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The Life in Between Recurrent Spontaneous Miscarriages

The first word that comes to my mind as I write this, is heavy. Heavy on the mind, heavy on the heart, and heavy on the soul. Heavy is the reason I haven’t discussed my story to too many people, but also the reason I am writing this. Heavy issues make people uncomfortable, which gives people an instinct to not share their struggles. We can not change societal conditions unless we start bringing awareness and talking about the heavy stuff. And for me, it’s been a heavy seven month season that is on going. Even with an amazing support system, it feels heavy. Even with an amazing team of providers, it feels heavy. Even with living children, it feels heavy. So if you have or are going through your own heavy season, YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

Four. Four miscarriages within eight months. All with their own story. All slowly causing more grief, anxiety, and depression. But all of them, causing a deeper expansion within myself. My story isn’t over yet, but I know there are others longing to feel like they aren’t living in this intense period of time alone. Here are a little bit of statistics for you that will make you understand why there is a lack of support in the world. 10% of clinical pregnancies end in miscarriage (increased risk as women age). 5% will have two or more consecutive miscarriages and 1% will have three or more. I am the 1%.

My background of being a High Risk Obstetric Ultrasound Technician really founded my solid appreciation for mothers, women, and life beginning from conception. I knew from that point on I wanted to help women in an even deeper capacity. I saw women go through struggles that you only read about. Babies with different beginnings and different outcomes. I cried happy tears with mothers, I cried grieving tears with mothers. I have seen the spectrum of unforeseeable events that can happen during pregnancy. This knowledge made me extremely logical. And I will say, that logic got me through my first pregnancy and my first couple of miscarriages. Logic has a funny way of pushing aside feelings that are meant to be felt. It also can create an unintentional approach that pulls you farther from faith, creating an anxiety to know a reasoning for everything. I am a very spiritual and have a strong faith in God, but anxiety can drive a huge wedge in that without you even realizing. It can also create a distorted self perspective, making you feel as if, your feelings aren’t valid, because there are people going through worse situations. I dealt with this a lot, down grading my grief. Disrespecting my own feelings. I am here to tell you and myself that any feeling that comes through you are valid!

Being a High Risk OB Ultrasound tech at WVUMedicine, I have gotten to know some of the best providers, the best fertility specialist, nurses and fellow ultrasound techs. I have to say I have the best team on my side through out this whole process. Without trust for my providers it would make this process that much harder and I know some aren’t as lucky.

This is my second time around at trying to conceive (TTC). Two years ago I was blessed with my healthy son after about 7 months of trying. It was literally the week we decided to put a hold on actively trying that we conceived our son. So, it was fairly uneventful and no true struggle compared to now. As much as I realize that every pregnancy is different and things can change, it heightened my expectations some. 18 months after he was born my husband and I started our second TTC journey.

Finding out I was pregnant after only two cycles of TTC was so exciting. I had so much energy running through me despite the normal first trimester fatigue. We were excited that our son would have a sibling so close in age. I was even more elated that I would have a baby in the spring, dodging those short, dark, winter days. But that excitement didn’t last long. Going for the first ultrasound and looking at a screen with a picture of an empty gestational sac was disheartening to say the least. I was positive on my dates and knew it was a blighted ovum. It’s just one of those spontaneous things that can happen, no blame to place. Logic comforted me here. I also felt more peace knowing a fetus never even had a chance to develop. That made the experience a little lighter for me.

August 2019- First Miscarriage- Blighted Ovum

Anyone trying to conceive knows that it is all a huge waiting game. Waiting for ovulation, waiting for a missed period or maybe even a regular period, waiting for a positive test. But after a miscarriage the waiting tries your patience to a whole new level. For me, for the blighted ovum, I waited to pass the tissue naturally, for weeks. I then waited for meds to help induce a miscarriage, only to find those didn’t work, twice. Then waiting for the procedure to be done. Waiting for bleeding, cramping, and clots to stop, hormones and HCG to come back to normal. And waiting to feel “not pregnant” again. This process can takes weeks and it did. Throw in a curve ball with a small perforation of the uterus (risk of having a manual vacuum aspiration performed). Then it’s back to square one, waiting for ovulation again.

