7 Lies People Believe About Miscarriage (and Infertility)

October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month! The purpose of this is to raise awareness of the prominence of pregnancy loss and infant death, and to offer support to bereaved families that have lost children during pregnancy or shortly after birth. In honor of this, I just wanted to share some information with you and debunk some common myths and misconceptions regarding this sensitive topic. So, let’s jump right in!

MYTH #1 Miscarriages are rare. 

Unfortunately, loss happens in 1 out of 4 pregnancies! This is not rare, this is actually very common. If you yourself have not had a miscarriage, I can guarantee that you know someone who has. Pregnancy loss just seems rare because no one really talks about it, which in turn makes it a very isolating and lonely experience. After I began talking about my first miscarriage, I was surprised to be opened up to a whole secret society of women who came forward and expressed that they had lost a baby, too.

MYTH #2 Pregnancy loss happens because you did/didn’t _____(insert any reason people come up with here).

Many people incorrectly believe that stress causes a miscarriage/stillbirth. Or intense exercise. Or past abortions. Heavy lifting. Not taking prenatal vitamins.  Getting in an argument. Using birth control pills for too long. You name it, I’m sure you’ve heard any number of these things!

The truth is that most miscarriages are unavoidable genetic accidents, and have nothing to do with anything the mother did or did not do. Another large portion of losses (especially stillbirths) occur because there is some other underlying medical condition, like a blood disease, reproductive tract malformation or placental abnormality. Finally, a smaller number of losses happen because of physical trauma, infection, or exposure to teratogens (things like tobacco, alcohol, and drugs) that harm the developing baby.

MYTH #3 You are not experiencing infertility if you’ve gotten pregnant before.

I was telling a close friend about my personal struggle with loss, infertility and starting a family, and she kind of laughed at my use of the word “infertility”, thinking it was a bit extreme to say that. She told me “You don’t have infertility silly, you’re just having some trouble getting pregnant right now. It’s not like you have a hostile uterus or anything. You’ve been able to get pregnant before”. Her intent was to try and remind me that hope was not completely lost, and I appreciated that. But what she said also made me realize how misinformed so many people are when it comes to this stuff.

Clinically speaking, infertility and sterility are NOT the same thing. Being sterile is a state of being physically unable to reproduce offspring. This can be caused by radiation, surgical procedures (tubes tied, vasectomy, hysterectomy, etc), menopause, genetic defects, and other things, and is usually permanent.

However, a couple is experiencing infertility when they have been having unprotected and appropriately timed sex for longer than 1 year without conceiving or carrying a child to live birth. This means that someone can have previous pregnancies, and still be experiencing infertility if none of those pregnancies resulted in a live birth. This also means that someone can even have other living children, and still be currently experiencing infertility (this is called secondary infertility).

MYTH #4 Your friend who has lost a baby or experienced trouble conceiving does not want to talk about it. 

Okay so obviously I can’t speak for everyone, but it is generally not a good idea to assume this about any one individual.

Speaking for myself, most times I do want to talk about my experiences and I wish that I had more people around me who could be a listening ear. Most [well-meaning] people just don’t understand, and that’s what makes me not want to talk about it. They get uncomfortable and change the subject, they make judgement calls on how you should feel, and they don’t know how to listen without offering advice and silver linings (“well at least…”). And you know what? It’s okay. I really don’t fault them, infertility and loss bring about a very unique type of pain that not everyone is equipped to understand.

The best thing you can do is ask your friend if they would be willing to share their experience with you. And when [if] they do share their experiences, try your best to listen intently and offer words of acknowledgement and empathy, realizing that your friend is extremely vulnerable in that moment of sharing. If you think asking your friend about how they’re doing concerning their loss will remind them of it, let me let you off the hook: they don’t need a reminder. Trust me, they have not forgotten their circumstances and you bringing it up will not remind them of their pain. If anything, it will remind them that you remember, and that you care. Again, the best thing you can do is ask someone how they want to be addressed concerning this!  You have to be sensitive and mindful, at the same time without walking on eggshells or showing pity. True empathy really is an art! Ask questions. Listen. Acknowledge.

MYTH #5 Your friend who has lost a baby or experienced trouble conceiving does not want to hear about your new pregnancy/baby. 

Again, I can’t speak for everyone here. Now, do I want to hear you constantly complain about how horrible your pregnancy is? No. Do I need a play by play on every twinge and flutter that comes from within your belly? Not really. Nor do I want you to joke about how I can have your trouble-making kids for a weekend because you’re sure I’ll change my mind about wanting my own. Save these things for your mommy friends!

However, I do want to celebrate your pregnancy with you! I do want to hear about all the  milestones your little one hits, and the silly & amazing things that they do. I do want to be invited to your baby shower (if I am up for it, I will make the choice to attend), and I do want to be included in your little one’s life. I do not want to be left out, that will only intensify negative feelings; as my circumstances already have me feeling isolated and forgotten.

Now that’s just me; but I recognize that everyone is different. As a general rule of thumb:

  • DO NOT: Surprise her by telling her in front of other people. No one likes being caught off guard.
  • DO: Tell her about your pregnancy via email, card, or even a heartfelt text message before you make the big announcement. This gives her time and space to process the news by herself.
  • DO NOT: Ignore her situation. Acknowledge that you understand how difficult this might be for her in light of her recent loss or struggles conceiving.
  • DO: Ask her how much she wants to hear about what is going on with you, don’t assume! Respect whatever she says and accept that she may need time and space to feel differently. Follow her lead.

Sure, at the end of the day it will probably be hard for her no matter how you flip it, I won’t lie to you. There’s really no easy way to go about this. But if she loves you, I can almost guarantee that she is not hurting because you are experiencing the excitement of motherhood,  she’s hurting because she is not. There’s a difference! Your joy is not her sorrow, her sorrow is her sorrow. And though it may be difficult for her to express it while she’s hurting, know that she is (likely) absolutely thrilled for you.

MYTH #6 The earlier a loss happens during the pregnancy, the better. 

