THE MISCARRIAGE, THE ANXIETY ATTACK & THE REVELATION
25TH September, 2017
my first period came back in July and by using breastfeeding as our only form of contraception, I knew DALTON AND I were going to be in strife. when August came around, NO DOUBT we had fallen pregnant. Straight off the back of my first cycle and whilst we knew having a baby was the greatest gift on earth, the thought of having two under 16 months scared the absolute crap out of me.
Waking up and having to run straight to the toilet, head in the bowl, only meant one thing -pregnancy. With Evie the "gut feeling" came first, but this time it was the sickness. My Dad and step Mum were up visiting from Adelaide for the weekend and I was absolutely knocked for six. They went down to the chemist and got me a pregnancy test but whilst they were gone, I started getting diarrhea and extreme stomach cramps. I had never suffered diarrhea as a morning sickness symptom with Evie so I immediately called the at home doctor. The pregnancy test came before the home doctor and the results on the stick confirmed exactly what I knew was happening within my body. Pregnant. When the home doctor arrived, he looked at my symptoms and diagnosed that I may also have a bout of gastro but instructed I see my doctor first thing Monday regarding the positive pregnancy test. I wasn't in a good place. Bed ridden already, anxious because this new pregnancy was already bringing back the painful memories of hyperemesis with Evie and just the mere thought of juggling a toddler and a NEWBORN!
Dalton was down the coast for the day, so I initially tried to process the news on my own. This is never a good thing as my overthinking and over-analysing nature kicked into overdrive. I had convinced myself that we couldn't do it, that it wasn't an option and that I didn't have it in me to carry another baby this soon after having Evie. I couldn't contain the news, I blurted it out as soon as I spoke to Dalton on the phone. His response was priceless. "Crickey." He was on the road so he said we'd talk about it when he got home.
Once he got home he was absolutely ecstatic! His excitement, joy and reassurance solved every doubt I had. I could do this, we were having another baby and Evie was going to be big sister! I strongly believe in the popular saying, ‘Everything happens for a reason’, I swallowed all of my anxiety and worries and thought to myself – yes, we can and we will do this!
THE FIRST… AND ONLY TRIMESTER
The weekend went by extremely quickly and first thing Monday morning I booked in to see my doctor. Blood tests, scan referrals, the usual, were all planned. My period calendar showed I was exactly 6 weeks, so my dating scan was booked for one week later at 7 weeks. Thankfully, the gastro symptoms had eased and I seemed to be back to normal. As the week went on, Dalton and I started making arrangements for the future, both getting so excited about our second little surprise.
I went alone to the dating scan and was excited to see our new little bean. I remember seeing Evie for the very first time. It's when she first got her nickname ‘Peanut’. She popped up on the screen straight away, just a tiny little peanut and it brought me to tears, happy tears, that something so special was growing. This time, they weren’t so quick to find baby number two. There wasn't enough fluid in my uterus so I needed to drink more water and wait a further 20 mins to let it settle in.
I went back in and the sonographer traced the Doppler along my belly again but there was still nothing to be found. My heart was starting to race as I had been in this position before. I knew there should be a little bean yet there was nothing showing up on the screen. The tone from the sonographer had also changed. From the excitement of how far along do you think you are, is this your first, what does your partner think? Their tone had definitely changed and I knew something was wrong, I could feel the negative energy in the room. They needed to do an internal examination but again there was nothing on the screen. The sonographer stepped out of the room but came back and continued to look. At last she found it. The sack. It wasn't a bean, it definitely wasn't a peanut. It was a blip, a nothing. We either had our dates wrong or our blip wasn't viable.
I can't explain how I felt leaving the sonographers that day. I was in limbo. It was a letdown but it wasn't a total right off. Maybe I had got our dates wrong and the blip just wasn't far along or maybe it wasn't viable. Viable, the word made it sound like it was sick, like I had done something wrong and it wasn't surviving inside of me. The more I thought of it not being "viable" the more I started to blame myself. Was I training too hard or had I eaten the wrong thing? Had that glass of wine I had with dinner a few nights ago affected our baby number two? It was doing no good thinking about it and worrying. I needed to wait and see the doctor and go from there.
