doctors to put it back. I needed them to put me back together.

The doctor burst into the room and said, “Congratulations on your pregnancy! Given your past history, we’ll follow your HCG numbers for a bit and make sure they are doubling every two days like a normal pregnancy.”
This is how my ceaseless relationship with the phlebotomist was born. My poor unsuspecting veins never knew what hit them. Since one fallopian tube had just been ripped from the line up, my pregnancies would always be accompanied by countless lab trips to get blood drawn.
The frequent blood draws weren’t what I truly detested, though. It was the excoriating waiting periods after to see if the numbers confirmed a viable pregnancy and an embryo landing in my uterus.
In spite of this new set of baby making challenges, I was still pretty damn impressed with myself. I now only had one possible side the egg could travel down, so my odds of conceiving had been greatly reduced. Four months later, with a big asterisk on the six miserable weeks I recovered from the surgery, I was pregnant again!
The first round of HCG numbers were iffy, though. They had barely doubled, and neither the doctor nor I were so confident in my baby-making capabilities anymore.
“We’ll take another test in two days and see which direction things are moving…” the doctor said flatly. “We’d like to see them shoot up from here…”
I spent the next two days constantly willing this baby to grow. I talked to the embryo constantly. “You know what you have to do. Please, please, please go to the right spot.”
The doctor called us late at night right before we planned on going to sleep, and by that I mean lying horizontally in bed, staring at the ceiling all night, and fervently praying we would bring home a baby in the near future.
 “I’m sorry,” she said, “but your numbers are not doubling…or going down. They are the same, which leads me to believe this could be another ectopic. You need to go the ER now and they will give you a drug to stop the pregnancy, Methotrexate. It’s used in cancer patients to stop cells form multiplying, so it will stop the pregnancy from progressing.”
I got off the phone and wailed, and I don’t mean in a figurative sense. I screamed and sobbed so much our downstairs neighbor came out of the house as we brokenly got ourselves into the car to make another trip to the ER.
The endless regulatory, but admittedly necessary, exchanges and rituals you have to perform when going through very traumatic experiences, kill me. We had to drive a car, follow proper road rules, explain to the triage nurse why were there, answer questions when we both wanted to angrily tell every nurse and doctor to go f— themselves, change into a gown, all the while crying uncontrollably and wallowing in pain.
The somber ER doctor came into the room and made me relay again why I was there and why my OB had ordered this. I had nothing left in me to form words anymore, so Ryan took over the explanations.
The doctor’s brusque attitude finally broke, he looked sadly at me and said, “So you wanted this baby?” Observation of the year, Buddy.
He took a vial of medicine and did his best to shoot me in the rear while I shook with grief. My now obviously piece of crap baby factory would be forcibly shut down. He left the room, I stood up, slowly dressed, and left the hospital again with my dreams even more rattled.
The phone was ringing when we got home.
“This is the emergency room. You left without being discharged or any instructions. You cannot try to have a baby for three months. The drug will make a hostile environment for any implantation. You need to follow up with blood tests to make sure the drug is working and get the OK from your doctor before trying again.”

After clarification the remaining fallopian tube was open and ready to rock via an extremely unpleasant HSG dye test procedure, we called it up to the majors and willed it to step up big time.
Luckily the tube heard us loud and we conceived shortly after I was cleared to try again. Shortly after learning I was pregnant, I started bleeding…a lot. And I don't mean the am-I-hallucinating-seeing-blood-and-I-need-a-second-opinion, but the break out the bad underwear and spaceship-sized maxi pad amount of blood.
We kept checking in with our doctor and she would perform any mind easing rituals she could for me. Yet I was still bleeding and when even the expert doesn’t have a clear reason why, it’s hard to keep a positive outlook. But I wasn’t letting this one go, dammit.
I started to do whatever I could; I was on a endless cycle of prayer, pleading, and repeating perpetual mantras in my head all day. “Please let this baby happen, please let this baby happen, please let this baby happen…” I chanted to myself relentlessly, feeling if I ever broke from my chants I would tempt an ominous fate.
In between all the “have a heathy, living breathing baby” chants, I squeezed in a few million “let it be a girl” chants, and all my prayers were answered on March 15, 2006 when Clara arrived and let us be a bonafide family.

After the birth of Clara we moved back home to Indiana from Colorado, and found a whole new set of doctors we could amaze with our short and freakish reproductive history.
 When Clara was a year old I was having a very odd period and I knew something was off. I bled, stopped for a few days, and started bleeding again. I was terrified when I took a pregnancy test and saw it was positive.
Since this was similar to how my first ectopic occurred, I rushed to the ER again. I feared the remaining tube was going to give me the big finger and close up shop in a huge life altering way.
However, the HCG numbers fell dismally and showed I was miscarrying. I was disappointed, definitely, but still impressed my one remaining tube was throwing up some impressive pregnancy numbers. We'd get it next time, Kid.

And we did. Nolan screamed on the scene January 18th, 2008. And like every second child does (especially ones close in age to the first), he gave us quite a pause if maybe this big family thing wasn't all it was cracked up to be.
But eventually we came back to our crazy senses and wanted to press on with building up the family roster. Unfortunately, the baby making assembly line took on the characteristics of Willy Wonka’s factory before he decides to give out the Golden Tickets.