Not true, not true, not true. I remember talking to someone after my first loss, and though she had not experienced loss herself, she offered great comfort by sharing with me stories of other women who had. She told me about her friend who had just lost a baby and said: “but hers wasn’t just a miscarriage, she actually had to give birth to hers”.

Just a miscarriage?

Ouch.

This is the equivalent of saying to a victim of sexual abuse *trigger warning* “Well, at least it was only molestation, it could’ve been rape”! Silly, right? There is no better or worse here, only pain. And pain cannot be quantified by anyone except the person experiencing it.

I am not taking anything away from what I’m sure is a very traumatic experience of birthing a stillborn. Both of my losses have been before the 20 week mark (which is the clinical distinction between miscarriage and stillbirth), and both of my unborn babies were removed surgically, and so I cannot comment on anything other than my experiences. However, I can say this: The mother who went into the operating room 11 weeks pregnant and woke up in recovery with an empty womb, hurts. The mother who gave birth to her baby at 28 weeks in a hospital bed, hurts.  The mother who gave birth to her tiny baby at home in the bathroom toilet at 8.5 weeks, she hurts too. Losing an unborn child can be incredibly painful and life altering, and I am sure that this is the case for most who have experienced some form of this, no matter when the loss occurred.

Which brings me to my next point.

MYTH #7 An early pregnancy is just a clump of cells.

I think this is one of the most damaging misconceptions out there. And that’s because, for the most part (according to yunno…actual medicine and science) this just isn’t true. A quick embryology lesson: at the time of conception, momma’s egg and daddy’s sperm meet to form a zygote, which is the earliest stage of human life. It is at this stage, at the very moment of conception, that the entire genetic makeup of this new life is determined…hair color, eye color, whether they will be athletic or musical, boy or girl, tall or short, the shape of their nose, the dimples in their cheeks – literally everything – all contained within this single cell.

During that first week or so, the cell divides a bunch of times and eventually forms a blastocyst, which at this point actually is just a clump of cells (albeit, a highly specialized and rapidly dividing clump of cells, but a clump of cells nonetheless). The blastocyst travels to the uterus and implants into the uterine wall, marking the official start of pregnancy, though the mother will not realize she is pregnant for another week or so.

By the time she is able to test positive on a home urine test, usually during the 4th-5th week of pregnancy, the human blastocyst has graduated to become an embryo. And guess what? By the end of the 5th week of pregnancy, that embryo has a heart, and that heart is beating as it pumps blood through the tiny human body. Granted, it doesn’t really look like a human body yet, I’ll give you that. It looks more like a tadpole at that point. But the fact is that it is human, with a beating heart and developing brain to boot. At 5 weeks gestation!! (so in awe of God right now, excuse me)!! By week 7, the face begins to develop and by week 8, the human embryo can move it’s body and limbs. At the end of the 10th week of pregnancy, the embryo has arms and legs complete with tiny fingers and tiny toes. The face is recognizable with a little nose, two ears, and a mouth; and it has tiny boy parts or girl parts (though still too small to tell the difference).

At this point you might be bored out of your mind. Please forgive me, I could go on and on about this kind of stuff. The bottom line is this – around the time that a woman discovers her pregnancy, she already has a living being with a beating heart and its own genetic makeup growing inside of her. Far from just a clump of cells; it is a tiny, developing human being. Life functions on a continuum, and as human life grows and develops, we call it different names. Embryo, fetus, infant, toddler, child, teenager, adult, elder…the difference here is a matter of time.

These are straight facts from my med school textbook, by no means is this an opinion based on my political affiliation or my belief in God as the Creator of human life. The fact is that we’ve been done a huge disservice by being told the “clump of cells” lie.  Do your research and know the truth for yourself! And remember this when someone tells you that they’ve suffered a miscarriage. They didn’t lose a clump of cells. They’ve lost a life, the life of their child, in it’s earliest form.

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I hope I was able to shed some light on some things you didn’t know, or maybe even reinforce some things you already did. Please like, comment, and share for the purpose of raising awareness!

 

Other Resources:

Pro soccer player Sydney Leroux opens up on Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day

Rainbow Baby Photoshoot

Breaking The Silence: I Had A Baby

 

The Emotional Impact of Pregnancy Loss

My husband and I recently experienced our second *pregnancy loss.

We’ve made 2 babies, but we have no children.

And if we’re being honest – even right now, typing that sentence and seeing it in black & white really just tripped me out.

A little background: My first pregnancy ended over 2 years ago after having a D&C at 11 weeks due to a missed miscarriage. Everything was developing fine with the pregnancy, we heard the little nugget’s heartbeat and had ultrasounds showing normal growth. Then, the baby died. After that it took us almost 2 years to conceive again. I was on my 4th round of fertility drugs when we finally fell pregnant this past December, but sadly that pregnancy ended as a ruptured ectopic in mid-January. The little life and my left Fallopian tube were removed during surgery.

“We’ve made 2 babies, but we have no children”

It never actually occurred to me that I’d find myself here. I’ve always wanted to have kids, and I truly thought once I was married it would just – happen. Growing up I was the girl who had the names of my future, hypothetical children scribbled down in my school notebooks. I had these grand expectations of how motherhood was supposed to go and let me tell you, it sure as hell didn’t look like this.

But..life happens. The reality is that most times life is good, but other times life is really, really shitty. All things considered, nothing has caused me more pain, sadness, and trauma than losing my unborn babies. That may seem like a dramatic statement to you, but it’s my reality. It has been one of those defining life moments for me, and I am a totally different person because of it. I feel distant. Roughened. A little cold and a little icy. I guess life will do that to a person.

For those of you who do not know the pain of pregnancy loss, I hope this blog gives you some insight into the emotions that someone you love may be feeling. Not so that you can feel bad for or pity them, but so that you can begin to understand their experience and try to put yourself in their shoes as best as you can. It’s always easier to be there for a person if you understand a little about what they’re going through.

