How One Miscarriage Changed Everything

Gavin DeGraw is my favorite musical artist. I see him in concert any chance I get. When I moved to Florida, it took 3 years for him to come around. So when I heard about it, I begged by boyfriend to “let” me buy tickets for myself and my soon-to-be 2 year old. (She loves Gavin too).

My day began with the normal excitement on Gavin Day. His shows are often so intimate and sharing that experience with my daughter was making my heart glow. In my Facebook memories, a post comes up from November 4, 2017 at 9:07am, with crazy excitement about taking my baby to her first Gavin concert.

I was 6 weeks pregnant.

Not many people had been told yet. I knew it was going to be my last baby, and maybe that added to my glow. I also felt intense gratitude that I was again being blessed with pregnancy, when for so many years I battled infertility.

Was the timing great? Probably not.

Was my home life great? Eh.

But I was 39 and time was ticking. I was not going to let anything detract from the joy of becoming a mother to another miracle. I was a strong woman and would figure out whatever I had to in order to have this baby.

I was in the master bathroom getting ready with my little girl, blasting Gavin in prep for what I knew was going to be an amazing night.

That’s when the cramping started.

Soon after came the bleeding. I sobbed uncontrollably. I knew what was happening. I contemplated what to do. I was home alone with my daughter and my boyfriend’s daughter would need to be picked up from school at the end of the day. Should I go to the ER or just accept that I was losing the baby and go on with my day? (Yeah, this is how crazy I get sometimes)

I messaged my boyfriend to tell him I was going to the hospital to get checked out. I had flashbacks of going to the ER three years earlier, with his daughter in tow, where I learned about my ectopic pregnancy. I was anxiety ridden as I recalled that experience in which I lost one of my fallopian tubes.

What if this one was also ectopic?

What if I lose the other tube?

I’d definitely never have another baby. The flow of tears wouldn’t stop.

I sat there numbly as the nurse performed the ultrasound. Nothing but a cyst on one of my ovaries. Empty uterus. Beta numbers were extremely low. This was never a viable pregnancy.

One of my boyfriend’s friends came to sit with me and help with my daughter. I tried to hide my pain from everyone. I tried to play it off and act like it was no big deal.

Hey, I already got to have a perfect kid, right?

Hours and hours passed. I asked to leave. What the hell was the point of sitting there once they told me that I was miscarrying? I might as well salvage what I could of the day and go to the concert. They kept me there waiting, releasing me just about the time that the concert started. It was in Miami, about a 45 minute drive from the hospital I had gone to.

I knew I was going to miss most of it but I felt like I needed the distraction and Gavin’s music soothes my soul. I wanted my daughter to have some fun after sitting in the ER for all that time, being the great kid that she is.

This story is definitely about the pain of this miscarriage and the anniversary of what may end up being my last chance at having another child. Make no mistake that it is a sad day for me every year. I’d still be breastfeeding that precious baby right now if I was able to carry him or her to term. My life would be a lot different than it is today.

But this story is going to take a turn that you’re likely not expecting.

“I guess I won’t be buying you any more concert tickets.”

He said a lot of the standard things you say to someone who has lost a baby, none of which were comforting (think “at least you have Scarlett”), but this is the thing that I will remember forever.

It was horrible. It was cold. It was dismissive of my pain, and a punishment for having a miscarriage – something that was not my fault. He also said some other shitty things like “We really can’t afford another baby, so maybe this is for the best” but nothing hurt as much as that one statement.

I wish I was making this up. It was a conversation that turned my stomach, and my head back on straight.

It would have been easy for me to say that he “just doesn’t understand” or he is “just being a guy”. In this moment though, I said “he’s being a heartless asshole”. Because that is exactly what he was being.

My eyes became WIDE open, like that moment in The Sixth Sense when you realize what is actually going on with Bruce Willis’ character.

I suddenly saw the controlling, gaslighting, and being used. I honored my gut (who did tell me often that my role in this man’s life was not what I had hoped for), and the reason didn’t matter. You see, for a therapist, it’s difficult to do anything but believe in people’s capacity for change. You don’t give up on your clients, so you don’t give up on others….to a fault.

I made a conscious decision to “fight back” and that’s why I say it was the beginning of the end.

In his eyes, I had changed and become bitchier and impatient. I was being difficult and ungrateful (because I “got” to stay home with my daughter). But in my eyes, I was remembering who I am and what I deserved. I was reminding myself that if I was my own client, I would be working to strengthen this woman from within so she wouldn’t accept emotional or financial abuse.