I am apparently one who gets pregnant quickly, which seems like a blessing, yet a curse. I became pregnant the very next time I ovulated. Unfortunately, that ended within a week of finding out, ending in a chemical pregnancy. That happened twice, one after the other. Just enough to build excitement and to be let down quickly.

By this point, positive tests were starting to become a trigger for me. Anxiety crept in a little deeper, positivity was becoming a little more grounded, reality was kicking in, maybe this journey isn’t going to be so easy.

December 27, 2019, five days before my 34th birthday, a very positive test. This was a little different because all of the other tests stayed fairly faint. This one wasn’t, it was very positive, I was feeling very pregnant, fatigue and just not feeling so well. After having three miscarriages, even though it seemed different, I cried. Anxiety was through the roof, I had a tug of war going on with my emotions, like, I should be jumping around, excited. But, what if this ends too, I don’t want to get attached, I don’t want to think about what could be, because what if I lose that, again.

December 27th 2019 -Fourth Positive Pregnancy Test

My specialist immediately prescribed progesterone and ordered an HCG blood test and it came back at 82.65 and then jumped up to 326.20 three days later. That was wonderful news, HCG was more than doubled. I had some relief for a few, I could breathe, but not for long. I had my first ultrasound at 5w6d. I knew it was a bit early, but I was certain on my dates, so I knew I should see something. Well, we did, we saw a gestational sac, a bit irregular in shape, and a yolk sac, which was positive news. Everything measured a few days earlier so not seeing a fetus, wasn’t totally out of the ordinary at this point. With me being a former ultrasound tech and knowing what I am looking at, it makes it harder. I can say ignorance can be bliss. I left, went home crying, I knew with the irregular shaped sac, there was a chance I would miscarry again. I even told my husband not to get excited, I didn’t think it would make it. And here we go with another intense waiting game. Wait for the next ultrasound or to start bleeding.

Next ultrasound was a long, 5 days later. Things develop fast that early, it is quite an amazing process and truly gives me so much appreciation for life. I was nervous, to say the least, I was expecting no progress. So when I actually saw a fetus with a tiny flutter of a heartbeat, it gave me hope that I hadn’t seen in a long time. That tiny little heartbeat gave me life again. This might actually happen for us. I left and wanted to tell everyone. I wanted to share this miracle. But that little nagging feeling stepped in and knew to be cautious. I knew to not get too excited but it was hard after seeing a brand new life growing inside me.

January 15th 2020- Fourth Pregnancy- Fluttering heartbeat seen

A week later, I went back for another ultrasound. With my history, we wanted to see the progress, and give my mind a rest. I was so confident, I was really sure things would be OK. But things weren’t OK. Looking up at the screen, everything looked exactly the same, except no heartbeat. No little flutter. Meanwhile, I have worked with everyone on my providing team, the ultrasound techs, the doctor and some of the nurses. I have been in their shoes. I know that feeling of trying to be positive when it’s not. I know that feeling of trying to make the best of a situation when there isn’t anything you can do. So I held it together until I got to my car. That realist part of me, just said “told you so”. That tug of war inside was over and you can guess who won. It was heart wrenching, seeing a fetus that once had life to then not, was indescribable. Different from the others, yet still a loss. Gut punch after gut punch of losses, it gets harder to stay positive. This is when support matters. I am forever grateful for the support from my husband. I can see the grief he has too, but even still he does what he can to make me feel better. He picks me up when I am down, picks up the slack when I just can’t handle my load. When you marry, you never know the moments to come when your vows will mean so much. These are the moments that confirm true, unconditional love.

The moment I got to my car after finding out I miscarried yet again for the fourth time.

The grief set in and another procedure performed. Karyotype testing or chromosomal testing confirmed that it was a baby girl with Trisomy 3 a non viable chromosomal issue. The geneticist confirmed this was a random incident that shouldn’t affect future outcomes, which is relieving but not enough to take away the pain of this heartbreak. It took weeks for this confirmation to come back. During that time, it was a rollercoaster of emotions. Depression and anxiety came in waves. I developed this overwhelming fear that I was going to lose my husband or my son. It consumed me for a couple of weeks. It also took over 5 weeks for my HCG levels to go back to zero. I have never in my life wanted a negative pregnancy test so badly. Seeing it positive triggered so much pain. I just wanted it to be over. I just wanted to feel like me again.