If you’ve experienced pregnancy loss, unfortunately you know all too well what I’m talking about. Losing a baby during pregnancy can be devastating. I have honestly found so much comfort in reading or listening to complete strangers on the internet talk about their losses. And for those women, I am thankful. It helps me to know that others who have gone through this share in the roller coaster ride of emotions I’m experiencing. It helps me feel a little less crazy, you know? My only goal here is to be that reassuring voice for someone else. To validate your feelings and let you know that girl, I get it.

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I get what it’s like to feel more sadness and grief than you ever thought possible. You just lost a baby. Your baby. A tiny, developing human life. Your son. Your daughter. You talked to them, sang to them. Prayed for them. You fantasized about them and picked names for them. You bought things, made plans, and created space in your home for them. You created space in your heart for them. And then suddenly you lose what was and what was yet to come, all at once.

For the first week after my ectopic, I was completely shocked. I was also physically drained and more focused on healing physically, so the grief didn’t come right away for me. Then, the floodgates opened and for about 6 weeks after our loss, I cried constantly. In the shower. In the car. On my way to sleep. When I woke up.  Multiple times a day, almost every day, I cried. Whenever I tried to open my mouth and have a decent conversation with someone, I cried. My first miscarriage brought an even stronger reaction – I teetered the line of normal grief and depression while I recovered physically and emotionally. There were days when I wouldn’t even leave my bed. But then one day something amazing happened – I looked up and realized that I hadn’t cried in a little while. Then when I was able to string together a couple happy days in a row, I really thought I was doing something. And juuuust when you start to think “I‘m finally moving forward“, a wave of grief hits you square in the nose and knocks you back a just a little bit.

I grieved both of my pregnancy losses intensely. I get it.


I get what it’s like to feel an overwhelming sense of pressure – from yourself and from others – to move on.

No one else feels this sad for this long, you’re being so dramatic. 

You need to get back to business as usual. 

It’s time to pull yourself up and move on from this. 

I really hate that term anyway…move on. To me, “move on” is appropriate after breaking up with a jerk guy who was no good for you. After losing a baby? Not so much. I don’t think you ever move on from something as life altering as that. You get stronger, God gives peace, you find a new normal, you move forward, but you don’t move on. Moving on implies an event, while moving forward implies a process. I remember freaking out after talking to a doctor-friend who said a woman should be over a pregnancy loss after 6 weeks. I was so discouraged because there I was at week 5, barely being held together by scotch tape and bubble gum…thinking I had just one more week to get myself together.

At this point it’s been 8 weeks since our second loss and honestly I’m just now beginning to feel like I’m finding a new normal. And after our first loss? It took me months to even be able to talk to people. Some women may sort through their loss in 8 days, while others may need 8 months to heal. Whatever is right for you…is just right. Give yourself some time.


I get what it’s like to be unbelievably angry. Just mad at everything. I’m so grouchy these days that at times, I don’t even want to be around me!


I get what it’s like to feel defective. To feel physically flawed, tarnished and blemished, like something is wrong with your body. I get it. It wasn’t until after my second loss that I began to take things personally. Like okay, two babies have died inside of my body, what the heck is wrong with me? It’s embarrassing.

It doesn’t stop there though. I had to have my entire tube removed after the ectopic, and that really does make me feel damaged. It feels so weird to know that a body part is missing, especially one so vital to my future fertility. Gone. Forever. The loss of my tube is just another thing on a long list of obstacles working against me on this journey to mommy-hood.

And then there’s the post-surgical bloating and bruising. That eventually goes away, but the scars on your tummy will be there for the rest of your life. These aren’t battle wounds you wear with pride, but rather permanent reminders of defeat. You feel…damaged. I get it.

“I get what it’s like to feel defective” 


I get what’s it like to feel jealous. Jealous of your pregnant friends. Jealous of your friends who have babies. I know it’s hard because you really are in fact happy for them, you’re just sad for you. So you show up to baby showers. You send meals when the new baby arrives. You help care for your friends baby when she needs a break. And you do it all with a smile hoping your feelings will catch up eventually. I get it. 


I get what it’s like to feel guilty for feeling jealous, too. Because these are your friends, after all. Guilt can be a heavy burden to bear. Some of you may even feel guilty after losing your baby because you think you are the cause. You think this happened because of something you did, or didn’t do. And no matter how many times someone says it’s not your fault, the guilt remains. But girl I still have to tell you…

It’s really not your fault.


I get what it’s like to be nervous about checking the mail because you know the hospital bills are coming. Not everyone has to have surgery or be hospitalized after pregnancy loss, but for those women that do, it can be costly. Like – congratulations on losing your baby, here’s a bill for $1700. There’s the ER doctor fee, the surgeon fee, the facility fee, the cost of ultrasound, blood work, and IV medications, the fee for the anesthesiologist and the CRNA, the copays for follow up appointments… and it all hits you at once.

Yes, even with insurance, pregnancy loss could potentially cost you in more ways than one. Without insurance? You could easily be looking at $15,000. Because added financial stress while grieving is nice.


I get what it’s like to feel isolated. The thruth is that your loved ones just don’t want to hurt you any more than you already are, so they avoid talking about the loss of your little one. They may even avoid talking to you altogether. They tip toe around you and never ask about how you’re feeling or how you’re coping, not realizing that saying nothing to acknowledge what has happened actually hurts more than saying the “wrong thing”.

You try to avoid people because you know you reek of sadness, and you don’t want them to absorb your negative energy. Some days you may even find yourself avoiding people because you’re actually happy at that moment, but you don’t want others to develop expectations of you to remain that way. Because when I say it’s an emotional roller coaster – I truly mean it.  It’s constant ups and downs.

You refrain from catching up with your friends and family because you don’t want to make things awkward when they ask “so how have you been”?! [because talking about these types of things really makes people uncomfortable]. So you lie and put on a face and push down your crap and say “I’ve been okay! What about you”? But ultimately that discourages you from interacting with people altogether because pretending to be okay all the time…is exhausting…and sometimes you just don’t have the mental energy to pretend. All of this, is isolating. I get it.


