Ep. 16 & 18: Unexplained Infertility, Miscarrage & Baby After Miscarriage w/ guest Natalia Lafortune
Updated: Jun 5, 2020
Today's episode (as well as next weeks episode) features badass mom Natalia! Nat is a super bubbly, energetic mom who just loves life. Nat is mom to 1 year old Esmé (yes, you read the name right ;)) and wife to Michel. She also makes handcrafted gemstone jewelry (which are SO beautiful).
In the first episode, we dive into unexplained infertility, miscarriage and more. Nat really opens up about her experiences and we even chat about how friends and family can support a mom and her partner that are going through a miscarriage.
In the second episode, we chat about pregnancy & motherhood after miscarriage, the lack of postpartum support from our healthcare system, how postpartum depression is still taboo and how we can better support new parents. As always, go check her out on Instagram and her blog! She talks a lot about motherhood and loves giving hacks about things that have worked for her. Instagram: Stonesandroses Jewelry Website/Blog: www.stonesandroses.ca
Listen to the episode above or on iTunes, Apple Music, Spotify, Google Play, Castbox or Stitcher (along with pretty much every other podcast app out there). Or click to download Part 1 & Part 2! (basically, anywhere!)
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Before baby, Natalia describes herself as a “super crazy, couldn’t sit down, love my job” kind of person. She would say that her job kind of reflected her personality and worked as an architectural sales rep in Toronto for over a decade. But in the time that she lost her first baby, she completely shifted, left her career and everything changed.
Natalia met her now husband at the age of 26 through her one-month experience on Match.com. Natalie and Michel got married two years after meeting and they started trying for a baby immediately.
Trying To Get Pregnant
Natalia went off birth control a year before she married Michel, but the couple didn’t officially start trying for a baby until their wedding day.
After a year and a half of trying, she realized that it wasn’t happening and decided to consult a fertility clinic. For Michel, all he had to do was cum into a cup and get blood work done. But for Natalia, the process was much crazier and she had to have all these procedures and tests done in order to check her fertility. The results were ready in two weeks and during their appointment they learned that they had unexplained infertility. Both sperm and egg counts were great. This was the worst answer ever for Natalia. You go in expecting to learn about a problem and then have it followed with a solution. But this gave her no answers.
A month later, the clinic called to ask if Natalia wanted to try anything, such as IBF. Natalia wasn’t interested in that but she had learned about a procedure that could be done where they would take Michel’s sperm and sperm wash it to essentially take his fastest and strongest swimmers. They would then insert the sperm into Natalia. This procedure was very easy and was done at the clinic. Natalia decided to go ahead with it. She booked one and nothing happened. She had a second one booked but they mixed up her cycle and didn’t call her to let her know that she was actually supposed to be there the day before, and that now it was too late and it would have to wait for a month. Natalia was pretty furious and decided to no longer deal with fertility clinics.
Natalia never had thoughts that she wouldn’t get pregnant. She always had it in the back of her head, even after looking into adoption, surrogacy, and other options, that she would get pregnant naturally. Fast forward a couple months (and just under two years into their marriage) and Natalia was pregnant.
The Second Trimester Ultrasound
At 8 weeks into Natalia’s pregnancy, she had an ultrasound done where she saw a little bean that was her baby, as well as saw the heartbeat. All of her blood work came back positive and Natalia thought that after trying for so long, she could now relax.
Natalia had another ultrasound just past 13 weeks of pregnancy, just into her second trimester. It was just supposed to be a standard appointment to check on how things were going and Natalia wasn’t worried going into the appointment. The probe was placed on Natalia’s belly and almost immediately the technician’s face dropped. Natalia got cold sweats and stiffened up. She asked the technician if everything was okay and was told that something with the date must be off. She continues scanning, clicking and taking photos. At this point Natalia was internally freaking out and asked the technician if her baby was okay.
There is a 50/50 chance…that’s all the technician told Natalia. As Natalia started panicking about the answer, the technician started panicking as well and left to go talk to the surgeon. When she came back, she told Natalia to make an appointment with her doctor for the next day. Natalia left feeling shocked.
In the car Natalia said, “Our baby is dead and I want to know what’s going on.”
The couple was able to get in to see the doctor first thing the next morning. The doctor told them that yes, the baby did pass. The baby had actually passed at 9 weeks and had been dead inside her for 5 weeks. Natalia had a hard time grasping what was going on and was in shock. She was told that because she was trying for so long to get pregnant, her mind did not recognize the death. Natalia’s mind had been trying to save/keep the baby.
She was given three options:
1. Miscarry naturally, but because it’s been 5 weeks it might not happen
2. Take pills and have a chemical miscarriage over a span of 2 days
3. DMC, which is basically an abortion where they go in and basically vacuum out the baby.
Natalia was given the rest of the week to decide and had an appointment booked for Monday morning either way.
