My personal experience with miscarriages

Journey to my Rainbow baby.

Miscarriages occur more commonly than you think and 1 in 4 women will experience a miscarriage in their lifetime. However, talking about miscarriages seems to be somewhat of a taboo topic and that really should not be the case. It should be normal to talk about miscarriages, so that women who are going through one know they’re not alone and can find support.

This has been the hardest blogpost I’ve had to write thus far, because it brought back some pretty painful memories. My purpose for writing about my own personal experience, is to raise awareness about miscarriages, as well as give hope to some women out there who are suffering/have suffered the loss of their little one.

Three years ago, my husband and I started trying to get pregnant with our first child. We were ready and excited to expand our little family and a lot of planning and preparation went into it. After some months of trying I finally got a positive pregnancy test one early morning that I was hit with some nausea. We were super ecstatic and emotional that we were expecting our first child.

We set an ultrasound date and waited patiently for the next few weeks as that date drew closer. However less than 1 week away from the ultrasound date, I noticed a small amount of spotting… I became a bit panicked and immediately got my blood tested for my hormone levels. My bHCG hormone (the pregnancy hormone) was normal and increasing but my progesterone level (the hormone responsible for keeping the pregnancy) was low… Being the doctors my husband and I are, we knew immediately what that meant. We were at risk of losing our little one even before we got to hear his/her heartbeat.

I remained hopeful that my progesterone level was enough and will somehow increase but unfortunately that was not the case. The day before the set ultrasound date, I miscarried…. I cried in my husband’s arms that entire day. Never in a million years did I think this would happen to me. I was so prepared for this pregnancy. I had been taking all my vitamins and had cut out caffeine and alcohol for months in preparation. Yet here I was miscarrying my first pregnancy and with no explanation as to why my body just didn’t keep the pregnancy.

Fast forward 2 months later, I was hit with the familiar wave of nausea and lightheadedness and I did a pregnancy test that morning. Positive! This time we tried to contain our excitement till the ultrasound date and till our first Obstetric appointment. We were able to hear baby’s heartbeat at the repeat scan at about 7 weeks pregnancy and my obstetrician then put me on progesterone suppositories just in case.

I purchased a fetal doppler for myself to use at home to hear my baby’s heartbeat when I reached 10 weeks of pregnancy. It was so reassuring hearing his/her heartbeat every morning as I was so paranoid about another miscarriage. It was at this time that I announced my pregnancy to my parents, my in-laws, my friends and co-workers. I was just 1 week away from my 2nd trimester now and was counting down the days till I cross over that milestone.

Some days before the end of my 1st trimester, I noticed my all-day pregnancy nausea was completely gone. I thought this was just due to being so close to my 2nd trimester. It had been a couple days since I heard baby’s heartbeat on my doppler machine at home but I wasn’t that worried as sometimes it depended a lot on positioning so early in pregnancy. I decided to get an ultrasound that day to put my mind at ease.

I called my husband and told him I booked a last minute appointment that afternoon. At the ultrasound office we waited nervously as the sonographer started up the ultrasound machine and began the scan. Before the sonographer could tell me what was going on, I already knew for myself. Being a doctor I knew what to look for. I saw no flickering of a heart beating…. I heard no heartbeat… I saw no movement….

The sonographer looked at us quietly and said she will use another ultrasound machine. She switched the ultrasound machine and repeated the scan. Once again we saw no flickering of a heart beating…. we heard no heartbeat… we saw no movement…. My baby’s heart had stopped beating. I immediately broke down in tears. She sent me to the hospital for confirmation and of course the repeat ultrasound there showed the same thing. HOW? How can this happen to me TWICE in just 5 months. HOW?! I felt broken…..

I sought advice from my obstetrician that day. Because I was on progesterone suppositories, waiting for the miscarriage to happen naturally could take some time. The other options were surgical or medical management. I opted for medical management and followed the instructions given by the obstetrician. That night I lay in bed heart broken and in pain physically and emotionally. I felt hurt. I felt disappointed. I felt angry. All I wanted was a baby and I did everything right and still had 2 babies snatched from me.

My husband and I took longer to recover this second time. Lactating and producing a small amount of breastmilk for a few days after the miscarriage didn’t help at all. I didn’t even know that was possible with a late 1st trimester miscarriage. We talked it over and decided to take a break from trying for a baby. Instead we decided to concentrate on ourselves, our career and postgraduate education. I just couldn’t go through another heartbreak so soon.

Three months later, I felt strangely lightheaded and faintish at work and wasn’t sure why. I checked my blood pressure and blood sugar, I drank water and ate a snack but still I felt like fainting. Someone joked I should do a pregnancy test and so I did. POSITIVE! What? I was in utter shock. I immediately messaged my husband. We weren’t even trying this time. My husband responded with so much joy but I was hesitant to rejoice. I was nervous and scared…. What if I miscarry again?

