Shared by Kelsey Connell
Having a miscarriage after years of trying to conceive is one of the most harrowing things a mother can experience. Imagine learning a part of your soul has separated from you to combine with a piece of your partner’s soul, and they’re dancing together in your womb, blissful and happy, until some unknown and cruel circumstance disrupts the music and stops their dance. That piece of soul has no option but to return to you, but now she is different. She has changed. Her song no longer matches the rest of the soul, and so she’ll spend the rest of her life trying to find that melody again.
Our beautiful daughter was conceived after years of not preventing pregnancy, and never having ‘scares’. After many years of monthly menstruations, we assumed my doctors were right: my endometriosis was preventing me from having children. But one cold, blistery morning, I discovered my doctors were wrong. I was unexpectedly and shockingly pregnant. Nine months later, our daughter Claire was born via C-section after an otherwise normal pregnancy.
A Second Miracle
Two months before her first birthday, I found out I was pregnant again. My elation was incomprehensible. Here we were, the kid-less couple for so long, now parents to a healthy little girl AND pregnant again so soon? It was a story you’d share with other struggling couples:
“Don’t give up yet! Kelsey and Clayton struggled for years to have Claire, and then they immediately got pregnant with their second! If it happened to them, it can certainly happen to you,” I would imagine the conversation starting. It felt like a miracle to conceive again, especially so soon after having Claire.
I miscarried during Claire’s first birthday party.
It was terrible, bittersweet, and confusing. We were outwardly celebrating the existence of one child, while inwardly grieving the loss of our other. I served cake with a smile and sang Happy Birthday while my body was bleeding, informing me my other baby was dead.
Thankfully, or perhaps sadly, taking care of a rambunctious one-year-old distracted me from my grief. I spent only a handful of days mourning our loss, and quickly moved on to swimming lessons, play dates, and working on my small business during nap times. I had no idea that I would soon come to know miscarriages intimately and devastatingly.
When the two lines appeared on another pregnancy test almost a year later, my legs gave out in a wave of adrenaline and fear. I collapsed on the bathroom floor in tears. I was terrified but excited, a veritable "cocktail for crazy”.
I was so paranoid about miscarrying again, I stopped my daily exercises, avoided many foods, and read every article I could find on ways to prevent miscarriage. My OB tried to reassure me: “Miscarriages are common, but the chances of having a second one back-to-back are very slim. You’re young and healthy. Try to relax and enjoy this,” she said, repeatedly. Easy for her to say, I’d think.
I loved that little embryo more than I ever thought I could love something I’d never seen before. I fantasized about his or her name, and excitedly planned the rearrangement of rooms to accommodate our newest family member. I was in love.
A mother’s love is a deep, unconditional love that has talons, hooks, and barbs, so when it finds an object of affection, it sinks deep into it so there is no chance of letting go. I was hooked. Our introduction went as far as me laying on an exam table watching the flicker of a heartbeat light up the ultrasound screen. Sadly, it was a flicker that never had the chance to ignite; it was snuffed out at eight gestational weeks.
I did not know it was possible to feel such pain. Animal like noises escaped my throat as my mind tried to make sense of the circumstances. Tears burst from my eyes like monsoon-flooded rivers. My body physically shook with grief. My mind needed time to catch up to what my uterus already knew: another baby was dead.
The Fog of Grief
I walked around in a zombie-like state for weeks. I wandered aimlessly around my house, unsure what to do. I couldn’t make decisions. I couldn’t feel emotions. I was numb. The love I held so close to my heart and the person in my body was gone in the blink of an eye. The love I had sunk my mother-talons into was ripped from my womb, and I was left bereft and mourning the small hole in my heart.
My husband had his own two-fold grief: he was sad over the loss as well, but also felt helpless watching his wife become the shell of the woman he had married. He walked on eggshells and tried to stay out of the way, while watching me out of the corner of his eye most days. He learned to read my body language and anticipate my needs. He held me as I cried and gave me tough love when I sat too long in my suffering. He was my rock.
Two recurrent miscarriages made me question everything: my body, my lifestyle, my faith, my decision-making skills, my marriage, my doctor, my past, my future, everything. As my OB had said, I was young and healthy and there was really no reason for the losses. At this point in my life, my endometriosis was minimal and wasn’t causing me the same issues as it did in my younger years. My family doctor and OB were just as confused as I was.
