How to heal after pregnancy loss

This truly might be the hardest blog post I have ever written, but maybe the most important one. Despite the fact that every google search will tell you 1 in 4 women go through pregnancy loss, actually experiencing it is the most isolating feeling in the world and I am hoping that one person reading this will find some – I don’t even know the right word -but maybe comfort, in knowing that you truly aren’t alone. Not that that will make it any easier, but I did find it easier once I started talking to other women who had a miscarriage as well and maybe I can be that other woman for you.

The new beginning

I must admit, when I saw those two pink lines I was surprised. With my first pregnancy I knew days before I was testing positive that I was pregnant. I was feeling so hot, I was having terrible indigestion, I was exhausted. This go around I didn’t feel pregnant at all, but I figured I should test before going out for a Thanksgiving dinner – and to my surprise it was positive. Because everything went so smoothly with my first pregnancy, I had it in my mind that this would be no different – and so two days into finding out we were pregnant, we told our inner circle. Three days into finding out I hopped on a plane for a work trip. Eight days into finding out, it was over.

The end

I remember waking up that morning and I saw a bit of spotting. I thought that was weird but it was so little I didn’t think much of it, that was until I got to the bathroom and it was very evident what was happening. I was all alone on a work trip and I was losing my baby. I called my husband right away in absolute hysteria. He tried to calm me down by saying it might not be a miscarriage  and that I should speak to a doctor, but I knew what was happening. I had an interview for a story I was working on in 30 minutes, so what did I do? I grabbed some toilet paper and got dressed and went to the interview -that is the thing about us women, we suffer through the worst of pains all on our own  with a smile on our face because that is what society makes us think we have to do. Thankfully I was able to get a hold of my doctor and figure out the next steps – being RH negative I wasn’t sure what to do next – so at least I know what to do physically – but emotionally was a whole different story.

After speaking with my husband I went out for a little solo dinner. I tried to sit at the bar solo, but the only spot they had was a table in the back facing out to the entire crowd. Even though no one was actually looking at me I couldn’t help but feel like all eyes were on me as I went through every emotion and thought possible. From trying to be thankful of the beautiful family I have, to complete and utter devastation thinking about the one that was no longer. I couldn’t help but blame myself – what if I didn’t get on that flight? What if I didn’t have that second cup of coffee? The next few days was filled with a rollercoaster of emotions – from thinking I would be ok to bouts of extreme sadness.

The New Beginning

The miscarriage took a lot form me. it took my excitement, it took my joy. A few months later when we were pregnant again, I didn’t have that same happiness when I saw those two pink lines, instead I felt fear that it would happen again. Every morning, instead of looking forward to the first ultrasound, first kicks, I was waking up looking for signs that it would go wrong again. Instead of dreaming of my future family, I was dreading every doctors appointment, every lab test, every milestone. So much so that my blood pressure was through the roof every time I had an appointment for anything. My joy was overtaken by anxiety and fear. So just know that all your feelings, emotions, and fears are completely validated. But I did find a few things helped me on this journey.

1. Reaching out to the community

My friends were amazing. Checking in constantly and lending a shoulder to cry on, but for some strange reason it didn’t give me any relief. And so I took a step that I was so afraid of, I posted it publicly. I share a lot of my life online but I didn’t think I would share this. But then I remembered how almost ashamed I was that it happened to me, that I did something wrong, despite knowing how common it is. And so I shared the news and I was so overwhelmed with gratitude for how many incredible women reached out and shared their story. Telling me about their experience, about their isolation and feeling alone. I felt so terrible for the women and what they had been through – but in some way I also found a community that I knew what I was going through and that created a safe space for me.

2. Don’t blame yourself

I know that this is easier said than done having gone through it first hand, but something I found useful was doing research and trying to think of what happened to me logically. Every once in a while an invasive thought of blame would pop up in my mind. My therapist would tell me to let those thoughts sit and feel them, but then let my brain refocus on the logistics.