Natalia realized that her body needed to do what she was telling it to do right now. Her mind needed to realize that her baby died 5 weeks ago. Natalia felt mad at her uterus, but she told herself and her husband that she was going to miscarry naturally.
The couple went forward with their every day life. Throughout the 4 days, Natalia simply talked to her body non-stop. She explained to it what happened and she told herself that it was okay and she wasn’t a failure. She told her body that they needed to get this done the natural way.
On Sunday morning, Natalia was feeling kind of groggy and off. While Michel was out walking the dog, Natalia felt like she peed herself, but it was clear. She ran to the bathroom. She had slight cramps but wasn’t in much pain. Natalia sat on the toilet and tried to look down to see what was happening. She felt as though something was shedding, and sure enough a blood clot the size of her fist came out into the toilet. At this point her husband got home and she called him in for support. It was an amazing but also scary experience for Natalia. 30 minutes later, another blood clot the size of a grapefruit came out.
Natalia felt like she had literally lost 20 pounds and felt amazing and light. She wasn’t in any pain, but felt exhausted and decided to take a nap. The experience was traumatic for her body and she needed rest.
Natalia found it amazing that her body just knew that her pregnancy was not sustainable for whatever reason. It was sad and hard, but with her bubbly personality she was able to look at the experience like a miracle in a way. Her body had recognized that something was wrong, and that was a good thing. Through this experience, Natalia started a blog and felt that she needed to be the voice for the women that can’t voice their experiences, and she needed to spread the message. Natalia chose to be an advocate for those women. It was something Natalia went through in life, and she got through it, and she grew stronger. And maybe it happened to her so that she could talk about it and help other women.
After the miscarriage, Natalia felt ready to start trying again for a baby right away. She felt the miscarriage happened for a reason, she accepted it and that gave her peace. Natalia didn’t feel as though the miscarriage stopped her in any way and wanted to try again.
It took almost another year before Natalia got pregnant again. She tried many different things such as acupuncture, traditional Chinese medicine, and saw a fertility chiropractor. She also started taking folic acid supplements and eating meat again, because her levels of folic acid, iron and B12 were very low. She also had tests done showing that her cortisol levels were off the charts. This “fight or flight” stress hormone helped her realize that her excitement for life was actually causing stress on her body. Fetuses don’t want to settle in that kind of womb. Natalia learned a lot of really cool things along the way and adjusted her excitement levels.
She decided to give herself a time limit – if she wasn’t pregnant by 35, they would adopt. Natalia had just finished a seminar about adopting internationally, and the next day the couple went on a boat ride on the lake. Natalia felt nauseous and just knew she was pregnant. Two days after, Natalia noticed her period was late. They took a pregnancy test and she was pregnant.
That was Esme. And Esme will be a year in two weeks.
The Technician's Words
In the beginning, Natalia was really nervous and kept thinking about her first pregnancy. Her first ultrasound was the most traumatizing thing she had ever experienced. She didn’t think she could do this again and had a panic attack on the way to her ultrasound appointment. She stared at the technician, almost expecting the same thing to happen again.
But this particular technician’s words changed everything for Natalia.
“It’s not this baby’s fault what happened to your first baby.”
Natalia teared up and knew the technician was 100% right. What was she doing?Those simple words changed Natalia’s pregnancy from that moment onward.
Was she going to spend then next 10 months in fear thinking that something was going to happen? Natalia knew that this baby deserved all the love as if it were her first pregnancy. For the remainder of the pregnancy she was happy, while also knowing that if something did happen that she would be okay. If Natalia had a different technician that day, she might have been stressed out her whole pregnancy.
Natalia actually hated pregnancy and she often felt guilty about that. She felt so limited being pregnant and didn’t like that everyone wanted to do everything for her all the time. She didn’t enjoy having physical restrictions. She also had awful pelvic issues and couldn’t drive for the last month and a half of her pregnancy.
Esme arrived a week early. Natalia’s water broke and was leaking for 12 hours. She literally went from 0-100 and gave birth with no epidural within 2 hours. Because of this quick birth, Natalia found she didn’t really process the birth until a week later. While breastfeeding one day, it truly hit her that she was a mother and her emotions overcame her in that moment.
Natalia found that not a lot of people asked her how she was after she had the baby, and there wasn’t a lot of postpartum support in general. People should be talking about everything more, while also being mindful of the questions they ask new mothers.
Through her journey, Natalia learned that she is way stronger than she gave herself credit for and she thinks every woman should realize that. Natalia couldn’t conceive for so long, she lost a child, her labour was insane, but she got through all of those things. When she reflects on the past two years, she is wowed by how much better things are than what she originally pictured. She had a picture of where she wanted to be, but is so proud of where she is now. She believes women don’t give themselves enough credit!
Natalia wants other women to really have a vision for themselves. She wants them to stick to that vision and speak up when shit is going differently. It’s your body, your plan, your present and your future. She wants women to know in their minds how they truly want things to go. You have that idea in your mind for a reason and you need to stick to it because it is your journey. She wants women to be their own advocate.