The Best Support I’ve Received While Trying To Conceive

by Dana Boyle on June 5, 2012

There are times when very loving, very well-meaning people in my life say things to me that are not helpful during this journey to motherhood.  I could focus on those things.

Instead, I mostly focus on the very loving, very supportive women (and a few men) who have helped me through this journey by reaching out a hand, extending their hearts, sending a gift, sitting with me on the phone, working through painful thoughts, and sharing their own journeys with me.

I want to highlight some of those gestures, even though I may forget someone important.  There have been many beautiful gestures and helpful people who’ve come along as I have been navigating the story of my motherhood.

Dana Dombrowski, my best friend from law school, sent me flowers that were delivered to my door with a note that she thought it might brighten otherwise dark days the week after I lost my first baby and had surgery.  They were my favorite flowers – gerbera daisies – I think if a flower could be a smile, that’s what they’d look like.

Nichole Churchill came to my house and sat with me in the days after my first loss, as my doula, and brought me flowers, books, resources, and let me tell her how I felt and what I was afraid of and she shared her story of losses with me.  Turns out, I have the same disorder that cost her a couple of babies and she knows all about how to handle it going forward, too.

My sister brought my nieces over the weekend after my D&C, instead of thinking babies might make me sad.  She knew how much I love them and that holding them would bring me comfort.  I held 6 month old Olive who nuzzled her head into my shoulder while Heather pushed Stella on the swings.  Seeing the joy in little Stella’s face going down the slide, “One more time, Mommy!” was all the therapy I needed that weekend while I was still in shock.

Cath Duncan, who lost her daughter late in her pregnancy due to her own health issues that threatened her own life and who has studied grief and created a creative grief coaching program and is the author of Remembering For Good, helping people to grieve wholeheartedly and without shame or the obligation to let go to make others feel better, has helped me do just that and has donated her time to me any time she has noticed that I’m really struggling.  She’s amazing and I just might help other people by being trained by Cath as a grief coach when I am through this hell and back.

Kanesha Lee Baynard, who I met on a fluke on Facebook because she commented on something on a friend’s page and I realized she was from the same area I’m from, sent me a bracelet she had made for me in her family tradition to help with conception of our next child.  I didn’t even know her.  The bracelet is pictured above.

Heather May put my name and my husbands’ into a prayer circle at her church where they do a big fertility prayer every year and pray for all the couples who are asking for God’s grace in conceiving a baby or starting a family.

Amanda Waldhauser brought me flowers, the most beautiful note about what perfect parents David and I will make, and then later gave me a bag of self-love goodies and a plant for each baby.

Lori Hamann, my mentor and sister-friend has spent hours on the phone with me, untangling the law of attraction knots that some well-meaning folks have put in my vibe when they imply that I’m somehow not doing this right and that’s why I lost my babies or haven’t conceived yet again.  Lori is amazing at meeting people where they are, and pointing out exactly how they are using law of attraction perfectly in the moment to create exactly what they are wanting.  She’s cheerled over and over how I’ve quickly manifested the right doctors, the right experiences – even a fast pregnancy and miscarriage of an unhealthy second baby – to discover the disorder that would have robbed me of every successive healthy baby if not found and treated.

Sylwia Herbst, my best friend and soulmate, is a safe place for the details, the way too much information, the oversharing that is beyond TMI, the swearing, the laughing at inappropriate things, and the healing of wounds because it’s ok – it’s all ok to share and to feel and to talk about.

Frances Cadora created a beautiful necklace memorial for my first baby since we didn’t get to have a funeral or resting place for him, because he was very real to me.  I’d seen his little head, arms, legs, and heartbeat on ultrasound just weeks before he died.  I wear it all the time and get compliments on it.

Melani Marx spent time with me on the phone to help me with re-activation of post traumatic stress and taught me a technique that helps me to stay de-activated, which has helped me have less to cope with – because now all I have to cope with are real sources of pain – clean pain – not past pain and fear.

Jana Scuberth and Glenda Gill have masterminded with me and listened to my fertility updates, even about charting, and I know Glenda has learned more about fertility, cycles and reproductive biology than she ever wanted to know – but they’ve been patient, loving and good listeners and cheerleaders, and they’ve allowed me to tell them how much it’s sucked at times and simply said, “Yeah, that must be hard,” or “Yeah, that sucks,” when that’s what I needed most.