For two long, extremely frustrating years I checked almost monthly for those two little lines to appear on home tests, convincing myself I was pregnant every time my period was due. I went on a full scale mission to conceive and experimented with anything faceless women on the Internet had successfully tried. I did everything short of cloning my two existing children and IVF, and every month I sobbed in the bathroom, cursing my period and non-responsive body.
When the only thing you wish for so fervently is to have a baby, whether it’s your first or tenth, it takes on a life of its own. My personality started to have a striking resemblance to Sigourney Weaver’s Zuul in Ghostbusters.  
Month by month my failure to get pregnant would fester and grow into a consuming vehement resentment of all things baby. I was enraged when two of my sisters accidentally looked at sperm, got pregnant, and gave birth to healthy babies I couldn’t even bring myself to look at, let alone hold. I would have to leave church during baptisms, and frankly even baby Jesus at Christmas-time would bring me to tears. I felt like my TV became a breeding ground for nonstop baby advertisements, and someone was cuing pregnant women to constantly roam the streets like zombies out to torture me.
With every morsel of me I felt our family was still a work in progress. It was like I took a giant breath and I couldn’t exhale until I was pregnant again. My elusive, intangible baby was out there calling to me and I wouldn’t give up on it.

The doctor walked into the room staring at my chart. She briefly looked up and absently extended her hand to greet me.
“Wow,” she said. “It seems like you’ve had a bit of some bad luck.”
I never know how to appropriately respond to that, so I usually don’t. I just let it hang there, hoping my new doctor would take the nonverbal cue to bestow on me a ground-breaking theory of how to fix me resolutely.
My new OB put me on Clomid so we could increase the chances of actually conceiving, and I magically became pregnant the first month. We were beyond ecstatic and immediately felt the agony of the past two barren years wash away. This was my time to be the annoying pregnant lady.
We saw the heartbeat at eight weeks, and I’d like to say I just rode into the sunset of my blissful, worry-free pregnancy, but I didn’t. The heart rate wasn’t very strong, but the doctor and my back-up entourage of thousands of fertility-challenged women on the Internet assured me I could still go on to have a healthy baby. Sometimes heart rates are low at first, but I couldn’t shake the bad feeling.
The day after the dooming heart rate ultrasound we were headed on a family vacation out-of-state, and I couldn’t logistically insist on daily ultrasounds to quell my fears. I just didn’t feel right, though. Sure, I could convince myself my boobs hurt, I was tired, and I needed to pee all the time. I was a pro at psychosomatic symptoms by now, but deep down I knew this baby wasn’t taking hold.
When I got back from the trip I immediately scheduled another ultrasound to hopefully quiet my anxiety, but it was our worst nightmare. We were back to square one because we no longer had a heartbeat. 
After trying so long to conceive, I could feel the pregnancy clawing at my insides, not wanting to let go after all the hard work. I felt I would not miscarry on my own, so I had a D and C so I could put this painful chapter behind me quickly and move on with trying to conceive again.

I swayed my doctor to put me on Clomid again shortly after recovering from the D and C. I did not want my obviously stagnant eggs to get any more lethargic. And sure enough, we became pregnant again immediately.
I was petrified every second of the day, so I resumed my chanting mantras to will a healthy baby. Everyday my body would uncoil a minuscule amount from the tight frantic ball of nerves it was in. I had had a couple ultrasounds, the heartbeat was strong, and I was definitely feeling pregnant.
We were almost going to perform the ultimate test of fate for any couple that has dealt with fertility problems…announce the pregnancy. Our 14 week genetic testing ultrasound was coming up, and after that we would share the joy and finally accept that this baby was ours to keep.
The more pregnancies you’ve had trouble with, the nicer the ultrasound techs become, and this one was loving us. She chatted away about how nice it would be to be surprised about the gender, how our two kids would love having a sibling, blah, blah, “here are the arms!”, blah, blah, “the head, the belly!”, blah, blah, “by your measurements it looks like you are 14 weeks along,” blah, blah, etc.…
”Excuse me,” she said and quickly bolted from the tiny dark room.
We were stunned, not really sure what happened to our playful baby banter. The image of our baby was frozen on the ultrasound screen. My husband and I couldn’t even bring ourselves to think something horrible was happening, not after that frivolous small talk.
We slowly realized something was wrong. I kept repeating, “The screen says the baby measured 14 weeks. It’s 14 weeks old today. It has to be fine.” Any fertility inept woman can tell you down to the second the gestational age of her baby because she is continually willing time to speed by until things will be statistically “fine.”
I was still lying there with the ultrasound goop on my stomach when a more authoritative, somber man came in, and our hearts hit the floor.
“I’m sorry,” he said. “It seems there isn’t a heartbeat.”
“You need to check again! It can’t be right! That is exactly how old the baby is,” I desperately pleaded.
“I’m sorry,” he firmly repeated. “There isn’t a mistake. It must have happened recently. You’ll have to follow up with your OB.”
This was another one of those times when we had to somehow operate, complete the most menial tasks, in order to deal with one of the most horrific experiences of our lives.  We had to drive the car, walk up steps, say my name to a receptionist tragically looking at me because she just received word from the ultrasound facility I needed to come in immediately, and sit and wait next to pregnant women absently flipping through magazines. Everything was just so impossibly hard to execute because I was completely ripped open.
And then I had to decide on not so menial things, like how this baby would leave my body.
The doctor morosely told me, “You can take your time and think about it. You can have another D and C or we can induce you and deliver the baby in the hospital…”
I did take my time to think between continually sobbing at the life-numbing injustice of what we were dealing with again. But in the end I knew, even during the rawest pain, I would not stop trying, and I didn’t want to jeopardize having possible scar tissue with two back to back D and C’s. I would deliver the baby.
The doctor had to insert medicine to start contractions, so I had to go back to the office. Before I would let her do it, though, I insisted she check the ultrasound again for a heartbeat. I still couldn’t come to grips that my seemingly “typical” and miraculous pregnancy had just simply ceased to exist.
She wouldn’t let me look at the screen, but drove around my belly for a few obligatory moments before she sadly said, “There is nothing there. No heartbeat.”
When we had to go to the hospital later that night to deliver the baby. As people walked negligently past me in the halls, I couldn’t believe they didn't pull some sort of alarm and whisk me to the mental health floor. Because I felt and looked like I was about to come unhinged and I did, big time.
The nurse led us into our room on the labor and delivery ward. I froze for a millisecond before going absolutely nuts.
“YOU HAVE TO GET THAT OUT OF HERE!! GET IT OUT OF HERE! GET IT OUT, GET IT OUT, GET IT OUT!” I screamed and recoiled from the bassinet where they put squirmy, fist-clenching, crying babies moments after they burst into the world.
She looked cautiously at me, and said, “Ma’am, I can’t move it. It is hooked up to a bunch of cords.”
I hope that lady never lives a day in her life where she forgets what an asinine and down right imbecilic thing that was to say to an obviously emotionally eradicated human being.
She pushed the bassinet a few inches farther away, hoping that would pacify me, and cooly told me to change into my gown because the doctor would be in to check how things were progressing.
My husband and I had to sit there, wait for the doctor, and through our own sobs, listen to other women scream as they exhaustively pushed their breathing babies out into the world.
Mine did not take so much physical effort, but it ripped apart something in me virtually impossible to ever get back. The doctor unenthusiastically caught the baby as it flopped on the bed.
He paused and asked, “Would you like to see it?”
I don’t know if I made the right decision because it haunts me still, but I said what instinctively came out, “Yes.”
It looked like a baby, a very sad, tiny, lifeless baby. The doctor had wrapped our baby in a towel and propped it up so the proud parents could see.
I didn’t know it was possible to become any more unglued, but I did.
After going through that I became a walking shell of myself. I wore sunglasses constantly so I could cry as I pushed the grocery cart, drove the car, ran errands, and my kids wouldn’t be the wiser. I don’t remember taking a lot of showers standing up, I’d always end up falling down to the tub, bawling, with no energy to even wash my hair. It would take everything I had to fake it through each day with my children, and every night I would take a sleeping pill so my time of crying in my bed would be abbreviated.
I could see how my pain was making my family and friends uncomfortable, but frankly I could care less. I realized why people are never comfortable extending reassuring words to the grieving because they know what is looping through our heads, “I’m going to punch you in the face for saying such ridiculous, cliché things to me.” If they had to be a little uneasy trying to act normal around me, so be it, as if their little trifle of discontent mattered at all compared to what was raging through me.
My depression morphed into a black, inky sludge of a plague, vacuuming all normalcy from my life; suffocating me every moment of the day.
Eventually I was exhausted from it, and no longer felt as if mourning the loss of my baby was making me a more heroic, deserving mom. I was ready for some professional help and to step briefly away from my full time job of happiness deprivation. I enlisted the help of a therapist, and begrudgingly went a couple times a week.
I can’t say with certainty the therapist saved me. It felt a little canned and hokey talking about my life, mostly because I kept thinking, “Is this what I’m supposed to be saying to a therapist?” I didn’t have any big “Ah, ha!” Oprah moments, but I did realize this…
What happened sucked, plain and simple. It wasn’t my fault, God’s fault, or destiny’s fault. It was just something awful that happened to me. I just had to stop wallowing in the unfairness of it all, lace up my boots, and move on. Once I not only realized that, but truly believed it, I felt the weight of it lift from me and float away like a nuclear cloud.