My third pregnancy wasn’t an easy one at all. There were so many concerns throughout the pregnancy that my anxiety level was on high. First there was a concern about cervix length early on and then I had an irritable uterus that started having contractions early on and resulted in being hospitalized twice for threatened preterm labour at 28 weeks and 34 weeks of pregnancy.

I remember the terror I felt that first night of threatened preterm labour at 28 weeks when the contractions kept coming every 3 minutes for over an hour. I couldn’t believe it. I had just crossed over into my 3rd trimester and there I was, possibly about to deliver a very preterm baby that would have to stay weeks in NICU if born that early.

Fortunately the tocolytics at the hospital worked (medication to stop contractions) and the contractions subsided. I was put on bed rest, given antibiotics and IV fluids and discharged from the hospital after 5 days.

Six weeks later at 34 weeks pregnancy, the same thing happened again. I began having contractions every 3 minutes for over 1 hour. This time they stopped on their own and I was only hospitalized for 3 days this time.

I was able to make it to 36 weeks pregnancy before my rainbow baby boy made his entrance into the world. He came almost a month early but that was fine. He was close enough to term and was a healthy newborn with no issues.

Finally! Nothing could describe the joy I felt the day my son was born alive and well. He is my surprise rainbow baby… my rainbow after two back to back storms. This ordeal taught me that there is a light at the end of every tunnel and that the sun must return after the rain.

For those having experienced pregnancy loss, you are not alone. It happens to many women who suffer in silence, but it does not mean you have to as well.

October is pregnancy and infant loss awareness month


Overcoming Mom Guilt

There is no such thing as a perfect mom.

Every mom has repeatedly wondered if they were doing enough as a mother and meeting society’s expectations of what a good mom should be. I would be lying if I said I didn’t often have feelings of “mom guilt” on an almost daily/weekly basis where I felt that I was falling short in some aspect.

Even before my son was born I had worrying thoughts of if I was properly prepared to bring this little one into the world and be his mother. Do I have all the “baby essential items” and am I doing enough research to know what to get? Are the antenatal vitamin supplements I’m taking the best ones for his brain development? Would I know how to properly breastfeed him? Did I choose the right diaper brand? Do I need a second baby monitor? Do I have enough swaddles?

These thoughts did not ease up when he was born… they intensified of course. Is he getting enough milk? Am I interacting with him enough for his social development? Am I a failure for needing to supplement his feeds with formula? Am I doing something wrong? Why can’t I produce enough milk to build up a storage of breast milk like other moms?

As my little one grew I realised I wasn’t meeting my own expectations of the mother I envisioned I would be. I previously thought I would be the kind of mother who would be able to take care of my son and keep the house tidy and spotless and be able to food prep with ease with a fridge full of already prepared nutritiously packed meals. But some days the house would be messier than normal and I had to learn it was ok to have a little mess with a infant who messed up rooms just as quickly as they were tidied.

I always thought I would be the mom who could make those cute kids meals that looked like cartoon characters and cute animals that were photo and instagram worthy. Ha! That didn’t happen. There was no way I could pull that off every single day. I also thought I would be the kind of mother that would be able to make fun little arts and crafts and do sensory time with my son everyday. Again, there was no way I could pull that off everyday as a working mom who often felt exhausted after a shift at work.

The morning of my first day back to work after baby

Being a working professional who worked on a shift system did not help my mom guilt one bit. The first few months after returning to work my heart felt torn to pieces having to be away from my son and having to miss his bedtime routines, his early morning smiles when he woke up, his first words and his first steps. Gosh it killed me that his babysitter was the one to do and experience all these things that I wanted to experience with my little one. I hated being away from my little one more and more and it resulted in more tears than I wish to admit.

I completely understood how some mothers quit their jobs to be a stay at home mom and be with their kids 24/7. A part of me thought why can’t I do that too? But then I remembered the kind of “busy-body” and academically driven kind of woman that I am and that I wouldn’t be happy and feel fulfilled with just being home. And that by itself made me feel guilty knowing that being a full time stay at home mom wasn’t satisfying enough for me.

Mom guilt was beginning to consume me. It was beginning to affect my daily mood and make me worry excessively. The tears were beginning to flow almost everyday without fail and some days it felt like it was for no reason at all. I began reaching out to other moms and soon
realised that I was not alone in how I felt at all. The feeling I was feeling was more common than I thought among other moms. I noticed that talking about it with others who understood how I was feeling helped a great deal. I soon realised that I was putting way too much pressure on myself as a mother.

