A quote that I have been loving recently is “grow through what you go through”. I love this because it really challenges you to work through the hard times with a sense of forgiveness and accountability. It’s certainly not an easy thing to do by any means, but if you allow yourself to be open and honest about the situation then you have the opportunity to come out of it stronger and wiser.
I personally love to seek out growth every day and in everything. For a while, I thought that maybe I was the only person that does this because it seemed that no one else wanted to be learning and growing all the time. Luckily I found out that both my brother and sister-in-law have this desire too so I am not alone in this. I feel that in order to become the best version of myself, I need to seek growth in every opportunity, even the hard ones.
By far, one of the most challenging things that I have gone through is my miscarriages. So in this post, I want to share with you the losses that I experienced and what I learned going through them. This is a longer post so grab yourself a beverage, sit comfortably and enjoy the read.
**PRE-WARNING** I share in-depth details of my miscarriages in this post that may be disturbing to some readers. I am choosing to share these details in hopes that others who have experienced miscarriages won’t feel alone in their loss and to help others understand what it’s like for someone to experience pregnancy loss.
The Story Of My Miscarriages
The first time I got pregnant it was completely planned. My husband Cory and I had discussed when we wanted to start trying and when the time came, it was quick and brought no complications. We started trying in June of 2013, about 8 months after getting married. I had always wanted children and had major baby fever so I didn’t want to wait a while like a lot of couples do. So to my delight, it took just one month to get pregnant. By the end of July 2013, I found out I was pregnant and so my dream of having a baby was becoming a reality.
I remember being so nervous through the first trimester because I had heard that many women often experience a miscarriage with their first pregnancy. I remember having implantation bleeding and praying so hard to God that it wasn’t a complication. I was blessed that it wasn’t and we quickly made it to the second trimester. The pregnancy went very well despite having extreme morning sickness for almost 8 months. On March 29th, 2014, our beautiful baby Maxwell was born. He was a very healthy baby and we were so excited to be parents finally.
Miscarriage #1, March 2015
By January 2015, I was done breastfeeding Max and had started back on my monthly cycle. During this time we were on birth control but were starting to talk about when we wanted to try for our second baby. We knew that we wanted to have them closer in age so we figured a couple months down the road and we would be trying again. I ended up getting quite sick at the end of January and needed to be on antibiotics. I knew that antibiotics can affect birth control so we were being sort of careful but not stressing about it too much as we were going to want to start trying soon anyways. I remember through February feeling like I might be pregnant as I had a lot of signs, so I just waited it out till it would be time to take a test. I was a little bit surprised at the thought but also kind of excited. I thought that I seemed to get pregnant easily, and when you want children, this is a positive thing. But by the time my next cycle came around which was the beginning of March 2015, I began bleeding. It was right when my cycle would normally start so I ended up writing off the idea of being pregnant and never took a test. I was pretty disappointed but figured we would be starting to try soon anyways. I just couldn’t get past the fact that I felt pregnant. Did I just want it so badly that I was imagining the symptoms?
As the days for my cycle went by, I didn’t stop bleeding. It would sort of taper off at times but it would never actually stop. I thought that maybe my body just wasn’t fully synced yet as I had only had one cycle before it since I stopped breastfeeding. Maybe it just needed time to adjust back to normal? I wasn’t sure as this was my first time experiencing an irregular period and after having my first baby. March quickly flew by and we were focused on Max’s first birthday. As we approached the end of the month, my bleeding all of a sudden began to get heavy. I remember the one night, it was 10 o’clock and I had used the washroom only to be freaked out by bright red blood that was dripping out of me. I had an overwhelming sense that this was not normal. I don’t deal with things that happen to my body well (ie. needles, sprains, etc.) so I was feeling quite queasy and didn’t know if I was overreacting or if I should go to the hospital or not. I ended up listening to my gut feeling that something was not right and Cory and I headed right to the hospital. After some testing, we were told that I was pregnant. I couldn’t believe it and the number of emotions I was experiencing in that one moment was overwhelming. I thought “I was right! My symptoms were real! But what does this mean?” I had feelings of excitement and fear all in one because I was pregnant but this bleeding couldn’t be a good thing.