Deb Droz has donated her time to teach me mind/body work that is helping me get in touch with my emotions, something that I’ve struggled with and that has ended up causing me physical pain where I haven’t been able to feel emotions or express them in healthy ways.

The kindest thing in this whole journey has come from Deb.  While on the phone with her doing this mind/body work where she is literally speaking to my emotions and asking me to be my emotions, she has said to me something I’ve needed to hear since October 7, 2011, the day I learned my first baby died.  She said:

If what keeps you from feeling your emotions fully is fear of what others might think or how you might be judged or feeling that it’s inappropriate at the moment, I want you to know that you can cry, you can get angry and yell, whatever has to come out – you can let it come out here, and there is no judgment or shame.  I’ll be right here to support you through whatever that looks like.

I will tell you that turned on the water works and I said, “Nobody has said that to me.”  And she said, “Sometimes you have to say that to yourself when nobody says that to you.”  And I said, “Yes, and that sucks, because sometimes you need to hear that from your mom or your sister or your husband or your best girlfriend.”  And of course, Deb said sometimes we need to give our moms, husbands, sisters and friends a break and know that if they knew we needed to hear that, they’d say it for sure and hold that space.  She’s so wise that way, but she told me any time I need to hear that and would rather not tell myself, I can call her and ask her to repeat it and hold that space.

Rebecca Mullen sensed there was more to a story I was telling about a nursery that was full of clutter in her Altared Spaces Soulful Cleanse class about clearing clutter, and set up a call with me to talk about motherhood.  On that call she beautifully coached me about why I wanted to be a mom and got to the meat of it, and the beauty of it, and helped me feel like I’m healthy and normal for wanting to be a mom and that there’s nothing broken about that.  She helped me realize that I’ve always been the glue in family relationships, and I honestly want to be a mom to create a functional, healthy family that I don’t have to be the glue in anymore and so that I can just enjoy some cool people that are related to me and don’t need me to hold them together…and so that maybe they can help me create a drama-free zone that I’ve craved all my life.

Then, a few weeks later I received a package in the mail from Rebecca and I thought it was some materials for an ongoing class I’m in with her.  I opened it and discovered that she’d sent me the first pages of her daughter’s baby book with her raw, young mother writing on the pages and a picture of her holding her firstborn right after giving birth.  She had wanted to share with me both that motherhood is a journey that brings to you what it needs to bring to you, and that it changes you if you let it, AND she wanted to activate the motherhood vibe for me by being one of the examples I could look to for visualization and real experience that I haven’t had myself.

Those pages were the first thoughts she had when she found out she was pregnant, the things she did during her pregnancy, the way her husband was excited to find out about the baby, even her daughter’s foot prints and a copy of her locks of first hair.

Rarely has anyone done anything that heartfelt for me.  I am so touched.

Tara Kennedy Kline donated her time to coach me on the topic of motherhood as well, and helped me realize that I have been blaming myself, bashing myself, and hating on myself, my body and my perceived lack of productivity since I lost the first babyShe helped me to realize that I first have to appreciate and love myself and acknowledge that I am here, I am alive, and I am valuable.  She helped me realize that I have been depriving myself of having a life because I want a baby so badly – both by punishing myself and by doing the things that I think I have to do to have a baby – and she asked me how I can give life to someone else if I am not giving life to my own self.  She encouraged me to do what brings me joy, to love myself and my body, and to start a gratitude journal about me – something I would NEVER have done on my own.  She reminded me that children join their parents’ lives and thrive in whatever kind of life their parents have, and that I shouldn’t turn myself inside out to have children thinking that’s what will make them come when they are choosing me as their mother (in the spiritual realm) BECAUSE of who I am and how that is perfect for their life’s course.

Dawn Lichter has asked me how I’m doing and what is going on with my cycle since day one and has listened to how I feel and empathized by simply saying, “I can see how you’d feel that way,” or “that must be awful” whenever I need her to.  On the flipside, she’s had her fingers crossed and been a cheerleader sending prayers for a healthy baby with every new cycle, and so has her sister, Jodie Brown.