I stared at the form, considering how to answer those two seemingly absolute questions. It seemed absurd I was now having to mentally catalog and count on my fingers how many times I actually had been pregnant. It wasn’t lost on me that normal women wouldn’t have to do this.
I sat there and contemplated “NUMBER OF BIRTHS.”
Did my last baby count as one I gave birth to?
Would this one?
Yes, because sweet little dimple-faced Finn was sent down from the heavens to us on January 23, 2012. If there is such thing as karma, he was our payback. He was an angelic, old soul from the moment he was born, and refused to give us any grief because he knew what we went though to get him here. In his own way, he lets us know, “Mom…Dad…, you are the bomb for not giving up on me, and I’m going to make you laugh everyday to show you what’s up.”
I'd like to say all my doctors, high risk doctors, and OBs were amazing and dedicated to my quest to have a baby again, but the fact is they weren't. They all listened to everything I had gone through very indifferently and then proceeded to offer me no answers or even avenues to investigate. Mostly they just informed me, “You’ve had a really rough time.” You don’t say!  “You had two successful births and there are no medical reasons why you shouldn’t be able to have another.” REALLY! That is all you have to offer despite your years of practice and wealth of knowledge??!!
Some of them mollified me and threw me a bone of something I could try, but most of them insisted there was nothing wrong, which I couldn't even believe they could say with a straight face. I spent so many hours reading books, listening to what friends tried, and researching any similarities between myself and random women on the Internet.
I was my biggest advocate, and I wasn't willing to sit by and let some uninspired doctors choose my baby fate.
During these searches I came across symptoms of gluten intolerance. An insane amount of headaches, CHECK; continual mouth sores, CHECK; skin rashes, CHECK; a barrage of gastro-intestinal issues I'll spare you the knowledge of, CHECK; unexplained infertility, umm… HELL YES! I immediately got tested because I just knew I had stumbled upon something that definitely resonated with me.
It turned out I was unquestionably allergic to gluten. I’m not sure if gluten was the source of all my pain and suffering, but I will tell you this, it was the only thing I came across that completely made sense to me.
How did this affect my reproductive system? Let me try to explain this to you in the most medically and scientifically sound way I can. I feel like when I ate gluten my body was like, “Whoa, dude! What’s this garbage? I can’t operate like this! I’m all angry and fiery up in here. You expect me to grow a baby in this hell hole? You’re freaking bananas!”
I can’t say with absolute certainty that abstaining from gluten allowed me to be able to finally conceive and carry a child to term, but if you want my opinion, yes, damn straight it is.