3. Understand what grieving you need and allow yourself to take it

There were so many feelings that came along with the loss. Sadness, exhaustion, isolation. While there was a side of me that wanted to just brush it off and focus on work – I realized that wasn’t healthy. I needed to take the time to grieve the loss and accept the feelings. I also needed to understand what I was mourning for the next step in healing. I realized that I was mostly mourning not growing our family and so while I mourned the loss of this child I know emotionally we did want to try again. And if you need to take a real break – take it. Women shouldn’t feel the need to have to hide what they are going through and pretend that everything was ok.

4. Memorialize your child

I kept trying to shove my feelings away saying that I was only a few weeks along and I shouldn’t be this sad. But that isn’t true. No matter how early or late you are in your pregnancy  – a loss is a traumatic experience that you should grieve. I found it both hard but also soothing to think about this baby. I wrote down thoughts and feelings about this pregnancy and I felt like that helped me.

At the end of the day there is no right or wrong way to heal. There is no timeline on how long it should take. And even when you do “move on”, you never forget the trauma, the loss, the sadness, but you just take it one step at a time, one day at a time. Nothing will take this grief away, but you will find ways to slowly get back to you, to find reasons to smile again, to find joy.

Sending the biggest hugs mommas

xo

Mia

Mia’s Momalogue Chapter 4: I hated being pregnant and that’s ok

 

I remember the first day I knew I was pregnant. My stomach would’t settle. I had this terrible indigestion that made me feel nauseous. No amount of Tums would settle it. A test said negative but I knew otherwise. That was just the first of the annoying symptoms that followed me around for 9 months.

In that two week wait window my mind was racing a million miles per hour. I didn’t feel ready for this – not having any other friends that had babies this was a whole new world I knew nothing about and was riddled with anxiety, fear, worry – none of the happy, excited, joyful feelings I thought I would have when we decided to start a family. Which left me confused. This couldn’t be normal could it? (I later found out it can definitely be normal).

Finally those two little pink lines showed up – and instead of happy tears I cried tears of fear ( I hate admitting it now – because I have been blessed with the most perfect little human and I should of been happy but I said I would be totally honest and at the time I was scared.) And then more annoying little symptoms started. I was lucky not to have a bad pregnancy (aside from the GD) but the indigestion, nausea, extreme fatigue, then came the round ligament and joint pain  – and as an athlete not being able to use my body like I was did was strange and unwelcoming.

I tried to hide these feelings deep inside me – I put on a smile because and told myself how lucky we were to be pregnant (and trust me I know how lucky we are and I am thankful everyday) but the more I tried to cover up those other feelings and tell people I was fine with a smile on my face the more lost I felt. I wasn’t being honest with anyone, especially not myself and that made me even more tired.

It was finally at a prenatal workout class where the instructor asked what we have loved most about being pregnant. I was first to go and I just blurted out, ” I haven’t loved anything.” It was the first time I said it out loud and it felt so good to be honest with everyone there as well as with myself. I immediately felt guilty when the very next person answered; “well it took me a long time to get pregnant so I have loved all of it.” – ugh I am such an asshole I thought to myself. But then one person after another agreed with me saying how miserable they have been, how un-magical it was and for the first time in my pregnancy I didn’t feel so alone.

What I am trying to get at here is that you can be excited about the idea of having a baby, but that doesn’t mean you have to be excited about being pregnant. About giving up sushi and wine for 9 months, about waking up every morning with a new pain (and by waking up I mean sleeping for two hours while tossing and turning trying to find a comfortable position), about literally having to fall asleep on the carpet of your office because you are too tired to make it to the bed. Ya none of this is glamorous, or fun, or magical in my opinion (yes I find the process of pregnancy and the fact that we are able to create life magical) but not how I felt in the moment.

So be honest with yourself and with those in your circle. Don’t try and go through this alone my friends.

Oh and lastly just know it will all be worth it – I remember holding that little purple squirmy wormy baby in my arms for the first time and immediately forgot the misery of the past 9 months ( I guess that is how women do it multiple times, they just forget). And while there may have been a moment or two during my pregnancy where I literally told my stomach I hated it ( yes the few moments I regret and blame fully on hormones) everything and I mean everything was worth it when I looked into that little man’s eyes for the first time.