Chip Engelmann got to the crux of my “story” and helped me to be ok with the feelings that I have that are “negative” or contrasting feelings from what I am wanting – which is a healthy baby that will make me feel like a great mom.  He asked me questions and listened to me long enough to point out to me that I keep repeating that I have “empty arms” and that my “baby was taken out of my womb” and that “my baby died” and that I feel “empty” all in a way that didn’t say I’m doing it wrong or need to stop focusing on it.  Instead, he gently suggested that I stay there as long as it serves me – and that how I feel one day doesn’t have to effect how I feel the next, because I can create what I want and line up with my babies on days and moments when I feel good, and I can gently spend time telling the story of holding a healthy baby in my arms, having a very full womb with a kicking baby inside, and seeing a live baby with a beating heart on ultrasound.

Beth Gilmore left me a voicemail after reading some of my blog posts about this journey that I still have saved on my phone about how brave, strong and amazing I am and how inspired she is to know me.  Best voicemail I ever received in my life.

Heather Maynard and Dr. Jennifer Mercier walked me through my second miscarriage when nobody would answer my questions or give me information, and had just written my baby and my body off at five weeks.

Dr. Sarah Wong did a second-opinion ultrasound on my second pregnancy and was compassionate in the delivery of her confirmation that the pregnancy had ended, and then she listened to me, addressed every concern I had, promised me that she’d get to the bottom of it, test my baby, send me to a specialist, and do everything she knows how to do to help me become a mom next time I’m pregnant.  When I brought my second baby’s tissue in to her office in a cold pack, instead of poo pooing it as just tissue as I’ve heard has happened to some of my sisters on this journey she said, “Most women don’t know what to collect, so it may not be what you think it is but I’ll take a look.”   Then when she opened it up she actually put her hand on my shoulder and looked down at the floor, and then promised me she’d take good care of it and find out why this happened, if she could.  She did.  And when she called me with the results, she asked me to sit down and she spent half an hour on the phone with me explaining chromosomes and genetics and referring me to a specialist.

Dr. Segal Klipstein met with me in her office, around a desk, with all my clothes on.  She looked me in the eye.  She paused and listened.  She said things that validated my feelings and promised she’d do everything to find out what was going on.  She was encouraged that I got pregnant so easily, and she was quick to run testing and get results back.  She applauded my type A and very organized summary of my medical records and family history as well as my husband’s that I had prepared.  She told me how beautifully my body works, and she assured me that the rare clotting disorder I have is easily treated with Lovenox and taught me how to inject myself.  She told us to try again immediately, and she said, “I’m the second call you make when you get that positive result.  You call your husband, then you call me, because I’m going to keep you pregnant this time, and I want to see you immediately.”

And then when I was discouraged four months later, she sat at her desk with me again and listened to me and then reminded me that my body needed to heal, that I get pregnant easily, and that she’s right there waiting when I do, and she gave me some resources to help with coping until then.

Beth Carlson shared with me that she is pregnant when she just got a positive test an nobody else except her husband knew, because she is on the same journey and wanted to share her joy with me as something to give me hope, and of course I cheerled for her.  I was honored to be one of the first people to know and I’m so glad she made it to her second trimester to tell everyone else.

Naomi Marhefka shared with me how her daughter died hours after birth.  She shared with me how important it is to grieve and truly feel all of those feelings and to treat your babies as real, no matter how early you lost them, because if you don’t, she said, “You’ll have it sneak up on you and derail your life when you least expect it.”

I’m sure there are so many others I’m forgetting.  I know I have received so many kind letters, emails, notes, and comments from so many of you.  I just wanted to highlight the beauty and love and support that has been helpful beyond measure and has been extended to me.  It can be easy to focus on the things that people say when they don’t know what to say and they are trying to help, but I want everyone to know that in my case, it’s hard to focus on that because I have so much love pouring in and so much support.

I have appreciated it more than words can say, and I will definitely return it by paying it forward as I continue on this journey in motherhood.