I realize most sane couples close down the workshop and clock out after a few kids. They want to sit back and retire from endless days and sleepless nights where you are constantly dishing out bottles and snacks, wiping faces with spit on your thumb, and carting abhorrent diapers out of living quarters. Not us.
There was no way we were going to prevent another pregnancy, although we both honestly believed our dream of having a larger family would never become a reality.
But little Elliot was our Hollywood baby. It was like we got transported to a whimsical romantic comedy set. We gasped with hands slapped to our cheeks. What? I’m pregnant?? How can that be? I already have a baby at home! Where the hell are we going to put a baby in this tiny house? Are we going to move out and just let them raise themselves like a pack of wolves?
And true to form, my effortless, breezy Hollywood pregnancy yielded an equally amiable, perfect baby on November 11, 2014. We faded to black with our little cherubic baby cradled in our arms and all his siblings crowding around, admiring our newest addition.
And I don’t care if you just threw up a little in your mouth because that is my story. Over and over I was asked to condense it into those two little blanks that followed “number of pregnancies” and “number of births”. How could I possibly fit all that anguish, joy, rage, relief, and happiness in those two lines?
Amazingly time does allow me to fold up everything we went thorough and file it away. I know what I endured, and I will carry that with me always. But I no longer have to cling to those stories and curse at them. I no longer admonish my body for what it put me through. It was the means of how we became our family, and the score no longer matters.

Ryan's Story

To have and to hold

from this day forward

for better or worse

In sickness and health

In good times and bad

Until death do us part...

These are the words promised on one of the happiest days of my life, and the same words that echoed through some of the most trying days my wife and I faced throughout the years of struggle with pregnancy and loss.

The first of our tests came when we were 1000 miles from home and any immediate family from which to physically feel comfort and support. We only had each other as the words "ectopic pregnancy" were first uttered by a doctor and explained to both of us, forever changing my wife physically and us completely.

It all happened in a flurry. Pain I had never seen my wife experience, the hospital trip, the ectopic diagnosis, to immediate surgery. The best result would remove the implanted egg and likely the fallopian tube it was attached to, and the worst result was it rupturing inside my wife causing internal bleeding and potential death.

I remember them wheeling her away and feeling like my world was collapsing. I was broken, helpless, utterly and completely alone. I had no idea how long the procedure was going to take, but I knew I had to let at least let my parents know in order to start praying, the only thing my Catholic upbringing knew to do in times like these. I could hardly formulate words into sentences when I spoke to my mom on the phone I was so uncontrollably overcome with emotion and the enormity of the circumstances.

After the call I waited in knots of worry until after an eternity they finally called me back to see her. She looked so fragile, tired and sad when I saw her, all I could do was put my arms around her, hold her and tell her repeatedly that I loved her.

When the doctor reported to us ‘all went well’, meaning they were able to get the implant out along with a portion of her Fallopian tube, our world went dark again. My wife screamed for them to put it back in, over and over and over again, and all I could do is squeeze her tighter and tighter trying desperately to keep out the menacing thoughts of never having kids from trying to creep into my head. At the same time I struggled with the reality of having absolutely no control, no plan of attack, and no way to make the situation better...the essence of my job as a loving husband.

You instantly become scholars of your circumstances when life schools you with a hand of crappy cards. Ovulation normally occurs one month on the right, the next on the left and now she had no pathway on the right for any miracle to travel. Mentally I took these now severely reduced odds and multiplied them by the insane miracle of life occurring from a single sperm meeting a ready, accepting egg, and my analytical brain was reducing our chances to having our own natural born kids to nearly zero.

I felt I could never utter those thoughts, though. I had to try to keep a brave face, for her, for me, for us. It's not over, it can't be. I've honestly dreamed of being a Daddy since before I knew what action was required to become one. In reality it was far from over. This was simply the first of an eventual nine pregnancies, four ending successfully with our beautiful eldest girl, Clara, and three amazing boys Nolan, Finn, and Elliot.

The other losses were not easier because we had experienced this one prior. They were all painful, heart-wrenching, disbelieving, soul wrecking experiences. They tested everything we were made of as individuals, as a couple, and as believers in God. We never had the movie version of a positive pregnancy test, followed by gleeful celebration, and then sharing with friends and family. Instead we had wishful, hopeful, long embraces filled with silent racing thoughts of how can we endure this again, and please, please, please God if you exist, don't do this to us again.

In the early days and weeks of pregnancy we waited for doubling HCG numbers like anxious lottery ticket holders. Then we looked to 'getting through' the first trimester as the ultimate test, knowing chances of loss significantly lessened after getting to that magic mark. We were hit with early loss, we were hit with late loss. They all sucked. When you’re in it you think no one can possibly know what you’re going through, I mean TRULY know what you’re going through. There are many of those dark times where snippets of the past can roll through my head unexpectedly at any given moment. It’s easier now chasing those out of my head and allowing the magic of what we have created with Divine help to replace them.

I can never let go of one moment in the hospital, and I realize now why. It happened all the way back during that first loss. I was broken, tired, hollow, and alone in the waiting room when a woman approached me and recognized my pain. I don’t recall exactly the conversation or how deeply I shared, but I must have gotten the gist of it out because I remember her softening, and with kind, all knowing eyes tell me one day we were going to bear witness to others and to be strong.

I do feel like “A Little Ray of Sunshine” is our chance to do exactly that...bear witness to others who feel lost, broken, and without hope. We and many others do know what it feels like to want so badly for something you cannot control, only to have it slip through your grips. And although there are never any promises in this life, we can at least share our happy ending to let you know that happy endings are possible.

Thank you to my wife, Melissa, and all the other courageous women and men who have been hurt physically, emotionally, and spiritually, and are willing to share their stories on this site. And to Michelle, who is one of those women, who not only shared her story, but was inspired and driven to create this site and put it out there. Hopefully it will serve as a place from which those in the midst of hellish times can draw strength and to begin to see glimmers of hope through the darkness.