There were times where I negated my grief because I know so many women go through even worse situations than I have. I almost felt bad for my own feelings. Pushing the emotions downs only made everything harder. Once I started acknowledging the feelings is when I started to flow with a little more ease. The downs were still there but the ups were coming back more and more. I am grateful that this happened earlier in the pregnancy than later, mainly for the baby girl’s sake. But, what I know is a loss hurts no matter the situation. The loss takes time to process and whatever feelings that come up need to be honored. These feelings are valid and it’s OK to not be OK.

I am still in the thick of it and could cry at the drop of a hat thinking about what could have been, I have no idea what the future holds and as of right now, that’s OK. I hurt for the baby girl who didn’t make it very far. I can tell you that I am even more grateful for my toddler who gives me reason to get out of bed every day. He brings smiles to my face when I need it and he fills in any “waiting” time. I have had people immediately tell me how grateful I should be of my living child when they find out of my losses, I know they mean well, and they are not sure how to make it better so this seems like the best way to put in perspective. But as someone who has had four miscarriages, I know exactly how grateful and a privilege it is to have a healthy, living child.

If you are someone trying to support a mother going through a miscarriage…

  • Understand that everyone grieves differently. Let go of your own expectations of their grief.
  • Lend your ear. Listening without judgement, allowing the mother to give you all of her feelings without unsolicited advice. Sometimes a listening ear is all someone needs to feel a little better. And, on the other hand, accepting if she doesn’t feel like talking about it either.
  • Check in on her often. Day to day can look and feel conversely different.
  • Offer plans you know makes her light up and puts a smile on her face but accept if she declines your offer.
  • Ask her how you can help. Be Supportive. There isn’t a lot anyone can do for someone going through this heavy time, but asking opens up the communication making her feel safe to come to you.

If you are a mother going through a miscarriage/miscarriages

  • I am so sorry for your loss. No matter what situation your loss is, it is a loss.
  • Lean on your significant other, family, and/or friends. This is too heavy to bare alone. I understand the feeling of not wanting to watch other’s hurt too but this is a lot to take on alone. Allow others to help with the grief.
  • Your feelings are real and they matter. Your feelings are valid.
  • Allow yourself some time, grace and give yourself some love. This road isn’t easy so if you need rest, take it. If you feel like you need more support than just friends and family, do not hesitate to talk to a professional.
  • Be ok with taking a step back. I had to take time away from my business because it was triggering working on perinatal projects and with perinatal clients. I knew it couldn’t bring my best energy.
  • Do things that you know lights you up or puts a smile on your face, even when you don’t feel like it. Sometimes that little thing can be just what you need to have a better day, especially in those times you are waiting.
  • Gratitude lists can be a good tool to help you gravitate toward the positives. I like to think of 3 things every morning that I am grateful for. It helps get me out of bed when that doesn’t seem like it can happen.
  • Stay close to your spirituality and hold on to your faith. Anxiety and worry can mask our faith. Some things don’t have a logical reasoning and in that we have to trust in divine timing.

My story isn’t over and despite the ups and downs of the life in between recurrent spontaneous miscarriages. I still have hope despite all of the loss. With all of the pain and struggle that has been endured in this process the emotional and spiritual growth I have gained is immeasurable. I have learned that logic isn’t always comforting and sometimes you have to let logic go to let faith in. I have been through hard things and I know I can conquer hard things. This is an affirmation I often remind myself. I know I will make it to the other side of this rainbow. As painful as it is to relive this all over again, I know that if this post helps just one woman not feel so alone in this journey, it will all be worth it.

Mom Wellness, Uncategorized

What Moms Really Want for Christmas

Significant others, listen up closely, and, others, take note if you are getting a gift for a Mama! And Moms, share this with your people, you will thank yourself later for doing so!

