‘What if my body becomes toxic?’ I didn’t trust my ability to carry a life. For so long, I felt broken.’: Woman struggles with anxiety after miscarriages, ‘We feel so lucky to have our rainbow baby’

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“In January 1994, my mom had a miscarriage. I was only a year old and while I have no memories of her pregnancy or loss, growing up I was very aware that I lost a sibling. Shortly after her miscarriage, she became pregnant with my brother and when the topic of her miscarriage came up as I got older, she would remind me that I wouldn’t have my brother if that baby would have lived.

As I got older, the lessons I learned from knowing about my mom’s miscarriage benefitted me greatly. When I was in kindergarten, my teacher was pregnant, and I remember telling her that I had a sibling in heaven. That was the first time my mom had to tell me it’s bad luck to talk about miscarriage to a pregnant woman – that stuck with me throughout the years and has helped me in my own journey through infertility and loss as a 20-something year old.

When my husband and I started trying to conceive, the fear of experiencing infertility or miscarriage was very much present. My mom was able to get pregnant very quickly with all three of her pregnancies and I seemed to mirror my mom’s health almost to a tee. I had every reason to believe that I, too, would easily get pregnant. Our first pregnancy happened after we had been trying for about a year and a half, right after we started seeing a reproductive endocrinologist, also known as a fertility specialist, and started getting general blood tests to make sure we were in good reproductive health.

Courtesy of Arden Cartrette

To this day, I consider that first pregnancy to be a miracle. It was the cycle before we were supposed to start fertility treatment and I had given up the hope it would happen naturally. When we learned we had experienced a missed miscarriage only a few weeks later, I couldn’t understand why we would be given a miracle just to have it taken away from us. We decided to start our fertility treatment after three unsuccessful natural cycles following the miscarriage and to our surprise, the first cycle of treatment ‘worked’ and we were pregnant, again.

Courtesy of Arden Cartrette

Quickly our story became more than dealing with infertility and it revolved around two missed miscarriages. We lost our second pregnancy at the same gestation and stage that we lost the first. At 25 years old, my fertility specialist assured me two miscarriages ‘wasn’t normal’ and that felt so validating. It seemed like other women my age, especially where I’m from, were either pregnant with their first or already on baby number two. It’s hard not to compare your story to others when it seems like everyone else is so far ahead of you. Not that you should be comparing but it’s only human to do so.

Courtesy of Arden Cartrette

In May 2019, a year and a half after my first miscarriage, we completed another round of fertility treatment and got pregnant with our third pregnancy. I spent the first two weeks in tears over the fear of miscarrying for the third time. I no longer had the ‘it won’t happen again attitude,’ and struggled to imagine getting to experience a healthy pregnancy. I had experienced what could go wrong so many times, I just thought that was how all of my pregnancies would go. When I was just over five weeks pregnant, I had some bleeding and it completely crippled me. After you’ve had a miscarriage, blood is often a trigger and it was definitely one of mine. The bleeding lasted for over a week and there was a day during the sixth week of pregnancy where the bleeding was heavier than what I would consider to be spotting. From the moment I saw the blood, I just knew my pregnancy was over and this was a sign of another miscarriage. Our first ultrasound was scheduled for when we were seven weeks pregnant and I thought that appointment would only confirm what we were suspecting. On the day of our first ultrasound, we were surprised to see a beautiful flicker on the screen, meaning our baby had a heartbeat. This was the first time the first ultrasound ever resulted in positive news and things were looking up. We were finally going to get our rainbow baby.

Courtesy of Arden Cartrette
Courtesy of Arden Cartrette

Over the next 32 weeks, I navigated through pregnancy after infertility and miscarriage and there were times where it felt impossible. The fear and anxiety I felt on a daily basis was something I wouldn’t wish on anyone. I would have moments where I was blissfully happy and unconcerned but then there were moments where I was up all night, in tears over the thought of something terrible happening. Quickly I learned anxiety and worries would forever be a part of me at this point. Not only from the miscarriages but because I was a mom and worrying about this little life was my new full-time job. Since I would probably have fears and worries no matter what, I tried my very best to enjoy every day and to take photos when I could. I wanted to have things to remember this time because with my first two pregnancies, I threw out items that reminded me of that baby and I rarely took photos. So, I spent every day taking moments to enjoy my growing body, the kicks, even the hormonal headaches. It was such a blessing to be able to carry that life.

Courtesy of Arden Cartrette

When I reached 36 weeks of pregnancy, my midwife said to me, ‘You’re now at the point where if he comes, we won’t stop it’ and I remember that making me feel both excited and nervous. During the second and third trimester, I finally started to trust in my body’s ability to carry a life and now towards the end of pregnancy, I started to struggle. ‘What if my body becomes toxic for my son?’ It was a thought I had at least once a day. For so long, my body felt broken. Why should I trust it now? I discussed an elective induction with my midwife, and we scheduled it for a day prior to my due date (after discussing many factors).

Courtesy of Arden Cartrette

On February 14, 2020, exactly a year from our second loss, Kerry and I checked in to the hospital and knew we would be leaving the hospital with our rainbow. Even as we walked into the hospital and checked-in to the Labor and Delivery ward, I don’t know if I fully believed we were getting our rainbow baby.

Courtesy of Arden Cartrette

Prior to being induced, I had only heard horror stories. Women I talked to either ended up having a cesarean birth or labored for 36+ hours and that sounded miserable. While I went into this experience with very little expectations, I had hoped I could get an epidural and give birth vaginally. But if I’m being honest, every route of childbirth is equally scary for a first-time earth-side mama.

After 18 hours in labor and two hours of pushing, our miracle baby was born. For so long, I thought that miscarriage would be the hardest thing I ever had to do and, on some levels, that rings true but childbirth, even with an epidural, was easily the hardest physical obstacle I’ve had to face. Prior to giving birth, I didn’t know pushing could go on for hours. I didn’t know that even with an epidural, you still feel some of the delivery. Cameron Lucas was born on February 15th, 2020 and he’s completely changed our lives since he came into this world. I think because of our difficult journey to get to him, it’s given us a perspective on being parents that have allowed us to be grateful for the hard, long nights.

Courtesy of Arden Cartrette

When you’ve gone through fertility struggles of any kind, you often feel like your body doesn’t work or that somehow, you’re broken. Entering motherhood and experiencing things like breastfeeding really show you just how not broken your body is. While there is still uncertainty on if, how, or when we can have future children – we feel so lucky to have our rainbow baby, Cameron, and to experience life with him by our side.”

Courtesy of Arden Cartrette

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Arden Cartrette. You can follow their journey on Instagram and their website. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

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