The Nays' Story

Hello, we are the Nay’s. Our story begins on December 15th, 2006. My husband and I had been trying to get pregnant for over a year with no success. One morning I woke up with a feeling that “today might be the day!” I took a test and with great excitement it came back positive.  We were so excited, felt so blessed and couldn’t wait to shout our good news from the rooftops.

We went out and purchased a crib, painted the nursery and started to plan the theme for the nursery. We told everyone that we knew and they were so excited for us. We wanted nothing more than to be parents and were planning for our future family.

Then, on January 27th, I started to spot. Chet and I had an ultrasound scheduled for January 30th, but I decided that I wanted to go the ER to be sure our little angel was ok. We got to the ER and were taken back to the ultrasound room. The technician was very quiet and then walked out of the room. My husband and I were extremely worried. We had never known anyone to have a miscarriage or to have any complications with a pregnancy. When the technician walked back in, she handed me the phone. It was my doctor. She then proceeded to tell me that something had gone wrong with the pregnancy and our baby no longer had a heartbeat. We were going to miscarry our baby. I was 11 weeks along. She told me she was very sorry and that I needed to call her office the next morning to schedule an appointment. We were crushed. I had no words to say. My husband and I just sat and cried in the ultrasound office.

As I got home I was filled with so many emotions. I was angry, devastated, embarrassed and confused. I was so stupid to tell the world that we were expecting. I kept saying to myself “How am I going to explain what happened? How am I going to tell everyone?” I called off work and emailed the staff of teachers at my school. I didn’t know how else to tell them all without having to retell the story 100 times. I was embarrassed all over again. I didn’t know how I was going to tell my family and friends.

At our doctors appointment I was told I had 2 options. The first was to sit at home and try to miscarry naturally at home. Second was to have a D&C and I could schedule it that day. I decided to try to miscarry on my own. We left for home and for 3 days I sat and waited. Every time I went to the bathroom I expected to see my baby. Every time I felt a cramp, I started to assume that this was the end. I would sit and stare at the nursery door and cry because I thought we would never fill it with a baby. On January 31st, I started to hemorrhage at home and needed to be taken to the ER. I laid on the bed of the ER for what seemed like forever. Having labor pains that I knew would end with heartache. They finally did a D&C. I was discharged on February 1st.  After leaving I felt empty and didn’t know how to face the world. It took me 6 months to open that nursery door again.

It wasn’t until I went back to work that people started talking to me about their story. They had miscarried too. People that had kids and grandkids of their own started to tell me that it was OK and that I didn’t do anything wrong. There was nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed about. I had parents of students come up to me and share their stories. I had an aunt that had a miscarriage, a grandmother that had a stillborn daughter and my mom even miscarried before I was born. I started to feel like there was hope and that I was not alone. I now believe that I should not feel embarrassed for announcing our pregnancy. It was something to celebrate. If I had not announced the pregnancy, I may have never gotten the support of so many people, and I know I could not have gotten through it alone. My miscarriage was nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about. Our baby existed. Our baby was alive and was worth celebrating even if it was only for 11 short weeks.

In 2007, after trying for 8 more months we decided to see a fertility specialist. We discovered the first month with our wonderful Reproductive Endocrinologist that I had blocked tubes due to endometriosis. I had surgery to unblock them. We also discovered we were working with some male factor infertility as well. We tried 3 rounds of IUI’s with a drug called Clomid. The 3rd round gave us a positive pregnancy test. This time around we were terrified. I was afraid to do anything that might result in another miscarriage. I did everything by the book but sadly this pregnancy ended at 6 weeks on October 25, 2007 due to a progesterone imbalance.

We decided we would try again and then move to adoption. We had one more failed IUI and we contacted an adoption agency. In the mean time, we did our final IUI, first and last with injectable drugs and progesterone supplements and on January 27th, 2009, exactly 2 years after we found out we lost our first angel, we conceived our son Ethan. The IUI was a success. He was due October 25th, exactly 1 year after loosing our second angel. Ethan made it. He was a fighter from conception. He is our miracle rainbow baby boy. After my first trimester, and after 4 ultrasounds confirming he was ok, I was able to breathe and enjoy pregnancy. I felt robbed of having that joy of being pregnant, but in the end, he was here. Ethan was born on September 30th. Born at 37 weeks, due to complications with preeclampsia. Ethan was our light after the storm that seemed would never end.

We decided to try again when Ethan was 18 months old. It took us over 3 years to conceive and deliver Ethan so we thought I would take just as long.  3 months later I was pregnant again, with our son Elijah. I was admitted to the hospital on February 1st, 2012. Exactly 5 years after I had my D&C with our first angel.  Elijah was born on February 2, 2012. God’s plan was to have Ethan and Elijah in our lives.

I share with you these dates because I truly believe that my 2 boys here on Earth have 2 amazing little guardian angels above. All 4 of my pregnancies are linked in some way with dates. I cannot explain it in any other way other than this is the way it was meant to be.   Every January 27th and October 25th I light a candle. Those dates are days that will forever be in my heart. I will never forget those babies that we have lost. They are a part of us and have helped make us the parents we are today. One day, when my boys are older, they will hear the story of their guardian angels.

I hope that our story will bring you hope, peace and a feeling that you are not alone. Life after loss is never easy. Everyone grieves in a different way.  Every story is different. Just know that however you are deciding to move forward, move at your own pace and reach out if you need it. Help is just around the corner.  God Bless you and your angel. 