The hospital ended up referring me to get an ultrasound done the next morning. Cory went to work that day so I went to get the ultrasound myself and left Max with my inlaws. As it goes, the ultrasound tech wouldn’t tell me what they saw but told me to see my doctor for the results. I left the ultrasound clinic and was driving to my doctors’ office on the other side of town when I got a phone call from the hospital telling me that I needed to head to the emergency right away. I was freaked out and told them I was on my way to see the doctor for my results and should I turn around and head back to the hospital. They said as long as I was going to see the doctor right away then it’s okay but I would have to head to the hospital right after. This was all the information I had and all that was running through my mind was “what is wrong with me?” I called Cory to meet me at the doctors and they managed to get me in within the hour. It was there sitting in the doctors’ room that I found out I had an ectopic pregnancy and was almost 10 weeks pregnant. The baby had implanted within my fallopian tubes and when this happens the uterus tries to build the lining required for a baby but because the baby wasn’t where it should be my body would shed the lining and it would repeat the process.
I was told to head right to the emergency room to have this “taken care of.” I just remember crying non-stop. I had a baby growing inside me but I couldn’t keep it. I had so many questions and so did the doctors. Once I was admitted into the hospital I was seen by the on-call OBGYN. He did a physical exam of me which included putting pressure on the outside of my tummy where my fallopian tubes would be to see if I had any pain. I was told that it is incredibly unusual for an ectopic pregnancy to go this long without the fallopian tube rupturing and with no pain. Apart from the bleeding, I didn’t experience anything else. I had no pain at all. I was told that the reason my fallopian tube did not rupture despite being almost 10 weeks along and the baby being an inch in diameter, was because it had implanted right at the opening from my ovaries to where it meets the fallopian tube and so there was more room to grow. Any farther down and it would have ruptured. I was incredibly blessed by this rare situation as I could have had internal bleeding and possibly lost my tube. I was terrified, both for myself and this little baby.
Once we got the news about the ectopic pregnancy we were instructed to go back to the emergency room. Once there the doctor explained more in-depth what had happened and that unfortunately there was no choice in keeping the baby. The baby could not grow anymore so it would not survive and given where the baby was in my body, it could become life-threatening to me to keep it any longer. I remember hearing everything the doctor was saying but feeling my whole world spin. I felt like I was panicking and my heart was racing while everything else around me was moving in slow motion. Never did I imagine that I would have to lose a baby. I struggled for so long with the thought that the baby was fine and that we were made to abort it. I wished there was a way to move the baby into my uterus to continue growing but there was no way to do this. I was devastated. In less than 24 hours I found out that I was pregnant and that I couldn’t even keep the baby.
I was fortunate that my tube was not at the point of rupturing because it meant that I had a choice in how I would lose the baby. Gosh, just thinking about that as I write this sounds weird. Who wants to have a choice in how they lose a baby??? The worst part was that I had to make this choice within 20 minutes because they were going to deal with it right away. I felt so stressed, overwhelmed and completely heartbroken that I had to decide in 20 mins how I was going to lose my baby. I didn’t get time to process, say goodbye or even properly deal with the fact that I was going to lose a baby. One option was to have surgery where they would go in and make a tiny incision into the tube and remove the embryo. This was the least favourable option in the doctors’ opinion as there was little chance of rupture to the tube and surgery could cause unnecessary scarring which could cause issues getting pregnant later on. Option 2 was to get 2 of the hospitals biggest needles injected into my bum cheeks. This chemical would cause the embryo to be absorbed into my body and then my body would shed everything it had created to help the baby to grow. They told me that essentially it is forcing a miscarriage and that because it wasn’t happening naturally it would likely be very painful. They explained that I would start losing the baby within a few hours so I should go home and prepare for what my body was about to go through. I was also told that it would last 3 to 7 days for my body to fully lose the baby and that in the first 2 days that my body fluids would be toxic so I had to very carefully wash my hands and the toilet.
