Image Source: StockSnap / Jad Limcaco
I've been pregnant three times. I have two children.
I'll give it a second for that to sink in.
Yep. One of those times resulted in a miscarriage, and it turned my world upside down.
I've struggled with sharing this story. You see, I am a blogger. A "mommy blogger," to be exact. And in my line of work, I believe strongly in transparency. Read any of my posts and you'll see that they are as real as it gets. No unicorns or rainbows. Just a mom, in a second marriage, with two children and a blog, keeping it real every damn day. Some may say I even overshare at times. But this? How could I share something that devastated me to my core? It is so personal and something that changed me forever. I realized that for every story about miscarriage or fertility struggles that is shared, there are so many more women who suffer in silence.
I no longer wanted to be one of them.
After a tumultuous marriage that ended in divorce with a toddler in tow, I grieved, curled up in the fetal position, and puked my guts up for several months. After some time and the painful exercise of dating in your late-ish 30s as a single mother, I met my Prince Charming. We pretty much knew right away that "this was it," and we certainly knew that after we got married we wanted a child together.
After we got married, the stars aligned and about five minutes after going off the pill, I was pregnant. We were shocked. Although I did get pregnant almost immediately in my first marriage, now I had a different baby daddy and was teetering on the edge of 40, so I wasn't sure how that would change things.
I was sick from the beginning. All I wanted was sleep and ginger ale. I felt like sh*t every single day and my body didn't feel right. But I chalked it up to morning sickness and "advanced maternal age," whatever the eff that means.
The first few OBGYN appointments were typical and everything looked how it should. However, when we arrived for the nine-week ultrasound, I knew in my gut something was wrong (call it mother's intuition) before my doctor even turned the screen back to face him and uttered the words, "I'm so sorry".
That was it and I was numb
I left that office a shell of myself and headed to the pharmacy to get the meds that would expel what now seemed like a foreign body from my body. I couldn't bear to look at the ultrasounds I had saved and tossed them abruptly in the trash, hoping for some sort of quick and magical closure.
It was explained to me that I shouldn't be alone because there would be a lot of bleeding and even more physical discomfort. As much as I wanted to literally fall into a heaping, sobbing mess in my husband's arms, I also just wanted him to go to work. Perhaps part of me was trying to belittle the importance of what was about to happen. But we had not told a soul I was even pregnant. So now, here I am, calling my mother to tell her I was pregnant and now I'm not and can she please come over and rub my back until my husband gets home, while I miscarry.
As if this wasn't gut-wrenching enough, the meds did not work (which is quite common) and I needed to go through the whole process again. The second time they were successful, if you can even call it that. I hit the lowest low of my life while I sat in the bathroom, bleeding, sobbing, and clutching my husband's leg for dear life. Physically it was traumatic. Emotionally it was worse. And I was broken.
How the f*ck do you recover from this? Do I even want to try again if there's a chance this can happen all over again? Can I emotionally handle any of this?
I would muster up enough energy to act completely normal in front of my daughter. I even had to attend a friend's wedding in the midst of this, still sporting a giant maxi pad because of the residual bleeding. My body, for all practical purposes, still thought it was pregnant. Physically I felt pregnant; I even wore a dress I specifically bought thinking I would be pregnant. I was all dressed up, hair and makeup professionally done, sipping wine, making casual conversation, but dying inside, hiding what felt like a dirty little secret.
I wasn't embarrassed or ashamed. I was heartbroken. I didn't want to tell people because I didn't want pity and questions and those sideways glances. I didn't want to be a discussion point at someone's happy hour.
I couldn't work. I couldn't be around anyone but my husband, my mom, and my daughter. I withdrew from my friends enough to feel some space but not so much that their radars would go off. I was not strong and brave and able to pick myself up and dust myself off, as they say. I tried to bounce back. But I found myself crying all the time. Defeated.
Family and friends would say things that knocked the wind out of me on a regular basis.
"When are you having a baby??!?!"
"Don't you want another child?"
"Aren't you going to give your daughter a sibling?"
"What are you waiting for . . . you're not getting any younger!"
Questions posed as if I had a CHOICE.
I may have no filter, but when it comes to pregnancy, I have ALWAYS believed that you shouldn't ask those questions, ever. While it may come from a good place, it's intrusive and personal and you have no idea what is going on behind the scenes. Something that may seem like normal conversation to you feels like a gut punch to someone who has experienced loss, or is injecting themselves with drugs for rounds of IVF, or is having marital problems, or can't get pregnant and doesn't know why, or doesn't even want children. So, seriously, just stop asking! If someone wants to share that journey with you, that's their call.
