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What I Learned from My Miscarriages

One soon-to-be mom tells us about the heartbreak of previous births lost...and what she gained.

What I Learned from My Miscarriages

“Look for the gifts your baby left you,” wrote someone on an internet community board somewhere. When I read those words, they broke my heart. Even now, I can hardly think of them without my eyes welling up in tears. I didn’t like to think of the babies I lost as babies. I preferred to think of them as cells dividing that just didn’t make it. They didn’t have a soul, did they? But, they were so much more than “just cells dividing,” regardless of whether they had souls or not.

We had been trying for years just to get a positive pregnancy test. My pregnancies came only after much time, heartache, frustration and financial drain. Each time I miscarried, I lost not only my hopes and dreams surrounding the arrival of the babies I was carrying, but also the possibility of relief from the infertility nightmare we were schlepping through. And, of course, so much more than that.

The day of my D&C procedure, and the weeks after my first miscarriage, were some of the saddest--if not the saddest--that I have known and ever hope to know. At the hospital, I had to leave my husband in the waiting room. Except for unfamiliar faces, I was alone. It was cold floors, white stale, cold lights, and a cold, naked body covered with a green gown and paper hat.

The crying came from another world. I was watching myself yelp, and I couldn’t stop. My mind went blank. Sadness simply poured out of me, and that’s all that was there. I’d never experienced this kind of sadness. I went to the bathroom and stared out the window and cried; I walked into the second waiting room and cried; I laid down on the procedure table with tissues in my hands and I cried some more.

When I woke from the anesthesia-induced sleep, there was some relief. My pregnancy was over, but so was the painful waiting to find out whether I was going to lose my baby. I had my answer. It wasn’t the answer I hoped for, but it was my answer, and I had to accept it.

Through this process I learned that when I mourn, sadness comes in intervals. When the sadness came, I allowed myself to mourn. I didn’t try to cheer myself up. I protected myself, and took care of myself in every way I could think of, and I allowed myself to go into the darkness. It was so terribly sad and dark. It was just awful.

The lows were followed by highs and then the lows would set in again. During the highs, I received one of the greatest gifts from my first baby. When the tears ran dry for a while, and I had some time before the next low, I felt amazing peace. My heart was open. The pain had cracked it open. When the river of tears ran dry, there was an opening that let the light in.

Maybe too exhausted to think, I would experience the world just as myself, with no commentary from my mind. Colors were vibrant, everything was beautiful, love and intimacy came more easily. It is something that I still practice now--trying my best to stop the mind so that I can enjoy the moment as myself. With the help of this sweet little soul, I had some pure moments filled with love. These moments still help me in my practice of keeping my heart open, and I am forever grateful.

I was still experiencing the ups and downs of my first miscarriage when we transferred our next embryo. When I was pregnant with this baby, I remember feeling so happy and thinking to myself what a sweet girl this baby is (we knew the gender because we had genetic testing done on our remaining embryos). I believe I could feel her sweetness.

She did not make it far along at all. I think this was considered a chemical pregnancy because we never saw much, if anything on the ultrasound. “I think I see something but I am not calling it your pregnancy,” is all the doctor ever said. Shortly after this, I stopped my fertility meds and the pregnancy ended on its own. I didn’t allow myself to go deep into the darkness this time. I was pissed.

I decided that I didn’t have to be nice anymore. I always try my best to be nice; I am sometimes a real people pleaser, and I am trying still to navigate my way through being nice and being genuine in times of conflict.

But for a while I wasn’t so nice at all. It didn’t make me feel better. In fact, when I wasn’t being nice, I realized the world wasn’t so nice back. I realized that being able to be nice was a gift that I had for many years and took for granted. This sweet baby girl showed me that being sweet is a gift, and I didn’t deserve anything for it. But the world returns the favor anyway.

