Our longing for children is a deep primal need, and being unable to conceive or carry a pregnancy to term is devastating. Infertility rocks our very foundation—our sense of control over our futures, our faith in our bodies, and our feelings about ourselves as women.
My husband and I experienced four years of miscarriage and loss trying to have a family. As much support as my friends and family tried to give, the most comfort I got was hearing other women’s stories and talking to them about their journey of motherhood. Many women feel alone as they struggle with infertility, miscarriages, and loss. They feel hopeless watching all their friends have healthy births. I hope these stories will help women connect and bring comfort to all those out there struggling today. Whether you’re single, married, gay, straight, black, white, hispanic, or something in between — we all know the same heartache of wanting to have a family.
So here is my story. I will be sharing other women’s stories and portraits in hopes that you will find encouragement, hope and comfort knowing your not in this alone. If you would like to participate or you just need support in your journey don’t hesitate to contact me.
After two unrelated miscarriages, and two years of unexplained infertility, we were pregnant again and everything was going perfect. Hesitant of what all had happened in our past, we were staying positive finally thought.. this is our chance. We started remodeling our home to add a baby room, my friends and family set dates for baby showers, and most of all, my mother was very sick with lung cancer and her time was limited so I thought she might actually get to meet a grandchild of mine before she left this earth. Five months into my pregnancy, things couldn’t have been more perfect, until they weren’t and the unimaginable began.
I had just gotten home from a birthing class. We met other couples and even chatted about having our instructor as our doula for the birth. A few hours later, I started feeling strange. My stomach felt like I had diarrhea or the flu. I was cramping and confused of what was going on. I started crying uncontrollably and when TJ got home he tried to figure out what was wrong with me. “Are you feeling anxious from the class? Are you sick with the flu?” We went to Norton Suburban and found out I was six centimeters dilated. I then went on to spend four days upside down in a hospital bed getting pumped with everything to delay the birth. I was on magnesium sulfate to spurt growth for the baby, an IV, a cathider, and an epidural for the pain. Everything came to a halt and my contractions stopped. I was terrified, scared, and overwhelmed with sadness the entire time. I woke up from every sleep in the hospital hoping someone would tell me this was a bad dream. My friends, family and most of all, TJ were all amazing. They all stepped up to the plate and were the most caring and wonderful human beings I could have ever imagined having in my life. I needed them more than ever and they were there, physically and emotionally. My mother’s cancer was worsening but she never left my side. TJ’s mother even drove through the night from South Carolina when she heard the news. I was never alone for a single minute.
My doctor, Dr. Jonathon Reinsteine sat down with us for hours explaining all the risks of trying to keep a baby alive at 22 weeks. He made me feel like I was his daughter, not his patient. After days of going back and forth of what to do, I started getting an infection so they recommended that I give birth on the fifth day. We didn’t have a choice anymore. We lost our first born child, August Herbert White at 22 weeks on June 27, 2014. When August was born, we were not sure if we wanted to see him, but we did and he was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen in my life. He looked like a mixure of TJ and my Grandpa Herbert (whom he was named after) and he was smiling. Two of my favorite men that have touched my life. August looked peaceful. We held him and cried uncontrollably until his heart stopped beating. I didn’t want to let him go after I held him…I wanted to take him home with me more than anything in the world.
We left the hospital sobbing. I would not sit in the wheelchair on the way out even though my legs were sore from laying upside down for five days. I wanted to WALK. I was leaving without a baby even though I had given birth to one. I wanted to walk out of there with my head still high, rising up despite my sadness and grief.
We scooped up our dogs and went to TJ’s family farm in South Carolina for five days. I wanted to get away. I didn’t want to see people around town asking me about what happened, or worse how my pregnancy was going. I thought if we escaped and left town maybe it would be easier to heal, but the reminders of what happened were everywhere physically. My body ached allover and was very sore. My milk came in and my breasts swelled into huge bricks. I was bleeding heavily and I was an emotional train wreck from the hormones and our tragic loss. I had pounds of baby weight still lingering. Everything was a reminder of what we went through and that we had no baby to show for it.
When we returned our friends had gotten a key to our house and taken care of our garden, cleaned the house, made frozen meals, set gift baskets with massages, wine, bourbon, and comfort goodies. We couldn’t ask for more supportive and wonderful friends and family in our lives.
