In 2011 something happened that would change my life forever. I was single, 25 years old and working as a youth worker on the Gold Coast. That year, in early July; I lost my Dad to suicide. It was one of the hardest days I have ever had to live and an event that would shape my life, lead me on a journey of self discovery and pave a path to where I stand today.
Just two weeks after my dad passed, I found myself attending my Dad’s burial in Leongatha, a small town in Gippsland just two hours from Melbourne. A day later I met a man. He, like me; was going through a rough patch. Across a table in a mutual friends backyard we talked for hours. He spoke about his best friend Matt, a larger than life character who despite being loud, stole the hearts of all he met. He spoke about how his friend was in hospital and had been for months, how he had been put on life support and how he was scared to imagine what life would be like without him. That night we parted ways with no numbers exchanged but a feeling inside like I had never felt before.
Two days later I had a friend request on Facebook. Mr Chris Von D! Well lets just say that friend request led us on an epic journey which spanned 11 months. A few weeks later Chris had to say goodbye to his best friend and just like that, our grief bonded us together. Talking over the phone, texting, thousands of dollars in plane fares, 8 months of long distance dating and a bond created that I truly believe will never be broken.
In June 2012, I had resigned from my job, packed up my car and with the help of my friend Ekk – and drove 1300 km to start a life with Chris in Melbourne.
Chris and I shared a bedroom in a house occupied not only by us but his mum, dad and pop.. It was a mad house but we laughed, argued and cried together. We lived there for 8 months before moving to our own little rental property to begin our journey together as a happy independent couple.
3 months after our move, Chris was diagnosed with Epilepsy after having a seizure whilst driving home from the Footy. Our lives were turned upside down that day and we were taken on a journey through the world of Neurologists, anti epileptic drugs, learning the difference between seizures and everything in between. Overnight we went from happy and reasonably care free couple to a financially strained 1 income household. Team that with Chris’ pre existing back injury from years of working at the car auctions and we seemed to be in a bit of a pickle.
Fast forward through a tonne of medical appointments, me continuing to work full time, an engagement, a wedding and a hell of a lot of soul searching – we decided that we wanted to start a family. We made the decision to put off attempting to buy a home and prioritise the one thing we wanted so badly… Children ♡
After 2 years of trying to conceive (or TTC as it’s known on the pregnancy and conception online groups!!) we had our first pregnancy and miscarriage. It was early on at around 5 weeks. So by the time we found out we were pregnant we were actually in the process of losing our baby. We mourned the loss silently as we came to terms with the pregnancy and the loss in the same moment. We hadn’t had time to be excited, we hadn’t had time to think of the future or plan anything. It was a sad and lonely time for both Chris and I. But we were determined to get through it and decided that we would start trying again.
3 months later, 1 day after returning from a relaxing holiday in Tasmania, Chris and I had our first positive pregnancy test. To say we were excited was an understatement. As soon as I saw the word ‘Pregnant’ flash up on the face of the test our world changed. Chris was just as excited. It took a couple of days to ‘feel real’ but we embraced it. I started watching my coffee intake, the food I ate, was conscious of my stress levels and everything in between. We were already linked in with a private gynaecologist/obstetrician; so we booked in with her straight away.
Blood tests confirmed the pregnancy, blood tests confirmed the HCG amount was rising but blood tests also confirmed that my progesterone was on the lower side of the normal range and a phone call and script fax later, I was put on progesterone pessaries the very same day. For those women who have taken them for prolonged periods of time; whether it be pre IVF, pre pregnancy or throughout… Props to you! Gosh almighty…. twice a day.. Essential… But not fun!
In the 5 weeks we ‘knew’ we were pregnant; we laughed, we cried, we shared the news with our closest friends and family, we dreamt of what our baby would look like and playfully named him ‘ButterBean’ and we sneakily purchased a few little things. We were lucky enough to see ButterBean through the internal scans on 3 occasions and saw his heart beat on the screen. We were in love with our creation and felt extremely blessed.
At 8 and a half weeks I experienced light bleeding. I was scared at first but after a trip to the obstetrician was diagnosed with an ectropic cervix which placed an explanation for the light bleeding I was experiencing and was put at ease by seeing ButterBean and his little heart beat through an ultrasound.
That weekend we told my closest friends from high school that we were expecting whilst away in Sydney for a 30th Birthday. I sipped water most of the night and was perfectly content with where my life was at that point in time.
When we returned I began to bleed heavier, I had excruciating back and tailbone pain and the most intense cramps. Until that moment I never knew that your body went into labour during a miscarriage so early on. This continued until I passed what I now know was our little baby. By the time I got in to see the obstetrician and completed my final internal ultrasound, my uterus was empty. This was confirmed by the ultrasound technician in a room next door. And just like that.. my body had completed the miscarriage without me even 100% knowing it was happening.
In 3 days I had gone from pregnant, calm, happy, content and at ease to one of those collapse on the floor in a heap moments. Chris and I were escorted from the ultrasound room past a waiting room of pregnant women into a spare practice room to await the obstetrician. We sat there and cried. The only word coming out of my mouth on repeat was ‘sorry’. My obstetrician and her staff were wonderful that day and phoned twice that week to check in with me to see how we were going.
My hubby Chris was even more wonderful. This man was brave and strong throughout all of this. He held my hand that day in the ultrasound room, he hugged me close as I cried day and night, he rubbed my back through the back aches and pain I experienced and most importantly; he told me each and every time I blamed myself that it wasn’t my fault, that I had done everything right and that everything was going to be ok.
The road since that day in December has been a little rocky. We have both experienced our up and down moments filled with smiles, tears, anger, disappointment, laughter and that overwhelming feeling of ‘why us?’ We have been supported by our wonderful friends and family and have been reminded continually how lucky we are to have to kindest and most caring human beings imaginable in our lives.
But nothing will change the fact that although Chris and I don’t have any babies to hold from our pregnancies, we are still parents.
We will miss and mourn our babies for the rest of our lives. For you see; we aren’t just mourning what we lost last year but every year in the future we miss out on. The first b’day party, the first day at school, the naughty 16 year old, the P plater, becoming an adult and everything in-between.
We continue to grow stronger as each day passes. We do this by remaining as positive as possible (despite the bull shit that life sometimes likes to deal), putting all of our love and strength into creating an amazing future for us both as well as the babies we may have later in life and focusing on the good times we are lucky enough to experience, instead of dwelling on the bad.
As confronting as it may be. With the support of my husband, I have chosen to speak publicly about our miscarriages. Why?…because it is something so common in pregnancy. (1 in 5 women!) Because it is something that is never spoken about. (Why are we not speaking about this?!!) It’s like the first rule of miscarriage is to not talk about it! We NEED to talk about it. So that women, like myself and their partners do not feel ashamed, helpless, weak, angry or guilty. So they don’t have to scroll through literally hundreds of webpages; googling miscarriage because they feel alone.
Because even though some people may find this topic of conversation uncomfortable, this is my story, this is my truth and in this moment I know…I’m not alone.