I never got to formally thank everyone for their outpouring of love and support after I shared my fertility story. I’ll continue to keep you all updated here, but in the meanwhile, I’m starting something special. From all of the messages I received, there was a common theme. People reached out eager to share their stories with me. Some stories were similar to mine, some were vastly different – but we all shared the same emotions.
Fertility is so private and isolating. We may all have different journeys, but we all share the same destination. I’m going to be sharing some of my followers’ journey’s here so you can all feel as inspired as I felt last week and above all know that you are not alone. If anyone else would be willing to share please send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to hear from you!!
PS – If anyone has comments on the story below, I’ll be passing them along to my new friend, Brenna, who was so brave to allow me to post her story first!
Hi! I’m Brenna and Amanda asked me to share my pregnancy/fertility story with you, her fabulous That Pencil Skirt followers. Here we go 😊
Just like Amanda, I got married in 2014 and my husband and I decided to wait a couple years to start a family. In the months that followed our wedding, we bought a house, traveled, focused on our careers, and enjoyed spending time with each other, our family, and friends. Usual newlywed activities. Around the holiday season of 2016, we decided we were ready! It’s hard to articulate how the switch flips, and all the sudden, all you want in the world is to get pregnant. It just… happens.
Looking back, I know I did everything “right.” I went off the birth control pill well over a year ago, started taking prenatal vitamins in November, exercised regularly, ate healthy, and stopped enjoying my favorite cocktails. I made sure I checked all the boxes on how to set yourself up to have a healthy pregnancy.
And yet, as I sat in an exam room just a couple months ago with my husband at our very first doctor’s appointment at just 6 weeks pregnant, our world came crashing down around us. It turns out, our first pregnancy was ectopic and I needed emergency surgery to have “it” removed. I’m talking emergency like life threatening. My doctor said I wasn’t leaving the hospital and I was on a gurney, prepped for surgery in less than 2 hours.
(SIDE BAR! If you don’t know, because I didn’t, an ectopic pregnancy is one in which the fertilized egg implants outside of the uterus. In my case, it was half in, half out of my right fallopian tube.)
But, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me go back to the “switch flip” timeframe. The first 2 months we tried didn’t go as planned. The first month I got a terrible cold which made me completely miserable, so that threw a wrench in the plans. And the second month I was traveling for work during prime time. Nothing you can do about that. Sometimes life just gets in the way.
Finally, the third month! This would be it. No travel, hopefully no unforeseen illnesses. This third month would be our month. And it was! Within a day, I could feel my body change. I never believed the people who said they knew right away, but it was true for me too. I just couldn’t help myself so 1 week after I ovulated, I left the office during lunch and went home to take a pregnancy test. What felt like a lifetime later, there it was on the tiny digital screen in my hand. We were pregnant!
Like Amanda’s story, I won’t talk about how I surprised my husband that night with a belated birthday present of a card that read “Only the best Husbands get promoted to Daddy. We’re pregnant!” and a tiny newborn onesie. Or how we told both of our families and celebrated with so much joy and anticipation. Or how we, in an instant, started to think about our future and life completely differently.
Remember those changes I mentioned? I was having some weird ones too. Time for the details here people… Almost immediately, I started spotting. Not just once or twice. But every day. I also started experiencing cramping pretty much every day. As a first-time mom-to-be, I think ignorance was bliss for me. I had no idea if what was happening was right or wrong, and I wasn’t going to let Google search results freak the crap out of me.
Looking back, when I would talk about the symptoms with my mom, she would do her best to reassure me that everything was fine. All I could ever say in response was, “I hope so.” I never said, “I know.” It’s as though my subconscious knew it wasn’t right, but my heart wouldn’t let me believe it.
So, on we went living in pure joy for 4 weeks (yes, we found out CRAZY early). I had the 2 confirmation HCG blood tests done. We were definitely pregnant! We planned how we would tell our friends, coworkers, and shout it from the roof tops.
Fast forward through those 4 weeks to that 6-week appointment. We went through our intake appointment and when asked about symptoms, I made sure to mention the spotting and cramping. Right away, the intake nurse got us scheduled for an ultrasound. We were so excited and hopeful that maybe, just maybe, we would get to hear a heartbeat! Ignorance at its finest, people 😊
Next, in we went for the ultrasound. As I laid back with my husband’s hand in mine, my anxiety started to spike. The ultrasound tech wasn’t saying anything. She wasn’t pointing anything out. But I could see that she was measuring something on the screen. After several minutes of silence, the tech said she needed us to wait in the waiting room to see the doctor. Instantly, my heart dropped. We sat in the waiting room for what felt like hours… it was only about 50 minutes in reality.
My doctor came to get us and brought us into an exam room. She broke the news. What the tech was measuring was a “mass.” Our pregnancy was ectopic and I was bleeding internally as a result. Suddenly we were inundated with information: “your fallopian tube could be damaged,” “you may lose the tube and ovary,” “it could impact your fertility,” “we just won’t know until the surgeon is in there,” “it’ll be three incisions that won’t scar too badly.”
As I’m sure you could guess, I dissolved into inconsolable tears. All I could do was look at my husband and tell him, “I’m so sorry.”
That is where I’m going to stop. It’s that moment right there that I wish I could go back to in hopes that I could shift my mindset. My husband, being the most wonderful man in the world (I’m biased, I know), didn’t miss a beat in telling me to never, ever apologize for this. To never blame myself. But how else is a girl to feel? It is instant, undeniable guilt.
In the weeks that followed my surgery, I had good days and bad. Mostly bad at first. I was physically and emotionally in pain. I couldn’t wrap my mind around it. How could this have happened? And with our very first pregnancy? I did everything “right”!
(If you’re wondering, it took about 3 weeks to recover physically. The surgeon went in through my belly button and two incisions on both sides of my abdomen above my ovaries/uterus. And good news – I was able to keep all my plumbing! No ovarian damage and my fallopian tube is still intact. Or, as the first thing I said to my parents and husband when I came-to out of anesthesia, “I kept my tube!” with a big thumbs up. Silver lining!)
With time and LOTS of processing, I’ve just recently come to terms with it. The more I think about it, the more I can piece it all together and see that, as sad as it is, this pregnancy just wasn’t meant to be. And that another one, some day – hopefully soon – will be.
Our families and friends have been amazing and steadfast in their support throughout this journey. My parents actually suffered a miscarriage at 11 weeks pregnant between my older sister and me. They made sure to sweetly remind me that if that hadn’t happened, if they hadn’t endured the pain of that loss, I wouldn’t be here.
So, to all the ladies experiencing a harder time on their fertility/pregnancy journey, hold onto that. That when you are blessed with a baby, it will be at the right time and it will be with the baby you are meant to have.
It does not mean you are broken or flawed. You did not do anything wrong. It can feel like a very isolating experience, but there are so many people in the world who have also gone through it – more than we will ever know. Know that you are not alone and that you are still a perfectly wonderful human being.
I’d like to leave you all with some encouraging words that have helped to lift me up since our own loss. The day after my surgery, my best friend came to see me with bright pink peonies (my favorite!) and a little gift bag in-hand. Inside the gift bag was a bracelet that has EXPECT MIRACLES engraved on it. With it, came a few lines:
Always believe that there is something wonderful coming your way.
Know that you are loved and supported.
Never give up. Stay centered.
Believe that miracles happen.
I wear the bracelet every day, in expectation of my miracle. Don’t lose hope. Expect your miracle.