So I promise there is a silver lining at the end of all of this – a love so strong you never knew it could exist and you realize those nine months was just the start of the sacrifices you will make for this human because you will literally do anything for them.

You got this mommas I promise!

xo

Mia

Mom life: Returning to work after mat leave

While the first few days feel like I blur I still remember the feeling. The feeling of utter joy to have my new baby in my arms but I also remember just feeling so overwhelmed, anxious, scared, and of course tired. I remember wishing away the early days. I can’t wait until he sleeps through the night or I can’t wait until he no longer has to feed every two hours.

But then the days started to fly by, and those early sleepless nights were a distant memory. As someone once told me “The days are long but the years are short.” And it’s so true – this year flew by in the blink of an eye. And 13 months since I said see ya later to the Weather Network to embark on this incredible new journey as mom – it is time to head back to work.

This year has been my biggest year of growth yet. It has taught me patience, kindness, love (like I have never known before) and what is truly important to me. It has been a year full of memories, laughter, tears, and now it is time to turn the page on the book again and start a new chapter.

I was speaking with my therapist the other day about the anxiety I am having around finding the perfect balance. A balance between work and life they say but it is so much more than that, work, life, family, friends, my baby, and myself. It sounds like something only a superhero could do. I was feeling so overwhelmed that this wasn’t possible. And you know what – finding that perfect balance might not be humanly possible -but we decided I would just take it one day at a time.

Before having Max my life was my work – I had worked for 10 years to get to where I am and I finally found a job that I actually saw as a career that I love. After years of working part time, freelance, hard news and all the in between moments. At the Weather Network I have finally had a chance to tell real stories, ones that matter. Bringing important information to people, while also focusing on climate change and sustainability – which is something I care deeply about. I have had a chance to even create my own documentaries on these topics. I love my work – it has allowed me to travel and explore. I have seen the Northern Lights in the Yukon, the glaciers that tower over Whistler, the grizzlies of the Great Bear Rainforest. I have been given so many incredible opportunities and I am truly excited to see what comes next as the videographer and bureau chief for the Weather Network out here in British Columbia.

But now I have this new priority in my life. Gone are the days where I can just pack a bag and go. Gone are the days where I can just drop everything and run out to cover active weather. It is going to be a new balancing act for sure – one that I am nervous to try and conquer, but also one that I am excited about. I am excited to write this next chapter of my life – of our lives.

I know it isn’t going to be easy, there are going to be hiccups, and bumps and challenges – but that is the world we live in, and now I know just how challenging it is to be a working mom, but I want to be a mom that my son is proud of.

So mommas I see you, I feel you and I am here with you as you start to write new chapters of your own lives.

xo

Mia

Our winter one-derland birthday party tips

Oh the joys of having a baby born on Christmas Day – every birthday will have a winter or holiday theme for the rest of his life ( I mean we already have all of the decor out right?). And so for one we just had to go with a Winter One-derland. 

The wanna be Martha Stewart in me looked up 25 different holiday snack ideas and decided I was going to make all of them – my friends talked me off that ledge and told me to focus on a few key items. A good combination of savoury and sweet and both adult and baby friendly ( I mean it was Max’s birthday after all).

Then came decorations – I favourited a million things on Etsy, but realized a first birthday party should not cost us hundreds of dollars. I also have been focusing on reducing waste – so decided on a few key items and also tried to make a lot of them with items around the house

The icing on the cake for me though was the idea of a hot coco bar. What kind of winter one-derland would be complete without one right?

