“Within four or five months of tryin g, there it was! Those two pink lines gave me the best feeling ever - I was going to be a mother and it had happened so easily and so effortlessly”
TRYING TO CONCEIVE / INFERTILITY
First, start with an overview of your journey.
My husband and I got married around two and a half years ago. When we first got married, we had agreed upon waiting four to five years before starting a family (this plan quickly changed). Just a few months shy of our one year wedding anniversary I started getting baby fever.
At the time I was working as a nurse in the Pediatric ICU. Being around babies all day every day and taking care of other people’s children sparked a desire in me to soon become a mother. Once I expressed this to Ryan, he was on board and we started “trying”.
Within four or five months of trying, there it was! Those two pink lines gave me the best feeling ever- I was going to be a mother, and it had happened so easily and effortlessly!
(I’m 28, healthy, but have had several laparoscopic surgeries in the past years for unexplained scar tissue in my abdominal area. One doctor thought I had endometriosis, another was sure that I didn’t. For years now it has been a fear of mine that starting a family wouldn’t be ‘easy’ for me).
I quickly quit my job in the Pediatric ICU (I had been dealing with a lot of anxiety and sadness from seeing so much death at work). Just a week after finding out we were expecting, Hurricane Harvey devastated Houston. My husband is in the Coast Guard, so he had to stay behind to work rescue operations. I flew out to be with my parents in California.
Days after getting to my parents house, my mom and I went shopping at the mall. I felt conflicted about buying anything ‘baby related’ because I knew it was far too early. Nevertheless, my mom and I ventured into the Motherhood Maternity store where we bought me a cute black tank top with the April birthstone that read “Due in April”. After leaving this store, we went to Macy’s where I had to use the restroom.
That was when I saw it. Blood. Not a lot, but enough that I knew it was over. We had lost our baby. My mom rushed me to the ER where my dad met us. The Dr. there was ‘matter-of-fact’ (no sympathy whatsoever). “You’re going to miscarry,” he said.
My husband flew out to California where we spent days lying on the mattress of the living room floor together. I was lucky to have him, my mom, and my dad all there.
We processed the miscarriage by quickly trying to move forward. “We can try again right away,” Ryan would say to comfort me.
More than a year of negative pregnancy tests, infections, and a trip to the ER with sepsis from a kidney infection followed.
I lost faith in my body and my role as a woman and wife.
Last month, we started fertility treatments. It was supposed to be our first IUI. My body didn’t respond to the Femara, and we had to cancel the cycle.
Which brings me to today, my first day back on hormones to see once again if my body will respond so that we can at least try an IUI.
Describe your journey in three words:
taxing, perseverance, exhausting
If you’ve started seeing a reproductive endocrinologist (fertility specialist), what advice to do you have for someone who is going into their first appointment with a RE?
Don’t put all the pressure on each and every cycle. Our first cycle was a dud and we didn’t even get to try. It may take the Dr. a little to figure out what medication regimen your body will best respond to.
If you could go back in time to when you first started trying to conceive, would you change anything? If so, what would it be?
I wish I could go back in time to when the hurricane was hitting Houston. Ryan and I were convinced that our house would be underwater and our belongings unsalvageable. I let this get the best of me and stressed myself out way too much. Even though I don’t think it made a difference in the miscarriage happening, I wish I had focused more on the present and the excitement of being pregnant.
What advice do you have for someone who is just starting to try and conceive?
For many of us, it is a marathon, not a sprint. Take it one day at a time.
What is the biggest lesson that you’ve learn while battling infertility?
That even when it feels like I am completely broken and can’t keep fighting, I am actually one of the strongest women I know.
How has infertility affected your relationship with your partner?
Infertility has affected intimacy, social gatherings, and pretty much every other aspect of life. While it has certainly brought on so many hardships it also brought such a strength and togetherness into the relationship. We both want a family so bad now, and I know that one day our rainbow baby will be more cherished than we could have even anticipated.
What do you do to feel closer to your partner in moments where infertility is taking a toll on you?
When I get emotional, Ryan has a good way of bringing me back to everything we are grateful for. I think it is so important in every relationship to remember; your life together is still good- baby or no baby.
Infertility and all that comes with it, can be so isolating. What do you do to deal with the isolation? Have you lost friendships over your struggles? Share what the isolation, if any, has been like in your experience.
In the beginning when we had our loss, I isolated myself to an extreme. Quit my job. Stopped responding to friends. It was actually the worst thing I have done for myself, even though I felt like the isolation was what I needed at the time.
I have learned in situations to create boundaries for myself. If a situation makes us uncomfortable and is easily avoidable, then we put ourselves first.
Are you open with your friends, family, or co-workers with your struggle to conceive? If so, how do you feel they reacted to your news?
Lately, I’ve been very open about our infertility. All of the girls I work with know about what is going on. Our family is extremely supportive.