I get what it’s like to feel like an ugly, crampy, balding, bloated, pimply, hot flashing, bloody mess for weeks on end.


I get how it is to feel uncertain about your future. “When we have kids” turns to “If we have kids” because…you just don’t know anymore. You used to plan for three, but now you’re holding out hope for just one.

“When we have kids” turns to “If we have kids” because…you just don’t know anymore


I get what’s it’s like to feel ashamed and embarrassed. So many women make pregnancy seem like a walk in the park, to the point where you feel incompetent when it doesn’t come as easy for you.

All he has to do is look at me and I get knocked up.

I wasn’t even trying to get pregnant, this was a total accident. 

Y’all ain’t got no babies running around here yet?! What’s the hold up? 

The sense of failure can be overwhelming. Even the word ‘miscarriage’ paints that picture – as if you are in the wrong. Like you made a mistake or had a small mishap that caused you to mishandle something and then whoops – you dropped the baby. Oh how I detest that word, as it implicitly puts the blame on the mother. It almost (kind of, on a much smaller scale obviously) feels like dropping a baton during a relay race. Hubby does his job to make the successful handoff and you start running full steam ahead – you just have to bring it home. Then suddenly, the baton slips right between your fingers and hits the ground, and you’re disqualified from the race. So now you just watch as the other relay teams keep going around the track, making successful handoffs and crossing the finish line to victory. And you stand there feeling like you’ve failed the team.

You look at your partner and it seems like you’re letting him down…you know how badly he wants to be a dad. Some friends of ours asked Marcus to godparent their beautiful baby boy, and so fortunately I do get to watch him enjoy that from the sidelines. It is a little bittersweet for me because for whatever reason, they thought it best not to include me. But ultimately I know it brings him joy and so yea – even though it adds to my feelings of embarrassment and incompetence, I’ll watch from the sidelines and get in where I fit in. Fortunately we both were asked to godparent our amazingly beautiful goddaughter, and she brings so much sunshine to our lives. It has been great watching my husband in a fatherly role with his godchildren. But that nagging sense of shame and embarrassment is still in the back of my mind…because for now, I haven’t been able to give him that.

Even though you know it’s not your fault, pregnancy loss can truly make you feel like you are failing as a woman. Trust me, I totally get it. 

The word ‘miscarriage’ paints that picture – as if I am in the wrong. Like I made a mistake or had a small mishap that caused me to mishandle something and then whoops – I dropped the baby.


I get what it’s like to feel completely out of control. To look up and see that your body has autonomously decided to do whatever the hell it felt like doing that day. It is incredibly humbling and heartbreaking at the same time, to know that you couldn’t keep your little one safe inside of your own body. You did all the right things: took your prenatal vitamins, stayed away from alcohol and cigarettes, avoided sushi like the plague. I even cancelled a medical volunteer trip abroad to protect that little life from Zika.

But despite your best efforts…you couldn’t control everything.

Your body seemingly swats the ball down from the rim and wags it’s finger in your face. Not in my house.

Seriously? The nerve.

And I can’t even begin to describe the frustration of waiting for your pregnancy hormones to pipe down after a loss, which can take weeks. The entire time you still feel all the pregnancy feels. You think you’re going a little crazy because your hormones are raging out of control, which undoubtedly adds to the grief experience. Your body is running the show and you’re just a passenger. You resent it, but you can do absolutely nothing about it…so you buckle up and brace yourself for the wild ride.


I get what it’s like to feel silly and confused for being so sad about it. Most people aren’t able to understand the wide range of emotions couples go through in the aftermath of losing a baby during pregnancy, especially if that loss occurred early on. People expect intense emotional reactions to the loss of a once living spouse, child, parent, friend, or otherwise tangible person. Most people can even understand the pain of someone who experiences stillbirth – because at least that was a real baby. But you? That was “just” a miscarriage; you were barely pregnant. Let’s not get too dramatic here since it wasn’t actually a baby yet.

It was just a glob of cells.

At least you didn’t get too attached, it could be worse.

Just try again.

Oh – the things people say. You start to internalize those things and you really begin to feel stupid for being so distressed. I know I do, especially as a med student – where less than pretty terms like ‘fetal demise’ and ‘spontaneous abortion’ are thrown around callously in the clinical setting.

Maybe I am making a big deal out of nothing.

Maybe I’ve gone a little mad.

You start to doubt yourself, and you don’t feel entitled to grieve because well, your friends sister has a friend who actually had to carry her baby for 9 whole months before it died in a car accident. And you only carried yours for 2. So you should be grateful.

I honestly don’t know what it is about humans that makes us downplay the absolute miracle of life inside the womb. We all have to start somewhere, right? And if we’re being literal about it, developing humans stop being just a “clump of cells” at about week 4…right around the time a woman finds out she is pregnant. By the end of week 5, there’s a tiny heart pumping actual blood through the little one’s body. Week 6? That “glob of cells” spontaneously moves and has the ability to show reflex responses to touch. So can we retire that phrase, please?

The validity of unborn life is severely downplayed, and I think that’s one of the reasons why the emotional impact after a pregnancy loss is so underestimated and misunderstood. To others, your loss is just a blip in time. To you, it is everything. It is a confusing place to be. I get it.


I get what it’s like to feel traumatized after a loss. Because you think you may have just flushed your baby. Because there’s enough blood to stage a crime scene. Because this is the sixth time this has happened to you and you aren’t sure how much more you can take. Because you held your baby’s lifeless body in your hands. Because you never got to hold your baby’s lifeless body in your hands. Because you were pushed to the edge of your physical pain threshold and then forced over the cliff. Because you just spent $15,000 on IVF.

I didn’t realize how traumatic my ectopic pregnancy was for me until I began having nightmares. I had never been so close to death before. Even now, nearly 2 months later there are times when I look in the mirror and let that reality sink in – I literally could have died that day. It’s wild to me, to have confronted mortality.