Cassie Nay

A Story of Patience

Babies are everywhere.   They are on TV, Facebook, strolling the streets of Chicago and the aisle at Target.   Babies are a blessing and bring joy to everyone around them.  However, when facing fertility issues, babies are a constant reminder of uncertainty and emptiness. Going to Target is a constant reminder of what you don’t have, Going on Facebook leaves you feeling pain and longing for something you can’t have…a family, a piece of you and your husband.  And it leaves you wondering why…..why me?   I started babysitting at the age of 12. I loved babies.  I always knew I’d be a mom….until 2 years into my marriage and I wasn’t.  And reality hit that I may never be a mom.  I may never be able to have a baby.   The doctors couldn’t find anything wrong, no reason as to why we weren’t getting pregnant.  My husband checked out fine, I checked out fine. In fact, I was told my egg supply was that of a 20 year old, I was 35.  My doctor suggested surgery to check my tubes and make sure they weren’t blocked. After waking up from the surgery, the doctor looked at me and said “Great news, your tubes look great!   There were no blockages."  And I felt defeated once again, I cried the whole way home.  I just wanted someone to have an answer because then they could fix it. I just wanted someone to fix it. 

Then came 2 rounds of IVF.  I quickly got used to administering shots and my husband got used to my crazy mood swings.   They retrieved 19 eggs, 16 of which were high quality.   That meant I had 16 chances to have a baby!  Doctors were optimistic.   After 2 embryos were transferred, I got the news we had been waiting for. I was pregnant!   In fact, my hormone levels were so high they thought I may have twins.  The day after my first ultrasound, I miscarried.  I was in disbelief.  But we didn’t want to give up.  We stayed strong and went through another successful round of IVF.  Pregnant again.  Miscarried again.  Two miscarriages in 4 months is enough to turn a sane person crazy.   But I knew I needed to stay strong. I needed to have a baby…I was determined.  

We took some time off to enjoy life again.   The IVF treatments were consuming us.  It was all I ever talked about, ever thought about.   We needed to step away and clear our minds and reconnect.   After 6 months of focusing on me, my husband, our family, we decided it was time to tryagain.  But I knew I didn’t want to go through IVF again.  First of all, it is ridiculously expensive, and second, it was emotionally draining.   After talking with our doctors, we decided to try doing IUI.  A lot less invasive, less time consuming, less expensive.   My nurse had told me it takes on average 3 attempts for a successful outcome. My husband and I decided we’d give it 3 attempts before taking a step back and looking at alternative options.   After 2 failed attempts, we found out we were pregnant on the third attempt.   

I took the news with caution and cried for 2 days.   I didn’t want to get excited.  Excitement had ended in disappointment in the past and I didn’t know if I could deal with one more miscarriage.  I didn’t know if one more miscarriage would completely break me.  The doctor wanted me to have weekly ultrasounds so we could keep a close eye on the development of the embryo.  I was hesitant to have weekly ultrasounds, but hoped they would just provide me with the reassurance that all was okay.   I didn’t sleep the night before my first ultrasound. I was terrified.  As I went into the exam room and looked at the screen, I let out a sigh of relief when I saw that little black dot, as I had seen twice before.  I was an expert at looking at these ultrasounds, I knew my uterus inside and out.  So I knew that black dot meant I had a little baby in there and that was one battle won.   As I looked closer at the screen, I swore I saw another tiny black dot, not quite as big as the one I originally saw, but definitely a smaller version.   I looked at my doctor and saw her intently looking at the screen. After what seemed like an eternity, she turned to us and said “There are your babies."   And it hit me…we were having babies!  Not one, but more than one!  At that moment, 2 things went through my head 1) I NEVER have to go through this again 2) my odds of having a successful pregnancy just increased.  I had two babies, and if one didn’t make it, I would stillhave another.   A horrible, awful thought…I know, but I knew I had to be realistic and cautious.  I still had a long road to travel and nothing was certain.   And so began my weekly ultrasounds.   And endless sleepless nights.  Slowly but surely, we hit the 10 week mark, then 12 weeks, then 20 weeks, etc.   While the fear never fully went away, I allowed myself to slowly embrace my pregnancy as each week passed.  I had never been so happy to feel nauseous or to have heartburn.  I loved the constant reminder that those little babies were strong and hanging in there.  Then, I could finally feel them kicking and that was the best feeling in the world!   I still had some fear in me, but with each kick, jab, punch, hiccup, I knew we were all okay. 

As I finish writing this, I have my little baby girl in my arms.  She is absolutely perfect.  My little boy is swinging in his swing next to me. He gives me a little smile each time I look at him.  It’s as if he knew he was meant to be ours. I just needed to be patient because my babies were waiting for me this whole time.  

The Hardsocks' Story

I had just gotten back from a weekend in Texas for a good friend’s bachelorette party. I was a couple days late. I was so excited I could hardly stand it. We had only been trying for a couple months, but as you know it felt like years. I got home on September 4th, and the next day September 5th would mark our 1-year anniversary gift. What better gift than a positive pregnancy test, right? On my drive back from Midway Airport I stopped at a Walgreens, and bought it. Our test. I can’t recall how it all happened, but long story short, I got home, peed on a stick, saw two lines, showed my husband, we both cried tears of joy, and went out to celebrate one year and a new baby!

Everything was going good … boobs hurt, super tired, all awesome symptoms of pregnancy! We told my husband's family around 8 weeks by making cupcakes for my brother-in-laws birthday. We put little blue and pink trinkets inside. We told my parents by sending them on a scavenger hunt to spell out the word BABY! We took pictures of all this, so I could scrapbook and show baby when he or she got older!

We decided we would tell other family and friends after our 12 week mark and after seeing our ultrasound. We decided we would go big! We were going to make a CD with songs that have the word BABY in the title! Burned all 30 plus copies, put them in padded envelopes, addressed, and sealed. 11 weeks, only 1 more week to spill the beans!

Days before 12 weeks, I went to Omaha to go to a concert with my one and only sister.  One of the first things I did when I got there was give her a present. Inside were tampons and condoms with a note “These need to be put to good use, because I won’t be needing them for the next nine months.” You could see the light bulb go off in her head! She cried, I cried, we laughed, we hugged. It was so real! She would be an aunt and I would be a mom. A mom! We went to the concert and the next morning was a day I would never forget.

