Pregnancy loss, my personal story

According to the March of Dimes, as many as 50% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage.

Miscarriage was something I saw on social media posts, heard about from patients and experienced through the stories my friends have shared about their pregnancy losses. I was in shock when it happened to me.

Our story starts on December 23rd when we found out that we were going to be expecting our 2nd baby in the Summer of 2019. At 6.5 weeks, we saw the heartbeat, although it was weak they said I should come back in 2 weeks to check again. We were just so excited to see that heartbeat!

At the second ultrasound, I was 8.5 weeks pregnant- the technician said she couldn’t show us anything on her screen, so we knew that wasn’t good news. We received the call from our doctor, and she compassionately told me that there was no heartbeat and the baby had stopped growing from the last ultrasound. We had experienced something called a missed miscarriage. I had no symptoms of a miscarriage, so my doctor made an appointment with the hospital for 9:30 am the following morning to go over next steps.

It all happened so fast, we discussed our options with the OBGYN, scheduled an A&C (aspiration and curettage) and I was put under general anesthesia. In recovery, I woke up and sobbed. It wasn’t a dream. The last 24 hours had felt like a dream, and I just moved through the motions. I felt empty like something was missing, and I could feel the soreness in my womb from the procedure. I was given Tylenol and a banana popsicle, while I waited in recovery.

I want to make a special mention of the amazingly compassionate and sensitive nurses and the OBGYN at Joseph Brant Hospital in Burlington, Ontario. Not only did they help me feel so supported during such a hard time, but they also went out of their way to make sure I got into the operating room asap (I waited less than an hour, so I know they pulled some strings). Although it was such a hard day for my husband and me, they helped to make it a little easier for us to experience.

On our way home from the hospital, my husband picked up a balloon from the store. When we got back, he asked me to follow him into the backyard. He thought it would be nice for us to say our goodbyes and release the balloon into the sky. We watched it float away for what felt like 20 minutes holding each other tight, and at that moment I knew we were going to be ok.

We are so lucky to have such a strong support system of friends and family who regularly checked in on us. Over half of my friends have experienced a pregnancy loss and hearing their stories has helped me to feel a sense of community and belonging during such a difficult time.

After a few days, I was starting to feel less of the pregnancy symptoms (due to the decline in pregnancy hormones) and more clear headed. My emotions are like a rollercoaster, and I felt the need to write them out and express how I have been feeling:

I go through my day, and every so often I think to myself, I am missing something, I feel empty and you are gone.

I wonder what you could have been, and I wonder what I would have felt like as you grew bigger and stronger inside me.

I feel lost, I know it won’t last.

I know it wasn’t meant to be, but I am heartbroken.

Your little light, although it was a mere heartbeat on the screen, it was yours, and I loved it.

We didn’t know each other long but you will forever be in my heart, my dreams and apart of my body.

I hope we meet again when the time is right for you to bless our lives. I will always love and never forget you.

Love,

Mommy

We did share the news of our pregnancy with our 4.5 years old and of course, had to tell him about the pregnancy loss in a way his little brain could understand. I will create a post on how I communicated that to him.

We are determined not to let this loss define us, so we focus on the positives from this experience, and once we have healed a little more, we will start trying again.

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5 Things You Need To Know About Healing From A Cesarean Birth

Cesarean birth, surgical birth, and c-section are all ways to describe childbirth via surgery.

After I went through my cesarean birth experience, I realized how little to no information is given to new parents about healing from birth surgery. I remember being told-“keep moving and walking to prevent blood clots” and “do not lift anything heavier than your baby” (mine was 10.9 lbs-did that rule apply to me?).

Overwhelmed is an understatement, you are not only healing from surgery you also have a new baby/babies to take home, get to know, take care of and breastfeed/feed.

Whether you are planning a cesarean or you are recovering from an emergency cesarean, we all have our own unique experiences and expectations with birth so always choose the best option that works for you and your family.

Here are five things that will help you heal from your cesarean birth:

1. Eat Good Food. Proper nutrition during your initial healing stage is essential for helping your body heal, recover and restore. My rule is that any visitor who wants to see you and baby must bring a meal. As a convenience, you can set up a food delivery service to make sure you eat (you do forget when taking care of babies),. Or before the surgery, you can cook and freeze a bunch of meals that you can use once you get home to recover.