Holidays are right around the corner and there will be a lot of gifts that get stuffed away and never thought of again. There will also be so many mothers that ask for nothing and won’t say what they really want because they are more concerned with how the holidays will be for others. Even though I love surprises, I am a big advocate of communicating what you really want, just so there is no confusion, everyone is happy and it won’t be wasted money or energy.

So first thing I would do is literally ask the Mom in your life what she wants. If she loves surprises, have her make a list of different things. If answering that makes her uncomfortable try one of these…

*If you are the Mom, I suggest getting comfortable with communicating exactly what it is you want, especially when asked! Release the mom guilt, you deserve a Merry Christmas as much as everyone else! And this communication practice will help for future situations that encourages healthy and authentic relationships.

  1. Time alone

This gift can simply be a homemade certificate that she can cash in anytime or you can set up an event or get a gift certificate like a spa day, a wellness retreat, workout/yoga class she loves, a target gift card, whatever she is into! It doesn’t have to be expensive, the time alone is going to be so good for her well being it will mean so much more.

  1. Sleep

This one is more for significant others but no, I am not kidding, sleep is such a gift as a mom. This could happen to be the best gift you could ever give her. Take on the morning duty alone and let the Goddess get her beauty rest. Again, you could make a homemade gift certificate, maybe with a few Sleep In certificates that she can cash or schedule. Or if the child/children are having sleep issues that is affecting Mom’s wellbeing – gift her a sleep consult with a children’s sleep expert. I have worked with a sleep expert and it was the best thing for not only my son’s health, but mine. I was a literal zombie, or Mombie, and after getting my son sleeping I felt like a million bucks. Don’t hesitate, it’s worth every penny to have someone set up a custom sleep plan for your family. Sponsorless shout out to Heaven Sent Sleep.

  1. House Cleaner/Car Detail

Releasing a Mom of a cleaning duty or her coming home to a clean house/car is going to make her day! This is a service that can be done by a significant other or gifted as a service done by a professional. That gives her more quality time to spend with family, which is what all moms really want.

  1. Babysitting

YESSSSS!!!! This is worth the price of gold to moms. Whether you are a spouse setting up a babysitter to take her on a date or a family member/friend that offers services as a babysitter, schedule a date that works for her and set it up so she doesn’t bail out and feel possible mom guilt. Even if it is for a couple of hours, it will be much appreciated.

Moms are simple creatures who just want to enjoy the simple moments in life. Moms spend so much time worrying about if everyone else is happy that they tend to neglect their own self care, so you can’t go wrong with gifting something that is going to light up her soul and fill her cup. When Mom is filled, the whole family benefits from it. The gift that keeps giving!

Happy Holidays and Merry Mom Christmas! 🙂

For Balancebuilding Philosophy Gift Certificates Contact Brandi at Balancebuilding@brandimills.net

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Sick Child Survival Tips

‘Tis the season for sick children. If you are like me, you really think your immune system is top notch, until you have your first child. My son’s first year of life, I am really not sure if he was ever not sick. On top of being a food allergy baby and dealing with eczema and a constant runny nose, he was in daycare, which is like the cutest little human petri dish. He had the flu, on constant ear infection that led to tubes in his ears and let’s not forget about all of the teething that first year. Exhausting mentally and physically for everyone. I have never felt so helpless as I did when trying to soothe my sick child. And not to mention, I have never caught so many bugs in my life. And the lack of sleep alone can drive our insanity through the roof. Whew, it really takes survival mode!

This is that part of life I talk about where it becomes a huge bump in the road toward your goals. Obviously, this stuff happens and when you have kids you can’t predict when this will happen. And it always seems to happen at the most inopportune times, because LIFE!!

Tips to help you survive all of the nasty bugs your child/children get…

  1. Release expectations of everything else

Taking care of a sick family takes a lot out of you, not to mention if you are sick too! I am talking forget the dishes, vacuuming, only wash laundry that you need. Prioritize everyone’s health, including your own, literally survival mode. Make life easy on yourself, use those paper plates. Rest when you can, you can worry about the rest of things when you feel back to normal.

  1. Communicate logistics and Ask for help!

Number one, talk with your partner to see who can take off work and plan ahead. So coming up with a couple of different plans for a couple of days is going to make this whole process easier. And it takes a village, use them! When you need to call in more than you or your spouse, do it! Let go, and let someone help.

