I found out I was pregnant in April 2016, a week before my 31st birthday. My husband had just bought us a new car and it was shaping up to the be the best birthday EVER. I had a trip planned with my sisters to meet in Banff, Alberta, Canada for the May Long weekend and I was feeling pretty good! But as the saying goes, if it feels too good to be true, it usually is. And for us, it was.
When you miscarry once (and I imagine the same can be said for any type of pregnancy loss) you are TERRIFIED for your next pregnancy. You want to make sure you’re doing everything you can to ensure you have a healthy pregnancy. If I could’ve built a giant, plastic bubble, I would’ve lived in that for nine months. Every wipe after using the bathroom is analyzed for spotting/bleeding and every twitch and cramp is a panic that something is wrong. You become more in tune with your body and therefore, feel everything more intimately.
I started spotting on a Wednesday and was leaving for Calgary Thursday afternoon. I was six weeks pregnant. I went into Emerg and waited for six hours before they told me that there was nothing they could do for me; I was going to need an internal ultrasound and they didn’t have anyone that could perform one that late at night.They sent me home and told me to come back the next morning at 9:00am. When I arrived it was as if I had never been there the night before. No one was expecting me and they had no record of me needing the ultrasound. After three more hours I finally got it and then was sent back down to Emerg to await results. Thankfully, the ultrasound tech showed me the heartbeat, that flicker of life, so I was a little calmer. But still I sat for another two hours, each minute getting me closer to my flight departure before the doctor came in. He apparently had no idea what was going on and asked me all the same questions from the night before. There were still no results from the ultrasound sent down. He requested I wait and I explained I had a flight to catch. So he gave me his personal phone number and told me to call him at 7:00pm that night and he would have answers for me.
I was incredibly nervous to fly. What if the high altitude made the bleeding worse? Should I even be flying? What about cabin pressure? But the doc told me it was okay and who am I to argue with the professional? I called that night and he said I had a fibroid and a subchronial tear but that it was a normal occurrence and our bodies typically heal it as pregnancy progress. He told me to take it easy but enjoy my trip. We hung up and I felt a slight lessening of the dread in my chest. I met my sisters in Banff and we had a good trip. I avoided the hot tub, opted out of the hikes we had planned, walked in spurts around the town and had a lot of naps. But when I returned home I was still spotting. My family doctor suggested another ultrasound on the Thursday, a week later from the previous one. There was no heartbeat. My husband wasn’t with me because he was out of town working and I was alone. I shouldn’t have been alone.
I sat in that dark ultrasound room for about 10 minutes hysterically crying but trying to compose myself so I could leave the building undetected. I was devastated. I called my step-mother crying once I got in the car and she asked me to pull over lest I get in an accident. I did and I sat there in the sunshine, my world crumbling while the rest of the world continued to spin around me. I wanted to shout at people, “How can you be getting groceries when this horrible thing is happening to me?” and “Stop what you are doing because a baby just fucking died and we should all be grieving right now, not shopping for cookbooks at Indigo, Margaret!” I wanted the heavens to open up and rain down their tears; the sunshine felt like a betrayal to the heartache I was experiencing.
I made it home and cried in bed for hours. I should mention I’m not typically a crier. I mean, I cry at mundane, compassionate things like soldiers surprising their kids at school and secret proposals but when it comes to the big life events, I can hold it together pretty well. I figured if I took the day to cry it all out, feel it fully and grieve, I would get over it quickly. I was so wrong.
Slowly, day by day, I could feel my mojo, my joy, my life force seep out of my pores. Eventually my husband said, “what is going on here?” and I chocked it up to postpartum depression. I mean, I was pregnant, my hormones were out of control like most women’s so that had to be what was happening. I contacted the mental health services to get into a PPD support group only to be told I had to have an actual baby to qualify. “I’m sorry, what? I lost my baby. If I HAD a baby, I wouldn’t be here. But I did lose my baby and I am mess.” It felt ridiculous that I was denied that help. But they told me I could attend the mild to moderate depression group but unfortunately they met Tuesdays at 4:00 p.m which didn’t work for me or my family. I knew from past experiences, I process best with face-to-face interaction. Online support groups wouldn’t help even though I joined a couple to feel less alone. I needed a professional. I needed healing, not a fellow mom telling me she gets it and wishes me peace and a rainbow baby soon. I was messed up in the head and I needed more than that. I needed coping tools and strategies and I needed it fast. I was slowly going downhill even further into depression. My friends were so alarmed they pitched in and bought me a flight home so I could be with my best friends and family. The trip was good but it was merely a distraction. We had a pool party and a girls night and it was all amazing but I was still just a robot going through the appropriate motions. When I’d drink booze, I made sure I got black out wasted because that way, I couldn’t let the anger and despair that simmered on the surface explode out of me like it was aching to do. I was angry with my husband and daughter all the time. My husband commented that he worried about my parenting abilities and didn’t want me around her without him. I was irritable and when I wasn’t irritable, I was emotionless. My business, Potions, took a back seat. I stopped exercising. I stopped reaching out to friends for play dates because who wanted to spend time with the Debbie Downer? I had nothing positive to say. I prayed, with intense anger I may add, that I couldn’t believe I was part of the 15% statistic that miscarries twice in a row. I was healthy, young and desperate for a baby. I did everything to have a baby. I meditated and did manifestation visualizations. I was a good person. Educated. In a stable marriage. I helped my neighbours. I baked cookies. We donated to charities. So why me?
