Becoming pregnant after having a miscarriage doesn’t always carry the same excitement for everyone. For me, it was filled with worry, anxiety, and desperately trying to avoid attachment - because I wouldn’t be able to handle another heartbreak.
A few months after my miscarriage, I had an appointment with a specialist to assess an Arteriovenous Malformation (AVM) in my uterus, a cluster of poorly formed veins and arteries that have a higher risk of bleeding. AVM’s will appear right after miscarriage or birth - most will clear on their own, in few cases they do not. Given the passage of time since my miscarriage, it was cause for concern. If left untreated, it would complicate future pregnancies. Will I ever be a mom?
Another ultrasound was performed to scope out this AVM, the specialist furrowed her brow and said, “Hmmm see that blinking light? That’s two cells trying to be a heartbeat.” I was pregnant. Five weeks. Stunned by the news and staring at the screen. The first time I saw my daughter, she was only a heartbeat. A blinking light on a screen.
I had follow up appointments every two weeks to check on the baby. This helped ease my anxiety over my new pregnancy, but even with these reassurances, I kept my distance from this tiny human. I was scared something would go wrong.
My 12 week ultrasound, was the scariest. The last time I was here, I found out that I had lost my baby. I was waiting in that same room, barely able to breathe. Until I saw her moving on the screen. Healthy. A sigh of relief escaped my mouth.
My 20 week ultrasound was filled with the same anxiety, that had built up in the 8 weeks since I saw her last. Once again, relief as I saw her move. I made it one step further. When they sent me to the bathroom to relieve my bladder - I started crying. Do I dare to believe that I will become a mom?
I kept up with her weekly developments through an app - she is the same size of [insert name of fruit or vegetable], her physical developments. Trying to create a connection and make this all feel real. The turning point was finding out she could hear me. I started reading her some of my favourite childhood books (singing was completely out of the question). The books I chose would later become her favourite and most requested.
One year after my first pregnancy ended in miscarriage, things came full circle during my 31st birthday dinner (it was steak). I went into labour. Sienna was born with enough sass to know it’s so not cool to share your birthday with your mom, making her appearance after midnight, so she had her own birthday.
I am lucky. I recognize that. I came out on the other side, a successful pregnancy and a healthy baby. Nothing wrong with me and I was now a mom. A dream come true. It still makes me sad to think about the child we lost, the child we will never know, even though I know if we had that child, we would not have Sienna.
In January 2017, I had a second miscarriage.
I was sent for bloodwork after a dating ultrasound, that once again ended with no glimpse of my baby. I have been down this road before. I knew that over three rounds of bloodwork, my doctor wanted to see my HCG levels doubling - this lab also provides you with online access to your results. Sitting in the parking lot, about to start my work day - I logged on and saw that my results were not doubling, they were descending, and I knew then i would be miscarrying this baby. I sat in the car, allowed myself a moment to ugly cry. I then wiped my face, blamed my red eyes on sleep deprivation and taught my class full of moms and their beautiful babies.
Very few know of this second miscarriage.
The healing process was different. I found out that I would lose the baby around the same time I found out I was pregnant. A new wave of sadness and doubt filled me; a different journey to healing. This loss would also bring anxiety and doubt into my next pregnancy, even though I had a successful birth. My second daughter was born right after I wrote the first draft of this blog series.
Every pregnancy related appointment requires the answer to two questions, “How many pregnancies? How many live births?” Even though, I have come a long way, each time I have to answer those questions, the sadness comes again, though it dissipates much more quickly.
It doesn’t matter how long I carried those two babies, how they hadn’t even graduated from embryo to fetus - their hearts beat in my body, and for a moment in time they existed and were very real to me. I will never brush them aside as non existent. I will never forget them.
Each of us has our story, our journey, and our own ways to heal. Please know, your body has not betrayed you. You are not a failure. There is nothing to be ashamed of. It may be hard to see now, but you are supported and loved. Everything you are feeling is valid. There is a huge community who knows what you are going through, even though many of them aren't ready to talk about it. Some may never be. I encourage you to own your journey to healing, and do what you need to do regardless of the stigma that surrounds pregnancy loss.
Just know, you are not alone.