Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness
October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness. It’s something that I wish nobody had to become aware of, but unfortunately it’s a growing statistic that needs talked about. If you’ve followed me for a while you are all familiar with my miscarriage history. I don’t want to get too far into details about it but I do want to share some of the impact it has had on me, personally.
Since September 15th 2016, after losing our 6th baby at 14 weeks I’ve had PTSD. I can’t see pictures of stillborn babies without having severe anxiety. I can’t hear the sound of a heart beat without my heart stopping and having to tell myself to breath. Even while waiting for Rhett to be born, the sound of his heart beat was beautiful but still really hard to hear. I still to this day can’t think about trying to get pregnant again without getting anxious and sad.
Miscarriage has and will affect my life forever. I may never carry another child. It may be as easy as a surgical procedure that would allow my body to carry (We haven’t had that confirmed but it’s a possibility) or I may actually never have the opportunity at all. Either way, I am not so sure I even care about being able to carry or give birth anymore. Adopting Rhett has changed my idea of obtaining motherhood.
I have learned a few things after losing 6 pregnancies. I’ve learned that those who love you will show it. They’ll be there for you with a hug, flowers, words. It doesn’t matter how they show it, if they love you they’ll be there. I’ve realized that you can love someone without ever meeting them. I’ve learned that faith in God is sometimes the hardest thing to have. I have also realized that even when you don’t believe in Gods timing, he’s still working on you. I’ve come to know that being spiritual and religious are two completely different things. Watching Gods work play out in order to have Rhett in my life is by far the most beautiful thing I’ve ever witnessed.
Most importantly, I’ve learned that it’s okay to not be okay. It’s more than alright to take time for yourself. Grieve how you grieve. Be angry, sad, happy, and then angry again. Step back and spend time alone with your safe people or completely alone if that’s what you want. After you’re done with the initial grieving process, reflect back on those people who were there for you. Remember to keep them close. When you start to feel yourself pull away, do it. You don’t need to make excuses for it. Those who love you will understand. It’s okay to not be okay but remember you will fine. You will never be the same again. You will always have a piece of you missing.
You will eventually become stronger. You'll see the world differently and you'll know without a doubt that there is nothing that this world can throw at you that you wouldn't be able to handle. There is no one stronger than a woman who has lost a child, losing a piece of herself with her.
1 year ago I experienced the absolute worst day of my life. I honestly still wake up some days and wonder how I’m going to get through it. I still have flashbacks of the day that literally haunt me. The void in my life is unexplainable. There’s not a moment that I don’t think of how different my life would be today if our baby was with us. On September 15, 2016 we didn’t just lose our baby, we lost a piece of us.
This year has been tough but our love is resilient. I don’t know how to put in to words how much my husband means to me. He is my light on my darkest days. He forces me to heal by moving on, even on the days I fight him about it. He lets me grieve, but also makes sure that I have plenty to be happy about.
Our path to parenthood has changed a few times. We’ve gone from natural conception, IUI, IVF, IVF with Donor Eggs, and now adoption. I hope that our adopted child never feels second best. I hope they see a strong couple who have literally given everything of themselves to be their parents. I hope they see that our whole world has revolved around them long before we even knew who they were.
Day By Day
It dawned on me that I have not really updated you all on what happened after our last miscarriage. About a week after our miscarriage I went in to see my doctor for our WTF appointment---basically “why the freak” did this happen again appointment. He is amazing and met me after work at 6 pm (which he doesn’t usually do) so we could go over what had happened. After explaining my symptoms and how the miscarriage played out we made a game plan for the next cycle if/when we decide to try again.
Based off the signs I had leading up to the miscarriage he believes that the sub chorionic hematoma basically irritated the sac enough that it caused it to rupture and put me into preterm labor. That is what the pop and gush of fluids was about an hour before I miscarried. Blood is an irritant (that is why we get cramps during our menstrual cycle) and that is what was causing my cramping that day. He also didn't want to rule out an incompetent cervix. It was great to hear answers on the reasons why I physically lost the baby, but I still wanted answers on what is going to make this never happen again.
Obviously, I know things happen during all parts of life that are beyond anyone’s control, even fertility specialists! I know that no matter how many precautions we take things can still take a turn for the worse, but I want to go into whatever we decide to do knowing I’ve done all that I can. I let my Doctor know my concerns and he was just as concerned so he went through my whole chart over again and triple checked everything. Years of going to the clinic means that’s a lot of stuff to go over! I was supposed to schedule another water ultrasound and physical exam the following month, but never did. I guess I haven't been ready to think about all of it yet.