Losing a baby is something I would not wish on anyone. It is a tragedy to someone desperate to conceive, and we were desperate. My husband was older and didn’t want a newborn at 40. We felt like time was against us.
That second miscarriage set us and my body back months: precious months that could have been used for conceiving a healthy baby. Instead, my soul needed healing and my body needed time. I wanted my kids close in age, and to be done having kids by the age of thirty-five. At the time of that miscarriage I had just turned thirty.
No one understands the person you become after recurrent miscarriages unless it has happened to them. You love something so instantly and fully, without reservation, only to be robbed of your love’s potential before you can even process how unconditional and incredible it is to know life is growing within your body. Imagine a life that is taken without permission. A life that deserved a chance but never got one. It’s a lost life that changes the living ones that loved it.
A Critical Shift
I eventually found the help I needed through writing and therapy and the wisdom of people/authors like Gabby Bernstein, Wayne Dyer and Pam Grout. My husband and I decided to stop actively trying for a baby and to enjoy our time with our thriving, vibrant daughter. She needed happy and present parents, and until that point, we hadn’t been either. We had been so focused on what we didn’t have that we had forgotten what we did have. She was far more precious to us now, our seemingly miracle child.
Since that miscarriage in 2015, I have had two more pregnancies. Both in 2017, and both resulted in miscarriages. The first was awful, the second devastating, the third tragic, and the fourth, well, it was terrible but manageable. I feel resigned to the experience now, like an old boxing pro who can still take a punch to the face without a flinch.
While I don’t want this to be my story, it is an ingrained part of who I am now. Pain changes a person. Death, no matter how small, changes the heart. The essence of who I am has been shattered. But amongst those shards were lessons in resiliency, strength, and faith.
I’ve managed to put myself back together again, albeit differently and riddled with cracks. Sometimes light can shine through and the days are fantastic. Sometimes the cracks are dark, laden with scar tissue, pain, and resentment. I’ve learned a lot by loving these little expressions of my marital love. I am more forgiving towards myself. I held a lot of shame and guilt for not being able to give my husband a second baby. Shame that my body wasn’t functioning in the primitive way a woman’s body should, and guilty that I had done something to prevent these lives from flourishing. But I’ve let that go. Holding onto those emotions was like holding my hand against a hot burner; it was just hurting me more.
My marriage has changed. We communicate better. We hug longer. We spend time together more easily, being present and laughing rather than fighting over ovulation sex. Our marriage isn’t easier than others, but it’s easier than it had been prior to our fertility struggles.
Revelation of Strength
I’ve also learned what strength really is. Strength is getting out of bed and making your daughter breakfast while your body is wracking in labour-like pains as you induce your miscarriage with a pharmaceutical pill. Strength is writing about my experiences and sharing my pain and vulnerability with the world through my blog. Strength is hearing a friend’s pregnancy announcements and having to consciously choose to be happy for them rather resorting to automatic feelings of jealousy and envy. Strength is therapy and meditation and yoga, especially on the dark days where a darkened bedroom, a bottle of wine, and a box of tissues to catch the tears seems preferable over doing the hard work of healing.
The path to peace hasn’t be linear or easy, but it has been worthwhile. I’ve found silver linings I wouldn’t have recognized a few years ago. I appreciate our daughter immensely. I’ve felt the unconditional love for five babies, a blessing not given to many. I’m actually happy with the person I’ve become. While I once believed a second child was needed to complete my family, I now know my family had been complete all along, dancing to a different tune than the one I expected but still enjoy nonetheless. Ours is a harmony that was found in tough times and strengthened through the good.
The Surprise of Grace
Christmas 2017 came and along with it, big sighs of relief for the end of a hard and transformative year. We were looking forward to 2018 as a year of trailblazing: I have dreams of writing a book to help other women find peace with their infertility. My non-profit was on the cusp of exploding. We had trips planned. We had peace. But of course, sometimes the Universe/God/Source has other plans, and Christmas Eve blessed us with an unexpected gift: a positive pregnancy test. Tears streamed down my face, dripping disbelief, awe, fear and joy upon my naked thighs as I looked at this proof of life. Writing this now, I’m fourteen weeks pregnant: almost longer than any of my four previous losses. We always wanted to name our second daughter Grace. Perhaps I had to find grace to have Grace.