{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

Jana June 5, 2012 at 12:32 pm

Oh sweetie! We will be here, all the way, always rooting for you and your baby that’s on the way to you. What you are seeking most is also seeking YOU, one wise woman recently said to me. Oh wait, that wise woman was you! Love you so much! xoxo

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Dana Boyle June 5, 2012 at 12:42 pm

Jana,

You’re so dear to me. Love you, sister! Yes, I love when I am quoted back to myself. LOL! I did just say that, and we give the advice we most need to hear, don’t we?

Can’t wait til you’re here next week!

xoxo

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Glenda June 5, 2012 at 2:26 pm

You’re so welcome! I’m more than happy to be a sounding board for you. (And I *know* you’re going to be a mother so I’ll keep the faith flame burning for you.)

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Dana Boyle June 5, 2012 at 3:19 pm

Glenda,

Thank you for keeping that faith flame burning! I’ve so enjoyed how our friendship has blossomed and grown over the past year. You’re very special to me.

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Jackie June 5, 2012 at 4:04 pm

This is such a generous and brave post for you to write, Dana.

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Dana Boyle June 5, 2012 at 4:08 pm

Thank you, Jackie! xo

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Janette June 5, 2012 at 7:04 pm

Oh, sweetie – if I’d known you were getting those kinds of well-meaning but unhelpful comments, I’d have bitten their ankles for you!! Lordy, hope I wasn’t one of them :-O

It’s wonderful and satisfying and brings a HUGE sense of “yes, of course!” to be reminded that you have a brilliant support team who DO know that everything you feel is real, and to be honoured, and to be respected. Who know how to give you the loving, nurturing space to be 100% you. Who know how to simultaneously, and oh-so-gently, hold the sacred space for awesome Mama Dana.

I echo what others are saying here. You know I’m with you, whatever you’re thinking or feeling or knowing in that red hot moment. All the way.

Love you to bits! xxx j

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Dana Boyle June 5, 2012 at 7:17 pm

Janette,

My heart overflows reading your words. Thank you for always being an amazing friend and cheerleader in my life and for your contribution of being YOU. You are valuable beyond measure. So wonderful to know you and I love you to bits, too!

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Angela June 5, 2012 at 7:10 pm

Dana,

You m’dear, are one, courageous Mama!!! What beautiful words of gratitude and deep, heart-divings. Your babies have the best Mama they could ever ask for!!!

Knowing that you’ll be sharing positive fertility news soonest,
Angela

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Dana Boyle June 5, 2012 at 7:18 pm

Angela,

Thank you so much. I am a mother. I know. That feels best to say and own.

I truly appreciate it!

Dana

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Erika Workman June 5, 2012 at 11:46 pm

Dana,

This is another beautiful blog. I love your candid way of sharing what helps and what doesn’t. I’m sure most people have well-meaning intentions, but are so awkward with emotional pain they aren’t sure of the right thing to say or do. Thank you for educating those who need a little help in “what TO DO” and for courageously sharing your story. You are such a gift to this world and by blogging your journey I know you have helped other women. I have no doubt that you WILL get your turn at having a baby and being the wonderful mother you are meant to be. Sending lots of love.

Love,
Erika

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Dana Boyle June 6, 2012 at 8:58 am

Erika,

Thank you so much!

I absolutely agree that everyone has had well-meaning intentions and I so want to help people who are going through this and people who are dealing with someone who is going through this. It’s not something we’re taught. In fact, I was one of those insensitive people before I ever had a miscarriage…and I was TAUGHT THAT. I can remember how insensitively miscarriages were spoken of around my extended family’s table growing up, like they were something whiners experience and something to just buck up and get over. I had no idea until I went through this. Nobody does.

I appreciate all your love and love you, too!

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Debra Smouse June 6, 2012 at 8:08 am

Thank you, Dana, for being so open and transparent. Counting our blessings is such a way to bring the positive vibes into our world and taking the time to publicly count the beautiful and loving voices in your world brings so much to the worlds of the rest of us. Much love and prayers to you, darling.

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Dana Boyle June 6, 2012 at 9:00 am

Debra,

Thank you for being one of the people who gets it. Love to you, too!