It took a year for me to leave after this.

But I did, and never looked back.

It was not easy and I am still putting pieces of myself back together and, the worst feeling ever, putting pieces of my child back together.

What’s the point of this post? It’s a two-fer.

A story about how miscarriage grief exists independent of how many children you have. #Important

But also a story of how the worst day of your life can be the start of creating and living your best life. #AlsoImportant

Today is a sad day for me. I cry on and off all day because of the idea that I may never get to have another child. I love being a mom and I crave the feeling of growing another human inside me, this time without all the stress and BS, and bringing that child into this home full of love. Because that is what I have today. A home full of love, acceptance, respect, and sensitivity.

I’d be lying if I said that I have accepted the idea of that being my last pregnancy.

What if it can’t happen? Today I ask myself that because of my pain.

Tomorrow I will be able to say “Oh, but mama….what if it CAN?”

Go forth and make the choice to grow from pain and take care of yourselves.

What Do Abortion Laws Do To Our Fertility Treatment Options?

This wasn’t what I thought would be my first blog post, but it is what it is!

Unless you live in a cave, you know that women’s reproductive rights are a hot button issue right now. With the passing of “heartbeat” and “personhood” laws in multiple states, the country is becoming divided on abortion. What’s not being talked about is the implications for fertility treatments.

What’s going to happen in terms of allowing fertilization outside of the womb? Those are embryos, too. Embryos that are not used in an IVF treatment are discarded. Some of these bills (not all) are classifying personhood at conception, therefore making that discarding process on par with abortion.

Scary thing for the entire infertility community, to say the least. If discarding the IVF embryos not chosen for implantation becomes illegal…what does that mean? Less chances for the families who want children to be able to have them. And the abortion laws? More women having babies that they don’t want.

“But then there will be more babies to adopt for those that can’t have children”

Have you ever tried adopting? It’s not like walking into Home Depot and buying a shovel.

It takes months and months and it costs a lot of money. And do you know what often happens to infants waiting to be adopted? Broken attachment that FOREVER affects their ability to relate to others on an attached level.

Let me say that again….FOREVER.

An infant’s brain grows rapidly in the early month of life, and continues into toddlerhood. Incomplete attachment strengthens the pathways of fear, neglect, and struggling to feel safe.

That lasts a lifetime because it’s the brain, guys.

This effect is achieved with multiple caregivers in that period of time and neglect (which, to an infant, can be as simple as crying too long without response and not being fed when hungry). This most often happens when adoption doesn’t happen at birth but can happen to any baby, and that’s why research is lacking on this phenomenon. No one is about strapping brain gear on infants to measure how their brain is growing or what parts are atrophying.

Infants who have their needs met feel safe, know that their needs will be always be met and experience trust with their primary caregiver that allows them to form attachments to others later in life. Children with incomplete or broken attachment lack empathy, totally, (because they don’t learn feeling for others through early parental bond) and that is a dangerous thing. All you have to do is a quick Google search on attachment disorders to find out what that can mean.

Trust me on this one, parenting a child with attachment issues is infinitely more difficult than a child you’ve carried, birthed, and raised from day one. I’ve done both and have spent years in support groups with thousands of other women who will tell you the same.

This is not to discourage anyone from adopting or fostering children. For every one child with severe issues, there are many with light or no trauma who can attach, feel empathy for others, and whose issues are more easily treatable. Adoption and fostering are a gift to both the children and parents who want to give good homes to kids who need them.

My point in this is to show the benefits of focusing on fertility rather than abortion, so don’t come at me with your adoption arguments, okay?

Is a woman who doesn’t want to be pregnant going to take care of her health the way that a woman who does want children will? Not as likely as you’d hope. There are so many health factors that can affect the way a fetus grows and unless you’re emotionally invested, chances are health won’t be at the top of the list of lifestyle changes.

A woman who has worked hard to get pregnant is much more likely to pay attention to their health. In fact, we are hypersensitive about it because of our fear of miscarriage throughout the entire pregnancy. You don’t go through the hell of fertility drugs to compromise your pregnancy being lazy about your health.

What can we do to fight these personhood laws that may take away your IVF rights? Get involved on the state level. Look up what your Congressmen and Congresswomen support. If you are working with a fertility center, ask them what they think or if there are any organizations that are rallying for the fertility side of personhood laws.

It’s up to us to fight back, especially if we are heading toward IVF as an option for pregnancy. Let’s get loud, ladies! Fight for our future babies!

Love and Baby Dust,

Vanessa