Did you know that almost 25% of pregnancies end in miscarriage? Twenty-five percent. I honestly had no idea that the number was that high and maybe that’s because not too many people talk about it. I don’t blame them, though. It’s traumatic and difficult and there’s almost a stigma surrounding anything other than a beautiful and happy pregnancy. I mean, it’s supposed to be something really joyous and to talk about what could go wrong is difficult. Real women – almost 1 in 4 women who become pregnant will lose a baby. Whether it be early in the pregnancy or not, it hurts. Now birth is another story. I definitely feel like it’s becoming the new strong thing to have a natural birth – as if having a birth without any medical intervention makes you the best kind of women. This thinking can cause a lot of anxiety and shame towards mothers who chose to utilize an epidural or moms who have to have a c-section for a number of medical things that could occur.
Kristin is a real mom. She’s a lot like you and me in that she’s just working every day to be the happiest & best mom for her little guy. At the end of the day, we are all just trying to make it through the day while being happy and healthy. I say it every blog post and I will continue to do so, but every mom who chooses to share their motherhood story with me is brave. These things we go through behind closed doors and in our head are so raw and leave us so vulnerable. I hope there’s a mom out there reading Kristin’s story who feels a little bit better knowing she’s not alone. <3
Kirstin’s Story • Possible Trigger Warning //
My husband and I got married in June 2016. We started trying to get pregnant right away and I found out I was pregnant in October 2016. I thought everything was going well since I definitely felt pregnant. Then on November 4 at 6 weeks and 1 day, I woke up in the middle of the night, about 2 am, and had light spotting. It worried me, but I tried not to freak out because I knew that can happen sometimes. So I went back to bed. Around 6 am I woke up again and felt a gush of fluid. At that point I knew what was happening. I woke my husband up immediately and we went to the ER. After having bloodwork and an ultrasound done, I found out my pregnancy hormone levels were very low but still indicated pregnancy but they didn’t see anything on the ultrasound. They sent me home to rest for the weekend and made an appointment for me to come back on Monday to recheck my bloodwork. I continued to bleed that whole weekend and I knew it was over. But everyone kept telling me to stay positive and just wait to see why the bloodwork said. Sure enough, my pregnancy hormone dropped even further and was considered to be negative on Monday. It was seriously the worst thing that I had ever experienced.
The next month, my period was late again so I took a test and it was negative. The next day I took another one and it was a very faint positive and I felt pregnant (nauseous and exhausted). I didn’t let myself get excited but I kept testing everyday to see if the lines would get darker. They never did and eventually went back to negative. A few days later I started bleeding again. At that point I was seriously broken. I’ve never been through such a dark time in my life. So, I took a month to let my body recover and we prevented getting pregnant for the rest of December into January when I had a full cycle.
Then, after taking a month off, on February 3 2017, 2 days before my birthday, I found out I was pregnant again. That time it felt different and I actually let myself get excited like I had the first time. I just knew that time would be different. And I was right! Now we have Everett who is the best thing that’s ever happened to me. I’ve helped myself heal from those losses by thinking that if those hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t have Everett now. But I still think of the what if’s. And I have a little wooden sign thing next to my side of the bed that I got after the first loss that says “Loved you then, love you still. Always have, always will.” And I look at it everyday to remember those babies I lost and thank them for letting me be Everett’s mom and for watching over him.
My 2 biggest struggles I went through because of everything that happened were letting myself be positive and excited while I was pregnant with Everett and also just thinking of the “what if’s” and what could’ve been had it not happened. When I found out I was pregnant with Everett, it just felt different than it did the first 2 times. I immediately felt more positive about it, but that also terrified me. Part of me was so happy and excited and felt like this was finally it, but another part of me knew what could happen and wouldn’t let me be as excited as I should’ve been. I was terrified of losing him throughout my entire pregnancy. I think I would’ve been either way, but having previous losses made it feel like a much more real possibility. And then thinking of the what if’s and what could’ve been was so hard on me, especially while I was pregnant. Once Everett was born and I bonded with him physically and in person, it got better because I knew that wouldn’t have been possible if I hadn’t had those losses. But especially during my pregnancy, I wondered if they would’ve been a boy or a girl, who they would’ve looked like, who they would’ve become as a person. And I couldn’t stop thinking about “well, if I hadn’t had a few drinks that one night before I knew I was pregnant, would things have been different?” Or if I would’ve just taken it a little more easy on my body and rested more, would I have still lost them? Those questions killed me. I felt like it was my fault, something I did or didn’t do.
As far as my husband and our relationship, it was very up and down at the beginning. We were both so excited and nervous when we found out I was pregnant the first time and devastated when we found out that we had lost it. But, I literally couldn’t get out of bed for, I don’t know, maybe a week, and I cried, and cried, and cried some more. My husband didn’t take as long to work through it. I think part of that was because it wasn’t his body going through it. He didn’t have the constant reminder that was the heavy bleeding I had for about 2 weeks. We actually got into an argument not long after it happened because I was just crying and laying around all the time. He told me I needed to get up and do something and get my mind off of it because what I was doing wasn’t going to help. But I couldn’t help it. The loss seriously broke me to my core. The second time, was even worse, as far as our relationship is concerned. I took a pregnancy test really early and lost it within just 2 or 3 days of finding out. My husband didn’t understand why I would do that to myself, to test so early when things could go wrong again. He wasn’t upset about the loss this time. He just said that I shouldn’t have tested because then I just wouldn’t have known. We were in a seriously bad place as a couple and had some really bad arguments for a few weeks. But we got through it and I think it helped make us stronger. We’ve been through hell as a couple and made it through it, we can survive just about anything. When we found out I was pregnant with Everett, it took him a very long time to accept that it was real this time and we could get excited about it.