So here is what we will do next time… if we decide to move forward. As of right now, we are up in the air on how to continue to build our family. We have 6 frozen embryos so we have a few more chances. If I do decide to try again I will remain on progesterone shots throughout the whole pregnancy, I’ll be adding a blood thinner injection (not sure if it will be Lovenox or Heparin), and I’ll be doing Intralipid infusions starting at the time of transfer and every month for the remaining pregnancy. I’m so overwhelmed with the thought of the physical toll this will take on me. I still have knots and numbness on my backside from the PIO shots from our last cycle and I’ve seen pictures of the bruising that the blood thinners cause. It’s kind of scary!
Nate and I have strongly been considering using a gestational carrier. We are to the point that we just want to be parents no matter how we have the child. Parts of me feels like it’s the best decision and might be the easiest route, but another part of me doesn’t want to give up on carrying our child. Asking someone to do that is also extremely nerve wracking. There is so much more that goes into the process than what one would think. It requires the carrier to pass a physical exam, counseling for her and her partner, legal documents, etc. On the other side, I know Nate is concerned about me going through another miscarriage. He's made it clear that with each one he worries about me more and more. I think this last one scared him pretty bad. We’ve been talking, praying, and waiting on our answer. I won’t make any decision until we are 100% sure it’s how we are meant to proceed.
Until we have made our decision we will keep taking it day by day. Some days I feel fine, no crying or anxiety, but others I feel like I’m in a daze and just going through the motions. I’ve been reading books and practicing more self-care to try and help me get through it. Every day is a new day to make progress and I truly am thankful for each day to become a better person.
Guys Hurt Too
There have been so many times when I have looked at my husband when he’s doing something completely normal and mundane and just thought to myself, “how did I get so lucky?” but I have never thought that more than when he is supporting me through times that I need him most. Him holding my hand in the waiting room, hugging me when I lost our babies, or making me giggle while I’m lying on the exam table waiting for a checkup is when I find him the very most attractive. He’s supported me in so many ways in our marriage and I will forever be grateful for the man I married. The thought crossed my mind the other and I questioned if he felt the same way about me? Is he proud of me like I am of him? Do I make him feel as loved as he makes me?
My question was answered the other night when he legitimately questioned if I still loved him. It was such a rude awakening for me. I have put so much of myself into our fertility treatments that I put our relationship on the backburner. I know this makes him feel neglected and I don’t blame him. Instead of seeing to his needs and wants I was planning our next round of IVF, scheduling appointments, researching ways to increase success rates, etc. Pretty much everything I have talked about for the last few years has had to do with planning around baby making. It’s so tiresome but I never realized how much it effected our marriage.
Since our last pregnancy loss, I have been dealing with a lot of hostility especially towards my husband. It feels like he grieved for a few days, lost a few nights of sleep, and moved on but I’m still here wrapping my mind around everything and physically still dealing with the aftermath. How can he not care enough to grieve? Because of my hostility I’ve been short tempered and downright mean to him. If I had a bad day I have taken it out on him. I’ve given him dirty looks, said hurtful things, and physically pushed him away. Things have been tough, but I’m determined to be a better wife.
I asked him the other day what he feels is the hardest part of going through infertility with me and his reply was exactly what I knew he’d say but it was still good for me to hear. He feels helpless. He explained that everything else in life he’s able to get whether it’s a job, house, vehicle, etc. He’s able to work towards it and accomplish it, but with this he feels completely lost and doesn’t know how to help me. He wants to do more but knows there is nothing that he can do to fill the void. He doesn’t realize that just by him being there for me he is fixing me.
I’ve realized that men and women both grieve, but in different ways. Women are emotional. We cry, retreat from others, and then try to figure things out. Men are not so emotional. They usually turn to anger and immediately try to fix the problem. Right after we lost the baby Nate was pissed and I took it very offensive. He was never mad at me. He was mad at the doctor and the whole situation. He wanted answers immediately. When we met with our doctor I basically told Nate “If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything” so he didn’t. He said maybe 2 words to the doctor because he was so mad at him. Nate see’s now that this was beyond our doctors control, but at the time he needed someone to place the blame on. We were both highly emotional for the first few weeks but in completely different ways.