Our friend group is also aware now of our loss and infertility. I think it has been healthy for everyone to be aware. This way, there are no awkward “when are you starting a family” questions. And also this way, it protects our friends from feeling like we are distant, and understanding where we are at right now in life.
I have gotten so many comforting reactions from other people who have confided in me that they too have had trouble conceiving.
How has infertility made your life worse?
It has added a whole level of stress and anxiety that I didn’t know I could have. I hate how it makes you overthink everything. I hate that it makes you feel bitter when you see pregnant women in public. It is just an all around crummy feeling.
How has infertility made your life better?
Luckily my marriage has strengthened. It has also taught me to be open. I think I’m a much stronger woman today because I have learned a whole new form of self-love and self care.
Random question but I’m a huge foodie so, what’s your favorite food?
Mac n cheese!!
When you first learned that you are going to experience pregnancy loss, what went through your head?
I shouldn’t have stressed so much. I shouldn’t have flown on that plane. I shouldn’t have, I shouldn’t have. Self blame.
How did your partner support you before, during, and after the loss?
Ryan went to the store and got all of ‘the things’ I needed. He rubbed my back and comforted me. On the way back home from California in the airport, he pushed me through the terminal in a wheelchair. He made all sorts of beeping sounds when reversing, and made people stare at us while I laughed uncontrollably. I will never forget this moment… it was the worst and one of the best moments of our marriage.
I think one of the biggest ways Ryan has supported me is by opening up and relating. He tells me things like when babies on social media upset him, and in a weird way it is comforting to hear your male partner feels the same way about everything that you do.
Did you do anything special in memory of your angel?
For one, I have a memory table in our room. But the biggest thing is I decided that every time we see a butterfly, that it would be our baby.
On our due date we went with my parents to a butterfly pavilion. I remember saying to my mom how crazy it was that caterpillars only get to live as butterflies for two weeks. My mom’s response was “what a glorious two weeks though”. This stuck with me, as my baby didn’t have very long either- but it was the best few weeks of my life.
Our baby helped me leave a job I was unhappy with. Our baby also was on the prayer list at our church, and our pastor prayed for us and our baby at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. He placed a paper of our baby’s name into the creases of the wall. Our baby had a life like a butterfly. Short, but glorious.
How did you feel your doctors’ support was before, during, and after your loss? Were they informative, supportive, distant, etc.
My doctor back home in Houston was great. But I will never forget the nurse…
When the doctor in California told me I was to miscarry, he prescribed Methotrexate to make sure my body ‘got rid of’ everything. I was afraid and did not want to take it (I had heard painful stories of it). I called my Dr. back in Houston and the nurse gave me attitude when I explained I wanted it to happen naturally. She was extremely insensitive and made me feel stupid for wanting to have a natural miscarriage.
In three words, describe your experience with pregnancy loss:
heartbreaking, devastating, unimaginable
How do you handle the bad days after your loss?
I didn’t handle them well at all. I used to just lay in bed and cry. We planned a few spontaneous trips together which really helped me to get out of my head here and there.
Have you gone to an in-person support group to help you cope with your loss? If so, do you feel that has been beneficial to your healing?
No I haven’t. I have found support through social media though and others who have experienced loss. That is one thing I would suggest to someone who is currently experiencing a more recent loss- talk to someone. A professional, support group, etc. I wish I had much earlier on- I am finally setting up an appointment a year later.
What advice do you have for a fellow Warrior who has been given the “I’m sorry there is no heartbeat” news?
Let yourself grieve in whatever way you need. Whatever helps you in that day, do it. If the next day, it’s the opposite, then do that. There is no right way to grieve.
I’m really big on focusing on the positive (the best I can) so try to dig deep and find one positive outcome that came from your loss. Did you learn something about life, yourself, your relationship?
For a long time I lost confidence in myself.
I am so proud of who I am today, and most of it is because of my struggle and heartbreak. I am open. I am close to God and my husband. I find myself reaching out to support others because we share so much in our losses.
To raise awareness of pregnancy loss and how (very sadly) common it is, what is one thing about miscarriage that you wish the world knew?
To acknowledge it. I think one person acknowledged me this year on Mother’s Day (when many, many people know about the loss). Don’t be afraid to bring it up to someone who has lost. It won’t hurt them. Silence will.
Often times after a loss, friends and family will bring gifts/food to show their support for you - what is something that you either received or would have liked to receive that made life just a little bit easier while you were either physically or emotionally healing from your loss?
My sister-in-law sent me a package on our due date. It was unexpected and contained a journal and some really sentimental things. It was the best feeling in the world that someone knew how painful and important the due date was to us.
Due dates are JUST as special when the baby has already been welcomed into heaven. It is so important that people acknowledge this to loved ones.
If you would like to continue and follow Laura’s journey, you can follow her on Instagram @georgiablonde