I get what it’s like to feel frustrated that you’ve had to explain to the receptionist, the nurse, the medical assistant, the other nurse, and the doctor that you’ve lost a baby. Like seriously, did you even read my chart?! Please don’t make me say it again. Please.


I get what’s it like to have to deal with the stress of normal life after losing a baby. To have to return to work or school and face the world again, it’s tough. Going back to med school was so stressful for me [as if medical school isn’t stressful enough on it’s own already]. I took only a week off after the surgery, and then I had to put my game face on because it was back to “business as usual”. In those first two weeks back we talked about ectopic pregnancy multiple times. By the time we got the the cardiology unit, we were learning about ectopic heart beats. Then I get to my exam and there were two questions about miscarriage and one about ectopic pregnancy. Totally wasn’t expecting that so it took me a second to regain focus. The following week I saw a pregnant patient and used a fetal heart monitor on her. Throughout the curriculum we discuss embryology and fetal development repeatedly, because that’s what med students do. Then there’s the pregnant MA I worked with at my clinic, she always wanted me to touch her belly and feel her baby kicking.

I could hardly form a scab before it was picked at repeatedly while doing my normal, back to reality, every day things.  It makes it hard to heal. And I’m sure you have daily reminders of your hurt in your every day life, too. Sometimes it seems like life will never get back to where it was before all of this happened. I get it.

If you ever need someone to talk to, you can definitely talk to me. I know I’m a stranger to you but I am no stranger to this experience. These emotions we are dealing with are real and raw and sometimes it’s just plain hard to sort it all out. Honestly, one of the main things that has helped me through this process is talking to other women out there who can relate. Other women who just…get it.

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*When I say ‘pregnancy loss’ I am using a general term to refer to several different types of losses. Loss of a life during pregnancy can occur due to complete or missed miscarriage, stillbirth, ectopic pregnancy, molar pregnancy, or chemical pregnancy.

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My Ectopic Pregnancy Story

It’s exactly 8:04 am right now as I type this, on January 14, 2018. I’m in a hospital bed, my husband asleep in a recliner to my immediate left. As I take in my current surroundings it’s hard to believe that just a short 24 hours ago we were at home, sitting up in bed together, talking about normal things. Doing normal life and going about our normal business. I had just taken my prenatal vitamin and gotten off the phone with my dad. We talked a lot about my pregnancy; it had been a complicated one so far but it was the end of my 7th week and things were, slowly but surely, moving along. I touched my belly and prayed for the baby like I had done every morning for the past few weeks. It started off as a normal day.

***I’m just going to drop a trigger warning right here before I move forward. I assume you’ve read the title of this post so you should have an idea of how this story ends. I’m telling you right now, it’s not a happy ending. That said, this may be an emotional trigger for you, especially if you’ve suffered a similar loss. And if you think talking about bodily fluids is TMI…then you might want to leave this page, too.***

Continue reading My Ectopic Pregnancy Story

Things I’m Thankful For After Miscarriage

In life, most of the time it’s easier to dwell on what we don’t have rather than what we do have. This can be especially true if you are going through miscarriage or infertility because your focus is on the baby that seems to be missing. It’s hard to find the good in that, if we’re just being honest. So in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I’ve challenged myself to do some reflecting on the things I am thankful for while on this journey. What I found was that I really do have so much to be thankful for.

I am thankful for the time I get to spend just being married. When we found out we were expecting we had only been married for 6 months. We were just getting settled in to the whole husband and wife gig when bam! – we were suddenly daddy and mommy, too. And while my subsequent miscarriage was not something I wanted, I am still very grateful for the time I have in this season to just be Marcus’ wife.

How precious is that?! I get to focus all of my efforts on being the wife my husband deserves. I get to give him my undivided attention, and more importantly, I get to have his. 🙂 We get to sleep in and cuddle together uninterrupted. We get to spend our extra money frivolously. We get to pick up and go on dates or vacations whenever we feel like it. We get the time to really focus on each other’s needs and wants with no other responsibilities other than ourselves. Having a baby changes all of that.

While it is absolutely my hearts desire to start our family right now, I am learning to be grateful for this special time in our lives when it is just he and I, because – if you really think about it – once we have our baby we will never get this time back. I intend to enjoy and savor every second.

I am thankful that my baby will never experience this crazy world. This sentiment is somewhat of a cliché in the miscarriage community, but that doesn’t make it any less true. This world can be downright cruel and my sweet August will never have to experience it. My baby was never hungry, was never cold, was always wanted, and was always loved. I am thankful for this.

I am thankful for today; because clearly tomorrow is not promised. You can literally be here one day and gone the next, so I choose to appreciate each day as its own. Each day I wake up is a new opportunity to walk in my God-given purpose. To love. To laugh. To just live. I am naturally a planner and somewhat of a control freak so “living in the moment” is something I have to be intentional about. You can make all the plans in the world for tomorrow, but tomorrow may never happen. My miscarriage taught me how fragile and fleeting life really is; and the importance of relishing each moment I have as they come because the next moment is not guaranteed. Thank you Lord for today!

I am thankful for a stronger marriage. My husband and I are far from perfect; but I can honestly say that we are stronger together after going through our loss. That’s a blessing because not everyone can say that. Miscarriage, stillbirth, and infertility so often break couples apart and dissolve marriages. We were young, newly married, had just lost a baby, had medical bills stacked to the roof, our sex life was vulnerable – it was honestly the perfect storm for disaster. But we’re getting through it, by God’s grace.

I’ve never seen Marcus as mature, loving and strong as he has been in response to our loss. We’ve passed some serious tests together; and I’m so proud of his strength and how far we’ve come. He is truly my partner, and I am his. Miscarriage is a part of our love story now and our history as parents, it makes us who we are today. My sweet little angel August makes us who we are today.

I am thankful for my next child. Having a baby may be natural, but that doesn’t make it easy. A friend told me to “just pray and stay positive” and it will happen. My, how I wish it were that simple! It takes prayer, patience, strength, time, money, medicine, blood, sweat, tears and dang near selling your soul for some couples to fall pregnant.Trying to conceive after miscarriage has been exhausting for us and there are many days when I just want to quit.

