I recently read a quote that hit me hard: “Miscarriages are labor, miscarriages are birth. To consider them less is to dishonor the woman who carried life, however briefly.” - Kathryn Miller Ridiman. For months I’ve been thinking about this quote, reflecting on the women who carried, dreamed, labored, and lost but still need recognition that they carried a child and became a mother. I decided to commemorate Mother’s Day by recognizing this aspect of motherhood that is often hidden. My hope with sharing these stories is if you have experienced your own loss(es) you will feel less isolated, your feelings validated, and be able to resolutely recognize within that you are indeed a Mother. If you are reading this but haven’t miscarried, may you be able to allow yourself to hold space for these women and when you find someone you love who has gone through this experience you may have a better comprehension of what it means to have a miscarriage, and make a plan for ways you can better support your loved one going through this.
I’m very grateful for the stories that have been shared with me and I honor the women I know that have shared verbally or written out their experiences.
I found out I was pregnant just a couple of weeks after Mothers Day in 2014. I was of course elated that I was going to be a mother. It was exciting to know that I was growing a little human inside of my body. The morning sickness was not fun, but welcomed as I knew it was a sign that my body was changing for this special soul to be able to grow.
I went to my first doctor appointment at 7 weeks (I was really excited to have it confirmed I was pregnant, even though several positive pregnancy tests already did that). I was told it was still a little too early to hear a heartbeat, but just having a doctor confirm that I was pregnant was pretty exciting. I’d wanted this for a long time.
Fast forward 4 weeks to my next doctor visit. I was itching to hear the little heartbeat of my baby. I could hardly sleep the night before. My husband was with me so we could both experience the first sound of our baby’s heartbeat together.
The doctor pulled out his Doppler machine. He searched for the heartbeat. My excitement slowly faded as the doctor searched with no success. He had a concerned look on his face, but told us not to worry, it could still be too early. He pulled out his ultrasound machine, and I got really excited when I saw what looked like a little bean on the screen. That was my baby. But there was no movement. The doctor noted that he didn’t see a heartbeat, and the baby was measuring a few weeks smaller than it should be. He wanted us to get a second opinion.
I tried to stay strong. The doctor was sounding hopeful despite the concerning information we received. We went immediately to the hospital for a second opinion. The ultrasound done by the hospital tech confirmed what my doctor had. Our baby had no heartbeat and was several weeks smaller than it should be. So our baby had passed away a few weeks prior.
I felt numb. I was not expecting this news. I expected that day to be a happy one. Instead I was left feeling empty. I felt like my body had betrayed me. I was so glad to have my husband there with me to comfort me and mourn with me. Though I could tell I took the news a lot harder than he did.
The results of our ultrasound were sent immediately to my doctor. He called me soon after to go over our options. He told us we could wait for my body to naturally expel the baby, but since it had been several weeks already that our baby had passed, that we could risk infection if we waited too long. He recommended I take a pill that would force me to miscarry, or to have a procedure done, called a D&C, that would remove the baby. I chose to allow my body to do it naturally.
I was still dealing with morning sickness, which was no longer a sign of my growing baby, but an ugly reminder that my baby was gone. It felt wrong that my body was still acting pregnant. I wasn’t able to focus on anything else, always waiting and wondering when my body was going to decide to release my baby. I was emotional and wasn’t sure how much longer I could wait. My doctor had given me a prescription for the pill that would expel my pregnancy. I hadn’t planned on using it, but after 48 hours of my body doing nothing, and my emotional state only getting worse, I chose to take the pill.
It was awful. My body began cramping excessively. I had never experienced labor before, but now having had 2 children, looking back at my miscarriage I now realize that was what was happening. The heavy cramping was my uterus contracting, preparing to give birth to my tiny baby. It was miserable. I was in a lot of pain, and my body began bleeding heavily. I kept wondering if I had lost my baby yet.
I knew when it happened. I held my baby in the palm of my hand for a few minutes. I said my goodbyes. It felt wrong flushing her down the toilet or throwing her away. I wasn’t given any guidance on what to do with her when she passed. It took me a while to flush the remains, and at that point I felt even more empty than I had when I first learned we had lost her.
The next few weeks were really hard. I really wasn’t sure how I was “supposed” to react to my miscarriage. I had known of several people who had experienced it, but never had anyone really talked about it. I felt like I lost a child. My husband seemed to be fine. I think that almost made it worse for me. I had no one to empathize with me. I received a few comments from friends and family that were meant to help, but only hurt.
I’m grateful for several women since my experience who have shared their stories, and who helped me feel validated in the way I felt about my miscarriage. Having another baby wouldn’t replace this one. No matter how long she lived inside of me, she was a person. She will always be my baby. And I will always be her mother.
July 26, 2017
ALL YOUR LOSSES WILL BE MADE UP
I usually don't share things so personal, but I want to be open about our experience in hopes that it will help someone else and end some of the silence and stigmas surrounding miscarriage.
I remember the morning vividly, Adele had woken up at 6am and wouldn't go back to sleep. I decided to take a pregnancy test, as I had every other day for the past week, because I just knew I was pregnant. Except this time was different because I saw the word "yes" finally appear on the stick. I was so shocked and happy. I told Adele right then "Baby, you're going to be a big sister!".
I called Leland a few hours later and told him. He wasn't very excited, mostly just shocked, we both were, as this pregnancy had not aligned with "our timeline" of how we planned things. A part of me will always regret not being anything but excited and grateful to be pregnant.
It didn't take long for us to get excited. As time went on we made plans and dreams for our baby, talked about names and what gender we thought this one would be. There wasn't an hour that went by that I was pregnant that I didn't think of the baby.
We hadn't planned on telling Esther so soon, but one morning as soon as she got up for the day she came to me and said "Mama, you have a baby in your belly?" I told her yes, and that the baby would be born in March just like her. I like to think she had a special connection to this little spirit, since she somehow knew about the baby before I even told her. Later I bought a pregnancy book and she loved looking at all the pictures and seeing how big the baby was each week.
I had put off telling anyone else because I kept waiting for this pregnancy to feel "real". Maybe it's because it was such a surprise, or because I was busy with two toddlers, or maybe it's because of what would eventually happen, but for whatever reason this pregnancy kinda always just felt like a dream.