On top of it all, after several more doctor's visits, I was told that there was a VERY slim chance I would conceive naturally. My husband and I did a whole battery of tests and it turned out that while we were compatible in every way, there were small things with both of us that created challenges for a broad approaching 40 with at least one uncooperative ovary. Following that appointment, my husband told me he loved me AND my wonky ovary, and it was probably the first time I smiled in months. My doc ended the conversation telling me that if I didn't get knocked up in the next month, IVF was going to be our only option.
One day during a normal conversation with a close friend, I broke down and it all came pouring out like verbal diarrhea. She urged me to go see an energy healer she had personal experience with. I am open-minded, but this was way out of my comfort zone, and if I'm being honest, I didn't really believe in it. While I'm also a big proponent of therapy, that's not what I needed here. I didn't need to dig my way down to uncover the root of my feelings. I knew what was eating at me. I needed to do something to get the bad juju out of my body so I could function instead of faking it. So I went for it.
My first appointment with Lillian was almost four hours long. We had a lengthy conversation about why I was there and what I hoped to get out of these sessions. Plain and simple, I wanted a baby.
Let me be clear that Lillian made me no lofty or unrealistic promises. Just that she could help me get out from under this black cloud and feel lighter, less negative. She could help change my perspective and help me focus on the positive. And I desperately needed ALL the positive vibes, so I was all in.
She explained everything to me and said we would do reiki and that she would start with the sacral chakra since that's associated with fertility. She may as well have been speaking French, but I took it all in, let go, and let her do her thing. I cried most of the appointment, but not out of sadness; it was more like an emotional purge. I hung on her every word and let my mind and body go where it wanted to.
I left that room a different person. You don't have to believe it, and I can't explain it, but my whole mindset changed. I felt hopeful and positive and more like myself than I had in months. Every morning when I woke up and every night before I went to bed, I recited the same affirmation . . . my own personal prayer. It was something that Lillian had me write down and say out loud during my first appointment and told me to repeat daily. It was meant to be a forward-facing statement written in a very definitive tone as if it was already my reality.
Image Source: Rachel Sobel
I began to see her every week for reiki, and every week I felt better than the one before. I started to feel whole. I actually felt physical effects during my appointments. I'm not kidding. One appointment in particular, I literally felt a popping sensation in my abdomen when she was focusing on that area. I asked her what it was and she said I was "blocked" and she was clearing it. I learned to just go with it, which is tough for a type-A chick. I learned more about myself and the connection between my mind and body in Lillian's little office than I had in my whole 39-and-a-half years of life. I learned not to sweat the small stuff. I learned that some people are just jerks lacking insight and will continue to say things like, "Don't you guys want a baby?" But most of all, I learned to have faith.
At the end of my first month seeing Lillian, I was pregnant, and nobody was more shocked that me. It wasn't an easy pregnancy and I was hospitalized twice with complications. I was so traumatized from my miscarriage that my anxiety would skyrocket before every doctor's appointment. I practically held my breath until I heard/saw a heartbeat. It was a complete paradox to my first pregnancy where I went in to every visit blissfully unaware of the dark side and I longed for that ignorance.
But this past February, I gave birth to another perfect little girl. My little miracle. I actually joke that my husband and Lillian both got me pregnant.
I feel overwhelmed with gratitude every single day but still feel a visceral sting when people speak of miscarriage. The pain and feeling of that loss doesn't simply disappear. My heart breaks for anyone who has ever gone through it. And while I am grateful, I am also humbled by the experience. It changed me and reinforced the idea of never taking anything for granted, especially my babies.
In a frame, hanging in her room, is that little piece of paper with the prayer I wrote down in Lillian's office during that first visit. Right next to a picture of her and her big sister. My girls. It's purposely the first thing you see when you walk in because I want to always remember how incredibly fortunate I am for how this story ended.
For anyone who has struggled with miscarriage and fertility challenges, there is an unspoken sisterhood of support made of up women who can relate. I still get choked up when I think about it, or talk about it. But I also know I'm not alone and hope that I can bring some comfort and empathy to anyone struggling with a similar situation by being vulnerable and sharing something that took me so long to write about.