But thinking about my rainbow baby literally makes my heart burst with excitement. There’s something about putting in work for what you want that makes you appreciate it so much more once you finally have it. I don’t take starting a family for granted anymore and I am already overflowing with gratitude for the life of my next child; however that child comes to be apart of our lives.

I am thankful that God is using me to help others through their losses. I think this is one of the big ones. I am so grateful that my pain has been useful to somebody else! Someone messaged me and told me that they wouldn’t have made it through their miscarriage without me. Someone else said that reading my story helped them to confront their own feelings about losses they’ve experienced in their past. I’ve also made friends with a mother who originally contacted me for prayer after her miscarriage, and now she intends to name her next baby August as inspired by my little one! This single tiny human who never even made it into the world has inspired people. Wow! All glory to God, who is able to work all things together for good!

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It’s easy to be thankful for the good stuff, but what about the things that are not-so-good? The things that have you up and crying at night, can you still find a reason to give thanks in spite of? I challenge you to find a reason to be thankful, no matter your circumstance! Miscarriage & infertility can leave you bitter and cold – if you let it. Today, however, I choose gratitude.

Scriptures For Pregnancy Loss & Infertility

Okay, so can I be honest? Promise you won’t judge me?

When I first learned of my miscarriage, I was mad at God.

It seemed that I was mad at everyone actually, but I felt particularly and especially angry with God. I felt like He had personally let me down. I blamed Him for things He did not do. I didn’t talk to Him or pray for months. I denied being mad at Him when I secretly was; my heart was sooo hard.

The crazy part is, He still loved me. He never left me. He still thought enough of me to break through the wall I built with the powerful truth of His word.

It’s amazing, that grace.

I just wanted to share some of the scriptures that I was led to; those that I find encouraging on this journey of loss and infertility. I hope that they encourage you, too!

 

Truth: God hears and answers prayers.

Genesis 25:21 

Isaac pleaded with the Lord on behalf of his wife, because she was unable to have children. The Lord answered Isaac’s prayer, and Rebekah became pregnant with twins.

Psalm 66:16-19 

Come and listen, all you who fear God, and I will tell you what he did for me. For I cried out to him for help, praising him as I spoke. If I had not confessed the sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. But God did listen! He paid attention to my prayer.

1 Samuel Chapter 1

tells the story of Hannah, who was infertile for years and without children. She poured her heart out to God at the alter, cried, and prayed for a son. The Lord was faithful to her and opened up her womb and she was able to conceive.

Psalm 37:4 

Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Romans 8:26-28

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weaknesses. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searched our hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

 

Truth: God has not forgotten about you.

Deuteronomy 31:6

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.

Psalm 9:10

And those who know Your name will put their trust in You, For You, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You.

2 Corinthians 4:8-9

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.

 

 

Truth: God did not cause your miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, stillbirth, or whatever else it was that resulted in the death of your baby. Sin did that. We live in a sinful world where we encounter evil and darkness at every turn. 

John 16:33 

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here in this world you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

Ephesians 6: 12

For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places

Revelation 21:4 

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.

Jeremiah 29:11 

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Lamentations 3:32-33

For if He causes grief, then He will have compassion according to His abundant loving-kindness and tender mercy. For He does not afflict willingly and from His heart or grieve the children of men. * This tells me that even if God did cause this, it was because He had to and not because He wanted to

 

Truth: Your baby mattered. Your baby counted. God, the creator of life, values life even before the moment of conception.

Psalm 139:13-16

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

Jeremiah 1:5  

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.

 

Truth: God actually gave you that baby as a gift

Psalm 127:3 

Children are a gift from the LORD; they are a reward from him.

James 1:17 

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

Matthew 7:11 

So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.

 

 

Truth: God can handle our hurt, pain, and questions. 

Psalm 13:1-2 

How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul, with sorrow in my heart every day? How long will my enemy have the upper hand?

Psalm 34:18 

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.

Job

The book of Job tells his story of immense loss. This man literally lost everything – his kids, his wealth, his health – he lost it all. And he had some serious questions for God about his suffering. Check it out.

 

Truth: God is able, and He can do anything.

That means anything. He can overcome your endometriosis, unexplained infertility, PCOS, low sperm count, bum ovary, hormonal imbalance, “ticking clock”, ruptured cyst, blocked tubes, or anything else that you come against.

Jeremiah 32:17 

O Sovereign Lord! You made the heavens and earth by your strong hand and powerful arm. Nothing is too hard for you!

Hebrews 11:11  

By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised.

Psalm 113:9 

He gives the childless woman a family, making her a happy mother. Praise the Lord!

 

Truth: God is not all that concerned with the temporary pains in our lives if it is ultimately accomplishing  His larger purposes. 

This also means that God isn’t always trying to “teach you something” when you’re going through (I hate when people say this).  Sometimes we experience tragedies like miscarriage solely so that the glory of God might be revealed through it.

John 9:1-3 

As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth. “Rabbi,” his disciples asked him, “why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?” “It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered.“This happened so the power of God could be seen in him.”

2 Corinthians 4:17 

For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!

2 Corinthians 12:9

Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.

 

I hope this blesses you and encourages you. It may help to write some of these down! I have a journal that I keep and I write down the scriptures that speak to me, over and over again. I also write what I feel God is saying to me through that particular passage. On the hard days, when I can’t seem to think straight and my heart is aching, His word is there in my heart, too, and I draw on it for strength.

Please share your favorite scriptures below that have helped you during your pregnancy or infant loss, or some other type of grief. How did you make it through? If you aren’t religious, I still invite you to share quotes or something you’ve read that has resonated with you.

What helped you can help someone else too.

 

With love,

Nikkie

 

Breaking The Silence: I Had A Baby

It’s October and I’m excited! I just bought 5 different fall nail polish shades & put out all my fall candles at home. Most people are gearing up for Halloween, buying their pink for Breast Cancer Awareness, headed to cider mills, or appreciating the fact that all FOUR pro-sports are simultaneously being played this month.