Finally, after what seemed like forever of keeping this big secret, we told our families, and we didn't even get to telling all of them before the bleeding started. As soon as that happened, I just knew. We were due to leave for our family camping trip in a couple of days and I really wanted to go. I prayed that if this was a miscarriage that it could happen quickly and easily so that we could still enjoy our trip. Blood tests and ultrasounds confirmed what I had felt, that it was a miscarriage. We were still able to go on the camping trip and enjoy spending time with family
Emotionally it has been hard. Even though our baby was small, we both loved him/her so much. When I was pregnant with Adele, I had an ultrasound at 8 weeks (pictured above). I couldn't believe how much she looked like a real baby, fully formed with a heartbeat and arms and legs wiggling around on the screen. She was as much a person then as she is now. . . .
We don't know why this happened and we probably never will, but I do have faith that this little spirit belongs to our family and whether it be in this life or the next that we see him or her, they will be with us forever.
We were expecting baby #3 in March. My due date was March 11, 2017. We were all so excited. It took 7 months to get pregnant this time. The boys could not wait. We had it all planned out.
I'll try to start at the beginning. I went to my check up September 1st at almost 13 weeks and heard a good strong fast heartbeat. I was still so shocked I was finally pregnant. I had even felt the baby move a handful of times. I remember telling the midwife that at the appointment. Cory and I thought about announcing on social media that we were expecting #3. I told him I'd wait for the weekend. A week and a half later on the 11th, I flew to Utah for a few days to be with Maddison and meet baby Leif. We had a great few days. I also didn't feel like I wanted to announce anything on social media. So I didn't and thought I would maybe after 20 weeks. As Maddison drove me to the airport to go home, I remember having a very worrisome feeling. I hadn't felt the baby move in awhile. I remember on that ride I kept thinking to myself, "Come on baby. Move for me." I thought I felt something so I dropped it after that--not wanting to overthink anything.
I had talked it over with the midwife that I could have my anatomy scan a little bit early. It was scheduled for October 6th. I was going to be 17 weeks and 5 days. For some reason, as the 6th approached, I began feeling really uneasy about the appointment. I was feeling like I shouldn't have scheduled it so early. I needed to push it back a week so the baby would be a bit bigger and things would be seen easier. I prayed about it telling Heavenly Father that if I really needed to move the appointment, then let me keep the uneasy feeling. That feeling never went away. So I moved it to the 13th and felt so much better.
I could not wait for the anatomy scan. I honestly felt I was having a girl. Cory and the boys always talked about having another boy. But I just kept thinking he was going to be surprised because I thought for sure it was a girl.
Soon after I moved the appointment, I started feeling more and more worried. I noticed my uterus wasn't growing. I wasn't feeling the baby move. I knew in the back of my mind that the baby was gone. Every day I would palpate my stomach and find my uterus and push on what felt like the baby to get it to move--nothing. But I was holding on to whatever piece of hope I could. I looked at pictures of me when I was pregnant with Cade. I didn't start showing until 19 or 20 weeks and I didn't feel him move until around 18 weeks. I kept holding on to that.
All of my close friends kept asking when my ultrasound was. Everyone couldn't wait to find out what I was having. I told my friends and family when it was and also told them my concerns. I felt like I had to prepare them for what the outcome could be.
On Sunday, October 9th, I couldn't hold it in anymore. I took a shower and just broke down. I cried and cried all morning--alone so no one would know. Later that morning we were all sitting in bed together. Cory started talking about the baby and asking the boys if they wanted a boy or a girl. That's when I lost it again. Cory asked what was wrong. I tried my best to explain without saying too much because the boys were there. Carson picked it up though. His face fell. He dropped onto Cory and cried with me.
That week I did whatever I could to keep my mind off of my upcoming appointment. Carson didn't have preschool. I had a few friends contact me asking for play dates. It was play date after play date. I thought how I had never had a week like that before--surrounded by friends. I also had quite a few miscarriage stories pop up on my Facebook newsfeed. I felt inspired to read them. And I also knew why. I cleaned my whole house that week. My sub conscience mind knew what was coming while my rational mind kept pushing it out. The night before the appointment, I was reading in The Gift of Giving Life. I was looking for something specific. But instead, every page I turned to was about miscarriage. I got a little mad and slammed the book down and went to sleep.
The next day was hard. I ended up spending the morning helping a friend to keep my mind off of things. When the time came, we dropped the boys off with a friend and drove to the office. I was so nervous but didn't say anything to Cory.
We walked in the office and the ultrasound tech took us back before we even sat down. We got started right away. He asked how far along I was. With a knot in my stomach I said, "18 weeks and 5 days". He showed us with his hand how big the baby was and began the scan. The second we saw the baby, I knew it was gone. But I waited for him to say it. The first thing he said was, "The first thing I notice is the baby is small." As we stared at the screen he kept rubbing my belly with the wand and said, "This is where the heartbeat usually is." That was it. That was my cue. I could finally let go of all the hope I was grasping. My rational mind finally came around. I sobbed and sobbed. Cory seemed to be a little in shock. The tech told me he was sorry and went to tell the midwife. He came back a few minutes later to take some measurements of the baby. Then he gave us tissue and took us to a back room where the midwife would give us our options.
We met with Amanda that day. She came in and held my hand while I cried. Once I calmed down a bit, she told me this wasn't my fault and all those things we needed to hear. Then she gave us our options and asked what we wanted to do. Thanks to all the miscarriage stories, I already knew what I wanted to do. My mind had already gone over the options. She wanted us to go to the hospital that night or the next morning. But I pushed it back to Saturday so I could get my mom down to watch the boys. Amanda then informed me that Saturday was national pregnancy and infant loss day. I cried and cried more and just thought how odd that was. She told us the baby measured 13 weeks and 6 days. So I'm guessing it passed sometime before I left for Utah. Amanda told us Dr. Newman was going to be on call over the weekend and that no midwife would be there. But she assured me he was great. And I had heard wonderful things about him, so with that--we left after a big hug from Amanda.
We sat in the car and cried for awhile. I called my mom and texted some friends that were anxiously waiting to find out what we were having. After an hour we got the courage to go get the boys. Our friend Emily who was watching the boys asked how it went. But I just cried and shook my head. Cory cried with me as we told her the details. Once we were ready to go, she went to get the boys from upstairs. We hadn't said anything to the boys yet. But Carson persistently kept asking if the baby was out of my tummy now. I was so confused why he was asking me that. I wasn't ready to even answer that. But I had to because he wouldn't stop asking. So Cory and I told them the baby went back to Heavenly Father and that we would still have another baby, just not right now.