It took many months for me to realise that my son didn’t need the “perfect mom”, he just needed a happy mom who did her best and loved him. There is no such thing as a perfect mom and I needed to get that out of my head. My son was well fed, taken care of, clothed, socialized with and loved dearly. Everything else was just a bonus.

The moment I let go of fighting to be this ever elusive “perfect mom” is the moment I actually became a better mom to my son because I was now the happy and less stressed out mom that my son really needed me to be.
The great lesson I learned the hard way and wish to share with you is to not let mom guilt consume you with the unrealistic expectations of this perfect mom that society feeds us. Stop comparing yourself to other mothers who seem to be a bit more well put together and seem to be excelling at this mothethood thing more than you. Your kid doesn’t need a perfect mom, they just need a happy one who tries their best and loves them.

You’re doing great Mama.


Transitioning to solid food

Traditional spoon-fed weaning vs Baby-led weaning.

Being the somewhat anxious mom I am, when it came to transitioning my little one from just breast milk and formula to solid food, I had done my research. Of course I knew the different methods and the pros and cons, but it didnt make it any easier when the time came to wean him to solid foods.

Traditional spoon-led weaning

This traditional method is the one most moms are familiar with and is the method that was more widely used for previous generations. Babies are first introduced to pureed foods at 5-6 months and are spoon-fed. At about 7-8 months soft finger foods are introduced and the purees are served more lumpy and with a little more texture. The transition is done gradually until baby is able to eat solid foods at the table with the family.

The pros with this method included having better control of the nutritional content and how much was actually eaten by baby. It was also a much less messy experience than the baby-led method which is good news for the moms you preferred not to spend as much time cleaning up.

The con with this method was the sometimes difficult transition from pureed to more solid food for some infants and the preparation it took to make jars of pureed foods to store away. It took some time preparing a whole different storage of food for baby that is different to what the rest of family eats.

Baby-led weaning

Baby-led weaning has been gaining in popularity as more mothers are skipping the pureed phase and jumping straight into finger foods and soft solids at 6 months old. Baby-led weaning allows babies to explore the tastes and textures on their own and at their own pace.

The plus side is that they learn to chew earlier and are less likely to reject the more solid textures. With this method they are able to feed themselves and mealtime becomes a social occasion where baby eats at the table with the rest of the family. There is also the added bonus of no pureed food preparation. Yay.

The biggest con is the mess left behind as infants are obviously messy eaters. There is also the uncertainty of how much of the food baby actually ate as some of the food would be on the floor, on the chair, on their face and clothes and not actually in their tummy. Another unfortunate minus is the possible gagging on the solid food and having to watch out for any choking which of course understandably scares a lot of mothers.

Mixed weaning

As the name suggests, mixed weaning is introducing both pureed foods and finger foods at the same time at 6 months. It involved either alternating between the two methods by meal time (e.g. breakfast finger foods and lunchtime spoon-feeding) or by how baby was doing. For example if baby was more interested in trying to feed himself, more finger foods were given for that period. And if baby was found to be gagging a lot more on the solid foods, more purees were given for a few meals and then finger foods were reintroduced again later.

My personal experience with little one

After knowing all of this, I chose the traditional spoon-fed weaning, mainly because it was what I was accustomed to. I also preferred the slow transition in textures over the abrupt change to solids with a possible risk of gagging and choking which obviously scared me honestly.

I started him off with his pureed foods as planned and that part went well. However when it came to transitioning him to finger foods and more lumpy foods at 8 months, he outright rejected it. It was a struggle for weeks to get him to eat anything that was not smoothly pureed. I had a picky eater on my hands who refused textured foods. Sigh. He even occasionally gagged on small lumps of mashed up food. And after a few weeks he even began refusing most purees as well. When I say it was a difficult transition for us I am not exaggerating.

I began wondering if I would have had this problem if I had done the baby-led weaning instead. At 11 months I was still having difficulty with getting him to eat. Some days he ate well and other days I felt defeated as most of his food went uneaten.

The breakthrough happened at around 12 months when we just started giving him food from off our plate while we ate in front of him. Suddenly he was interested in food again. He would grab at our spoons and plates as we ate. Of course he had a few gagging episodes but he was totally fine. I was just super elated that he was eating once again. He preferred to be included in a social family meal where everyone was eating rather than being spoon fed his own prepared meal.

If I had to do this all over again, I would have chosen the mixed weaning method. I would have given a mix of purees and finger foods/soft solids from the get go and adapt as we went along. But I can only say that in retrospect. I would never know how my son would have done with the early introduction of solid foods from an earlier onset. Would he have gagged a lot? Would he have wasted even more food if left to feed himself more often on his own? Would he have still ended up being a picky eater? I will never know.

Each baby is different and one method that works for one baby may not work for another and I had to understand that and learn and adapt as I go. After all, that is what motherhood is all about anyway….. learning and adapting as you go.