I went back to the doctors the following day for repeat blood tests. My first blood tests indicated that our baby was approximately 5 weeks old which was close to my period calendar dates. The follow up blood test would hopefully show an increase in HCG levels, indicating that we just had our dates wrong. I got a call from the doctor first thing the next day, following the second blood tests. My HCG had dropped completely. Low HCG levels meant that our little blip, had not survived.
My body responded immediately and I started bleeding later that morning. Dalton came straight home from work and we spent the day at home together. Not much was said, we just let my body handle everything. This may be too much information for some, but the sack itself bled out and Dalton disposed of it. Just like that, baby number two was gone. As the days went on I felt fine. Tried to pass it off as a blessing in disguise. It wasn't meant to be, a bad egg if you must, and once again I kept saying to myself, everything happens or does not happen for a reason.
A week later I went back to the sonographer’s for a follow up scan. My uterus was completely empty. I got home that afternoon and sat down staring at the print out of my scan results. Baby number two had come and gone so fast. It was a surge of excitement and sadness compacted into just a few short weeks. I threw both the scans in the bin and carried on with my day.
THE ANXIETY ATTACK
The 7 stages of grief. Shock and denial, pain and guilt, anger, depression, the upward turn, reconstruction and acceptance and hope. They all hit me, hard, within a 72-hour period. It took a few days for the shock to come, which was expected. I was lying in bed trying to get to sleep, a few days after the loss. The tightness in my chest and pain from within me was like nothing I had ever experienced before. I could hardly breathe, I felt like I needed a plan, a resolution or something else to work towards. I was shaking Dalton to wake up and give me an answer. What were we doing with life now? Were we trying for another one? Were we waiting? I needed to know what was happening with our lives and if we were going to have another baby. I wasn't coping with the fact that we were pregnant, had accepted the pregnancy, accommodated for the pregnancy but then it was gone and I felt like we needed another one straight away.
After consecutive nights of hysterical crying and insomnia, I finally realised I didn't need a plan. I was trying to replace what was an incredibly heartbreaking loss instead of accepting the fact that it was gone. I came out of my anxiety attack knowing I didn't need to replace our loss just yet, instead I needed to embrace it. When you look up the definition for the word ‘loss’ it states, ‘the fact or process of losing something or someone.’ It then dawned on me that accepting this loss would take time, it was a process and it should not be rushed. Instead I tried to think of how the loss has taught me to appreciate how lucky we were to have Evie. Holding her close knowing that Dalton and I were able to have kids, just not this particular baby number two.
I find myself now looking at Evie and squeezing her even tighter than ever before. I soak up our days and nights together thankful for our first little surprise and that I do get to spend each and every day with her.
Will we have another? It's the most asked question I get and one that I can't possibly answer.
my postpartum fitness journey
17th august, 2017
From doctors to physiotherapists to personal trainers, the last 9 months has definitely been a journey! My body has gone through incredible change and with that my goals, strengths and fitness levels have all adjusted. I've had to learn exercises I've never done before and refrain from doing exercises that were previously my favourite.
It's been a slow ride but ensuring a safe return was my number one priority. I had my postnatal checkup when Evie was six weeks old and after a look and feel of my wound, my doctor cleared me to exercise again. We briefly went through what exercises I could and couldn't do. I looked at all of my options and an at home program seemed to be the most ‘doable’ with a newborn.
I started The Bod -Starter Guide written by Sophie Guidolin and Nathan Wallace, but emitted all core sessions/exercises, plyometric and repetitive moves and ab planks. Once all of these exercises were taken out, it didn't leave much of a workout, so I instead focused 100% on eating healthy. I strictly followed the meal plan that was included with the guide, but I still felt like I was missing out by not doing all of the workouts. I wasn't sure what to do but I knew that a quick look of my wound and a feel of my stomach by the GP wasn't enough to jump straight back into it.