We spent the night telling our friends and family. I was so thankful I hadn't said anything on social media. Emily was so kind and dropped off ice cream and cookies. I don't think I stopped crying that entire evening. I was also mad--mad that I had moved the ultrasound to a week later. Why did I feel like I needed to do that? Why couldn't I have just gotten this over a week before? It didn't make sense.
The next day Friday was a blur. The boys were supposed to play with a friend but Carson wasn't feeling too good. I think we just watched tv and cleaned a few things to get ready for Grandma Alice to come that night.
I kept wondering why this happened. Why did this happen to me? Throughout the day I had little inspirations come but didn't think much of it. I also wondered why my body hadn't let go naturally. Something odd did happen though--I usually am very hot at night. I live in Phoenix and don't sleep with too many blankets on. But for the past week, I was really cold at night. I HAD to sleep with all the blankets on me. And I also think I was starting to lose my mucus plug.
I had talked to Marci on and off since finding out. I remembered her saying something about knowing a bereavement doula. (A doula that helps with miscarriages and stillborns.) I decided to look them up to see if there was one here in Phoenix. There was actually one pretty close by that I decided to contact. She got back to me and was very helpful and comforting and said she would help me with whatever. I called Marci to see if she couldn't ask her bereavement doula friend some questions for me. To my surprise and a tender mercy from the Lord, Marci was on her way to see her at a doula meeting they were holding. Once they were done and she had called me back, she told me lots of helpful information. The most important being that my milk would come in. I was stunned. What? My milk was going to come in? That added a whole other level of emotions. She also told me to look at stillbirthday.com to get a sense of what my baby would look like at 14 weeks. My bereavement doula told me the same thing. But I was not prepared for that. I absolutely did not want to do that. I wasn't even sure I wanted to see my baby. I was scared. I went to bed that night feeling dread and fear. I didn't sleep much.
I woke up early that next morning. To my amazement, I felt completely different than I had the night before. I had an immense peaceful feeling with me. I felt confident at looking at pictures of what my baby might look like. So I did. I thought I would feel more sad and sick looking at it. But I was surprised when an overwhelming joyful feeling overcame me. I was happy to see that little baby on the screen of my phone that was gone. That baby had a purpose. That baby was extremely loved by our Father in Heaven. And so was my baby.
...We arrived at the hospital at 8:30 am. It took forever getting checked in and for a nurse to come see us. I was very calm and collected. But I was freezing! I could not get warm. I had to turn the heater on in my room--in Phoenix when it was 95 degrees outside! The nurse kept bringing me warm blankets. It was so odd. I think it was my body finally realizing. We didn't get the cytotec started until 11:30. (My cytotec was administered vaginally every 4 hours. It was pill that was supposed to dissolve right next to the cervix. But when you're body is not supposed to deliver, your cervix is very high. So it was very uncomfortable having the nurse try to stick her entire arm up my vagina.) After the first dose, I started feeling a few contractions. But it fizzled out to just cramping. Cory and I were so bored. We watched TV for a little while but it was odd to just sit and do nothing but wait.
At 3:30 I was given another dose. I started having major contractions that I really had to focus and use my hypnobabies for. The contractions were right on top of each other. Hypnobabies is seriously so amazing. I really didn't see my contractions as pain. I was totally fine and didn't think I wanted pain medication. I made a sarcastic comment to Cory that the baby would probably come and nobody would be here. It was funny because I needed to be up. I leaned against the top of the bed just the way I gave birth to Cade. Then I felt like I had to walk around. So I did that. After an hour, contractions slowed down.
The hospital was having a ceremony in a garden outside for national infant and pregnancy loss day. My doctor was speaking at it and one of the midwives was singing at it. So I wanted to go. It started at 5:30 and my nurses let me go since I was fine. My nurse Felicia wheeled me down--wrapped up in a blanket. I was cold even outside! The ceremony was very nice. Although it was eerie sitting there having contractions about to give up my pregnancy and baby. My doctor was first to speak. I don't remember much of what he said. During his talk, I heard a voice tell me, "This is why. This is why you had to wait." This was why I felt prompted to move my ultrasound. I needed to be at this ceremony and feel these feelings and understand what these other parents felt. One of the reasons I was told I miscarried is so I can help other people...
Around 6:30, we went back up to our room. I was getting tired of the contractions and told my nurse I was ready for some pain medication. She said she would put the order in and be back in when my doctor "okayed" it. So I sat on the bed, still in my sweats from being outside, and waited. I had a plan. As soon as she came back, I was going to take the medication and get in the bath. A warm bath sounded so good! I called my mom while I waited and got an update how the boys were. Cory and I also talked about the ceremony and the feelings we had. And I waited some more.
The next thing I knew, I felt a gush--followed by intense contractions! I thought it might have been my water breaking so I called out to Cory and tried to take my pants off to keep them from getting dirty. But I couldn't move. The pressure was so strong. It was comparative to transition in normal labor. I told Cory to take my pants off and call the nurse! The nurse came in and said it was just blood and to wait and see what happens. I asked if she was going to check me or anything but she said no. She was very sweet. But I'm not sure she had much experience with this sort of thing. I knew it was time. The doctor still hadn't gotten the order so I laid there focusing on relaxing. I remember kind of yelling at Cory telling him it was a good thing I knew how to do this! It was tough. I told Cory to call Marci so she could talk me through it over speaker phone! But he must have thought that was crazy because he was like, " Uhhhh." Right then, the nurse came in with the new nurse--it was shift change. This new nurse Kim looked right at me and told me she had delivered lots of miscarriages and stillborns and knew what she was doing. She immediately gloved up and checked me. She said my cervix was very soft (duh).
I had a few more contractions and I jokingly told Cory this would be my first baby I delivered on my back! Kim checked me again and said the bag of water was right there. I could feel it. She asked me to bear down. I tried--but I felt so paralyzed. I don't think I did much. I think she helped it out because the next thing I knew, it was out! It came around 7:45. It happened very fast. It all came out together--the baby in the sack and the placenta. It was fascinating! Cory didn't want to see the baby so he was off to the side. But I asked him to pass me my phone so I could take pictures. How often do you see something like that? He sat right back down.