I feel like infertility and miscarriage plays a bigger role in a relationship than pretty much anything else that life throws at you and it’s important to stay centered through it all. It’s easy to get caught up in your personal needs throughout the process, but it’s so important to put your partners needs high on your priority list. Do simple things that make him feel loved like cooking his favorite food, turn your phone off and really focus on connecting with him, plan a date that he would enjoy even if it doesn’t sound fun to you, and most of all always let him know that you appreciate him. After all, he wants to be a parent just as bad as you do. He may show it different but I guarantee that infertility affects him just as much as you. Being the one expected to stay strong and the support system is mentally and emotionally draining. It's easy to forget but men hurt too.
Self Care During Infertility
This last weekend I had the opportunity to attend an infertility conference held by a local support group called the Utah Infertility Resource Center. They had a full day of speakers covering all different topics related to infertility ranging from the importance of overall health when trying to conceive, how to cope with the trauma of infertility, recurrent miscarriage support, and so many more. It was a great day of information and so much support for one another.
One of the classes I attended was coping with the trauma of infertility. I have always known that my struggle with infertility has caused changes to my personality and mentality but I never put a title to it. I’ve never gone to counseling or seeked outside help because I like to do things my way on my own time. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing but there are times where an outside perspective helps in more ways than imaginable.
During the presentation, they brought up the topic of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and the symptoms of it. I was floored when I read through the list and I had every single one. I knew I had some psychological, social, and mental issues from what I’ve gone through but never would have thought to label it as PTSD. PTSD has different degrees in which it affects people. For most of us we label the disorder with war veterans or those who have gone through something extremely tragic like car wrecks or crimes, but that is not always the case. Certain situations affect people in different ways. For instance, someone who has gone through the trauma of infertility will sometimes need to medicate to function, but others can handle it well enough on their own without it. It all depends on how the brain responds to the trauma. I know this isn’t an official diagnosis but it makes sense that it’s what I’ve been dealing with. Infertility is a trauma that is relived every month when your period starts, every procedure done, every shot given, and every doctor appointment. It’s extremely hard to continually get bad news and feel like you're inadequate with every test and check up you have.
The presentation then talked about coping techniques and how important self-care is during this process. This topic really hit home to me because it made me realize just how mean I have been on myself over the last few years, but especially the last 2 months. I have said some of the meanest things to myself, things I would never say to anyone else going through infertility or pregnancy loss. It forced me think about how I can become an overall happier person and at what point was I the happiest with myself in life.
I immediately thought of my health. I can honestly say I was a happier and more relaxed person when I put my health first by going to the gym and eating right. Notice that I reference my health, not weight. It’s that mind frame that I need to be reminded of. Going to the gym every day is not vain or selfish. In most cases, it’s an escape for people from certain points of their lives that they need to step back from. My outlook on exercise has completely changed since I started focusing on my mental health in conjunction with my physical health. I have no desire to be “perfect”. I want to be happy.
When going through infertility it’s easy to feel like your infertility is your identity because it’s all you focus on. When you tell other people in your life it’s often the topic of conversation as well because it sparks interest and empathy. It’s important to remember that we are more than infertile. We have a lot more to offer the world than our experience going through infertility and it’s important you remember all that you have to offer. Self-care plays a major impact on the mentality we hold during tough times. I recommend writing down a list of all the qualities you have that make you a great person in your journal. Writing has been proven to be very therapeutic so any time you feel overwhelmed or depressed open your journal and read the list of your amazing qualities.
I’m taking in all the advice I learned this past weekend and making an effort to practice at least one self -care item every day. I need this for myself right now. I can feel that this miscarriage has shook me in ways that I’ve never had before. I’ve always felt in control over my grief but over the past few weeks I haven’t been. I want to be able to focus on myself to be a better person and a better wife. Nate deserves it, but most importantly I deserve it.
For the last month I’ve really been struggling with my faith. Faith in the process, myself, but mostly god. I feel like my faith is dwindling down so fast and I don’t have the answers needed to fix it. I believe in god. I can’t bring myself to deny him because I’ve been taught enough in my life to know of his existence, but I don’t know if I have faith in him. He’s let me down so many times that it’s hard to fully believe in his reasoning.
The faith and hope needed to endure infertility is huge. You go into every appointment with hope that the answer is what you need to hear. Your faith in the doctors feels like your whole world is in his hands because quite frankly it is. Those who have children know that they are their whole world. Those of us battling infertility have the same feelings only we don’t physically get to hold them. At times the closest we get to seeing our children are the pictures of the embryos before transfer, a small blob on the screen at an early ultrasound that never progresses, or a baby born too soon that never took its first breath.
