This is the absolute hardest thing I have ever written.
Almost immediately after having our son, we were being asked when we planned to have a second baby (side note, don’t ask people that). It wasn’t until he was two that we felt ready to start trying to grow our family with another sweet babe. Prior to making this decision, we had talked about it for months. I don’t know what was the deciding factor; it just felt like the right time, and we were ready.
For our anniversary in October, I surprised my husband by taking out my IUD. He was over the moon, just as excited as I was to take this big step. This was October of 2018.
I thought for sure I’d be pregnant within the next month or two. I was wrong. Each month (and still to this day) I would look up when my due date would be if I got pregnant that month, and would start to imagine my pregnancy and birth in my head. The maternity clothes I’d get to wear. The season we’d celebrate their birthday in. Their age for their first holidays with our family. How amazing a big brother Hudson would be.
Month after month rolled by, and on the second Thursday of every month I found myself crying on my bathroom floor by the start of a period or a negative pregnancy test. Then I’d wipe away the tears, take a deep breath, and open the door and put on a brave face for my family.
I think around month six is when the negative self-talk in my head showed up. “What is wrong with you?” “You’re broken” “I’m not a good mom” “Why is God doing this to me?” “What am I doing wrong?” I silently began to punish myself.
My husband and I read every article we could find about how to get pregnant, things to try to do to get pregnant, about ovulation, etc. and tried to remain positive.
Then finally, after eight long months that felt like forever, came that beautiful, glorious, long-awaited positive pregnancy test.
It was so very faint, but it was also so early. Only four weeks along, but my heart exploded with joy. Tears of elation fell down my cheeks and rounded the corners of my smile. My heart skipped a beat and my stomach got butterflies that I knew would soon be replaced with the fluttering kicks of my sweet baby. The moment was finally here.
I immediately planned how I was going to tell everyone. My husband, my best friends, our parents, my co-workers. We told our son about his baby sissy (manifesting) in my tummy. I wanted to tell the world, because I was so damn happy.
I ordered a pregnancy journal to document growing this blessing the day (okay, hours) after finding out. I called my doctor and made appointments (one that week for a blood test to confirm the pregnancy, and one for an ultrasound at my suspected eighth week). I arranged with our photographer for announcement photos to be taken only a few weeks later. I hopped on Pinterest and started planning the baby shower theme, maternity photo inspiration, nursery themes, the baby names, everything I could think of. I was on cloud nine. Everything was right in my world because I was finally beginning to grow our family.
17 days of pure joy.
It was after my third weekly hCG (pregnancy hormone) blood draw test that they called me with my results.
“Your results indicate an early miscarriage. Have you experienced any cramps or bleeding?” No … what I was hearing couldn’t be true.
“Kellie, are you still there?”
“Yes I am. No, I’m not experiencing any symptoms of a miscarriage.”
They had to be wrong. I felt fine.
“We’re going to need you to come back in a week for another blood test. If you experience symptoms in the meantime, please call us back.”
I couldn’t sit on this for a week. I demanded to be seen that day, and explained my risk for an ectopic pregnancy. In 2014, I had an ectopic pregnancy that resulted in the tear of one of my tubes and I started to hemorrhage. I had to have an emergency surgery and they were able to save the tube by cauterizing it back together. There is now scar tissue in the tube from the cauterization and that creates a higher risk that a fertilized egg could get caught on the scar tissue and cause another ectopic pregnancy.
They scheduled me for an ultrasound at the hospital the very next day. During the ultrasound, they found a fetal sac, but it was still too early to detect a heartbeat.
They explained to me that their concern for miscarriage was because my hCG levels hadn’t raised the expected amount in a week. I immediately reached out to a friend who had experienced multiple miscarriages and got on the internet to find out that not all women’s hCG levels double each week. I needed hope.
June 27th: I received another blood test. The levels didn’t double, but they still went up. See? I was fine. My levels were still rising and I still wasn’t experiencing signs of miscarriage. The doctor and nurses were wrong.