The nurse started breaking open the sack of water. We had to move the legs to see that it was a boy! I was shocked! I yelled out, "It's a boy!" That's when Cory got up and came to see his sweet boy. He was crying so hard. He wanted another boy so bad. It killed me seeing him like that. After Kim cut the cord, I just held him and stared. He was perfect. You could see every rib bone and his spine, his tiny feet and 10 fingers and toes. He was as long as my hand.
After awhile, the nurse took him to a different room to take some pictures of him. Cory and I just sat and cried... We talked about naming him. But it didn't feel right. We couldn't even think of a name. We just couldn't. I often wonder why I felt he was a girl. I think there was a little girl with me after he passed, comforting me. I talked to my sister Eden recently and she also had a little girl spirit comfort her while she was in the hospital. I don't know if it is the same spirit or a different one but I thought that was cool.
The nurse took great pictures. I even asked her if she could take a couple more of just his feet. She was so great. She told me she couldn't get footprints but came back later to tell me she got them! She worked hard for me. I held him some more after everything was done. It was hard to hold him because since he had been gone for so long, he smelled like death. Every time I moved him, a little of his skin would slough off. But I still stared and stared. He was a baby--even at 14 weeks...
The hospital gave us all kinds of options as to what to do with his body. We felt good about letting the hospital take him and eventually end up in an angel grave somewhere in Phoenix. I don't even remember the address. For us, that was right and okay.
I tried to rest that night. But got woken up by my doctor at midnight. He finally showed up. I did get pain medication. But not until after the baby came while I got pitocin to help my uterus contract. I guess my doctor has a hard time with loss. He didn't know what to say or do. I was disappointed no midwives were on call that weekend. It would have been nice to have more female support. The hospital put together a memory box for us with all kinds of stuff--his blanket he was in, all the props used in the pictures and forget me not flower seeds. Even a necklace with little feet on it. It was really nice. We finally got discharged the next morning around noon.
As sad and tragic as this was, I am in awe at how comforted I felt. I hardly cried the whole day. It felt like an out of body experience... He was my baby but ultimately, ...the Lord's. And that is comforting.
- Celeste, rest of the story on CoryandCeleste.blogspot.com (shared with permission)
I have been wanting to write my experiences down because my experiences changed so much of how I think about my body, my spirituality, and my connection with my husband.
My first baby I found out about in July. I was about 20 months postpartum with my son and was absolutely shocked. I was not feeling ready to be expecting again, but once I found out, although nervous, I was excited. I don’t remember the specifics of what made me feel like I should take a pregnancy test - I had missed my period but I wasn’t surprised as I didn’t get my period until 16 months postpartum so I figured it was just my body figuring out how to get back into the cyclical rhythm. I do remember my boobs aching with an insane amount of intensity, which was what happened to me when I was pregnant with my first. At that time, there was a bunch of family in town so when I took the test and it was positive, I tried to hide it but must have done a poor job since one of my sister-in-laws saw it. She asked another sister-in-law who said that it wasn’t hers and it must have been mine, so she asked my husband about it and he confirmed. I remember that the day I started bleeding was the day I was texting my sister-in-law who discovered the test about how excited we were and how we couldn’t wait to find out if baby was a boy or girl and how cute baby would be. I only knew about this pregnancy for a few short days, and they were so sweet. I remember revealing in this secrecy, my beautiful little secret. Eating my avocado toast thinking that I needed to have healthy fats for a healthy pregnancy and going to the beach, staring at a mom who was 9 months pregnant and thinking about how glorious it was to be pregnant. Wondering if my baby would share my sister’s birthday or not - my baby was due on March 21st and hers is the 23rd. I called several midwives and set up appointments to meet with them. On a Saturday, my husband, son, niece, and I went to LA for a day trip to visit a friend and my cousin who I hadn’t seen in several years. We walked a lot and loved our time. When we came home (we were living at my in-laws at the time) we told my in-laws about my pregnancy and they were super excited about another grand baby. I went to bed and woke up to a long, hard cramp. I went to the bathroom to pee and when I wiped, I noticed a slight tinge of pink and a little mucus. I was a little worried, but not too much as I had a few friends who had had this happen around week 7 of their pregnancy and everything went fine. In the morning it was a Sunday and I went to church and had more cramping. I texted my friends asking about this and they gave their advice. I think it was that afternoon that my cramping really started to pick up and become more like labor contractions. My in-laws had a cousin over who was spending the weekend with them, I remember lying on the couch enjoying the distraction of their stories while I cramped.
Eventually, they got so intense that I had to go to the bathroom. I took my underwear off and was on hands and knees struggling to breathe through my contractions. It felt so surreal. To be laboring for this baby I had only known about for a week and to have people in the other room, who didn’t know. I lost a lot of blood and remember seeing it all over the tiled bathroom floor. I couldn’t believe how much blood it was, cleaning it up as I cried.
My husband told his parents that night and the next day they took care of my son so I could sleep. I was so grateful for their help - it would have been difficult to rest afterwards without them doing that. I just remember sleeping for hours that day. My body felt so exhausted and heavy.
I continued to bleed for a few more days, I remember getting more blood on the bedsheets and trying to clean it but it wasn’t washing out as hard as I tried. I called my mom and told her that I had been pregnant but miscarried and just cried. I texted one midwife to cancel but the other midwife i couldn’t tell, it was too hard to tell.
I felt so emptied by that experience. It took me about a month to recover physically, I had a period (the day after I attended my nieces’ birth and serving her mother helped me feel so much more peaceful).