  1. Self-Care

Self-care in this situation looks a little different than your mani/pedi visit but still do it! In this critical moment, self- care is taking your vitamins, loading up on vitamin c, zinc, and elderberry. Wash those hands like it’s going out of style! Change those snotty, pukey clothes often so you don’t completely soak in all of their germs. There is nothing easy about sick kids, so keep yourself as healthy as possible.

  1. Lower those expectations!

This is where life is put on hold, so who cares about the kid’s screen time, healthy dinners. Don’t feel guilt about grabbing that take out, vegging out on the couch, not getting anything done. Number one priority is making it out of this germ filled quarantine.

  1. Release the guilt!

Release the guilt of taking sick days at work, they will survive. Yes, it doesn’t matter what your job is, the parenting job comes first, don’t let others dictate how you feel about your priority. Release the guilt of thinking this is your fault somehow, like, if they weren’t in daycare, if they didn’t go to the park, if they didn’t go to that birthday party. Seriously, you can only do so much to prevent this. It is going to happen! Release the guilt of being the perfect parent. It is a learning curve, and when babies and kids are sick, it is like a treasure hunt on how to make them feel better, you are doing your best!!! Let me say this again…. YOU ARE DOING YOUR BEST AND THAT’S ALL THAT MATTERS! Soak that in!!

There is nothing worse than sick children but guess what, it happens! It happens to the best of us and all we can do, is be our best for them when they need us. Stay healthy and strong, my friends, and hope you can use the tips for the rest of flu season!!

Mom Wellness

Ever have doubts and wonder if you were made for this Mom title?

With my son’s birthday a couple of ago, I have been looking back at pictures from his birth in complete amazement. I re-lived his birth and to be honest I didn’t have a very blissful experience and my recovery was so hard on me physically and mentally, so it’s something I don’t like to go back to often. But this moment captured in this picture was a pivotal moment in my life and the exact moment I realized that this child was meant for me. He was mine and I was his.

I remember this exact moment and I am so glad it was captured because the day was a blur and it confirmed what I felt. After he was delivered by emergency caesarian section, he was evaluated by the NICU because meconium was found in the amniotic fluid. So, I didn’t even get to see him for what felt like a lifetime. I was shaking from the anesthesia, scared because I wasn’t sure if he was ok, and was in shock and exhaustion from the long labor and emergency delivery. Thankfully my husband was able to be right there with Maddux and even bring him to me when he was cleared. As he was bringing him to me, Maddux was crying, and as soon as he snuggled up close to my face, it was like Maddux just knew, he calmed immediately. His face softened, his hand felt my face and he was safe. Close to his mama. Close to the person that he has been nestled in for 9 months prior.

If I had to go back and tell my new mom self something, I would say, “Brandi, this might be tough, this might be extremely challenging, but you are tougher! You are strong. Your baby loves you and that is all that matters. Don’t let others dictate how you walk through this journey. Communicate your feelings as best as you can. Ask for help, even when you hesitate and think it might make you seem weak, ask for help! Hire that sleep consultant sooner than 14 months, being a zombie isn’t all that fun. It’s ok to not love motherhood at all times, but I promise Maddux is worth every second, so trust the process. Love yourself as much as you love that baby. Everything will be ok, even when you think it won’t. And YOU ARE THE BEST MOM FOR MADDUX, I can tell by the way he hugs and kisses you!!”

When you are in the thick of motherhood it can be hard to clear your vision. If you find times where you aren’t sure if you were made for this job, or you are wondering whether you are a good enough mom, you were good enough without even laying eyes on each other! You were good enough without them knowing anything about the world. You were good enough when you were all they had.

You are their world, you are their safety. This was my personal experience but I am sure if you look back on your journey with your little one, you have a moment where you just knew. That moment of connection, even if it wasn’t right off the bat.

There are times in this journey where you can feel defeated, not good enough, compare yourself to other moms, feel like you just aren’t cut out. But let me give you a little insider tip… everyone has these feelings at some point, but it is our responsibility to ourselves to change the perspective. You owe it to yourself to change the narrative. Switch the negatives to positives and if that isn’t possible in the moment you are in, switch it to a neutral comment.