June 29th: At a wedding. I’m a photographer, and while documenting someone’s greatest day of their life … I was experiencing the hardest day of mine. I started to bleed.
I will spare you the gruesome details, but I got what I needed to continue the day. Pads and ibuprofen. Gave myself a few minutes to get myself together. Then walked out of the bathroom with a smile on my face for my bride. But beneath that smile was a shattered, absolutely broken heart. This moment didn’t even feel real. How could this be me? How could something I wanted for so long, and was so happy to finally have, slip between my fingers just like that?
I used the happy crying moments of the wedding to allow a few tears to fall, but mine weren’t happy. I got through the day/evening, got in my car, drove home in silence: not a single tear shed. Walked through my front door and straight to my son’s room. It was there, on his bedroom floor, in the arms of my husband, my son in mine … that I completely fell apart.
I don’t know how long we stayed there. But I know I cried until my body wasn’t capable of creating another tear. I had never felt more broken. More empty.
Calling the doctor to say “you were right” was painful. Texting “I lost the baby” to the friends and family we’d already told was painful. This was also one week after our dog died in a tragic accident, and we’d had to re-home our chickens against our wishes. All my pets and my baby were now gone … taken from me all in one week. Pain was all I knew now.
I had to keep living. I had to be a mom, a wife, a story teller for my clients. But lemme tell ya, it was so damn hard.
The last nine months have been incredibly difficult. At first, I wanted to stop trying because I couldn’t even fathom risking another loss like that. But after a few months I was ready, and went back to tracking my period and ovulation. Obsessing. Reading stories about women who conceived the next cycle after a miscarriage.
But that wasn’t me. It’s been another nine months of heartache at the start of another period.
Up until this moment I hated talking about it, because I didn’t want pity or prayers, and I couldn’t even find the words. I didn’t want to hear the same “God’s time” and “It will happen soon” and “At least you already have a kid” responses because honestly, although I’m sure those things are said with the best of intention, they’re not at all what someone going through this wants to hear. All hopefulness and optimism have completely gone out the window now, and hearing that from people doesn’t make me feel better. A simple “I’m sorry,” or just a listening ear, is perfect.
Yes, I do already have a son, but that just means that now I struggle with secondary infertility guilt. The guilt you feel for being upset about not being able to conceive when you already have a child. Yes, there are many many women who cannot conceive at all, but that doesn’t discredit my brokenhearted dreams of not having the large family that I want. Or the confusion of why I was able to successfully have my son, but now I can’t seem to conceive at all, and the one time I did, I suffered a loss.
My mind is always, and I literally mean always, thinking about this. No matter what I’m doing, it’s always in the back of my brain. After 17 months of trying, my thoughts have shifted from daydreaming about nursery themes and baby showers to what it would be like for Hudson to be an only child, or for us to adopt.
My heart aches at the sight of pregnant women, brand new babies, and pregnancy announcements. At first, I was able to find ways to be happy for them, because I don’t know their story and they may have struggled to get there too. But now that I’m hanging on by only the tiniest grain of hope, all I can feel when I see those things is envy.
I’m sure I will get these questions so I will just answer them now …
No, we haven’t begun any fertility testing with my doctor, and before we do that we will move forward using a more holistic approach with a doctor who specializes in that.
No, if we cannot conceive naturally we will not do IVF. It’s just not a route I’d like to go.
Yes, we’ve tried that sex position, or putting a pillow under my hips after sex, or trying two days before ovulation, every day of the ovulation window, and a few days after the ovulation window; we eat healthy, we exercise, we don’t smoke, I take vitamins, tried eating certain foods, we do our best to stay stress free, we’ve done damn near everything. So thanks, but we don’t need your advice.
This is my story that I’ve wanted to tell for so long, but couldn’t find the courage or the words.
I won’t be able to properly ‘close’ this essay, because this isn’t the end of the journey for me. There is still going to be months of trying and heartache that will, hopefully, someday lead up to the joyful moment of adding another baby to our family.
I also know that so many other women are silently struggling and I hope through reading my story, you know you’re not alone. We are in this together.