I woke up to blood. Bright red blood. Period blood. My sister of course knew nothing because she is younger, so I called my sister in law who said it is really common to “spot.” I had a feeling this was not just spotting. Called the OB and they said I should just keep my appointment in a few days when I got back and we would see what was going on.  Even though I already knew what was going on. Mother’s intuition.

We kept our ultrasound appointment at the doctor’s office. While in the back of my mind I knew the news we were going to get, I had some hope. Maybe it was a mistake and my body was just freaking out and handling this pregnancy in a different way. And I could not be having a miscarriage. I was 25, healthy, happy, not a care in the world. But that is the thing, miscarriage does not discriminate.  It doesn’t care if it is your first pregnancy or fourth pregnancy. It doesn’t care if you are white, black, young, old, overweight, or skinny.

The waiting room was small, and there were lots of baby bumps. That was going to be me in 4 months. I couldn’t wait to have a bump and eat for two! We got called back to the ultrasound room, the tech took our info, checked over everything, and started the ultrasound. I explained to her what had happened, the blood. She seemed very calm and proceeded with the ultrasound. First on my belly, then vaginally. After silence in the room and searching for what felt like forever, she said the words. “It looks as though there is no heartbeat.” It felt like I had no heartbeat too. I had to catch my breath.  Really? Me? Are you sure? My husband and I were holding hands, there was comfort. Tears started. We were let into another room to wait for a doctor I had never met.

Our doctor came in. It was all a blur, but she gave us our options, some of the science behind everything, told me it wasn’t my fault. She said all the right things, but there was still ache. We opted to have a D&C to remove our baby. When I say it like that, it makes me cringe. It was a baby. It was our baby. After the appointment, I went to school and wrote sub plans for the next day, went to the hospital to have the D&C, and then went out to dinner with my husband. That’s right, we went out to dinner. I think we were both in shock, not fully understanding what had happened and what we had lost. The evening seemed so routine … like find out you had a miscarriage, go write sub plans, go have surgery, go out to dinner, and carry on with your night.

The funny thing about miscarriage and loss in general, is n body knows what to do. If you are the person going through the loss, you want to quit, hide in bed, get lost for a while. If you are offering condolences, there isn’t much you can do. We only knew a couple people who had a miscarriage. My miscarriage was back in 2010 and now it is 2015. So much has changed about miscarriages since then. The discussion is more open. More honest. More loving. More sincere. We are not alone. While I don’t want anyone to feel that pain, it is comforting to know that someone has been there and can sympathize with me.

We tried as soon as we could and on Christmas Eve of 2010 I took a positive pregnancy test and gave it to my husband on Christmas morning. We were excited to say the least, but we were also very scared. Miscarriage takes away a certain amount of excitement with each following pregnancy. Is the outcome going to be the same? Worrying takes over your mind.  Miscarriage robs you of happiness, in so many ways.

 On September 8, 2011 Brooklyn Ann was born into this world. A beautiful, big girl weighing 9 pounds 13 ounces with a head as long as a ruler! I loved her. But I wasn’t in love with her. Friends told me what to expect with pregnancy … stretch marks, weight gain, boob engorgement, emotions, etc. But no one really explained the emotional rollercoaster that is Post Partum Depression. I remember thinking “Everyone loves Brooklyn, but what about me? I did all this work! And I am not getting any sleep, my boobs are crazy, I still have 40+ to lose. My husband is showing her more affection than me, I can’t go out when I want to. This isn’t fair. She is ruining everything.” Yes, I thought that. If you have had PPD, you totally get it. If not, sorry. That is the truth, it is how I felt! I cried all the time. It didn’t help that the anniversary of 9/11 was three days after we got home. I can just see myself lying on the floor crying with this new baby thinking “Why don’t I love her like everyone else does? Why am I not jumping up and down? There are so many people suffering and I have this beautiful baby.” Eventually I fell in love. In love with my baby girl, Brooklyn.

We knew we wanted our kids close together, but when I got a positive pregnancy test when Brooklyn was 8 months old, we were a little nervous. We were even more nervous when we went in for our ultrasound and they told us we were eight weeks along. I was due December 1st, 2012. I was going to have two babies. How in the world? But we did it! On December 8th, 2012, exactly 15 months after big sister was born, Alexandria Ann came into this world. Dark hair, squinty eyes, and 9 pounds 1 ounce of happiness.  Having symptoms of PPD prepared me for the emotions of being home with two babies. This time it didn’t last as long, but still cried thinking I ruined Brooklyn. How am I going to balance this thing called motherhood? How am I going to give Brooklyn the attention she needs?  How am I going to give Alexandira all the cuddles and rocking she needs as a baby? In reality, I gave Brooklyn the best gift I will ever give her. The love of a sister.

Our fourth pregnancy, started in March 2014 when we went in for our ultrasound. Everyone gave us a hard time for having our kids so close together and having two girls. Are you going to wait? Do you want a boy? What are you going to do if it is a girl?  “Oh don’t worry if it is another girl we will just send her back!” Idiots! Anyways, I was going to Omaha the following weekend for my sister’s bridal shower and really wanted to see a heartbeat before I told my family.

We scheduled our ultrasound and were so excited.  Arrived, Checked in, called back, the same routine. As I was getting ready I looked at my husband and said “What would we do if it was twins?” That would put us at four kids, four years and under! I don’t remember his answer, or if he even answered. The ultrasound tech came in and started and there THEY were. Two sacs. Two fertilized sacs inside me. Seriously? One was bigger than the other. She said that we would have to see how the smaller one developed. No heartbeats were detected yet, but they were there. Two Babies. We were coming back in a week to see the progress.