2. Don’t try to do it all. Becoming a new parent in 2018 comes with a lot judgement, pressure and expectations. Babies do not come with an instruction manual and a lot of parenting is trial and error. Have a relative stay with you the first two weeks to lend a hand or another option is to hire a postpartum doula to help you take care of the baby and take the stress of off you and your partner/spouse.

3. Rest is the best medicine. Sleep is hard to come by when you are feeding around the clock with a newborn, but you can still rest. If you are tired of being in your bed, set up a comfortable, quiet area in your home to rest. The most important rooms for you are the kitchen and bathroom-so stay close to those.

4. Do one thing a day for yourself. Taking a shower or stepping outside to get some fresh air are some easy-to-do options.

5. Heal your body physically. I recommend that you use three different textures to massage above and below your scar the first 8 weeks postpartum. You can use a dry brush, terrycloth, and a sponge. This will help the nerve regrowth and decrease that numbess that is common in the lower abdomen after a cesarean. Also, please book in to see a pelvic physiotherapist and get your pelvic floor checked out.

Healing from a cesarean can take time, so be patient and remember that birth can be hard mentally and emotionally. Some will experience trauma and others will feel at ease having a surgical birth. Your birth is unique to you. It is important to check in with yourself or a professional to clear your mind and feel at ease about your experience.  #birthisbirth

Your Vagina Muscles and All That Stuff Down There

As you have noticed from my blog, I have been trying to get back into “shape” after having a child and have been weightlifting and feeling great. Until it happened… One day I sneezed and opps I peed a little. Crap! I thought that I had done everything to prepare myself and avoid this!

Actually, I did everything to prepare my area “down there.” Saw a pelvic physiotherapist during pregnancy and postpartum, stretched and strengthened my perineum for birth, and practiced my kegals-or so I thought!

Last year I decided to immerse myself into courses that taught me about the pelvic floor and diastasis recti. I wanted a true understanding of what my body had gone through during my own pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum recovery. As a Massage Therapist, I also wanted to find new ways to help empower my perinatal patients about their bodies and all the changes that can happen.

There is so much you can do during pregnancy to help prepare your pelvic floor muscles (you push your baby through these muscles). There is also a step by step system to help your body heal after childbirth (vaginal or cesarian) called the Core Confidence Program from Bellies Inc. This is NOT the old fashioned kegal exercises.

What is a kegal anyways?

Created by a OBGYN named Arnold Kegal in 1948. It is an exercise that consists of repeatedly contracting and relaxing the pelvic floor muscles with the intention to strengthen, thus no more peeing! Most people describe to me that they are preforming a squeezing type exercise down there.

Game Plan

The idea of rehabilitating your pelvic floor and core muscles postpartum is to first identify what is going on down there! This can be done by going for an internal examination by a pelvic physiotherapist or sitting down with a RMT and doing an external assessment of the core/surrounding muscles, postural assessment and a questionnaire.

Next, you will need to learn how to properly breath! Most of us tend to chest breath or belly breath, which can put too much intra-abdominal pressure on our pelvic floor. The focus should be from the mid-lower ribs, expanding them like an umbrella opening and closing. No more drawing your belly button to your spine!

After this, you want to visualize that you are picking up or doing a lifting motion of your “vagina muscles.” Pick up a blueberry, or imagine an elevator door closing and going up. Once these two techniques are learned and done it is now time to put them together.

When you inhale, relax the pelvic floor. Exhale and contract/pick up your blueberry. Repeat.

Another great resource online, Julie Wiebe Physiotherapist, talks about the brains response to doing purposeful action with a pelvic floor muscle contraction. So not only is it good to practice the breathing and pelvic floor contraction together, but to also do this with movement and exercises.

It may seem like a lot of work in the beginning but once you have the hang of it and practice with every exercise, it will feel very natural to do.

Why even bother?

Well unfortunately as our bodies age, they can weaken. Any minor pelvic floor issues from having children or doing improper exercise left for 20-30 years can eventually turn into incontinence or pelvic organ prolapse. Not to mention lower back pain, and other injuries associated with years of compensating. More and more research is being done to show that the proper rehabilitation of the pelvic floor or doing preventative exercises, not only improves quality of life but also prevents problems later in life.

So, stop peeing when you sneeze, lift weights or jump-and get a proper assessment and exercise routine to help you get healthy from the inside out!

-Nicole xo