After my tears dried for that pregnancy, and life moved on and the pain faded some, I realized that the gifts my babies left me came in the form of lessons. And these souls who never made it to the world except inside my womb, chose to come here to teach me about love. One broke my heart open and created a gateway allowing light inside that prior to her visit did not have an entrance. The other taught me that being kind is not something that I am giving away or something for which I am owed, but it is a gift that I have been given. When I am kind, my world is more beautiful. I get to experience my own kindness as well as reap the gifts of kindness that return to me.

Even as I write my feelings on this page, tears stream down my face. The pain doesn’t necessarily go away. But, I have no doubt that these gifts will help me be a better mom, wife and person. And, for that I am grateful.

*Natalie is currently 28 weeks pregnant with a baby boy!

To read more about Natalie visit her here.

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As much as I love fall, it always feels like the season when my family's routine gets kicked into overdrive. With our oldest in (homeschool) kindergarten, my youngest on the brink of entering her twos, work, housework and *all the things* filling my day, it's hard not to feel a little overwhelmed sometimes. Did I mention we're still in a pandemic? (Yeah, it's a lot.) And while I try to take a positive view as much as I can, now more than ever I definitely jump at the chance to take anything off my busy plate.

One thing first in line at the chopping block? Cooking. To be fair, I like cooking. I cooked most of our meals long before I had ever even heard of social distancing. But there's something about the pandemic that suddenly made cooking every single meal feel exponentially more draining.

Enter Daily Harvest. They deliver nourishing, delicious food right to your door. Daily Harvest's mix of smoothies, bowls, flatbreads, snacks and more provide a balanced, whole food options that are as satisfying as they are nutritious. But my favorite part? When we're ready to eat, I simply pull the food from the freezer and it's ready in minutes—without any chopping, measuring or searching for a recipe. Even better, they're incredibly tasty, meaning I'm not struggling to get my girls to dig in. Not cooking has never felt so good.

Here are my 8 favorite products that are helping to lighten my load right now:

Mulberry + Dragonfruit Oat Bowl

Mulberry + Dragonfruit Oat Bowl

One thing that actually helps break up the monotony of quarantine? Trying and introducing new ingredients to my family. I love this overnight oat bowl (add milk the night before and let it set in your fridge overnight—easy-peasy!) because not only does it not compromise on nutrition, but it also helps me bring new whole fruits, vegetables and superfoods to the table with ease.

Mint + Cacao Smoothie

Mint + Cacao Smoothie

I kid you not, these taste exactly like a mint chocolate chip milkshake. (Just ask my 4-year-old, who is constantly stealing sips from my glass.) What she doesn't know? She's actually getting organic banana, spinach and chlorella with every sip. #momwin

Kabocha + Sage Flatbread

Kabocha + Sage Flatbread

Our family's eating habits have been leaning more plant-forward this year, which often means a lot of veggie washing, peeling and chopping every time I cook. That's why these flatbreads are my new best friend come lunchtime. This Kabocha + Sage Flatbread is made with a gluten-free cauliflower crust topped with kabocha squash, fennel and sage for a taste of fall in every bite. (Missing the cheese? You can add it before baking for more of a pizza feel.)

Kale + Sweet Potato Flatbread

Kale + Sweet Potato Flatbread

There's something about the combination of sweet potato crust topped with red cabbage, organic greens and an herby-cilantro sauce that is so delicious… like surprisingly delicious. I polished off this bad boy in seconds! And unlike other "veggie" crusts I've tried, these are actually clean (AKA no fillers, preservations, partially-hydrogenated oil or artificial anything). Plus, it couldn't be easier to throw in the oven between conference calls and homeschool lessons.

Cacao + Avocado Smoothie

Cacao + Avocado Smoothie

Any time I get to serve a breakfast that tastes like chocolate, it's a good day. (That goes double when it's *my* breakfast.) This rich, chocolatey smoothie is packed with organic zucchini, avocado, pumpkin seeds and pea protein for a nourishing mix of healthy fats and muscle-building protein so I can carry that baby all day long. And did I mention the chocolate?

