Today is a special post. It’s not a project – it’s a bit of truth time. A few weeks ago, we were asked to tell our story of how to manage when things don’t go as planned. We were asked to lend our voices to a growing movement in our province of Nova Scotia to help families who are just like we are. We promise that next week, we’ll be back to our DIY posts (I’ve been working away on a few holiday projects!) But you see, behind all the paint and paper, scrap wood and glue – there’s something you should know about us.
I was quite hesitant at first. But I found strength knowing other DIY bloggers have tackled this topic: Shonee from Hawethorne & Maine, Liz Marie Galvan from Liz Marie Blog, Meagan from the Charming Farmer and Tasha from Designer Trapped in a Lawyer’s Body. I often remind myself that, despite feeling alone, I am not.
I distinctly remember the conversation. I was probably 12 years old, maybe 13. I was lying on my bed in our old house, staring up at the ceiling, talking on my giant yellow and red phone to a girl in my class. “I think I’ll have my kids when I’m 25. And I’ll have three and it will be perfect.”
She agreed. We picked 25 because for us naive teeny-boppers, it was the Goldilocks age. Young enough to still be cool, old enough to know what we were doing. (Ya, right.) This month, that same girl from grade school gave birth to her fourth beautiful baby. I know that because Facebook told me.
You see, sometimes things just don’t turn out as planned. And today, I feel like it’s time that we shared this nugget of truth with you. I was 30 when Dan and I got married. We didn’t even meet until I was 27 – so right away, my plan for children at 25 was foiled. We were both healthy. I was in a terrible job and was stressed out like crazy, but other than that – we were relatively blissful.
We had no reason to believe that things would go south. Or any idea that when they did, it would have such an impact on our future plans.
The first miscarriage was the worst. It was the worst not because of the depth of loss, which I actually think gets deeper each time; but because of the complete lack of awareness we had for the possibility that it would happen. We were fearless. We told people we were having a baby. We painted a room. We bought story books. We talked to each other.
Then, one day, as I was interviewing the soon-to-be Premier of our province – the bleeding began and it didn’t stop.
There are somethings about miscarriages that never really get talked about. Like the sheer amount of blood and the pain. As it was happening, I was trying to rationalize how I was still conscious. I was also praying that I’d lose consciousness and not have to live through what I knew was happening.
There’s this weird moment after you’ve lost a baby. It’s when you’re by yourself, in a quiet room. It’s the same time that when you’re pregnant, you talk to your belly. In that moment, you go to open your mouth to say something soothing, something motherly; and you can’t find your voice. It’s gone- buried in the realization that you’re actually in an empty room and there’s no one to soothe but yourself and ‘news flash’ – you have no motherly voice, because you’re not a mother.
It’s a terrifyingly human moment.
Since the losses and the diagnoses, I cope by bringing myself back to that moment. It sounds silly – but I do it because of all the pregnancy experiences I’ve had, I feel I can control my response to that moment the best. I don’t want to rewrite the joy I felt at the positive pregnancy tests. I don’t want to relive or degrade the devastation each time the radiologist tersely proclaimed the ‘pregnancy was not viable’. Those were real feelings.
But those silent moments after all was said and done – those are the ones I run back through my mind. Those are the ones I want to rewrite.
In my rewrite, instead of losing my voice, I find it. I say ‘good bye’, I say ‘thank you’ and I say ‘you are loved’. I was a mother – even if for 12 weeks. I was somebody’s everything. And those ‘somebodies’, however small they were – have changed everything I know about myself.
It has taken me a long time to get to the point where I can talk about this. I’m not a person who fails at anything. And any woman who has experienced multiple losses can likely agree that there is a certain feeling of ‘failure’ involved. The strength is in rewriting your own story.
I can only imagine the pain and heartache of women and families who never even get to that ‘after all is said and done’ moment. I know it happens. More often than we talk about. I find very small consolation in the fact that I was able to get pregnant three times. Some women can’t. They are even deprived of the feeling of loss. To me, even that’s unfair.
Did you know one in six women lives with infertility? That a woman’s fertility begins to decline at age 28? Four Canadian provinces now offer financial assistance to families seeking InVitro Fertilization – Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Manitoba. A recent study shows Nova Scotia could save more than $11 million over five years by introducing a similar program and 72% of residents agree a program is needed.
Infertility can be caused by a whole bunch of things and sometimes can just be ‘unexplained’. IVF can be the only option for some couples who want to carry a child- and each session can cost as much as $10,000.
We don’t know if IVF is something that we are even eligible for – probably not. But we do know what it feels like to be riddled with fear and worry; concerned that the life you dreamed of just won’t ever happen.
I guess our hope is that all those other couples out there know they aren’t alone. And that, we pray every day that we can rewrite our story.
*This post has been sponsored by the East Coast Miracles – a Nova Scotia infertility patient group dedicated to achieving equitable access to in vitro fertilization treatment for men and women facing fertility challenges. Share your stories and follow along with the movement using the hashtag #IVF4NS.
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