My faith has faltered throughout my time dealing with infertility, but nothing compared to what it is now. I’m so mad that I had to lose my baby but babies are born addicted to drugs, babies are killed, and babies are born to molesters every single day. Why? How is that fair? The god that I was born believing in isn’t this cruel right? I know the answers will never be good enough for me. Nothing will make it easier but I hope one day I get the clarification I need to feel better. I really hope one day I can come to peace with this. I hope one day I can say with 100% certainty that I believe in God and his reasoning.
I want more than anything to have unwavering faith. I have spent so much time over the last couple of weeks searching for ways to come closer to god. I know my faith in him is still there. It’s a tiny glimmer, but it’s not completely lost. I want to be a spiritual person, not necessarily religious. My gut instinct is to stay away from trying to practice any religion and just build a relationship with God. I am trusting my instincts on how to gain my understanding, but I would love some insight from those of you have lost their faith in God and how you were able to find it.
This is probably the hardest post I've wrote. I feel really lost and vulnerable right now in so many ways. I'm hoping by opening up about this I'll have people reach and let me know that I'm not alone and that it won't be this way forever.
It’s been a few months since I’ve written anything and there is a lot that has happened. In June we started our donor egg IVF cycle. The cycle went perfect. The donor did amazing and after all was said and done we transferred 2 blastocysts and froze 6. On July 4th we were able to announce the transfer worked and we were pregnant! My first beta blood draw came back at 113 and our first ultrasound at 6 weeks we were able to hear the heartbeat. It was the most amazing sound I have ever heard!
Lady Part Pep Talk :)
Time for an update! We are full blown in the middle of our donor cycle and things are going great right now. I say “now” because so many things can change so I’m staying realistic but optimistic! I’ve been taking Lupron and Estrodial injections for a few weeks and blood work looks okay so far. My estrogen was a little low so they up’d the dosage a bit last week but today it was perfect. I had my lining check last Thursday and it looked fantastic. They were wanting to see something around 8 mm and mine measured at 10.5 mm which is awesome! I’m basically making a comfy, cozy home for the baby(s) to nestle into for the next 9 months!
As I was driving home from the ultrasound appointment I started laughing at myself over the way I was feeling about the good news. It’s funny how infertility changes the way you think about your body. This is the exact quote I said in my head as I was going home… “Good job uterus. You are doing fantastic!” And then I chuckled. I never in a million years would have thought my uterus would deserve a pep talk but it sure deserves it right now! I don’t know if this is normal to feel super proud of your lady parts or if I’m just crazy, but either way me and my uterus are on cloud 9 right now!
My IVF nurse called last night to go over a few things about the appointment and what happens next. She mentioned that she spoke with the donor yesterday and she is really excited to get going to help us out. I really just wish I could give the donor a big hug and tell her I appreciate her more than words. How do you repay someone for stepping in and helping you with something so monumental? The world is full of amazing people!
So far this cycle seems to be flowing a lot easier than the last one. I just seem more at ease which is weird because we have A LOT going on in our personal lives, but I am trying my hardest to stay calm and focus on me and my stress levels. I am enjoying the warm weather, my hubby, and dogs. Life feels really good right now!
DE Cycle Update!
We are officially under way in our donor egg cycle. So far I’m only giving myself one injection of Lupron in the mornings and taking birth control to help monitor my cycle so me and the donor can be at the same stage in our cycles. The only side effects so far are my face has broken out and I am somewhat moody! Next week we begin a second injection of Estrodial which Nate will have to give me in the butt cheek. I’m freaking out because the needle is super long, but I hear it doesn’t hurt so I’m hoping that is true. So far this whole cycle has been so different than the last. We are so optimistic that it’ll work. Nate has mentioned that he wasn’t very hopeful that the last IVF round would work, but with this he just feels like it’s our answer. It really was so reassuring to hear him say that.
This cycle I’ve really tried to go into it really relaxed. I’ve read a few forums about what other women did to prepare for an IVF cycle and I kind of took bits and pieces of their advice and then did what felt right to me. Some women have gone completely gluten free, dairy free, soy free, etc months in advance to prep their bodies while others really didn’t change much other than cutting back alcohol and caffeine. There really haven’t been a whole lot of studies that can confirm that cutting gluten, dairy, and soy completely out of your diet really has any effect on the success rate so I’ve decided not to take that route. I have definitely cut back on caffeine and cut out alcohol all together which both are just healthy things to do anyways!