Not to detract from any of this,  but did you know that October has also been dubbed “Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Month”? Most people don’t know this fun fact, I didn’t know until I had experienced pregnancy loss myself. What blew my mind even more was that there is actually an entire day within the month devoted to bringing awareness to miscarriage, still birth, and infant loss – that day is October 15!

So, in the spirit of the month at hand, I decided to do something to commemorate and contribute to bringing awareness to such a sore subject.

Unfortunately, people just aren’t talking about miscarriage

Why is it so taboo? Why is it so misunderstood? My guess is probably because couples like myself and my husband suffer in silence. We aren’t talking about our miscarriages. And then people who have miscarriages think they are alone (because nobody talks about it), so they don’t talk about their miscarriages either. And round and round we go.

It is for this reason that I am going “public” with my blog. So far I have “anonymously” shared my blog on several pregnancy loss forums across the web and through an anonymous Instagram page. I have been able to reach over 1,000 people in 29 different countries – from the USA all the way to Sri Lanka. I am so thankful to God because I know He is using my negative as a positive for someone else – and that is what it’s all about for me! That makes my pain useful.

That makes this crap worth something.

I write about my experiences with miscarriage to be a light to someone else who may be going through the same thing.

But I’ve still been hiding.

Up until now, I haven’t shared this blog with family or friends. I don’t link it to my personal social media pages. I’ve even gone so far as to make sure I don’t add identifying photos or names to my writing; just in case someone I know out there happens to find this. You see, we didn’t tell very many people about our miscarriage, only those few who knew we were expecting were made aware of the loss. If I shared my blog on my social media, that would mean that everyone I knew would know we had miscarried our first child, and I wasn’t comfortable with that thought. It is just my husband, mother, sister, and literally three friends of mine who are aware that this blog site even exists. That’s because

my miscarriage was dark and ugly.

And I’m not just talking about the physical event of the miscarriage…I’m talking about the days and months following.

The days when I could not – or would not – get out of bed unless hubby physically picked me up. The days when I lashed out at him. The times when I lashed out at God. The nights we spent sitting on the couch crying. The times I had to force a smile because interacting with people was work. The private and painful details that only he and I will ever know.

I was (am) hurt, ashamed, and angry and I didn’t want to expose that side of me to anyone in my life. Not only that, but I’m a private person and to be frank I didn’t think my miscarriage was anybody else’s business. (*hugs*)

But then I realized – this approach only perpetuates the stigma associated with miscarriage, stillbirth and infant loss…it doesn’t help bring awareness. So I decided to step out of my comfort zone and share that

1 in 4 is not just a statistic, it’s ME

Yes, unbelievable right? Generally speaking, a staggering 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage! That means we ALL know several people who have lost babies this way. They may not have told you, they may not have even knew it themselves, but you know someone who has had a miscarriage. It is way more common than you’d think, which certainly doesn’t take away from the tragedy of it all, but it does let me know that I am not alone.

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I wanted to share some other facts about pregnancy and infant loss:

  • Miscarriage is the death of a baby before 20 weeks gestation
  • Stillbirth is the death of a baby after 20 weeks gestation
  • As mentioned, it is believed that as much as 25% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage (http://www.pregnancy.org)
  • The likelihood of miscarriage declines the further the mother is into the pregnancy, but rates drop off drastically after a heartbeat is detected.

“There is a unique pain that comes from preparing a place in your heart for a child that never comes”  -David Platt

There are several different types of miscarriages

  • Blighted Ovum -a type of early loss in which a fertilized egg implants but does not begin to divide into an embryo
  • Chemical Pregnancy – another very early loss when the embryo is lost shortly after implantation. It is believed that chemical pregnancies make up about 50% of all miscarriages — the mother may not know she is pregnant (though with early detection becoming increasingly accessible, she could) and the miscarriage looks like a normal or late period
  • Complete Miscarriage – the contents of the uterus (baby, placenta, and all tissue) are expelled (incomplete miscarriages happen too, where only some of the tissue is expelled)
  • Missed Miscarriage – though very rare, a missed miscarriage happens when the baby dies with the mother having barely any symptoms. Actually, mother’s still experience symptoms of pregnancy after the baby is dead because the placenta is still releasing hormones. Most go on thinking their baby is fine and life is great, and do not find out that their pregnancy is over until a routine checkup. This can happen at any stage of pregnancy and only accounts for as much as 1% of all miscarriages (http://healthresearchfunding.org). This is the type of miscarriage I had, you can read more about that here
  • Ectopic Pregnancy – the egg implants somewhere else, usually in the Fallopian tubes, and begins to grow. These types of losses are also rare and can be life threatening to the mother, the baby does not survive
  • Molar Pregnancy – this happens when fetal/placental tissue grows abnormally and a tumor grows in the uterus instead of a baby. About 1 in 1,000 pregnancies in this country is a molar pregnancy (http://www.marchofdimes.org)

 

Ultimately, miscarriage is the death of a baby – and should not be looked at any other way

You can call miscarriage the loss of a fetus, embryo, pregnancy tissue or whatever – but to me it was a baby. It was a life. It was my unborn child. And I know there are many other couples out there who have experienced this type of loss and feel the same way I do.

This October we are remembering our babies.

Those we could never meet, those born sleeping, and those who made it home and then left way too soon.

In honor of Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness month, share your story in the comments…even if you just share your little one’s name. If you don’t want to share your story, just leave a comment saying “Me too”, there is comfort in community. If you don’t want to comment, share this blog; someone else may need to see it. Someone else may need to hear that they aren’t alone.

Each pregnancy loss a couple experiences is a part of their history as parents, and each life that comes into this world deserves to be acknowledged. 

If you have experienced pregnancy or infant loss, I am praying earnestly for you. I am praying that God comforts you and gives you his peace. I am praying that He surrounds you with His love. I am praying that He guides the hearts and minds of those around you; that they would be mindful of your loss and not say anything hurtful while you grieve. There is light at the end of this tunnel, I promise! If you would like special prayer, or have a prayer request for someone else you know, I have a submission form on my site.