About three months after my miscarriage, I got pregnant again. I remember feeling some cramping that was super mild and I remember knowing that it was implantation cramping. I knew I was pregnant for several weeks before I would be able to take the pregnancy test. I told two friends about my suspicions. I was so excited and grateful for another chance. I felt like I was glowing, I’m sure everyone could tell that I was holding this magical secret. I didn’t take the test until I felt my boobs aching intensely again. I don’t remember telling my husband or his reaction. I do remember ordering pregnancy vitamin pills and this time we were in our own house (shared property with two other families). My neighbor came and said she had accidentally opened the package and gave them to me and in that moment, I just knew. I knew I was going to miscarry again. I shook that feeling off. A week later we called almost everyone in the family except my husband’s brother and my brother. My husband loved calling all of the family and telling them. I was due July 13th. Saturday morning we woke up and I had another pink tinge after I went pee. My husband called his brother and started telling him and I remember thinking “maybe I shouldn’t have him tell. I’m going to miscarry again.” But I was trying to be optimistic so I didn’t say anything. I didn’t call my brother to tell him though. I felt some mild cramping throughout the week but didn’t feel anything intense until Friday. I had agreed to watch a friend’s daughter because she had to work but her normal babysitter had fallen through. That afternoon I started having intense contractions. A guy from church came by and bought the bed we were selling, and he was a super nice guy and I just remember feeling these contractions and thinking that it was crazy that I was having a normal conversation when in fact I was in the middle of losing my baby. I wondered if he knew. I’ve seen him around since then and I always wonder if he guessed something was going on. I was still babysitting but the contractions were getting so heavy and real. Even more like the labor like contractions I had with my son than I had had with my previous miscarriage. The children were distracting so I turned on a movie for them. I waited until Ethan came home and I had him call someone else from church that I knew also babysat and had her come pick up my friend’s daughter (let girl's mom know that I wasn’t able to babysit anymore). My in-laws came and picked up my son. My contractions were so intense. I was in the bathtub. I was on my side laboring. Ethan was rubbing my back. Holding my hand. Squeezing my hips. Holding space. I felt so much gratitude for him.
The next day we had several Christmas parties to go to as it was the week before Christmas. The first was my husband’s work party; I put on my blue skirt and my diaper like pad. We went there and they had a bouncy house and normally I would have wanted to go on it to play with my son, but I knew I needed to rest so I didn’t. There was a guy there who was teasing me for not getting on with Hugh and I felt frustrated because I just wanted to yell at him that I had miscarried the night before and to let me alone. But I didn’t.
The next party was my church Christmas party and I went because I wanted the distraction but it wasn’t really distracting. A friend who lived far away was visiting her family and she asked how I was doing, and wasn’t I pregnant? I was so tired I just told her. And she then told me about her miscarriages. Although it hurt to have this question posed it was nice to know I wasn’t alone.
The week after, I took it slow. While Ethan was working, his parents watched Hugh a couple of times for me so I could get more rest. I remember Ethan rubbing my back, Hugh cuddling with me, and feeling so sad but loved by my sweet family.
My cramps became mild and almost nonexistent and I thought I was all done but the week after my labor I went to go pee and felt something slightly heavy slide out. I thought it was weird but I thought I had already labored out the baby so I didn’t think it was anything. I did look into the toilet and saw a glowing gold orb but had already habitually flushed the toilet. I wish I had just checked to see what it was. I always now wonder if that was my baby but I don’t know. After this I didn’t have any cramping or bleeding. Since then I’ve had several thoughts and experiences that have helped me feel comforted, but I’m not willing to share because they are too special.
I miscarried twice in 2 years. I felt a huge sense of loss and emptiness. I thought I lost my babies and I mourned their absence. In prayer I sought comfort for my grief. Then I was answered by the Spirit with the most astonishing and comforting impression. I was told that I didn't lose any of my babies. The spirit that would have inhabited the bodies I miscarried is still waiting for my body to create a sustainable one for him. He wasn't lost, and never will be. He was just patiently waiting. A year later I gave birth to my beautiful boy, and it felt right and complete. I no longer have a sense of having lost any other children. It gives me joy that I still had the opportunity to bring this spirit into the world. - Rachel
So I found out I was pregnant on my birthday, October 14th. I was still very early. I practice FAM and knew when I ovulated so I tested at 6 dpo and got a positive. It was my first pregnancy and desperately wanted. I was so excited but also pretty nervous. I’ve had this fear of infertility for so long, even though family history proves we're very fertile. I think my desire to be a mother was so great that I was terrified of not having that opportunity. But, I kept pushing the fear to the back of my mind because I thought I was just being ridiculous.
Exactly 1 week after getting the positive I woke up around 3 or 4am cramping badly. I have horrible menstrual cramps and it was just like those. I immediately knew. My heart started racing as I rushed to the bathroom and as soon as I pulled my pants down I saw all of the blood. My heart broke. I sat on the toilet, bleeding and crying, for an hour and a half or so then cleaned up and woke my husband up to tell him. He held me as I sobbed. I ended up messaging my mom and asking her advice. At the time our relationship wasn't the closest, but she'd had 6 kids and multiple miscarriages so I trusted her with anything pregnancy related. She confirmed it was probably a miscarriage and suggested that I go in to make sure everything was passing even though it was early enough it should go fine. The last thing I wanted was to go to the hospital and I didn't have a set care provider at the time. I’ve had very few good experiences with doctors and hospitals so I was hesitant. After a few hours I decided to go in but didn't want to go alone (my husband had to go to school and work) so I met up with my MIL and told her I was pregnant and miscarrying. She was getting her youngest kids off to school then would take me in. However, while I sat and waited I changed my mind and decided to just go lay down in bed instead. I miscarried throughout the day. Every time I went to the bathroom I obsessively checked the toilet and pad for the baby. I knew it was so early I probably wouldn't see it, but I just HAD to look for it. At one point I did pass a slightly bigger clot that looked a little different. I thought that may have been something but I still have no idea. I just wanted to see my baby before he or she (in my heart I knew it was a little boy) was taken from me. At the end of the day I again decided to go in. I got anxious about the (very slim) chance that things weren't passing well. By this point my face was puffy and I had a splitting headache from crying all day. I again met up with my MIL who took me to the ER. They got me back quickly and placed an IV line, took my blood pressure, and took blood and urine for testing. The women at reception who took my blood pressure were so sweet, handing me tissues and reassuring me that sometimes bleeding happens and it doesn't mean it's a miscarriage. I knew though. Sometime later they wheeled me back for an ultrasound. Because it was so early they had to do a transvaginal ultrasound. it was my first experience with one and was uncomfortable. She had to move the wand around inside of me to get images and I remember it twinging and hurting. I also remember I had to get up afterwards to clean up and get my skirt back on. They didn't give me anything to hold on myself so I remember being embarrassed that I was dripping blood and lubricant along the floor to the bathroom. It took a few minutes to clean it all up from the drips on my legs. I felt gross, like I needed a shower. I was also uncomfortable with having to walk butt naked in front of my MIL. she looked away graciously but it was still uncomfortable. Randomly, I do remember during the ultrasound we saw my kidney and they commented on how good it looked. I also remember the screen being pretty blank inside my uterus, but obviously the tech couldn't say anything. She was very nice, though. Throughout the ultrasound she made light conversation. I was wheeled back to the triage room and waited some more. I'd had the same ER nurse during my entire stay and she came in soon after and let me know they were just waiting for the doctor to review the results and come tell me. We waited for a very long time and eventually the nurse practitioner came in. I could tell the doctor was busy and they just needed to discharge us so they sent her down. She walked in and said "So, you've had a positive pregnancy test?" I responded that I had, I'd had 3 different tests (different types even) on different days that all came back positive. She replied "Well... You’re not pregnant. Your blood and urine tests came back normal and your uterus is empty and shows no sign of ever holding a pregnancy. You were never pregnant."
