Posts in Fertility + Loss
Totum Stories: The Raw Deal
 
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Verkeya Holman

Victorious, Fighter, "With a giving spirit I hope that sharing my story will benefit others"



I knew no one who did not get pregnant naturally. Once again, I am the black sheep, oddball, anomaly.

My first pregnancy began with nothing but pure excitement, but ended at my first full prenatal appointment. At eight weeks and four days, in the merry month of May, I was told there was no heartbeat, after having heard a very strong heartbeat about two weeks prior. I was at my appointment, alone and scared and sad. My doctor had me go to the hospital to check again with superior equipment. Still, No Heartbeat! Pure silence. My husband, mother and father hugging me so tightly. I wanted to melt into the floor.

After this awful life tragedy, my doctor suggested to give it six months and if we, my husband and I, had not conceived to see a fertility specialist. 

We did not get pregnant. The Raw Deal and a multitude of exams. One of my Fallopian tubes was blocked, making getting pregnant more difficult. I had fibroids, very common in the African-American community. My fertility specialist sent me to a gynecological oncologist. Not only were they checking the fibroids, but looking for cancer. Thankfully no cancer, but I had endometriosis and the fibroids needed to be surgically removed. All of this before starting fertility treatment. I can't begin to tell you the mental and emotional anguish I experienced. Feeling less than a woman. Feeling defective. I was unable to do something that I was supposed to naturally be able to do and now I had even more hurdles to jump before I could get assistance to attempt to get pregnant again. I felt broken.   

Insurance companies dictate so many things. With fertility treatment, you have to do at least three rounds of IUI (intrauterine insemination) first before being allowed to do IVF (in vitro fertilization), even if your physician feels IVF is the best course of action for you. 

I experienced my second miscarriage on the last IUI try. I was devastated and feeling Raw. The only good news in this - it wasn’t an ectopic pregnancy.  My doctor asked if we'd like to do IUI a fourth time. My husband and I opted not to. 

IVF is an interesting process in the sense that your eggs are removed from your body and joined with sperm outside only to be implanted back into your body with the hope that they nestle in and the cells begin to multiply. We had two eggs implanted and only one survived. I went through 27 weeks of pregnancy, with no indication that anything was wrong. I felt good most days. Though I do have lupus, another hurdle for me. This pregnancy forced me to start taking medication because I began to have flare-ups. Since this, medication has become a staple in my daily routine. I also have the Sjogrens Syndrome trait and any child I carry has the potential to have heart block.

I did see my OB as I should and did all I needed to do and yet, a bad outcome. The Raw Deal. My son, Kaleb was Born Still on December 4, 2013. My heart aches - it felt like the world was crashing in all around me. Sometimes I sit and go over everything in my head trying to figure out what I did or did not do, how come I didn't know something was wrong and why I couldn't get this becoming a mom thing right. The worst feeling is to go to the hospital pregnant and come home empty handed.

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My husband and I decided we would try again. I was terrified because what if IVF didn't work, what if my kidneys started shutting down from the lupus and strain on my body, what if? There were so many variables. We decided to just go do it and tell no one. This time, because we had eggs stored, we only did half of the IVF process. My doctor only implanted one egg this time. He felt it was too risky to put in two considering my lupus. We were pregnant again and the egg split. I thought I'd get two babies, but only one survived. 

Sometimes I sit and go over everything in my head trying to figure out what I did or did not do, how come I didn’t know something was wrong and why I couldn’t get this becoming a mom thing right. 

My second long-term pregnancy was hard. Preeclampsia was a concern, ketones and protein in my urine, specialists, tests and extra fetal monitoring. Hospital stays during the holidays. I was so afraid to be excited. 

Finally, the day of my last appointment before my shower, I just knew I was about to be hospitalized. I begged my doctor to let me go to the shower. He had all reason to hospitalize me because I had both ketones and protein in my urine and had experienced preeclampsia in my previous pregnancy with Kaleb. He was kind enough to let me go home and skip bed rest in the hospital.

I was so afraid to be excited.

My shower was on a Saturday and I gave birth on the following Monday, March 23, 2015. During fetal monitoring, Kaiden's heart rate took a dip and I got sent to labor and delivery. I was so anxious. But when he got here, his premature self was making faces at me, like…I'm here, so now what?