While I am pro-choice when it comes to abortions, when people say “it’s not even a baby yet” that hits me really hard. It makes me feel like my grief over my loss was not warranted. Like the children I carried for such a short time and wanted so badly weren’t really real. They were very real to me and those were my babies. * If I could share something with someone going through this, it would be to get excited when you find out you’re pregnant. Yes you can be scared that something could happen like it has before, but what if I doesn’t? Do you want to have your baby and realize you never really let yourself be excited about being pregnant? If something bad did happen and you ended up losing another one, yeah it’ll be devastating, especially if you were excited about it, but the way I looked at it was, that baby deserves parents that are excited for him/her, even if it’s for just a short time. Some people might ask if I would tell my past self what to expect, that I would lose those babies, and the answer is absolutely not. Again, it was devastating to go through but it made me grow as a person, it made me who I am, it brought on the existence of my wonderful, perfect rainbow baby that I couldn’t imagine my life without. I still wonder what could’ve been, but I wouldn’t change anything that happened.
So when I was pregnant with Everett, I tried to do a ton of research on natural births and even bought a book about how to get into the mindset to have a natural birth and optimize your chances of accomplishing the birth you want. I wanted to try my hardest to have as natural birth as I could. I didn’t want to be induced, I wanted to try to avoid pain meds and an epidural, I wanted to labor at home as long as I could, I wanted to move around during labor to help keep things moving, and I most definitely did not want a c section.
Well, 40 weeks came and went and still no baby. My doctors said that once I got to 41 weeks, they would need to induce, per their protocol. I tried EVERYTHING to try to get labor started on its own but nothing worked. So at 40 weeks 6 days pregnant, I was scheduled to go to the hospital at 7 pm to be induced. I got all checked in, put on a gown, got my IV put in, and my induction started around 8 pm. Because I was being induced, I was hooked up to a ton of monitors and was very limited on how much I could move around. I had to unhook everything just to go to the bathroom and then hook myself back up when I got back to bed. At midnight, I was having some contractions but nothing super significant so they gave me another dose of my induction drug. Then, at about 2 am, everything changed. I went from having tiny contractions sporadically to having super strong contractions every 2-5 minutes, AND I was having killer back labor. I had gotten zero sleep at that point and knew I wasn’t going to sleep anytime soon. Around 4 am, I was due for another dose but because I was laboring so strongly, they didn’t give it to me.
At that point, they said I could come off the monitors for a little so I could move around more, but only for a little while. I went into the bathtub to labor for maybe a half hour but that was just not making things better. When I decided to come out, I was told I had to get checked. They found that I was still barely dilated, so they wanted to start pitocin, so I had to be hooked back up to all of the monitors. Again, I was stuck in bed. I think then around 8 am, they checked me again and I was only at about 2 cm dilated and he was not dropping. They decided to break my water to see if that would help. Well, my labor just kept getting even more and more intense, and I caved. I decided I wanted an epidural. The anesthesiologist was in surgery so I had to wait a little while. By the time I got it, I think it was about 10 am. They checked me right after it kicked in and I was at 5 cm already. I was upset that I had gotten the epidural but I was just happy I was finally progressing.
About 2 hours later, they checked me again and I was already at an 8! I thought for sure things would happen soon! They started getting everything in the room ready for a vaginal birth and I thought at least I would get that to go my way…I was so wrong. They had told me that Everett was coming down crooked and part of my cervix was swelling. They were concerned but said if I dilated quick enough, everything would be fine. Well, I wasn’t dilating anymore and Everett’s heart rate started to drop with every contraction. They hooked me up to even more monitors internally and kept a super close eye on his heart rate and my contractions. At this point, I felt better from the epidural but couldn’t sleep because I was so worried about him.
They tried everything to make the situation better: Put me in different positions and stopped my pitocin (which stopped my contractions, which made his heart rate better, but slowed my labor). It just kept getting worse and more scary, and I was still only 8 cm. I was then told that his heart rate was getting so low so often that they needed to rush me into the OR for an emergency c section. I completely fell apart. I had gone through all of that, 14 hours of crazy labor, everything not going how I wanted it to, and was scared for my baby’s life, and now I had to go through major surgery in the next half hour. I have never been so scared in my entire life. They rushed me into surgery and he was out within about 30 minutes (even though it felt like a lifetime). My baby came out healthy despite his cord being wrapped around his neck, which is why things were going to wrong during labor. I was so relieved to hear him cry and I can’t even express how happy it made me. I feel so lucky to have had the doctor and nurses I had. They were truly amazing. And I am grateful that I had a healthy baby boy.
But still to this day, the thought of my birth story breaks my heart. Even just typing this out, I’m crying at the thought of how everything happened. Everything I didn’t want to happen, happened. I felt defeated, broken, and weak. I just kept thinking “why couldn’t you do this?! Why did you have to be so weak?!” I was really sad for a long time. I still am, but I know now that I wasn’t weak, I did everything I could.
I realize now I’m a strong woman for going through all of that. I’m proud of my c section scar. But, at the same time, my heart still breaks. I wanted so badly to experience labor and delivery. To be able to say that I did it, that I could do it. And that still haunts me to this day, over a year later. I’m hoping with everything that I have, that next time I’ll be able to go into labor on my own. That I’ll be able to labor at home until it’s time to go to the hospital. That I’ll be able to move around during labor. That I won’t need an epidural. That I can have a vaginal birth. But I can hope all I want. Whatever is going to happen, will happen. All I can do is hope and try my best to make next time different.