I felt like I'd been slapped in the face. I KNEW I was pregnant. I'd had 3 positive tests on different days! I FELT pregnant, I was already having symptoms. And yet here was this medical professional telling me I wasn't. I felt crazy. I genuinely started to wonder if I'd just made it all up. I was embarrassed because my MIL was in the room and I remember thinking she'd think I was insane and a liar. When she left the room the nurse came back in and asked "she told you the results?" When I confirmed her reply was "Good news, right?!" with a huge grin on her face and a very chipper voice. I felt even more invalidated. I was silent all the way home. As soon as we got back to her house I got in my car and drove home. I felt both angry and sad and numb. I just laid in bed until my husband got home.
I remember grieving for a few months. But I felt like I wasn't allowed to grieve because "I was never pregnant". I KNEW that was bullcrap but didn't see how I could argue against the medical professionals. I kept the underwear I'd bled all over when I started miscarrying. It's gross, but I NEEDED something to show my pain, something to remember by. I did eventually throw them away months later. I would often go back and look at the pictures I had taken (I took pictures of the blood and clots to show the doctors if they needed to know how much blood I'd lost) and looking at the pregnancy tests and underwear. I would often go into my top drawer and pull out the onesies I'd bought to announce my pregnancy to my husband. The initial sharp horrific pain dulled quickly, but then it was the constant ache that I was left with, and still the invalidating comments ran through my head.
I got pregnant again a few months later when we were ready to try again. I was so anxious. I wanted so desperately to be a mom but I didn't know if I'd survive going through the pain of a miscarriage again. I tested every single day for about a week starting at 8dpo. After that, I tested every 2 or 3 days for about a week. I would try to go longer but I'd get anxious and test again. I HAD to know it was still progressing. I did finally stop testing and grew more confident as the days passed. It wasn't until my first prenatal with my midwives that I felt validated in my miscarriage. One of the questions I was asked was if this was my first pregnancy. I explained that I had gotten positive tests and felt like I was but the doctor told me I wasn't. My midwife was appalled and in frustration said "you'd been miscarrying all day! An empty uterus doesn't mean you weren't ever pregnant, just that you'd passed everything already! Seeing how early you were it's not surprising you passed it quickly."
FINALLY I felt validated. Finally I felt like I was allowed to say I had been pregnant and I was allowed to grieve. Her simply telling me was enough to give me peace. I didn't need to grieve anymore. I was able to move on to honoring my baby with peace in my heart.
My beautiful son is here and healthy and 6 months old now. I know I want more in the future (already have the baby fever!) but a small part of me is still anxious for those first few weeks of pregnancy. Anxious at the possibility of experiencing another one.
I was able to organize a Nesting Party recently, it was so much fun. It was a combination of a baby shower, a Blessing Way, and a little bit of the food prepping labor that you do the day before Thanksgiving. I had this idea from the book, The First Forty Days by Heng Ou.
Before we had the actual party, I created a sign up sheet with all of the items that needed to be brought, and had everyone sign up to bring a few of the items. (The sign up sheet is here, if you would like to see it.) I also talked to everyone invited so we would all be on the same page as to what we were going to be doing.
We started the party by bringing everything in the house. The hostess had already made the house a special setting by lighting a few candles, putting flowers in vases, and turning on some music.
It was a beautiful atmosphere. We all munched on a delicious brunch while the mothers opened some presents that were so thoughtfully given and centered around her needs (here's a post about gift ideas for a new mom).
(I love the wrapping style! One represents stretch marks or "tiger stripes" and the other, the vulva!).
Once presents were open and delighted over, we all got to work. We had several stations set up so everyone was able to easily see what they could do. Here are some of the activities that we did:
a foot bath and massage
This is relatively easy to do and is a beautiful service to render. To set up a foot bath and massage station you will need several items:
- one cookie sheet
- several hand towels and several washcloths
- a pan to put feet in (a large casserole pan works really well)
- a pitcher with warm water
- massage oil of your choice (for example, olive or coconut oil). You can pour about 1/3 cup of oil into a small bowl so you can easily "grab" oil
The cookie sheet should be covered in a towel. Place casserole pan (without water in it) on cookie sheet. Place additional towels and pitcher nearby. After setting up your station have the mother sit down in a comfortable spot. Have her place her feet in the casserole pan and slowly pour some warm water over her feet. Slowly and gently wash away any dirt from her skin. If you want to add in a sugar scrub in, here would be where you would do that. Finish rinsing off mother's feet and ankles and then remove pan and set her feet gently onto the cookie sheet. Dry ankles and feet and then slowly begin massaging. One of the best advice I heard about touch from a massage therapist was: "don't worry about technique. Focus on having loving intentions as you touch another and that will be what is felt." When you are done, hug the mom and then wash your hands.
create an affirmation garland
Affirmation garlands can be about anything an individual desires, but for a Nesting Party, you would typically want them centered around something specific. For this party, it is most likely to be easier if you plan on having the affirmations centered around one specific theme. For example: labor or motherhood.
