Ashley A

Ashley A.jpg

WHAT WAS YOUR JOURNEY TRYING TO CONCEIVE?

We began trying to conceive in January of 2012. I had been on birth control since I was 16, and never thought that going off it I would have any troubles getting pregnant. I mean it's supposed to be easy, right?! We found out we were expecting in February and planned to announce it to our family and friends at our wedding in May of that year, safely into the fourth month. The Thursday night before our wedding I began to cramp and early Friday morning I began to bleed. I ended up in the hospital, and lost that pregnancy in the Emergency Room bathroom. I was terrified, sad and completely empty. I had to go through my wedding fairly heavily medicated and returned to the hospital the Sunday morning after our wedding to be checked out by the doctors to ensure the fetus had completely come away. Everyone told us, it's so common for your first pregnancy, don't worry about it. Eventually later that year I was diagnosed with PCOS and we ended up using fertility medication to conceive a second time in November of 2012. This time we were cautious and didn't share news until after 8 weeks. I was also given an early ultrasound around that time. It was discovered that the fetus didn't have a heartbeat. We waited a week and repeated the ultrasound and it didn't show any changes. At this point i was given two options, either wait for the miscarriage to happen naturally, or take medication to induce it. I was due to start a new job, so I decided to take the medication and "get it over with". After 4 days of heavy bleeding, ended up having yo leave my new job on the second day to go to the hospital, and was admitted for severe blood loss and required a procedure to get a piece of placenta that hadn't detached out of my uterus. After an overnight stay in the hospital, I was discharged with a "take it easy" from the (male) doctor that treated me.

We conceived again in February of 2014, and this time I completely detached myself from the pregnancy, and was not surprised when on the night before our 2nd wedding anniversary I miscarried again. 

After the third loss, my husband and I decided to wait at least a year, get our mental and physical health back in check and go from there. We met with fertility specialists, had what felt like a million tests done and had no clear answers. I was tired of the toll that fertility medication takes on the body. Within a month, in June of 2014 we conceived yet again. I was so mad. I wasn't ready to be disappointed again with another loss. My husband completely detached himself from me and the pregnancy. I was put on bed rest at week 11, and was only allowed up a couple of hours a day. We didn't tell anyone until we were 14 weeks along, and even then told people that we expected to lose it. It wasn't until I was 20 weeks and had the anatomy ultrasound that i felt happy about it. In March of 2015 I gave birth to our daughter, but the journey to get there was the hardest thing I've ever been through. 

When we decided to try for another baby 3 years later, I told my husband that if I lost that pregnancy I was done trying. We had one beautiful daughter and would be happy with what we had. After two months of trying, we conceived our second child and the pregnancy could not have been more different than with our first daughter. I worked until I was 35 weeks pregnant (commuting to the GTA, so about an hour each way), I was active until about mid-way through the second trimester and didn't suffer from any real complications. I was able to have a successful non-medicated VBAC, proving that each pregnancy really is so different.

DID YOU EXPERIENCE LOSS ON YOUR MOTHERHOOD JOURNEY? WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU OFFER TO WOMEN WHO FIND THEMSELVES IN A SIMILAR SITUATION?

After losing 3 pregnancies, the best advice I can give someone going through fertility issues is to talk about it. I kept most of my feelings and emotions inside, because I kept hearing "just try again, I'm sure the next time will be better ", and my favourite "do you think you're the only one to go through this? Suck it up". Find someone who doesn't judge, who will be positively supportive of whatever decisions or emotions that you are having and let it out. I ended up speaking with a therapist after the third loss because i just couldn't cope. I felt inadequate as a wife and woman, and had little support from the women in my family. Find that person that will let you cry or scream, that will just sit and listen to you spew your feelings. That person who will comfort not by offering unsolicited advice, but just by being there. Find someone who will make you feel like you aren't alone, because feeling like you're going through it alone is the hardest thing in the world. 

HOW DO YOU BALANCE CAREER AND MOTHERHOOD?

The most important thing about balance is having a supportive partner.  My husband works locally, which allowed me to take a job in a completely different sector while commuting to the GTA.  He does the pick up after work, gets the kids home and starts dinner. When I get home, we eat and I do bedtime. Our routine work so that both of us get time with the kids, and we are both able to work in jobs that we love, but still maintain a routine that works for the kids and for us. Having an amazing daycare support helps as well, my fabulous provider takes our tiny humans at 6am so that I can get to work on time, she is in constant communication with both of us and loves our kids as if they were her own. Trusting someone who is helping you raise your kids gives such a peace of mind, allowing you to be productive during the work day.

HOW HAS MOTHERHOOD CHANGED YOU / YOUR PERSPECTIVES / YOUR RELATIONSHIPS?