One night, five weeks or so postpartum, my friend told me she was pregnant and oddly, was due on my former due date. While I was so incredibly happy for them, my depression had questions for God/Source/The Universe. I laid in bed, bawling, asking aloud “why did this happen? Was it the flight? Was it from the hot tub a few days previous? Was it from not eating something I should’ve been? Why me? WHY ME?” My husband rolled over and said, “I don’t know what you should be doing but I know this isn’t it.” Of course, I got more mad because I thought he should be upset at this horrible card we had been dealt. But he was grieving in his own way and it didn’t include yelling at the Universe at midnight, asking unanswerable questions.
After that sleepless night, I realized he was right. I couldn’t keep doing what I was doing. I went back to counselling and again, Dallas saved my life. He gave me tools for coping- none that included numbing with alcohol so I gave that up while I healed- and exercises for re-training my mind. I started writing again. I knew my story could heal others so began my book writing journey, “My Two, Ugly Friends”, a baby step by baby step guide to coping with anxiety and/or depression. I did an Akashic Records meditation at Serendipity Flowers where a voice (my own? my subconscious? my ancestors? God?) said “you are a healer with words.” I was creeped out to say the least but also intrigued. Writing had always been an outlet for me but for a decade, since my journalism days, I had felt I wasn’t good enough and I had nothing to say. However, this terrible experience now gave me something to say. I posted a picture I took of myself crying the day I found out there was no heartbeat months later and the response I got was incredible. SO many women in my Facebook circle had similar stories and were so proud of me for acknowledging and documenting grief. On social media, we typically only want to see the happy. I broke a norm and I did it in a way that connected with others. I let them know I was with them and more importantly, I wasn’t afraid to talk about it anymore.
Meanwhile, I met a group of amazing women that pointed me towards an infertility acupuncturist, Andrea, who also contributed to saving my life. By this time, it was September and I was feeling much better. The counselling, sobriety, meditation and now acupuncture was helping me emerge from the darkness. With Andrea, we did acupuncture, angel reiki, past life regression, heart chakra meditations, a third eye opening workshop, a crystal healing workshop and she helped me heal the little girl still crying for familial love and attention and make peace with my miscarriages. By Christmas, my husband and I had both made peace with only ever having our daughter. We saw how lucky we were to have her and how easy our life was. We could travel easier with her, we slept through the night, we didn’t have diapers to change. We had a good flow between us and up until that point, I had been taking it for granted. I learned to appreciate the moments with her and to not constantly be wishing she had a sibling. I was enough for her at this moment. Her dad was enough for her. Her friends and cousins were enough for her. She wasn’t lacking for anything. She is loved and I think she knows it. She certainly doesn’t ask us for a brother or sister. She’s happy and now we’re happy.
I also read the book, The Universe Has Your Back by Gabby Bernstein and it was the candle in the cake of healing I had built. Reading that book sparked something in me: a TRUST that the Universe has a bigger plan for me and it didn’t include a baby that year. I stopped begging for a baby and instead, started asking how I could be of service to others. My amazing friend Nancy suggested I start blogging and use my story/way with words to heal others or at least help others. I knew writing could be my service towards the greater good. And here we are, blogging, happy, living in the light, loving more deeply and sharing my story to help others with theirs.
If I can do it, you can do it. Despite the woo-woo of some things I did, they were the most healing. Don’t knock it ’til you try it! Talking about it with my close friends and counsellor helped me make sense of my life and situations (past and present). Writing helped me process and heal. I’m a stream of consciousness writer and when I go back and re-read what I write, both for my book and this blog, I cry. I feel like a weight has lifted and having the words down for all to see now takes the enormity of it off my shoulders and makes it all less scary. Because I know there is someone else out there that will read this and be nodding her/his head. And I believe, in the end, all we want is a connection to another, someone who understands us, someone to love us. Love is the end game.