A new beginning
Today, October 15, is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. Like the heartbreaking medical events this day is meant to commemorate—miscarriage, stillbirth, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), and the loss of a newborn—it is an occasion that people rarely talk about. Whether because they feel alone, angry, ashamed, or embarrassed, people who struggle with infertility too often suffer needlessly in silence.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
So, to honour Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day 2021, I am launching a new series chronicling my own journey with infertility. It is a story that is both personal to me, yet all too familiar to the thousands of families who struggle every year with pregnancy and the loss of a child.
Starting today and continuing every Friday for the next seven weeks, I will post a new episode in my personal story on this blog. The episodes will vary in length from one to six minutes. But no matter how long or short, they all touch upon a different lesson, theme, or experience along my winding path to parenthood.
It has taken me a long time to become comfortable with telling my story. Even now, it isn’t easy to do. However, my hope is that by sharing my experiences with you, we can begin to dismantle the emotional barriers that we put up between ourselves and facilitate a meaningful discussion that will support one another, no matter where in your own journey you might be.
Welcome to My Infertility Story, and thank you for joining me on this journey!
A familiar story
I would like to start with a quote, one that really resonates with me and my journey. A quote by Deana Kahler that says,
Sometimes when life doesn’t work out as you planned, there is a greater force at work.Deana Kahler
These words are so powerful and so meaningful to my journey.
I’ve always been a Type-A personality, scanning my mental vision board to ensure that I was on the right path. In my younger years, I very innocently thought that, as long as I worked hard, loved without restraint and stayed true to myself and my values, then I could somehow write (a.k.a. control) life’s journey. It wasn’t until my pregnancy loss and infertility issues that I realized my narrative would be slightly different than the one that I had penned for myself.
My story is eerily similar to so many others that have experienced the loss of a child.
With my first pregnancy loss, I often speak of losing the ability to exist in a state of blissful ignorance—that state of not knowing and not wanting to know about the possibility of unhappy things and the complications that potentially lie ahead us. I believe that there is a pivotal moment in this journey where your direction shifts, where the path you were following ceases to exist and you are forced to walk a road less travelled, one you are not entirely prepared or equipped to travel. One you didn’t necessarily choose or even think about.
In my case, that moment came about 12 weeks into my first pregnancy, en route to my first ultrasound appointment where the most pressing question on my mind was whether or not I was going to get a CD of images versus printed images to share with family and friends. As we entered the underground parking garage to the hospital, my husband looked at me, smiled, and asked, “Are you nervous?”
Now, I remember this moment with such clarity because I was not the least bit nervous; quite the contrary, I was elated, confident, and excited to finally meet this beautiful soul that we had created. Because, you see, in that moment, motherhood was not just a dream or an inspirational quote on my vision board. In that very moment, motherhood was a foregone conclusion. It was a guarantee. It was my guarantee. It was paramount to my identity and I had done everything right, so what could go wrong?
I wasn’t quite certain how to articulate this to my husband, so I responded quite simply with “a little.”
I have spent countless hours revisiting that moment, wanting to somehow transport my present, more learned, experienced self back to that young innocent woman so that I could tell her to brace herself, to conjure up all the strength she has available, for the days that lie ahead of her will challenge even those with the strongest of resolve.
On that perfect day in May, filled with the hopes and aspirations of a beautiful birth story just beginning to unfold, I entered the hospital pregnant only to leave empty.
There are fragments of that afternoon that I remember: the ultrasound technician making light of the fact that baby wasn’t cooperating; the sudden shift in her demeanor, followed by her quick exit; the huge reclining chair that I sat in while waiting for the doctor; the words “NO HEARTBEAT,” followed by the question, “Do you still feel pregnant?”
I left the hospital that day without any pictures, substituted only by a printed medical report that said that our baby had died. So, you see, on that perfect day in May, my direction shifted, completely unplanned and unintended, and there was no possibility to reverse course. I was now walking a new path.
Please come back next Friday to watch the next episode, in which I talk about my feelings of grief and shame.