Instead of I am not good enough, change the narrative to I am enough, or I am doing the best I can. And repeat this to yourself over and over again. These affirmations are so important to our mom well-being.

If you were to go back to the new mom you were, who just gave birth to your little being, what would you tell her? What would you insist she do from that point forward?

Mom Wellness, Self Care

Motherhood Mantras to Get You Through the Day

As mothers, we have a tough, thankless job that doesn’t come with any handbook with directions on how to navigate motherhood. We are forced to tap into that divine feminine intuition that sometimes can be tough to listen to when we are tired, working, trying to raise kind, responsible human beings and juggling all life throws at us. That can lead to opportunities for negative narratives filling up your mind. Then comes the comparisons to other mothers, without much help from social media. It then leads to focusing on what we did wrong to what a horrible parent we are. You can head down a rabbit hole of despair fairly quickly.

But there are some things we can do to stay centered and close to the Goddess Mother within you. The more we work on our own narrative, the more others will catch on as well. If anything we need more now, it’s to support each other in this motherhood journey even if situations are not the same. We need to unite as mothers because, let’s be honest, it takes a village to raise a child!

So how can we do that?

Changing the narrative.

Sounds easier said than done, I know. But don’t complicate it because it is a simple task, we can all do. When you find negative thoughts flooding your mind, instantly turn it into something positive. Whether its immediately thinking of 3 things you are grateful for or just saying something positive about yourself instead. This will train your mind into releasing the negative and focusing on the positive. Instead of thinking about everything you did wrong, think about everything you did right! I guarantee that list is longer!

Something else I love, love, love are Affirmations.

Affirmations are positive, unique mantras or statements about you or your situation that you can play on repeat in your mind daily. You can choose one daily or a few different ones to repeat throughout the day. I suggest starting your day, upon waking, with an affirmation that will set the tone for the day. Write it down so you can be reminded of it often.

If you are having trouble coming up with your own, here is a list of 30 Motherhood Mantras that will get you through the chaos that motherhood comes with.

  1. I love myself enough, to nurture myself, so I have an abundance of love to give to others.
  2. I trust my intuition to lead me in my motherhood journey.
  3. I am capable of amazing things because I helped create life.
  4. I love the body that created and carried my child(ren).
  5. My body is beautiful and deserves grace in this season of healing.
  6. I am centered and focused on healing my postpartum mind, body, and soul.
  7. I am strong because I helped create, carry and birth my little one(s).
  8. Peace begins with me. The more peaceful I am inside, the more peace I have to share with others. – Louise Hay
  9. This is just a season of life that needs me to nurture and be nurtured.
  10. I love myself because_____________.
  11. I am filled with an abundance of love.
  12. Today I will find peace in knowing that the sun always rises and so will I.
  13. Even the littlest thing I do, serves the greater good of my family.
  14. I parent with confidence, without guilt or comparisons. Other mothers are not me, as I am not them.
  15. I give myself permission to do something that nourishes my mind, body and soul.
  16. Loving my child(ren) is more important than loving every moment of motherhood.
  17. I am a good mom, even as I work to become a better one.
  18. I was chosen to parent my child because I was exactly what he/she needed.
  19. There is an abundance of love and peace in this home, even in the midst of chaos.
  20. I am grateful for the time I get to spend with my child(ren).
  21. I will do my best as a mom, and that is always enough.
  22. I am more than enough for my baby.
  23. I am present and grateful in this moment.
  24. I will model self-love to my child(ren) without guilt.
  25. The struggles I push through today will be the strengths I gain tomorrow.
  26. My love is given from my full, heart centered, cup.
  27. I will let go of how I think today is supposed to go and accept how it flows.
  28. I am grateful for my ability to create and carry life.
  29. I was brought to this moment because I am strong enough to thrive through this situation gracefully.
  30. I am going with the flow of life and I am peaceful knowing it will all be OK.

I hope starting this affirmation practice gives you the confidence you need to be your best Goddess Mother self, even when life challenges it.