Very early on in our relationship we realize how eager both of us were about starting a family one day. For us, having a baby was never something we felt family or society pushed on us; it didn’t make us feel like we couldn’t achieve and do all the things we planned for our life just because we had a baby. On the contrary, starting to plan for a family pushed us further and set our goals so much bigger knowing we would one day be responsible for a little life. After getting married, we decided to take a year off to just travel and spend quality time with one another before we’d start trying for a baby. When we finally settled into our new home and city, we decided it was time to let the stars align and start a family. Now I’ll be honest, I’m not sure if it’s because of all the 16 & pregnant tv shows these days, or parents drilling 10 years of how easy it is to get “accidentally” pregnancy, but I thought making a baby would be easy, and the 9 months to follow would be a breeze. Looking back now, I can’t believe my thoughts were to naive.
For us, having a successful pregnancy was a very hard and emotional journey. In less than a year we had lost 4 pregnancies and were left feeling so emotionally fragile. No tests came back with any abnormal hard evidence or causes so everyone chalked it up to “spontaneous abortion” and left us with the usual “Oh you’re so young, you have plenty of time.”Now I don’t think it matters if you’re 16 or 50, losing a pregnancy and going through that physical and emotional pain felt unbearable, and in our journey we had to do it four horrific times. We went to multiple doctors and hospitals all over and every visit left us feeling so frustrated with the system. I remember the first time we saw our last OBGYN, walking into our appointment eager to tell him we were pregnant again only to get scolded for not waiting and doing 6 months of testing. Now, holding my little incredible healthy boy, I can’t believe he referred to him as he did and said “we don’t know what will happen so let’s not consider this a viable pregnancy for another 3 months” while watching me rub my belly.
Looking back on these moments, I am so thankful I married someone with the strength to stay positive and hopeful; knowing it was just as hard on him watching me go through the pain as it was on me. After another week and no bad news we thought we were in the clear for sure, excited and finally feeling the constant worry fade away now that we made it to 11 weeks. It didn’t last too long unfortunately, and one night while listening to John Mayer and making chocolate chip pancakes, I felt a gush of blood dripping down my leg. I felt paralyzed. I couldn’t move. It felt like time was completely still and I couldn’t mutter a single word from my mouth. I stood there in silence with tears rolling down my face because I thought, I was sure, I lost my little baby. After a couple minutes Mathieu managed to lay me down in bed. He rummaged through our nightstand to find our doppler and with shaky hands started to search for a heartbeat . I remember that moment like it was yesterday. The cold gel spread on my stomach and my heart beating completely out of my chest, while my poor scared husband moved around the wand hoping and praying that we would hear that little fast heartbeat. It was the longest minute of my life, but the second it appeared I felt like I could finally breath again. I laid there for a couple more minutes listening to it while tears rolled down my face. It was 11:30 at night and we new the next thing we had to do was make our way over to the ER. After a tormenting 11 hours sitting, waiting, and still bleeding, I began to lose hope. Every second felt like an hour and knowing how much blood I lost I knew it couldn’t be good news. When the doctor finally arrived he told us that the ultrasound revealed two very large subchorionic hemorrhages right next to the placenta. This meant that I essentially had two big bruises surrounding the baby and they were getting bigger. Each over 7×8 cm, they were far bigger than the baby, and the worry was that the bigger they got, the more likely they were to rip away the placenta ultimately cutting all nourishment to the fetus. After he explained everything and gave me my RH shot, he put me on bedrest until we saw an OBGYN. We work from home, so I thought it would be an easy transition, but what I wasn’t prepared for was how hard it would be to just lye on a bed all day for weeks at a time. No dishes, no cooking, no walking around, no exercising, no bending, no lifting, no driving, and the list went on and on. I mean, Mathieu would literally put me on his rolly office chair just to wheel me to the bathroom most days. We were so terrified of doing anything that could make the bleeds bigger that we spent over a month quite literally binge watching every single show on Netflix.
For the weeks to come we had back to back horrible encounters with different hospitals, doctors, and specialists. Some said to live life normally and “when it (my baby) passes it could happen anywhere,” while others told us “don’t do anything too far away from the bed.” Their directions were all over the place but it all ended with the same conclusion that there was nothing anyone could do from preventing my baby to pass away. After feeling only worst and worst, we decided to take a friends advice and visit a midwife.