Doctors told us from the physical exam that August had a birth defect not a chromosome problem. This is good news I suppose that nothing was wrong genetically with TJ or I, but also so hard to make sense of all of it. After looking back at August’s ultrasounds our high-risk doctor told us August had too much aminiotic fluid and it was extremely hard to notice in the ultrasounds but that could have been why he started to have a birth defect. When there is too much or too little fluid it can create problems. There still was no explanation of why that happened or if we could even prevent it from happening again. Your always looking for a WHY all this happened and we never know why.
Emotionally, my mind understands the logic of why all this happened, but it just feels like my heart will never understand. The whole experience from how it happened, days in the hospital and giving birth to a baby you knew wouldn’t survive was very traumatic. I try to focus on the positive things that came from this. August is in a better place with no suffering or pain. He gave me the experience of having a child, even though it was short-lived. It brought TJ and I closer. He was my protector, my hero through this painful time. When I hear someone say the word August it is like music to ears and I think of peaceful thoughts and my little angel…then I get sad that he isn’t here with me. My mother’s cancer got worse and we lost her in March of 2015. She is buried next to August and that gives me comfort. I have visions of her and my grandparents playing with August, feeding him matzo balls and singing limericks to him.
We got back on the baby making wagon about six months later, got every test known to man done on both of us and this time we couldn’t get pregnant!? That had never been our problem before. So we went to the Cincinnati Fertility Clinic and I started taking femara (Femara is an oral drug which can be an effective fertility treatment for women with ovulation problems, or for those with unexplained infertility.) and doing trigger shot injections (subcutaneous injection of a medication containing follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), which causes follicles containing eggs to develop in the ovaries.) I was going crazy. I wanted a family so bad. The hormones from the medications were making me feel unstable and it was hurting our marriage. I wanted to curl up and cry many days. We tried and tried and one day my husband came home one day and said “Let’s adopt. I don’t want to live like this anymore.” I had no idea that was in our cards, but I was excited! We started figuring out finances and lawyers in the adoption process and within a month I took a pregnancy test and it was positive!! No medications this round just old fashioned luck.
So there we were..on to our fourth pregnancy. We finally got pregnant, which was a huge feat in itself this time, but now we must carry it to term. We visited our high risk doctor every two weeks until we hit 28 weeks and did progesterone shots every week. Dr. Reinsteine, our OB whom had to do a lot of hand holding with me, was more like a therapist for us though the pregnancy. “Don’t punish this baby for what happened to August. She deserves all your positive thoughts, excitement and hope.” He was right, every time I felt sad and anxious I thought of his words.
Goldie Louise Malya White was born on June 16, 2016. Healthy, happy and full term, 41 weeks. The second I saw her and they placed her on my chest after delivery, I had never experienced this kind of joy and love within seconds. It was the moment we had been waiting for. It was worth every struggle, every test, every doctors visit, argument, tears, and sad moments in-between to get to this final destination for us. I only wish my mother could have met her just for just one day..one hour. I truly love being a mother. Giving her life and nurturing her to be a wonderful human being makes my life complete and I know that would make my mother proud.
I can easily talk about our journey now, but while I was going through the process, it was something I was ashamed of. I enjoy healthy food and exercise but I was beating myself up over what I was doing right/wrong when I had the losses. I tried every trick in the book..yoga, meditation, green juices, acupuncture, sex positions, bone broth, sugar cleanse, gluten free diet, you name it, I am sure i tried it. I found myself doubting my body and questioning every single thing I did. “Well, it must have been that night I drank 2 glasses of wine that this happened or that day that I ran too many miles that I can’t get pregnant or keep a baby.” I was constantly searching for a reason on why it was so hard for us and not everyone else around me? As new babies popped up on social media and friends got pregnant effortlessly, it just made me feel even more isolated. I had many days where I thought “ Maybe this just isn’t in our plans. Maybe we weren’t meant to have a family.” I can truly say that I found the most comfort talking with other women who had been in similar situations. Hearing their stories and the fact that they didn’t give up. This does happen to so many mothers and if we could all help each other in this journey we wouldn’t feel so alone in the process. So I ask you mothers and fathers to share your story. This is not something you should feel ashamed of and its not uncommon to have fertility problems. Give those other families hope that they are not alone and if they truly want a family, they will have one.