I’m doing things a little differently on the blog tonight…
A few weeks ago, Ryanne traveled down to Boston and allowed me to photograph her and her beautiful girls. But instead of highlighting their pictures, I want to share her story with you. It’s a story of love and heartache and one that all too many people can relate to. A story of pain and sorrow that many silently go through. Tonight, you’ll hear Ry’s words as she shares something very personal with you. Some day you’ll hear mine.
I’d like to thank Ry, for her bravery and willingness to talk about something that some consider taboo. With her help, I’m hoping we can help those who are experiencing infertility and pregnancy loss feel a little less alone.
If you’re reading this and can relate, my heart goes out to you. If you can’t understand why Ry or myself would share something so personal in a public way, well, count your blessings. And, if you’d like to share your story, please reach out.
“How many children do you have?” This seemingly innocuous question is one I used to ask older, married couples all the time. On the receiving end of that question, it can feel like a quick pinprick sometimes. “I am lucky to be a momma to two beautiful baby girls” is my external response. Internally I’m fighting the urge to scream, cry, or have an emotional breakdown in front of a kind stranger just trying to make small talk.
After some unexplained infertility followed by another year of unsuccessful trying and miscarriage; I magically got pregnant and with minimal medical intervention had my first daughter, Quinn Adelaide. Following her birth I went through two fairly traumatic losses including a 14-week loss and surgery for a ruptured ectopic pregnancy. I felt broken. There are still times I get angry or sad that my family has had to go through this. I felt alone. When I first experienced my troubles my husband and I didn’t really tell anyone we were trying to get pregnant or that we had gone through miscarriage. We struggled for around three years without telling many people. Ryan shouldered a lot of my frustration, sadness and feelings of failure.
We had a dynamic in our relationship that previously had worked for us. I was the consummate “it will all work out”, “go with the flow”, non-worrier. Ryan over-analyzed everything, meticulously planned and had a plan A, B, C and probably D. When I started to unravel, it put us in unchartered territory. We struggled in these new roles and it made our marriage difficult at times. While I was going through infertility and pregnancy loss I spiraled into this mindset that I was broken and that I had failed my husband. I was sad for myself and for him but I couldn’t find a way to tell him that. So instead I often shut down and shut him out.
Following my surgery in July 2015 we struggled to decide what to do regarding trying to have another child. Between the risks of another miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy our fear was palpable. I couldn’t imagine only having one child but I knew our chance of losing another pregnancy was high. The thought of three losses in a year made me panic so we decided that we would try one more time and see what happened. If we experienced another loss we knew that we would consider being done, but I couldn’t imagine not having a sibling for Quinn or another child myself. Amazingly, the third time was a charm and we were blessed with another beautiful daughter Tess Evelyn.
People often tell families experiencing infertility, “relax, it will happen when it’s supposed to”. They tell families living with loss “everything happens for a reason”. These platitudes need to be replaced with new mantras. “This f-ing sucks and I love you”, “Sorry you are going through this very emotional time”, and “Take time to grieve and process” are often what I tell people who share their struggles with me. More often than you know the person sitting next to you on the train, standing behind you in line at Starbucks, or working beside you everyday is going through some sort of fertility issue and will never say a word. All because somewhere along the way it was deemed “inappropriate.”
I feel as if I have finally embraced my pain and I’m out of it enough to share my experiences. Every October since having my first child I light a candle on the 15th for P.A.I.L Remembrance Day. I post on my social media as well and talk about my experience as much as possible. If talking about our family’s loss and struggles helps even one person feel less alone, scared and more hopeful it will be worth it. I sit here writing this as my almost three-year-old rocked in my arms and sang ‘You Are My Sunshine’ in her sweet little voice with me earlier and my baby girl is snuggled up and sleeping in her swing. I cannot help but think the struggle made this quiet moment just a tiny bit more special. My heart may always be a little bit broken but the love of these two babies has helped me patch it up in a way nothing else could. At the end of the day, despite it all, I cannot feel anything but ridiculously lucky.