Motherhood has changed me completely. The things in life that you used to dwell on, or the negative things you focused on before just don't seem that important anymore. My family is number 1, and nothing can touch that. I've come to realize that some people don't deserve your energy, whoever they may be. Being a mother has shown me my own strength, and made me realize the toxic relationships I had in my life and gave me the confidence not to deal with anyone's bullshit. That, coupled with my husband's support helped me rid my life of unnecessary drama and anxiety and helped me focus on what is important. 

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO YOURSELF AS A FIRST TIME MOTHER?

RELAX! Everything will work out, routines will come, behaviors will come and go, the children will survive. I missed a lot the first time around because I was worried about what might or might not happen. I was scared to go out with the kid, for fears of how they would behave, if they would nurse during a dinner out, if a tantrum would be thrown in the middle of a store, whatever the stage my kid was at. Now with my second? If I need to sit in the car so I can nurse her without needing a cover? I'll do it. If my kid throws a tantrum in the middle of a store? Yes it's embarrassing, but I have to realize that my tiny human really doesn't understand her feelings and how to express them properly. I do my best to talk her out of it, and if we need to go somewhere so she can breathe and get her words out properly we do that. My 6 week old isn't on any sort of schedule (other than regular night/day) and I'm not worried about it. It will come. The sleepless nights will go away, the constant fussiness will stop and eventually the tiny people are really really great to be around. 

HOW HAS MOTHERHOOD BEEN DIFFERENT WITH YOUR SECOND CHILD?

The biggest difference with the second child, is that this time I have a full-fledged kid at home as well! I have a newborn and a 4 year old currently, and the most challenging part isn't the newborn! My 4 year old requires more time and attention, which is difficult given the attention a nursing baby requires. Having to make sure that both of my kids are getting enough quality time with me has been the biggest challenge so far, in addition to building my patience. Which, coupled with sleep deprivation, sore nipples and the feeling of being a dairy cow is at an all-time low. Patience is key, and it's something I'm working really REALLY hard to remember! Lol

ARE THERE ANY RESOURCES THAT YOU WOULD RECOMMEND THAT HAVE SIGNIFICANTLY AIDED YOU ON YOUR MOTHERHOOD JOURNEY?

Using the services of a team of Midwives really helped me get through my first pregnancy with much less stress than I think a regular OBGYN would have. They never made me feel like I was asking dumb questions, or that I had too many questions. Due to my history, they were really great with giving me helpful information to read and really comfort me through the whole process. When my delivery went from a non-medicated natural birth to a very quick emergency C-section, they were there every step of the way. They did everything to make me feel comfortable with the decision and the aftermath (my daughter was in the NICU for a week for breathing and jaundice issues). With my second pregnancy, I was able to use the same primary midwife as with my first, and when I told her I wanted to try and VBAC she was so supportive from the beginning, As the labour and delivery process was so much faster with my second, I was able to have my non-medicated vaginal delivery that I was wanting with my first. I felt so empowered during my entire second pregnancy and labour/delivery and without the support of my team of midwives I don't think that would have been possible.

HOW DO YOU FEEL WE (AS A SOCIETY / OTHER WOMEN) COULD DO BETTER TO SUPPORT WOMEN EXPERIENCING FERTILITY COMPLICATIONS?

I feel like there is such a stigma facing women between the ages of 28 and 33. "When are you getting married?" "When are you having kids?" I wish society would just let people be, let people live their lives according to their own schedule. If someone wants to have kids at an early age (providing they are able to provide financially, emotionally, mentally etc) let them be. If someone wants to be married for 5 years to ensure that their relationship is stable before having kids? Let them be. If a married couple has been married for a few years and don't have any kids yet, don't pester them. It took us three years to get pregnant with our first surviving child and every time someone asked me why we didn't have kids yet, I had to go through the whole thing. Having to explain to a distant relative, friend of a friend or random stranger that we had had multiple miscarriages and were struggling was so painful. I just wish everyone had let us be. 

For the women out there, when another woman shares the personal journey of infertility or loss, please do NOT tell her "oh it happens to everyone, don't worry about it". I've never wanted to physically hurt anyone more when someone would say that to me. HOW DOES THAT HELP?!?!? Even if it were true, telling someone not to worry about it, or to get over it, or my personal favourite "get back on the horse or it will never happen" is much more detrimental than it is helpful. It makes the woman feel like her loss or struggles are insignificant. Women need to support and listen to each other. There is so much to learn from listening to someone else's struggles, their successes and failures. On the other hand, men in general need to be much more open to learning what is actually going on with the female body. Knowing that your wife/partner miscarried is one thing, but understanding what actually physically happened and what the physical and emotional reactions to that are, is very important. To this day, my husband has no real idea what the miscarriages did to my mental state, and if he was aware I'm not sure he would have agreed to trying again, in fears of where I could have potentially gone to if we had lost another pregnancy.