So this is what we ended up with:

Food: We went with some winter wonderland themed treats

A veggie snowman

Every party needs a healthy snack tray and so took a wintery twist and used the veggies to make a snowman. As dog owners we know there is always some yellow snow to avoid so we added in some yellow peppers

Cranberry brie bites

Is there anything that says the holidays more than cranberry brie bites. Super simple to make and absolutely delicious

Christmas tree pull apart cheese balls

This was the bread and butter of the day. I had a vision to create cheese balls from pizza dough and bake them in the shape of a Christmas tree – this one took the most time and effort (remember a friend telling me to focus on one big item) well this was it and they were worth the effort.

snowflake cookies

Sugar cookies are always a delicious treat to add to the dessert table and so I baked and decorated 50 sugar cookies – we had left overs for Christmas so that was great.

We also set up

Hot chocolate bar

It was my dream to have a hot coco bar and wanted this to be a highlight feature.

We made the hot chocolate in an instant pot so it would stay warm throughout the evening and had some toppings like marshmallows, candy canes, chocolate chips, and some Baileys for the adults.

Decorations: It is easy to create a winter one-derland with decorations we already had

We kept everything simple and winter themed but there were a few highlights that I absolutely loved that really personalized the decorations.

We created a personalized banner with pictures through the months. Another favourite for me was we create a Max’s First Year poster, showcasing some of his accomplishments in his first year.

Overall it was honestly the most special day and to see our little one so excited to smash his cake, play with friends, and open gifts was incredible. But I my top tip for planning the best birthday party is don’t stress it mama. I was so nervous and stressed leading up to the big day. Did we have enough food? Were his friends going to have fun playing with the toys in the house? Were there enough decorations?

And then I realized that none of that mattered. It was all about friends and family coming together to celebrate Max. So just enjoy this special day mama’s, because after all your first baby only gets one first birthday.

xo

Mia

 

 

 

Mia’s Mom-alogue Chapter 3: The dreaded diabetes and more from past 20 weeks

Well if this isn’t where things start to get exciting during a pregnancy. In fact this chapter of my mom-alogue involves a bear encounter, a fight with a pair of socks, and a leaky lady part. Here we go 20 weeks and beyond, and by beyond I mean when somehow despite your stomach being the size of a small planet it just keeps expanding.

The dreaded Gestational Diabetes test 

I remember going into my gestational diabetes test with extreme confidence. I am a former pro athlete, I lead an extremely healthy lifestyle, there is no diabetes in my family. I chugged that disgusting orange drink like a champ and left with a skip in my step. But alas I got the call from the doctor just a few hours later – I had gestational diabetes and oh my iron levels were very very low ( I guess that explains the extreme fatigue). I remember sitting on the couch yelling at my poor unborn child that I really hated him at this point ( I feel very guilty of that now) but at the time where I had yet to enjoy much of my pregnancy this was just icing on the cake (cake I wasn’t allowed to eat). This is hard for me to admit,  and looking back at it I actually had a really easy pregnancy, one without too many complications and issues, but I wasn’t able to see that in this moment of disappointment – and guess what momma’s, it is ok to feel all the feels when you are pregnant.

I got the news just as I was about to leave on my baby-moon, and by baby-moon I mean the trip my husband had to cancel and I was now travelling on a few close friends. I remember showing up to the airport with my new meter and lancets on hand pricking my finger to test my sugar levels.

We were traveling to the Yukon in October, which meant beautiful fall colours but a crisp air, early darkness, oh and grizzly bears getting ready for hibernation. And so while all my friends were eating their homemade dessert I had to go out in the dark with two bear sprays in hand to get my 15 minute walk in post dinner and avoid the sugars that I wasn’t supposed to eat. After a night of singing to myself at the top of my lungs to hopefully scare of the grizzlies I decided to instead walk around the dinner table for 15 minutes watching my friends eat dessert. It was the ultimate form of torture. In fact if you ever need to get information out of someone – just make them watch their friends eat warm apple pie while they have to smell it and look at it but can’t eat it and on top of that they have to walk in the room with the pie for 15 minutes.

Alas I did not run into any grizzlies in the Yukon – but once I returned home to Squamish on a very cold, very dark, very wet post dinner walk with my dog Huey he started growling at something and when I looked up there was a giant black bear no more than 10 feet from me. Thankfully the black bear was nose deep in a garbage can and I ddi what you are never ever supposed to do if you do encounter a bear… I ran.