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Hugs to you all!

-Nikkie

 

 

 

Everything You Need To Know About A D&C

As if losing a child to miscarriage isn’t hard enough, adding surgery on top of that can be overwhelming for some women. I know it felt that way for me! For those who don’t know my story, I found out at 10 weeks that I miscarried my first child with my husband. My body did not expel the pregnancy on its own; I had what is called a missed miscarriage.

This type of miscarriage means that there are little to no symptoms, the baby just dies and usually the mother doesn’t find out until the next routine ultrasound. The only symptom I had was very light, bright pink discharge, but this was enough to send me to the ER in a panic. That night we found out we had lost the baby; I was supposed to be 10 weeks but he was only measuring at 9 weeks. This meant he had likely already been dead for a week or so, unbeknownst to me. My body held on to the pregnancy – both the tiny placenta and tiny baby remained inside of me – seemingly unphased by the fact that this little life was over now and the pregnancy was no longer viable. So, one week later at 11 weeks “pregnant” I found myself at the hospital having a D&C.

 

What is a D&C?

D&C stands for dilation and curettage; a surgical procedure that is performed to remove the contents of the uterus. The surgery is typically performed when a woman is having intrauterine problems, like an incomplete or missed miscarriage, uterine fibroids, endometriosis, or heavy vaginal bleeding. Dilation is the act of opening your cervix; the “mouth” of the uterus. Curettage is the part where the tissue is removed- usually by suction or by a tool called a curette, which is a small metal tool used to scrape the uterine lining.

 

What happens during a D&C?

During the surgery, you lay on your back and they put your feet up in stirrups  – exactly how it’s done during your yearly lady exam. A speculum is inserted into your vagina to open it, and then your cervix is dilated to access your uterus. The procedure is minimally-invasive, meaning that no cuts have to be made and that everything is done through the natural openings in your body. The surgery is commonly done under general anesthesia (they put you completely under), though sometimes it can also be done with a local anesthetic (they numb the area). It’s usually completed in less than 20 minutes, you have to wait around for a few hours, and then usually you get to go home. Just make sure you have someone to drive you! Depending on the circumstance, some of the extracted fetal tissue may be sent to labs for examination but in my case, the tissue was not tested. They may do this for recurrent miscarriages or at the family’s request.

 

How do you feel initially after the D&C?

Waking up from the surgery, the first person I saw was my husband, which was the most comforting thing. But I also remember feeling

  • Sad
  • Tired and Groggy (from the anesthesia and from the pain medicine)
  • Tender and Sore
  • Thirsty
  • Nauseous and
  • Angry

I barely remember anything any of the doctors or nurses said to me that day. But I will always remember how I felt.

How was the recovery after the procedure?

Physically, recovery was a little painful but definitely manageable. I stayed in bed for a couple days and after that I was up and about, but my activity was restricted. I could not exercise, be submerged in water (no pools, hot tubs, bubble baths, etc.), lift anything heavy, wear tampons, have sex with my husband, or do any other vigorous activity for 4 weeks.  Other than that, it was back to class and studying as “usual”.

My Gyn did prescribe Misoprostol, which is a medicine I took after the D&C that is used to stimulate contraction of the uterus. This is not required of everyone that has a miscarriage and I hated that I had to take it myself, but if it is indicated by your doctor then I advocate following their advice. They usually have you take it if you have retained some fetal tissue, it helps to expel everything and prevent infection. But please be aware: This same medicine can also be used to induce labor. It was painful. It was extremely bloody. It was draining. My doctor also prescribed Ibuprofen and Tylenol with Codeine though, so I was able to stay ahead of the pain and keep it managed… it was like bad menstrual cramps with a very painful contraction thrown in here and there.

For a week or so after the surgery, I had to sleep on a bath towel and set alarms throughout the night to wake up and change my pad. There was A LOT of blood. One day while at school the bleeding was so bad that I contemplated going to the ER; I was soaking a pad every half hour for about 3 hours straight, and passing huge clots. In between classes I went to the bathroom and had a big contraction while squatting over the toilet. I passed a clot, and then some tissue literally the size of the palm of my hand fell onto the bathroom stall floor – the pain from the contraction was so bad that I winced and subsequently missed the bowl. I had to clean blood off the floor and the side of the toilet bowl before heading back to class. Still haven’t gone back in that bathroom.

I was SO frustrated that I had to go through this after the D&C. It seemed unfair that the miscarriage was dragging on for this long. But, I have to imagine that had I not had the D&C, there wold have been much more blood and pain than I could handle going through the miscarriage naturally. Possibly even an infection. So ultimately the procedure was worth it for me as the physical pain was manageable; it was the emotional pain that was far worse.

 

How long after the procedure does it take to get your period? What was that like?

It took exactly 5 weeks and 4 days from the day of the D&C for me to get my first period. Textbook is anywhere from 4-6 weeks, but of course that varies from woman to woman. If you go longer than 7 weeks I’d call your doctor; not because it means there is something wrong…but just for your sanity. That first period was bittersweet. Bitter because it really put the nail in the coffin for me (no pun intended). I hadn’t had a period since November and my first period post-miscarriage was in March, so reality really set in that this baby was gone and I was no longer pregnant. It sucked. But the “sweet” aspect was that I felt like my body was finally getting back to normal. Having a period was a good thing! Even though it kicked my butt and hit me like a ton of bricks, it meant things were functioning the way they were supposed to in there and I could finally move forward physically with recovery. 🙂

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Just make sure Dr. Love isn’t your gynecologist and you should definitely survive your D&C 🙂

All in all, the D&C was an effective way to complete my miscarriage when my body wouldn’t do it on it’s own. If you have any questions about my experience with the procedure feel free to comment below or shoot me an email!

How was your experience with D&C? Did you have to help nurse your partner back to health after the surgery? Are you a little less nervous about your upcoming procedure after reading this? Let me know! 🙂

 

 

xoxo

 

-N