Here is my post with instructions and additional information on affirmation garlands: How to Create an Affirmation Garland
Here is another post with some examples of motherhood affirmations: Motherhood Affirmations
Granola is extremely easy to make quickly and has the additional benefit of being nutritious. Here is my favorite granola recipe:
- 2 cups raw, whole rolled oats (AKA old fashion oats)
- 1/2 cup raw nuts, chopped
- 1/4 cup raw seeds (sunflower or pumpkin seeds are great)
- 1/2 cup unsweetened dried fruit, chopped (optional)
- 2-3 tablespoons maple syrup or raw honey (or a combo of both)
- 2 tablespoons virgin coconut oil or other healthy cooking oil
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract or almond extract
- 1/2 teaspoon orange juice (optional)
- 1 teaspoon of orange zest (optional)
- 1 large pinch fine sea salt
- Preheat the oven to 300º F. Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and spread the mixture in a thin layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 10 minutes, until very lightly toasted. Cool before serving or storing. This granola can be kept in an airtight container in a cool, dry place for up to 2 weeks. Mason jars make excellent storage containers.
make homemade larabars
Here's a recipe for homemade Larabars:
- 4 cups whole pitted dates (moist ones work best)
- 2 cups raw or toasted whole shelled almonds
- 1 cup chocolate chips or chopped dark chocolate
- 2 tablespoons natural peanut butter or sunflower or cashew butter, divided (or more, if necessary)
Line a 9-inch x 13-inch straight sided pan with a piece of parchment paper so that the paper hangs over the long edges. Set aside. Fit a food processor with a metal blade. Add the almonds to the processor and pulse until they are uniformly finely chopped (think fresh bread crumb texture.) Add the chocolate chips and pulse again until the chocolate chips are also finely chopped. Pour the chocolate nuts into a large mixing bowl and set aside. Add half of the dates to the food processor and process until a paste forms and clumps together in the workbowl. Open the food processor and add in 1 tablespoon of the nut butter and half of the ground nuts. Replace the lid and process until evenly combined. Scrape into the prepared pan. Repeat with the remaining dates, chocolatey nuts and nut butter. When all of the ingredients have been thus processed, wet your hands and use them to press the mixture as evenly over the bottom of the pan as possible. Fold the excess parchment over the bars to cover them and use something flat and heavy to press down firmly on the mixture until it is smooth. Roll into balls and then store in sandwich sized Ziplock bags.
*Initially we started by cutting them into squares, but that took too long so we just rolled them into balls.
make frozen padsicles
We used the recipe found in The First Forty Days book, but if you are wanting to make some padsicles without dried plants on it, here's a simple one.
- Bowl (for mixing in)
- Gallon sized freezer bag
- 1 cup Aloe Vera
- 1 cup Witch Hazel
- 3 drops Lavender essential oil
- Super Size Pads (about 6-10), ideally organic brand since they use less chemicals.
Combine ingredients together in the bowl and then dip unwrapped pads in mixture, making sure they are soaked. When unwrapping the pads, don't unwrap all the way, keep the back sticker on and simply unstick the sides. Once pad is soaked in mixture, wrap it back and carefully place into the freezer bag. Store in freezer. Mom should unthaw for about 5-10 minutes before using so it doesn't stick to her skin. These can be used during pregnancy and postpartum.
make perineum spray mixture
- 6 tablespoons witch hazel (available at most grocery stores)
- 3 tablespoons aloe vera
- 6 drops Frankincense essential oil
- 3 drops Clary Sage essential oil
- 4 tablespoons filtered water
- Glass spray bottle (I've seen it in store at Sprouts but they are also available on Amazon)
Combine the ingredients together in the spray bottle (or in a bowl or other jar, depending on whether or not you are doubling batch). Gently shake to mix and pour into small spray bottle (we made a big batch and stored some in a larger mason jar for refilling purposes).
The witch hazel acts as a toner on the swollen area. The aloe vera soothes and relieves further swelling and discomfort. Frankincense oil heals any tears, broken skin, and irritation. Clary sage helps to re-tone the area and relieve pain and cramping. You can also add lavender oil to this combination as it helps reduce infection and inflammation (use one or two drops if adding it in mixture).
We washed all the dishes and tidied the areas we used and finished with wrapping red ribbon around everyone's wrist. This was to remind us that as women we are connected and to give us a visual reminder of the connection we felt and what we did that day. Every time we looked at the ribbon we would send good pregnancy, labor, and postpartum vibes to the mother. You can also give every attendant a candle to light when the mother goes into labor and you can send her good thoughts and "be there" in spirit while she labors. Of course, there is a variety of different things you can do or make at your own Nesting Party; like start a batch of bone broth, make a baby carrier or epsom salt bath.
When I was pregnant with Vera, I was worried about preparing Hugh for life with a sibling. I remember interrogating some of my friends trying to know what I could anticipate happening and attempting to figure out solutions. Hearing experiences from other mothers helped me so much, so I wanted to share with you some wisdom from Aubree, Deveney, and Taylor. I am so grateful for their willingness to answer questions for this blog post.
Tell us a little about yourself and your family (how far apart are your kids?)
Aubree: My name is Aubree and my husband is Clint. We have two beautiful children. Our daughter, Mora is 6 years old. Our son, Oliver is 14 months and such a love. Mora turned 5 years old the month before Oliver came earthside.
Deveney: My children are 9, 5, and 9 months, so about 4.5 years apart each between 1 & 2, and 2 & 3, and then 8.5 years from oldest to youngest.
Taylor: My husband and I have two girls and a dog. My husband is an Apache Helicopter pilot for the Army and I’m a stay at home mom/jill of all trades. The girls are 18 months apart.
What were you personally nervous about and what were you excited about?
Aubree: I was so nervous with having Oliver. The age gap scared me senseless. We'd just moved across the country when I was 34 weeks pregnant and Mora started kindergarten soon after that. I knew throwing a new baby into the mix wasn't going to make things easy on her. I was super excited to see her be a big sister though. She'd been praying for a sibling for many years.
Deveney: I was excited to have a baby and enjoy all the baby things again, I was nervous about having enough focus and attention for all the growing needs of each of them.
Taylor: I was nervous about postpartum and losing my hair again. Not to mention my poor boobs. But I was excited for another baby & for Mabel -oldest- to have a best friend.
What were your kids’ reactions to having a new sibling, and how did you tell them?
Aubree: We told Mora we were pregnant with a little present. Inside was a pair of booties. She was so excited and very quickly started to tell everyone. When she met Oliver for the first time she was such a tender sister. She loved holding him and always being near him.