The GD brought on a whole other medical issue for me – one that I found out is called white coat syndrome. Every time I stepped into a doctor’s office from this point on I was so afraid I was going to get more bad news that my blood pressure would escalate. I was told to go into the room early before each appointment and meditate, the most tranquil setting let me tell you. Needless to say that did not work and I was sent off three times to check my urine for preeclampsia. They officially knew me by name there. Oh here is Mia back again for a urine sample let’s just try and keep her as cool as a cucumber.

Because of my GD I was scheduled in for two extra ultrasounds at 34 and 37 where I found out my baby was measuring large and I mean I was on pace to have an 11 pounder. Oh and also my water was normal but low – don’t ask me what that means. I was now petrified of what my body was going to have to do. I kept begging my doctor to induce me early, while he was still a manageable size, but she just kept telling me I was able to control my GD so I was creating a baby the right size for my body – I tend to disagree – no one’s body is supposed to deliver an 11 pound baby.

I decided I would take things into my own hands. I did every old wives tale in the book – spicy food, raspberry leaf tea, acupuncture, alas nothing worked and I ended up delivering 3 days late, on Christmas, a 9 pound 9.6 ounce baby but that story is for another day.

A fight… with a sock 

I was lucky that for most of my pregnancy my actual body felt great (aside from the acid reflux I have spoken often about). I was working out daily, spinning, hiking, I had a lot of energy (most days in my second trimester at least). And I was carrying pretty well if I do say so myself. But then that all changed once I hit 30 weeks.

It seemed that every single morning my belly grew. It was like the poor girl who turns into a blueberry in the chocolate factory. I thought I was literally about to pop – but somehow it just kept expanding and expanding.

Then it happened, I could no longer reach over my belly to my feet. It happened on a cold November day when I had to go out for my post dinner GD walk and I was trying to put on my socks, but I could’t reach. I tried everything. Rolling around the bed, kicking my leg high in the air, crawling up in the fetal position on the ground. I eventually had to accept defeat and call in reinforcement, aka my husband. He also then had to tie my shoelace for me before I walked out the door. It was one of the more humbling moments of my pregnancy.

The weird, whacky, and the eww 

What I also learned in the later stages of my pregnancy is all the weird things that happen to your body that no one tells you about and that just don’t make sense. I remember getting on the phone with my doctor when I thought my mucus plug fell out (if you don’t know what that is do not google it). She told me not to worry, it may just grow back.

I also remember one day where I barely felt baby move – unfortunately my husband was a few drinks deep hosting some friends so a girlfriend came to the hospital with me. We didn’t have the heart to tell the sweet nurse that we were not a couple and my deer friend came for moral support since my husband was a little tipsy and couldn’t drive me. We had to finally come clean when she asked my friend how to spell her name to put her on my medical file.

Oh and then there was Christmas eve morning when I was convinced I was leaking amniotic fluid and so another trip to the hospital – only for the results to come back negative for amniotic fluid and so now on my medical file it says, and I quote, I came in for a ‘leaky vagina’. Oh joy. We did do a sweep though and less than 24 hours later my amniotic fluid didn’t leak – it poured. My water broke at 12:01 Christmas morning but again that is a story for another chapter.

But the moral of this story mommas is if you feel like something is off, or wrong, or different trust your instinct. In fact the moment we left after my none stress test the nurse told me if I got to the parking lot and was worried about something else to just come back. It is better to be over cautious and get something checked when the resources are available – especially when you are going through this completely new completely overwhelming  experience. You are not alone and you have a whole team behind you. I am so thankful for not just the team of my friends and family, but the amazing team of nurses, doctors, and hospital staff that helped get me through my white coat syndrome, GD, large baby delivery, pregnancy.

No matter what your pregnancy throws at you momma just remember you are strong as a mother and you can do this.

Next up L&D – the real fun stuff.

xo

Mia