This is the second part in a series; you can read the first post here: Journey to Motherhood Part 1: Unexpected Change of Plans.
A few weeks after we lost the baby, we traveled to Florida - our first visit since I'd moved to Canada - to see family and friends. It was a bittersweet trip. We wanted to go down anyway but we'd planned it with the intention of celebrating the baby that we were no longer going to have.
I had planned to spend time with a girlfriend and her husband who were expecting their second child. We'd been emailing back and forth during our early weeks of pregnancy comparing notes and realized we were due exactly a day apart. We were "belly buddies" as she put it. I surprised myself by never feeling jealous in her presence during the time we spent together. Sure, it was hard, but I knew what she'd gone through to have children. Of all my friends at that stage of my life, she probably understood better than anyone how I felt - even though to my knowledge she never miscarried. The fear of never being able to have children carries an extemely heavy weight of grief - and that was her reality for several years.
I wasn't quite so mature when I found out later that summer about two co-workers who were expecting. I was simultaneously jealous and ashamed of my jealousy. I talked a lot with another colleague who'd lost a baby several years before and was struggling to conceive again. She was a wake-up call for me. Her grief - still very raw - was contributing to feelings of bitterness and dissatisfaction with many areas of her life.
I didn't want to become bitter. I made a conscious choice that I was going to work through it and move on. It wasn't always easy and for a long time I had struggled with some really bad moments or days, but I feel that I succeeded in grieving and moving forward as healthily as I could. To be honest, even if I didn't, a lot of the hardest times seem to be erased from my memory.
While dealing with the emotional aftermath, I had to deal with the physical as well. It became apparent pretty quickly that my body wasn't functioning post-pregnancy as it did pre-pregnancy. I'm sure there's a certain degree of "normal" abnormality but instead of getting better over time I was getting worse. A friend saw symptoms she recognized and suggested that I ask to be tested for Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). She knew from personal experience what it looks like and I showed many of the signs. I'll always be thankful for her having the courage to make that suggestion (we hadn't known each other for long), because she was right.
After my diagnosis, I did a lot of research on PCOS and learned I could potentially develop problems with fertility. You kinda don't know until you try but there was a lot of preventative steps I could take to give me better chances. Unfortunately, the primary steps were to diet and exercise. I don't excel at those particular activities. There were drug options but I was really uncomfortable with going that route after doing further research into my options. Where some would be motivated by the challenge to take action, it just further frustrated and overwhelmed me because I felt I had so very far to go.
I put off the work I had to do. Occasionally I'd begin to put in effort and make significant progress. It never lasted long and I usually lost any ground I had gained.
For various reasons, including my inability to make lasting changes to help myself, we didn't seriously commit to a timeframe for trying again for a baby. I still feel the sting of my repeated failures.
I learned something through the process of becoming pregnant and then losing my first baby - that motherhood was something I really wanted. I couldn't have told you why (I still can't); it was as if some internal switch was flipped within me by getting pregnant. Wanting kids as some vague plan for the future is one thing - that was my mentality before my first pregnancy. But after walking around for eleven and a half weeks knowing my child was growing inside me, I knew that what I really wanted was to be a mother.
All I had to do was find the right time.