Deveney: Paisley has LOVED both of her brothers so much, she was more excited for her youngest brother, I think because she is older and can hold and help with the baby things more, which most little girls love. I had a cute way of telling them planned, but we had needed to tell some family sooner than expected, so we were just together the 4 of us in an RV in Oregon at a family reunion and we just told them. They both kinda hollered and whooped and were excited, Tucker mostly excited because Paisley was excited. We hugged and talked about it for few minutes and then they were off to play with cousins, not my ideal, but it worked out ok.
Taylor: Mabel loved Lilly the moment she saw her. And she loved my belly when I was pregnant. She was/is always so gentle with Lilly, and all we really said was momma had a new baby. She took it well.
What was the best advice you heard or have for people preparing for having a subsequent child?
Aubree: Just do it! If you feel someone is missing from your family don't hesitate. I think this is something society today over focuses on too often. Having children isn't easy but it is so worth it.
Deveney: To accept help. I think it is hard for women to ask for help and to accept help, but during those early newborn months, having help with your older kids or with the baby for a bit can be such a blessing to be able to give attention fully to one child. Also, meals, I had the normal several meals after Sonny was born, but a close friend just decided to bring a meal every few weeks or so, and it was always enough to last us several days. Those meals made such a huge difference to us, they were hard for me to accept at first, but we were SO tired and preparing food was just another step that we didn't have energy for most days, they were such a blessing.
Taylor: Never heard any good advice. I’d say, tune it all out. Multiple kids are hard even if they're angels. Everyone struggles and has different experiences.
What did you do to prepare your children to become siblings? Did you think it made a difference?
Aubree: We didn't do a whole lot to prepare Mora. We talked a lot about the new baby that was coming and how things would change a little. I think being open and honest with her about everything made things easier on her. She knew what was happening and why. She likes to be informed.
Deveney: With Paisley, before we had Tucker, I made her a special little memory book that talked about how special she was to us and how much we had loved our time with just her. I think it helped in those first months when we weren't able to give her as much attention as she was used to. With Sonny, we just talked about how mommy and daddy were going to need to be away for awhile, at the NICU with baby brother. I think consistently talking about it helped, we didn't do anything very specific, but talked about it and tried to prepare them for less attention. We also did one on one dates with each of them in the final months before baby came and create a hopefully special memory to help them remember how loved and important they are.
Taylor: Mabel helped pick out baby clothes for Lilly and rub my belly when I felt gross but otherwise she was really chill in her own world. I think because she was still young, the whole idea was OK to her.
Do you have any favorite books or videos that helped your children be a little more aware of what was going on?
Aubree: I didn't look into any books for Mora. I wasn't worried about her ability of being a big sister.
Deveney: No, I wish I did though, that would have been nice!
Any additional wisdom?
Aubree: Don't forget about the big kids once the baby arrives. I still take lots of alone time with Mora so she doesn't feel forgotten or left out. I can tell when she needs this time too. She gets a bit more agitated and frustrated easily. I try and spend as much alone time with her as possible.
Deveney: Just do the best that you can and know that you were given these children for a reason. You know them, you know what might help the situation, you know when they need a little more attention and love. We mothers are an inspiring and fearsome bunch and I truly believe that we do better than we think, almost always.
Taylor: I’d say give each of them a little bit of time each day with just you or dad. No siblings. They seem to really enjoy it and at least my girls, play nicer together after. And remember that being a parent sucks for a lot of it. We all hate our kids sometimes, even if we're dishonest about it with each other. 😊
As I was preparing for putting together this blog post, I found this story below and I thought it perfectly described the feelings of welcoming another baby:
As of this moment, I am 23 years old and I weigh 230 pounds. Growing up I would have equated that sentence with laziness and would have been disappointed in my future self. But I love my body more than I ever have before. My body is glorious. I picked the image above [photograph depicts five different sized shaped pottery vases, some tall and thin, some short and round] because it really reminds me of the thought: "there is no wrong way to have a body". All bodies are beautiful.
At 8 years old, I went on my first diet and tried numerous crash diets and loathed my body for many years. I would pinch parts of my body, hating them. I've had many different bodies in 23 years. The last six years or so, I've really been working on my relationship with my body. I have up and down days. However, in the past three years I've been noticing that my self thoughts have been more and more about love, acceptance, and JOY. Last Spring I wrote in my journal, and I've turned to this journal entry in the past few months when I have had down days. This entry reminds me of a moment where I felt such an explosion of power that I wrote it down:
I grew up in a society where I was taught that my body was solely for the consumption of others and how they perceived its shape was where my value lay. As I work to liberate myself from this binding I become empowered to find out that I find pleasure in the power of its design and workings. My body is utilitarian and I find joy in its uses. The strength of my thighs as I climb a mountain, the flexibility of my joints as I stretch, the softness as I encircle a loved one in a hug.
My body is valuable. Regardless of how it is perceived by others. My gestures of touch are not payment for inhabiting this planet but gifts that I choose to bestow, and therefore all the more beautiful and loving. When I look in the mirror, my body radiates the gratitude, knowledge, and power I have learned to see.
Ways to help yourself love your body:
+ Find a therapist/body image support group
+ Learn about the technicality of the body
+ Write positive affirmations
+ Follow body positive people on Social media
+ Pay attention to how your body feels when you hug someone (isn’t it amazing that we can use our bodies to help us bring comfort and assurance to someone? Soak in that moment when giving a hug)
+ Journal your thoughts
+ Find an exercise you enjoy (exercise should be a pleasure not an act of torture)
+ Spend time naked
+ Be aware of your inner thoughts - good and bad
+ How would you want your daughter/son/friend to think about their body and women’s bodies?
+ Healing is not linear
+ Create a positive body image board on Pinterest
here is a link to my Pinterest board https://pin.it/34luudemwjgk2u
+ Be aware of how you compliment other women - change it to reflect comments on their personality or ask a sincere question
+ Buy and wear clothes that you LIKE that fit the current body you have (instead of holding out until you gain you ideal weight or body shape)
[two photographs of many different sculptures Venus Figurines of the European Paleolithic period]
**This is a living post. That means I will add suggestions and resources as time goes on and I find some gems I want to share. Last updated: January 12, 2018