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My paternal grandmother had 13 children. Thirteen.
I grew up with an abundance of cousins as well as three sisters in my immediate family. I became an aunt when I was 16. All of my sisters had children before me. It seemed to be the fate of the women in my family to procreate on demand and in excess.
When I turned 29, I felt like I was ready; I was married, we had a house it seemed like everything was lining up. I got off birth control, and we started trying to conceive. Each month I anxiously waited to see if I was pregnant, and each month I would get my period and would be filled with disappointment for the rest of the week.
After about 10 months of trying to conceive, I was elated to find out I was pregnant. I could not contain my excitement, but I knew it was early and didn’t want to tell anyone other than our family and closest friends. The following week I had a beach trip planned with my best friend and her mom that we had planned months in advance. I was a little nervous about traveling, but I figured that the rest and relaxation would be good for me.
On the third day of my beach vacation, I awoke to severe cramping. I ran to the bathroom only to see copious amounts of blood in the toilet. I was completely freaking out and didn’t know what was happening. I was in a different state and could only talk to my midwife and nurse team on the phone. They tried to reassure me, but I knew it was bad. I spent the rest of the day in a lot of pain. I curled up in bed and tried to take my mind off of what was happening to my body.
The next morning I got on a plane and flew back to Nashville. My husband picked me up at the airport and took me directly to the imaging center, where they did an ultrasound and confirmed my greatest fear. There was no detectable heartbeat.
I remember riding home in the car in silence. I wasn’t able to stop crying. I even had my husband call family and friends to notify them because I wasn’t able to get the words out.
It felt SO unfair. I had done everything “right” in the conventional sense. I had waited to have a baby until I was ready, I was healthy, I was married, we had good jobs and a house. I figured with my genes that a baby would magically appear in my womb, and I would have as many children as I desired without any complications.
I couldn’t understand why this was happening to me! All I could think about was everything I had done or not done since finding out I was pregnant. I worried that I was having a miscarriage because I had traveled to the beach, because I had ridden a bike, because I had had too much to drink at a wedding before I knew I was pregnant. All I could do was blame myself.
The main thing that got me through was the support and compassion from the midwives that I spoke to. They called me at home a few times during and after the miscarriage to check on me. They repeatedly told me that sometimes it just doesn’t work, and I had not done anything to cause the miscarriage. They talked about how common miscarriages are and how most women don’t talk about it openly. They told me to be kind to myself and take as much time as I needed to heal and start the journey again.
After talking about it with friends and family, I found out many of them had had miscarriages that I didn’t know about. We had all suffered alone. I realized that although it was devastating, it was going to be ok. I wasn’t doomed, and that I hadn’t done anything wrong. I realized that opening up and telling other women about my experience helped us all feel more normal, less isolated, and kinder to ourselves.
The next time I got pregnant, I was excited but cautious. I was worried about getting through the first trimester. But this time, I told more of my friends and more of my family. I also told the women who had experienced their own miscarriages. I knew that regardless of what happened, I would need their love and support. My friends and family showed me extra kindness.
They also reminded me that I needed to be patient and kind to myself.
Kathleen’s music choice to accompany this Guidelight is Superwoman by Alicia Keys
Kathleen joined Baby and Company in July of 2019 as the Community Outreach. Throughout her unique career, Chandler has had the privilege to work with A-list music artists and global brands as well as nonprofit organizations. Her varied career has included entertainment, education, and advocacy with a focus on marketing in each of those areas.
She is a Tennessee native (with a brief stint in New York City) and has lived in Nashville for 15 years. She has a daughter and son who she had with midwives in hospital settings because there weren’t any birth centers in Nashville during that time. She is passionate about birth options, women’s empowerment, social justice and enjoys cooking, enjoying new restaurants, and is always up for a night out for dancing.