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Katie McClain June 6, 2012 at 10:37 am

Dana – This is a beautiful post. It made me cry, because once again I am reminded of my own journey when I read this. I was thinking that this post will be so important to other women who might go thru a similar situation in the future and your words will comfort them. I am with you in spirit and I continue to follow your story with hope. Sending love. xoxo

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Heidi Nord June 6, 2012 at 10:37 am

Dana,
Beautiful blog. We all have our own path. I cannot guess any other person’s struggles, including yours. I’ve let go of thinking I know the right thing to say, and just letting it all be as it is. I’m here to listen, if you ever need an ear.

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Dana Boyle June 6, 2012 at 11:19 am

Awww, thanks, Heidi! Absolutely right. Sometimes the BEST thing anyone can do is simply be with the person who is in pain, and let them know they are with them. Words are not always necessary. My husband has been the best at that. I love when he’s just “there” for me.

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Dana Boyle June 6, 2012 at 11:17 am

Katie,

Thank you for the encouragement you’ve shown. I look up to you, because I know you’ve been through this and became a mama at about the same age I will…and that inspires me that you went through this and have a little boy who is beautiful!

Thank you for your hope and love.

xoxo

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Steph June 6, 2012 at 12:30 pm

Dana, I read all your FB posts everyday inspire me greatly. I’m constantly praying for you and David and to see the post when you tell us you are pregnant. You are going to be such a FANTASTIC mum xxxxxxx

I read a post the other day about how some people think you can’t make ‘proper’ friends on FB – well I consider you a friend and we only ‘met’ through Jana (another fantastic lady that I’ve yet to meet, although she does live very very much closer to me!!!)

Hugs xxx

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Dana Boyle June 6, 2012 at 12:41 pm

Steph,

I adore having you as a friend on Facebook and would love to one day get to meet you in person. I’ve met Jana in real life and she is staying at my house next week on her visit to the states, so it is possible!

Thank you for all your kindness and love, and thank you for praying for David and for me. I can’t wait to announce that, too! I’m practicing fully feeling joy now so that I’ll be extra good at it when that day comes.

Much love to you!
Dana xxx

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Flavia June 6, 2012 at 1:18 pm

That is so beautiful! So much love and grace!! In my mind’s eye you are already experiencing that functional healthy family you always wanted. It is so inevitable and so clear to all of us witnessing your journey.

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Dana Boyle June 6, 2012 at 1:45 pm

Flavia,

You are always so right on and so wise. I love that about you. I love, “it’s so inevitable and so clear to all of us.”

It feels that way right now!

Thank you, love.

xo,
D

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Louise Thomspon June 6, 2012 at 5:13 pm

Dana, you have been so transparent through everything you have been through, and handled it with such grace. I tread a parallel path with you and you express it all better than I can. Sending you love and light from New Zealand. Louise xox

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Dana Boyle June 6, 2012 at 6:54 pm

Louise,

How brave of you to mention that you’re on the same path. I am sending you all the love I have and praying that you have your dream come true soon, too! Thank you for the kind words. Much love to you! xoxo

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Gail Kenny June 10, 2012 at 7:58 pm

This can be a tough path. By sharing your journey with trying to start a family, you are bringing together a community to support both yourself and other women with similar struggles.

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Dana Boyle June 10, 2012 at 9:38 pm

Thank you, Gail. Yes, you’re so right.

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Blaze June 11, 2012 at 4:45 pm

Dana,

I remember people used to tell me so many things when I was on my journey towards: getting married, trying to conceive, and dealing with a cancer diagnosis. What I realized is that we human beings like to connect, and we tell stories and give advise in an effort to connect.

The important thing I learned was to tell people how I wanted to be treated…meaning I started people not to tell me their scary stories or warn me about what they think I should worry about, rather I told them I wanted to hear in the moment.

People can’t read my mind…I have to tell them what I want, otherwise they are going to tell me what they want. Simple as that.

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Dana Boyle June 11, 2012 at 4:47 pm

Very good point, Blaze! Wise words. Thank you!

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An June 14, 2012 at 4:37 pm

This is such a powerful post, Dana. I love how you cherish all the support, compassion and love you’ve received and are still receiving. And I just adore Deb Droz’s wise wise wise words. Love.

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