Studies have shown that stress plays a huge factor in conceiving which is why I chose not to completely change my whole lifestyle. I feel like it adds way too much stress to your life because you are stressing about what you can eat, what you need to buy, what recipes fit into your diet, etc. I’m sticking with my way of thinking in general… eat wholesome, natural foods that actually have nutritional value. With that being said I don’t stress myself out with any of it. If I want pizza I have pizza, but I make sure I’m not eating 100 % junk food.
As far as exercise goes, I’ve also continued with pretty much what I’ve been doing. I do cardio and lift weights at least 3 times a week. Lately, Nate and I have been burned out with our gym so we’ve been doing a lot more dog walks and home workouts. I love it because it allows us more time to talk and bond together. I really love exercise and the natural stress relieving effect it has on me. With all the hormones and changes that I’m going through I can really feel a difference when I am active and when I’m not. Blood flow is also super important during IVF and trying to conceive so staying physically active helps with that as well. There really are so many health benefits to working out, that’s why I have to remind myself of them when I’m not feeling motivated to work out!
This cycle has restored so much faith in me. We’ve had so many people step in to help us get to where we are now. We’ve had complete strangers help us with medication donations, our families have stepped in and helped in more ways than expected, and last not but least a woman has offered to give us a part of her to complete our family. The power of giving is huge. It’s really sparked a fire in me that wants to somehow help those going through what we’re going through. If I could I would become an egg donor, but since that’s not an option I’ve got to figure out something else out! I feel like this is pushing me into a life altering role, not just becoming a mommy but something else too. Only time will tell, but I’ve got a feeling we are going to be going through some huge changes in the next few months!
Fight and Surrender
Last week we met with our IVF coordinator and got the paperwork needed to start our upcoming cycle. If all goes good, we will be retrieving and transferring late June. It’s so exciting but so scary. I remember feeling torn like this when we started our last IVF cycle. It’s like my emotions are so crazy that I can’t even tell how I’m feeling one minute to the next.
I go from being so thankful to be able to proceed with another round of IVF to completely devastated that I even have to go through another round. I am grateful that we found a donor who is willing to help us in such a tremendous way but then start feeling sad that I might never have a child with my DNA. I’m excited that we found the funding to start the cycle, yet completed stressed out that it won’t work and we will be in debt for nothing.
There are so many times that I play the “why me” card because reality is infertility sucks. It’s a battle that you fight every day from the time you wake up to the time you go to sleep. It’s a battle that you feel like you’re finally going to win, only to be left in defeat when you start your cycle or don’t see the 2 pink lines. Infertility is a war against your emotions, hormones, finances, and sanity. It’s breaking into tears when you’re at the grocery store and see a distressed mother trying to calm her screaming baby and you can’t help but think you’d do anything to her. It’s being filled with anger when you hear moms complain about the small things when all you want to do is shake them and remind them just how lucky they are. It’s feeling empty all the time and it’s feeling completely alone through the whole thing.
I’m going into this round prepared to fight but I’m also ready to surrender. If this round fails I’m done. I’m done with injections, doctors, medicine, bloodwork, ultrasounds, running up my credit cards, and weighing myself down with the stress. No matter how negative that may sound, I have to remind myself all that I have fought over the last 10 years. Knowing that I’ve battled infertility and recurring miscarriages for 9 years now, been through a bad marriage, divorce, and countless other trials only makes me realize that I am a warrior. I might surrender now but I’ll never give up.
Through all the bad things that infertility has put me through, I can honestly say that I know without a doubt that I would not be the person I am today because of it. I’ve been taught how to be resilient in the face of defeat. I’ve learned to not judge others specifically being judgmental towards others decisions or others ways of grieving through hard times. I’ve learned to always trust your instincts. I’ve been reminded time and time again that true friendships outlast anything. I’ve gained more love and respect for my family because they are always there for me even when I don’t attend birthday parties or family functions because it’s too hard being around the babies. Infertility has taught me what really matters and for that I will always be thankful.
Hi my name is Whitney and I'm a mom to 2 adorable boys and the wife to a sports loving, handsome man. I'm outnumbered but wouldn't have it any other way. I'm navigating motherhood one fart joke at a time. Welcome to my crazy life!