I remember feeling so scared through the whole process. I was scared of the pain, of any complications this could cause for future pregnancies and for this beautiful little child that God had given me, if only for a short moment. After the initial pain of loss and physical discomfort that I went through that week from losing the baby, I was left with what felt like a heavy heart. I felt so sad for this experience that I had that came and went so quickly. I knew that God was working in my heart through this, I just didn’t know what it was yet and I was longing for a baby all the more. I had never dealt with anxiety before, but what became very apparent in the months following was that I was developing extreme anxiety.
Miscarriage #2, August 2015
After losing the baby due to the ectopic pregnancy, Cory and I talked about when we wanted to try for our second baby. The thought of creating another one while we were still experiencing this first loss came with many mixed emotions. I didn’t want to forget this one and rush through as though it never happened. It was still such a big part of my story and I loved the baby even for the short time that I had it, but at the same time, I felt desperate to have another baby. At the time I couldn’t understand my feelings and dealing with anxiety now on top of it all just made my mind a big jumbled mess. All my decisions were made by my emotions and all that my emotions were telling me was that I wanted to have a baby. So we decided to wait 3 months before trying again. We figured that 3 months was a good amount of time to let my body heal from the last pregnancy and get back to a more normal rhythm.
The 3 months went by and we started trying again. Once again my body favoured getting pregnant and we had a positive pregnancy test one month later at the beginning of July 2015. I was so excited for this pregnancy as I felt like I would have some emotional healing after the last traumatic loss. This time the pregnancy seemed to be going normally as my cycle date came and went without any bleeding and I felt normally pregnant. As I had experienced the ectopic pregnancy last time, my doctor sent me to have an early ultrasound to make sure everything was positioned and growing okay. This ultrasound took place when I was 5 weeks pregnant. As this was still very early I was told that it can be difficult to see much. They took an internal ultrasound to see as much as possible, but no heartbeat was detected. Again I was told that this is quite normal as it is still so early and difficult to pick up on the ultrasound, so I was sent home with just the knowledge that the baby was in the right place.
During these weeks my anxiety was at its highest. I remember having anxiety attacks every day and at random times like cooking dinner or out shopping. I would feel totally fine and then all of a sudden I wouldn’t be able to breathe. The thought of losing this baby haunted me every day and even when I wasn’t thinking about it, I was still stressed about it. I wanted this baby so badly that I was making myself sick over it which wasn’t good for me or the baby. My doctor wanted to do another ultrasound just 2 weeks after the first bringing me to 7 weeks pregnant. At this ultrasound, we saw that the embryo sack had grown. This was a good thing right? The only thing was that we still couldn’t see a heartbeat or really detect a baby. So much more fear set in. Shouldn’t we see a baby at this point? I thought. Again the ultrasound tech told me that it’s still very early so it’s hard to see much. I left the ultrasound feeling disheartened. I felt like I couldn’t be excited about this pregnancy because I didn’t know if it was okay or not. How is it that my first pregnancy went so well and now I was dealing with this? I just wanted to feel a healthy baby inside my tummy again.
About almost a week after having my second ultrasound I had a huge panic attack. The feelings I was experiencing at that moment were so severe that I could have felt like I was having a heart attack. My heart felt like it was pumping out of my chest, I was hyperventilating, my limbs were tingling and I felt like I was going to pass out. After I was able to calm down I realized it was a panic attack and moved on with my day. A little shook but not thinking much of it. About a day and a half later I was at home and went to the washroom to notice that I was lightly spotting. I realized that I was past the stage of implantation bleeding and I felt my heart sink. Fear washed over me and I felt my head get hot and panicky again. I called the nurses hotline and explained the situation and they told me to basically be on bed rest until the bleeding subsided and if it picked up to go to the hospital. So I rested as much as I could while having to look after Max. I ended up going to sleep early that night but did not rest well. The next morning I found that I was obsessively checking to see if I was still bleeding and if it was getting better or worse. For most of the morning, it was the same with no change. Then at around 11AM it quickly turned. All of a sudden I started feeling what felt like period cramps. I called my mom and told her how I was scared because of the pain. She was encouraging me to rest in bed. As I was getting into bed I couldn’t get comfortable. The pain was getting worse and the worse it got the more scared I became. At this point, it felt like my blood was boiling and my heart was racing. I wanted to scream and cry all at once and I felt so trapped and alone. Within just a few minutes of talking to my mom, the pain shot up and all of a sudden I felt like I had to go to the washroom. I hung up the phone quickly and ran to the toilet. As I sat down the pain overwhelmed me and in a split second I felt my womb open and the baby leave my body. I remember that I began to cry, but it was almost like scream crying and it was so deafening that I could barely even hear myself. I felt like everything was spinning and I couldn’t catch my breath. I called my mom back immediately and broke down to her sobbing. I had now lost 2 babies and in 2 incredibly dramatic ways, but the desire to have another baby still grew.