I love Kaiden, he's got a big personality. I miss Kaleb and often wonder what he would be like. My husband and I both have siblings and I often feel like Kaiden has been cheated out of that experience. I just try to love on him as much as I can. We honor Kaleb's memory yearly on what would have been his birthday. We honor him at the Walk to End Lupus Now, every May. Kaleb is always part of who we are as a family.

The Raw Deal has been upgraded to...The Deal of a Lifetime. 

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Totum Stories: The wisdom of miscarriage
 
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Nikki Armytage-Foy

London, UK

Founder of Electric Woman, coach, entrepreneur

"The way through sadness and grief that comes from great loss is to use it as motivation and to generate a deeper sense of purpose". 
- The Book of Joy


I'd like to share with you a personal story about the power I've found going through a recent heartbreaking experience of miscarriage. 

Two months ago today, I found some blood on the way to a women's circle, it was called 'from Maiden to Mother' and I was sitting amongst fifteen other pregnant women when I feared I'd miscarried. A day later they (I found out they were twins) left my body and I experienced the most intense physical and emotional pain I'd ever known. I was empty, they took the life out of me. The dreams, hopes and fears of having these babies were gone. 

In that emptiness, I was held. By my husband, by the women in my life who I trust and by a strength that took over. I had to seek the wisdom of this experience, to help me from plummeting into a dark cave. A a wise teacher of mine Annabel Du Boulay said to me "the souls of babies we miscarry only need to incarnate for a brief time within our wombs, they come as our teachers to initiate us into the depth of our soul."

To the depth of my soul I went. I was learning that Motherhood is "the path of a warrior and you are cultivating a fearless heart, a heart that doesn’t close down in any circumstance; it is always totally open, so that you can be touched by anything,” Pema Chödrön.

The souls of babies we miscarry only need to incarnate for a brief time within our wombs, they come as our teachers to initiate us into the depth of our soul.

And open I was. 

Three days later I left my bed and walked down to the beach with two flowers, ready to say goodbye to the twins. I stood on the rocks and thanked them for visiting and for the clear message they gave me when I was laid out on the bathroom floor the night they left. Their message was for me to be gentle, to trust, to work less, to enjoy life more. As I dropped the flowers in the water, dolphins arrived in the waves, gliding and diving and playing, I'd never seen dolphins at the beach before. The souls of my babies left joyfully. 

Electric Woman

The following week, as I walked into a jewelry shop in Ojai, tears poured. I didn't know why. I heard a soft voice within saying 'buy something'. I was drawn to a red beaded necklace with two angel wings and as I went pay, the shop owner said, these red beads are the Carnelian crystal which helps with healing trauma in the womb and increasing your fertility.

Weeks after, the dark cave inevitably came. The rage, the anger, the deep sadness that seemed never-ending, every time I saw a pregnant woman or baby, the sharp pinch in my belly hit, again and again and again.

One of the biggest gifts of miscarriage was the connection I now have with my husband who was supportive throughout, and yet his experience looked different to mine. At first I was angered, where were his endless tears? Why didn't he lay in the puddle on the floor with me? We didn't know how to communicate about this confusing experience, I felt rage and he seemed to be getting on with life. One day, I held two angel crystals in my hand and poured out everything to him. I explained what my anger outbursts were masking. His eyes softened as he listened to me speak, it felt so hard and so necessary. And then I asked him to hold the angels and do the same. He told me that his job was to be the role of the protector. He needed his strength to hold me up, he needed to keep going and his insecurity made him clamp up, he didn't know what else to do. As he spoke his truth, my judgment melted. We still use our Angels, they help us soften to the truth.

No one talks about miscarriage until it happens and then so many say 'me too'. Twenty-five percent of women go through miscarriage and it's bizarre to feel you're alone in such an important journey of loss and grief. To battle the feeling of failure and fear that Motherhood may not be your path. Miscarriage has taught me so much about being a woman. It's brought me closer to my husband and I'm grateful to the little souls – my teachers – that taught me about my body, about compassion, patience and letting go of control.

If you would like to reach out and share a personal story about the wisdom you've found in pain, loss or struggle, I would love to hear from you. We heal when we share our stories openly. Email me directly at nikki@electricwoman.com