I wanted to do more, so I got in touch with a women’s physio and after a lengthy consultation over the phone, I started seeing a physiotherapist at All Sports Physio. Using a Real-Time Ultrasound, we were able to see exactly what was happening with my abdomen and do exercises to suit my current condition. I saw the physio once a week for four weeks, working on strengthening my pelvic floor before moving on to one on one physio Pilates.
I did this while still completing what I could of The Bod - Starter Guide and also incorporated regular mountain walks with my friends. After a couple of months of working closely with my physio and doing the one on one Pilates, having regularly ultrasounds on my abdomen and strengthening my pelvic floor muscles, I started to regain some confidence back in my body and my abilities.
I then moved on to clinical group Pilates with the same physiotherapist and continued working through The Bod mainly doing leg and arm static exercises. At 4 months postpartum, after weeks of working closely with a physiotherapist, I received medical clearance to resume normal exercise. I finished up at All Sports Physio with recommendations to have once a month checkups and scans done until I was 12 months postpartum. I had almost finished The Bod but was unsure of what to do once I finished that exercise program. Even though I had seen a women's physiotherapist, completed weeks of physio work and obtained medical clearance, I still wasn't confident to get back into high intensity training.
My instincts were telling me to still take it slow and as much as I wanted to rejoin the F45 family or a gym, I felt I wasn't quite ready yet. That’s when ‘The Mummy Trainer’ and I found each other. Sarah, a postnatal fitness trainer based on the Gold Coast was an ex Virgin Flight Attendant that I used to work with. Offering Mums an at home studio that was baby friendly, Sarah’s main training objective was providing safe and effective training and exercise for Mums.
I consulted with her and booked in to do 3 one on one sessions a week with her. Every workout I did at home by myself, I was worried about how hard I could actually push myself. I wasn't sure of my boundaries and had zero confidence to do any core work. Training with Sarah, who is also a mother of two herself, specialising in postnatal training, was exactly what I needed. We spent the first part of each session doing pelvic floor work then moving on to intense weight training or cardio before finishing off with core work. Sarah was experienced and made me feel comfortable to do exercises that I thought I was a long way off doing. I saw myself getting stronger and fitter every session, regaining faith in my abilities and strength again. I was taking a very slow route to simply just train again but I had to remember that I did just have a baby.
My body had gone through an immense amount of change which then ended in abdominal surgery. A slow return was better than putting myself at risk of injury in the long run and if we were to have another baby, I knew I would be in the best shape for it. I trained with Sarah for almost two months but the cost to drive back and forth down to the Gold Coast was becoming too high for me to sustain.
I was 6 months postpartum, my abdominal separation had healed and I was confident with my own training again. Finding the motivation was lacking though and I knew I needed to find a local personal trainer to keep my momentum going. I had been following Lauren Patterson for some time and after getting in contact with her not only was her studio in the same suburb that I lived in, but I could bring Evie. I started training with Lauren twice a week and every single session pushed me, motivated me and left me feeling like I was literally supermum. Lauren, having two kids herself, had the experience firsthand of returning to exercise postpartum safely. I gained so much information from her every session and felt like I was training again without any restrictions.
Unfortunately, my maternity pay finished and I couldn't afford a personal trainer anymore. What I had gained from the Physio, Sarah and Lauren though was priceless and has brought me to where I am today. I am now just training at home, sometimes with friends, trying to mix it up but keeping active daily. Brittany Noonan also has so many awesome workout videos on her Instagram for mums that can easily be done at home with minimal equipment needed. Eating healthy has been a constant uphill battle as my sweet tooth wins every time, but I am trying to eat healthy at least 70% of the time and that balance is working incredibly well.
If you live down the Gold Coast I highly recommend @the.mummy.trainer. Sarah offers one on one PT, group PT, mums and bubs sessions and has also just released an online postnatal course. For those of you living in Brisbane you'll find @__laurenkate on the Northside offering one on one PT in a child friendly studio. If you're just looking for some postpartum workouts and inspiration then @bybrittanynoonan has you covered.
Good luck mama's and remember everyone's journey is different xx