Miscarriage #3, January 2016
After the last two losses my anxiety was controlling so much of my life and I knew it was a problem. My doctor wanted me to get it under wraps before trying to get pregnant again and I agreed so I ended up going on temporary medication to reduce the effects of anxiety while working with a counsellor. This was during another 3-month waiting period post the second loss. The counselling went well and I felt much better by the time November 2015 came around. We got the okay from the doctor and decided to start trying again.
This time it took the second cycle to get pregnant and I ended up conceiving in early December 2015. I felt the same symptoms as always all through Christmas and was preparing to take a test come January. At this point, I knew what it felt like to be pregnant so I knew the test would be positive. As the beginning of January and the New Year rolled around I was getting eager to take the test. Then on the first day of when my cycle would be due, I started bleeding, however, it was not normal. I knew I was having another miscarriage.
This time I didn’t have the dramatic feeling of physical loss in my body that I had felt the previous times, it just felt like annoying period cramps, but I was sure I had been pregnant. I hadn’t taken a test but I felt that I knew my body really well. Even though I started bleeding when I would have for my period, it wasn’t ‘acting’ right if you know what I mean. I had heard of other girls losing a baby when their period was due and not even knowing it due to it being when their cycle was due. I decided that I wanted to go to the hospital to be checked out and to get a solid answer. I had been to the hospital so much in the past year that I was beginning to feel like a crazy person. Was I just imagining things? Was I overreacting and dealing with post-traumatic stress syndrome? Was I wasting everyone’s time by spending half the day at the hospital being checked out?
All I knew was that I would feel better knowing, so I went to the hospital. Sure enough, I tested positive for the pregnancy test and was directed to go for another ultrasound. This time I was told that I was having a miscarriage and that the ultrasound would be done to make sure everything was clearing out of my body okay. This time I noticed that I was accustomed to the process of dealing with a pregnancy loss. I knew the steps I would go through, I knew all the tests that would be done and all the words that would be said to me. Every time I had a loss I had to get my blood taken twice a week to check that my HCG levels were going down and I began to know exactly what all the numbers meant and how soon I should see them decrease. The process of losing a baby was becoming too familiar to me that I felt shocked less each time. I didn’t, however, feel sadness any less or the desire to have a baby any less so I picked myself up and we prepared ourselves to try again.
Miscarriage #4, August 2016
This time around my doctor referred me to a specialist to see if I could get some support in having a successful pregnancy. Through working with the specialist I had an extreme amount of testing done and a scan of my uterus. Apart from a tilted uterus, everything looked normal and the tilt shouldn’t affect being pregnant, however, we needed to find out what was causing the losses. After all the testing was done we noticed that my thyroid was out of sync and it plays a huge role in having a healthy pregnancy. So we played with some levels of thyroid medication and after waiting 3 months after the loss in January, we began trying again.
This time and for the first time we didn’t have so much luck getting pregnant. It was during this time that Cory and I really started to feel weary. We began asking ourselves if we were ever going to be able to have another baby or not. I was still dealing with anxiety but it wasn’t as extreme before.
7 months after the loss in January I got pregnant again. It was July 2016, and I was happy to be pregnant but felt nervous about the outcome. Just one month later, in August 2016, at the time my cycle was due, I lost the pregnancy again. This felt like dejavu to the last loss in January. It went the exact same and I went to the hospital to make sure once again confirming the pregnancy loss. That followed with an ultrasound and more bloodwork to make sure my body was clearing out okay and then I found myself back to square one. It had been 1 and a half years of constant pregnancy then loss then waiting and then trying again to have it circle around and around, but I was too scared to give up. I asked God so much that I could have another child but I didn’t know how much I could go through without giving up.