That was one of the longest weeks of my life. Everything ran through my head. EVERYTHING! How would we set up the minivan? How would I breastfeed? How would I stay sane? How would I do anything? During this week I prayed all the time. I just asked God to do what he knew was right. If he thought the right plan for us was two babies, awesome. We would handle it. It would be hard, but we could do it. If not, then we would be blessed with one. We went back one week later and we saw two sacs. One with no heartbeat, and one with a heartbeat of 99. Even though a heartbeat was never officially detected, I believe he or she is up in the Heavens with their big brother or sister. The doctor said she really wants the heartbeat to be higher than 99 at this point in the pregnancy. I thought “We are going to go from twins to nothing.” Praying and more praying. A week later we had another ultrasound to see one sac with a strong heartbeat of 156. One baby. One heartbeat.

So many emotions. I was so happy to have another healthy baby, but wondered what would have been. Seven months later our little boy entered this world. Smaller than his sisters, at 8 pounds 13 ounces, but stronger than ever!  Trenton Allen officially completed our family. We have always wanted three babies. Well, we have always wanted three children to raise on this earth. Three earthside babies, and two babies in heaven.


To those that are reading this who are struggling. I have no clue what you are going through. I have had my own experience, my own struggles, my own story, but I do not know yours.  I don’t know why bad things happen to good people. I am sorry you are struggling. I am sorry you are sad. I am sorry you don’t have a baby. I pray for you all the time. I hope that you find comfort somewhere. I hope that you have a baby. I hope that you are blessed. I hope that you find hope!



Jodi's Story

“What I am seeing is incompatible with life." Those were the terrible words that the radiologist uttered to us back in May 1994, as he held the ultrasound probe to my belly. There were more words to follow, but I couldn’t really process any of them.  The dreams, the hopes, the plans that we had been making during the 18 weeks of my pregnancy were demolished with that first sentence. Everything else that he said seemed like it was being spoken under water. There was an explanation, there was a plan, but nothing could get past that first sentence.  We left the hospital, confused, panicked, and maybe still a little bit in disbelief. We saw another doctor at another hospital, only to have the horrible truth confirmed.

It was as if our world had stopped spinning. But how was it that the world had not stopped for everyone? It seemed so inconceivable for us to go on, shouldn’t everything shut down for something so devastating? The days and weeks following were so trying, I felt like I couldn’t leave my house.  Anywhere I went someone would say something about my pregnancy or I would see other pregnant women, all happy in their expectations, or precious newborns, reminding me of what we would not have. There were many days that I just didn’t want to get out of bed and there were a couple when my husband would come home from work and have to pick me up from my sobbing heap on the floor. Once I answered a questioning friend with “No, I don’t see myself ever being happy again.”

Then came the worst of it: Delivering a baby that you know is not going to be alive is a horrible kind of torment. Holding a son that does not breathe but still has your husband’s funny fingernails is a pain so great; I can only say that I am grateful that few know it.

After the delivery, I continued to struggle, long after my husband was ready to move on. Sometimes it was infuriating that he didn’t seem as affected by it, but I knew that people grieve differently and I was fortunate that he was very supportive (sometimes in his own befuddled way). What continued to present difficulties were the reactions and statements of others.  We got:  “You weren’t pregnant that long.”   (To which I thought“I know, but I was planning on having this child with me for the rest of my life”) and“You can try again.” (“But I already gave a part of my heart to this child.") My least favorite and the one that made me feel like I wanted to rip someone’s throat out was the ubiquitous “Everything happens for a reason.”  Like, what’s the reason? I would be a bad mother and didn’t deserve this child? Really, what’s a good reason? No one ever presented me with one. I guess they didn’t realize that when you lose a baby, you are already tearing yourself up with all the why and what if questions. And the “why?” and “what if?” game is one that just can’t be won.

I did have other, truly remarkable people who were willing to just be there with me wherever there was. They didn’t try to tell me how I should feel or how I would one day feel, but would just try to understand how I felt at that moment. One day I might be lamenting about the fact that I had to take back all the beautiful maternity clothes that my mother had bought for me. The next day I would be feeling guilty that I had been sad about such a superficial thing as pretty clothes. The people who were somehow able to understand that this loss encompassed so many large and small parts of my life were the ones I really leaned on.  I still say, if asked, that one of the best gifts I ever received was a simple card, hand delivered by a friend. The fact that my friend stood on my doorway with tears streaming down her face and unable to mutter a single word, spoke volumes about how she understood my heartache.

I did make it out of that deep dark hole of grief, one day, one step at a time. It wasn’t easy, some days were harder than others.  I leaned on those people who seemed to understand me and tried to forgive those who didn’t and had inadvertently hurt me.  I let go of all the whys and what ifs and with them the deep sense of failure. I found a book of poems and artwork by other moms who had lost babies that spoke to me.  I let myself hope again; deciding that having my own baby to hold would be worth any amount of pain and suffering. 

Our first attempt after this ended with a miscarriage, which could have been even more devastating, but I think that I was somehow prepared to have more difficulties. Our third pregnancy gave us a beautiful baby girl, born four weeks early. All thirty six weeks of that pregnancy were terrifying. I felt so vulnerable and again somewhat prepared for disaster.  I was jealous of all the women who took their normal pregnancies and healthy babies as a given. We had two boys after that that were also early.  I was pretty frightened during each of these pregnancies as well, but I can say that they are all worth every tear, every moment of anxiety and worry.  They are all three amazing teenagers now.  I will never say that what we experienced was good or that it worked out for the best. What I can say is that I love my beautiful children with all my heart and that I am grateful for them and their health every day. I can also say that I was wrong when I told my friend that I would not be happy ever again. My children still provide me with plenty of anxiety and worry (I did mention that they are teenagers) but they also provide me more happiness everyday than I could have imagined.