Vanilla Bean + Apple Chia Bowl

Vanilla Bean + Apple Chia Bowl

Maybe it's just me, but after a long week of cooking, the last thing I want to do on Saturday morning is...wake up and cook. That's why these one-step breakfasts are saving my weekend. I simply add our favorite milk the night before and store the bowl in the fridge overnight. Come morning, I have a nutritious chia bowl that powers me through even the busiest day of errands. It's also Instagram-ready, which makes me feel like I'm out brunching (even if I can't remember the last time I was in a restaurant).

Cacao Nib + Vanilla Bites

Cacao Nib + Vanilla Bites

My kids have turned into snack monsters during quarantine, and I'm often struggling to find a wholesome option (that doesn't require a lot of extra cooking or else I resort to something ultra-refined and shelf-stable). These bites are the hero I never knew I needed. For one, they taste like cookie dough, but they're actually packed with chickpeas, pumpkin, dates and flax seed (among other whole ingredients). But unlike actual cookie dough, I don't have to go anywhere near my mixer to whip them up—all I have to do is pull the container out of the freezer, let them defrost a bit and we can all enjoy a treat.

Cauliflower Rice + Pesto Harvest Bowl

Cauliflower Rice + Pesto Harvest Bowl

Sometimes I have a little more time to cook, but I still want a quick, stress-free solution. (Especially because it always feels like I just cleaned up from the last meal.) I love these Harvest Bowls because they warm up in under five minutes on the stove top (or microwave!) but pack tons of flavor. The Cauliflower Rice + Pesto bowl is one of my favorites, with basil, olive oil and nutritional yeast for a hearty dish reminiscent of a mouth-watering Italian meal. When I'm feeling extra fancy, I add leftover grilled chicken or a fried egg.

Strawberry + Rich, Rippled Berry Compote Scoops

Strawberry + Rich, Rippled Berry Compote Scoops

Who doesn't want to end the day with a little something sweet? This creamy and decadent frozen treat from Daily Harvest is swirled with sweet berries and tropical dragonfruit for an antioxidant burst you'll feel good about—but that your kiddos will just think is ice cream. Go ahead, take credit for being the best mom ever.

Want to try it yourself? You can get $25 off your first box of Daily Harvest with code MOTHERLY.

This article was sponsored by Daily Harvest. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas

Our Partners

Every week, we stock the Motherly Shop with innovative and fresh products from brands we feel good about. We want to be certain you don't miss anything, so to keep you in the loop, we're providing a cheat sheet.

So, what's new this week?

Earth Mama: Effective, natural herbal care for mamas and babies

Founded and grown in her own garage in 2002, Earth Mama started as an operation of one, creating salves, tinctures, teas and soaps with homegrown herbs. With a deep desire to bring the healing powers of nature that have been relied on for thousands of years to as many mamas as possible, Melinda Olson's formulas quickly grew into Earth Mama Organics. Since then, the brand has remained committed to manufacturing clean, safe and effective herbal solutions for the entire journey of motherhood, including pregnancy, breastfeeding and baby care, and even the loss of a baby.

Bravado Designs: Soothing sounds for a good night's sleep

With 28 years of serving pregnant and postpartum mamas under their belt, Bravado Designs is a true authority on the needs of changing bodies. It's true that we have them to thank for rescuing us from the uncomfortable and frumpy designs our own moms had to live with. Launched in Canada by two young mamas, they designed the first prototypes with extra leopard print fabric certain that a better bra was possible. Throughout the years they've maintained their commitment to ethical manufacturing while creating long-lasting products that truly work.

The Sill: Instagram-ready potted plants

We've long admired this female-founded brand and the brilliant mind behind it, Eliza Blank. (She even joined Motherly co-founder Liz Tenety on and episode of The Motherly Podcast!) The mission behind the business was simple: To make the process of bringing plants into your home as easy as possible, and as wonderful as the plant themselves. With their in-house, exclusively designed minimalist planters, the end result makes plant parenthood just a few clicks away.

Not sure where to start? Here's what we're adding to our cart:

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It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

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