This next time we wanted to take things a step further to ensure the baby would stick. So, we adjusted my thyroid medication once more and the specialist had me take special medication that would enhance my eggs to allow for good fertilization and to stick well to my uterine wall. We had waited the typical 3 months to start trying again and along with the medication we were able to conceive the first try in November 2016. This pregnancy felt different. My anxiety completely went away at the beginning of the pregnancy and I felt very healthily pregnant. I had a feeling this was finally it. After close monitoring of my thyroid levels and ultrasounds of the baby, we got to see a beautiful growing baby with a strong heartbeat. Once we saw that baby thriving all our worries went away. I remember lying in the ultrasound room with the tech showing us the thriving embryo and Cory and I both broke down crying and praising God. This baby was not going anywhere. On August 9th, 2017, our beautiful baby Joshua was born at a healthy 8 pounds 14oz and to this day he is the happiest baby we have ever known.
What I Learned From My Miscarriages
Going through all that I went through was not easy. I didn’t fully realize at the time how it was all affecting me, all I knew was that I didn’t want to give up. It wasn’t in me to give up, but the truth is that I don’t know how long I would have continued trying for. That answer is different for everyone who experiences loss. I have known women who couldn’t get past one loss and then others who had far more than me. Everyone’s journey is different and all of them show a tremendous amount of strength to be able to go through that loss.
As saddening as each loss was for me, I learned valuable lessons going through them. Some I learned in the midst of trying to stay pregnant and some I have only learned since the birth of Joshua, but I am glad to have learned them and to be able to share them with you.
I Have Learned To Listen To My Body
One of the best things that I learned through the whole process was to listen to my body. Every time that I would get pregnant I could feel my body change. I felt each sign telling me to be aware that something was happening. Each time I would experience a loss I would feel a deep sense of change within my body. Even if I wasn’t in extreme pain or having other huge loss symptoms, my gut told me that something was off and in choosing to listen to that feeling I was able to learn about my pregnancies and appreciate the children that I lost.
I Have Learned That I Will Never Forget The Feelings Of Loss
As it is when you lose a loved one, the pain and sadness of losing a baby that was growing inside of you, no matter how small, will never leave you. Although it wasn’t a nice thing to experience, and every time I feel sad about each loss, I am reminded of the fact that those losses are a part of my story and the feelings that come with it remind me of what I have been blessed to experience and have in my life. Those feelings allow me to share with others that have been through what I have been through so I am able to bring comfort and understanding in their pain.
I Have Learned That Each Pregnancy Was Special In Its Own Way
Although each baby wasn’t with me for too long, I loved each one separately. Each one was a different child that I helped create and carried inside me. I had a beautiful lady through a church retreat tell me that she could see all my children that I had carried and lost, dancing together with Jesus in heaven waiting to meet me there one day, and that was one of the most beautiful gifts I could have been given by her as it brought so much healing and such a beautiful picture of each child that I carried. Each loss has its own story and taught me something new that I am grateful for.
I Have Learned That God’s Timing Is Perfect
Although I kept trying to have a baby for all those years, I know now that God was giving me more time and brought me, Joshua, when he intended to. It was during all the ups and downs of the miscarriages that we were in the process of learning that Max was Autistic and with that came a lot of hard work and dedication. What I know now is that Max needed us during that time to be able to focus on him and to help him through the diagnosis process. If I was having a baby through that time then I wouldn’t have been able to be as dedicated to his learning and therapy time to help him reach his full potential. I can now say that Max has blossomed due to that dedication I was able to give to him each day. God knew that I needed that time with Max and so he waited to bring me Joshua until the moment he knew was best for me.
I am so glad to have learned all of these lessons and to see how God has blessed me with exactly what I needed. I will always remember each pregnancy and its loss, but I am truly glad that my heart is not burdened by the pain and that instead, I am able to share my experience with you. If you have experienced pregnancy loss, know that you are not alone and that I would love to talk to you if you are in need of some comfort.