The second we arrived at our appointment it was like a night to day change. Instead of waiting 2 hours to see a doctor (even with an appointment), the midwife saw us in 5 mins. There was a comfy bed in the room instead of a cold table and immediately I felt her warmth and positive energy. She had already read over my file and within minutes assure me there were so many proactive things I could do to help these hemorrhages go away. She laid me down and taught Mathieu how to find the heartbeat with a stethoscope. She spent a whole hour with us, answering questions, explain the little details of every change in my body, and most importantly giving us advice. She told us how important bed rest was, how like any bruise, harsh movement will only expand it. She referred us an acupuncturist, she helped me better understand what my diet should consist of to nourish the baby and my body, and she most importantly helped me to see that this is my body and it’s holding my baby, and there are many many things that I can do to protect him if I educate myself with all the options.
I listened to everything she said that appointment. I found an incredible prenatal acupuncturist, I happily spent most days in bed, I kicked my vegan diet and ate slow cooked dark meats, I even spent hours studying all of my pregnancy and labor options. It was the first time I wasn’t scared because it was the first time I felt like I actually had control.
My acupuncturist, Anna, ended up being my knight in shinning armor. I saw here for the first time when I was 16 weeks along and I can honestly say she changed the course of my pregnancy. A specialty that I initially thought was taboo and unreal ended up helping me through the painful 6 months ahead. When we first started treatment, she spent an hour asking me everything about myself; from my mental and physical health to my diet and digestion schedule, she recorded everything. Every scratch. Every cavity. Every change in my body for the last 23 years. She had all the information to apply her knowledge to. She put me on a nutritious diet, she taught me the best way to cook foods, she gave me a list of exercises to do and what to stay away from. She explained to me meditation, stretches, how to deal with stress, the best sleeping positions. She told me about teas, about oils, about natural ways to help my body in each stage of pregnancy. She taught me of all my options during pregnancy and labor, without a single ounce of judgement with the decisions I made. She ended up being the person I felt was the most knowledgable and advocated for my baby the best, and the one person I trusted the most during this time. Her work was incredible, so incredible that it was unbelievable at times. I remember the first time I came in with a lower left abdominal cramp that had me doubled over and crying for 2 days. I couldn’t even straighten out on her bed table I was in so much pain. She felt the cramp, used her finger to push a point on my left middle calve, and all of a sudden the pain was completely gone. I was in such shock I was purposely poking my cramp over and over with amazement. When she took her finger off the point, the cramp came back, so that is where the tiny needle went for our session. She would do 3-4 points at each appointment and it helped me an unmeasurable amount. Up until this moment my hemorrhages were growing bigger every week. Just 8 days into seeing Anna and they were completely gone. From that moment on everything I once thought to be true, I now questioned. How could it be that I saw the best doctors in Toronto, went to the best hospitals in Canada, and time and time again I was told that nobody could help me. During these appointments nobody asked me about my diet, my health, my exercise regimen, or any history of my body. They looked at my chart, let out a sigh, and told me nothing. Advised me nothing. Helped me with nothing. Now here I was, two weeks into learning about my body and baby from my midwife, feeling so positive and in control. Two weeks into my treatments with Anna, finally sleeping, and having two big hemorrhages disappear, and all I could think about was wow, how lucky am I that my friend coincidently told me to visit a midwife. How crazy it was that I had never considered another option for pregnancy or birth besides what society has told me to do.
Through the course of those next 6 months I learned so much. I learned about myself, my body. I learned what it was to just sit, and listen to what it was telling me. That every cringe, every cramp, every headache was not something I should mask with a reliever, but rather that it was a sign telling me something was wrong. To notice it, to try to fix it. I learned what it was to have options. To inform myself of important decisions and make an educated choice once I was presented with it. To understand and really truly believe that we as women were made to create these little miracles. We have been doing it for thousands of years, before surgeons and scalpels and pain relievers. That our baby is the perfect size for our body. That labour doesn’t need to be speeded up. And every pain, every contraction wasn’t something horrific, but a moment where you and your baby are working together to bring him closer to you.
Often times I look at my healthy, giggily 7 month old baby and I can’t believe how completely altered our original blue print got. That five years ago I though that I’d get pregnant the first month I tried, that a c-section was the best and mess free way to have a baby, and that what a doctor would say, I wouldn’t question, because surely they knew best.
Now, having lost 4 pregnancies that took a part of me, having gone through a 10 month pregnancy I wouldn’t wish upon anyone, and pushing through a 24 hour home birth, I could honestly say the best advise I could ever give to anyone is to question. Question what society deems “normal,” and why it became that way. Question the system’s motives.Question what you put in your body, question the options that are offered to you. Read and read and when you’re done, read some more. Get educated. Make your own choices, your own decision. Believe in the fact that you were made to do this, you were created strong so that you could give life. You don’t need to be poked, or cut open, or told that you can’t do it. You are a women, and that, alone, is enough.