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Nathalie Lemos: Healing from Infertility and Loss

New Jersey
Nathalie is the owner of two mama and little-focused boutiques, Sneakerized City and Borrowed and Bleached. It is her mission to set an example for her daughter to incorporate creativity into her life in whatever form that may be. She lives in New Jersey with her two year old toddler, husband, and furry dog baby Lambeau. She is a huge advocate for sharing her experience with infertility and miscarriage as a voice for other women battling through the same thing; with hopes that they’ll use their own experience to heal and help the community of women who don’t have the same platform. Check out Nathalie's Instagram

Tell me about the first few months of wanting to start a family? How long was it until you considered fertility treatments?

Ahhhh. It was such a surreal and exciting time when we finally decided we were actually ready, we’ve always been ready and wanting babies since the second we met. BUT, realistically it was a few months after we were married and on our own that we started. We tried naturally for two years and couldn’t get pregnant so we decided to then reach out for some help and advice from professionals. 

What was that decision like?

You know it’s so funny that when you’re in that moment and want it so so bad, that the scariest treatments just sound like one step closer to that baby. So we were all in from the beginning and just so ready to get started. 

How did you choose what type of treatments to go with?

We discussed all the possible treatments with our doctor at that time, from prescription medicine to IUI, to IVF, the possibilities and combinations were pretty much endless. We then together, decided that IVF was a LOT to put my body through at such a young age (22 at the time) so we opted out of IVF for the time being and went with IUI. 

What was that process like?

So, pretty draining to be COMPLETELY honest. At that time we conveniently lived across the street from the treatment center at the hospital where we were doing IUIs. So the early 4:30 AM appointments where Chris (my husband) and I both needed to be there, before work, before classes, weren’t as bad as many other couples’ appointments. And those 4:30 AM appointments were 4 or 5 days straight out of the month and we’re about 2+ hours long. The IUI process itself was a lot of medicine, Clomid, Femara, shots to stimulate the follicle the night before the actual IUI was performed. So many hormones going on in your body, and the two-week wait that followed the IUI was the worst part. It was pretty much your body reacting to everything going on yet, mimicking the same symptoms as an early pregnancy (bloated belly, and all). 

What got you through it? What didn’t help?

Having a husband who is so submerged in the whole process with you is so helpful. The balance is something you NEED and CRAVE during this time. On my bad days, he was there helping me think up baby names for our future babes, dreaming up how we would assemble our house and get it ready for a baby, the little, positive dreams are what kept me fully going through it. And in my case, I actually really loved talking about everything with friends and family it helped me so much even if they had no clue what I was talking about. What I found most challenging was when I was just so in my head, and feeling the need to test so much or too early and getting a negative result every time, and just convincing myself that this was just my future. 

How did you find out you were pregnant?

So funny enough, after two full years of trying, we stopped. And I know everyone says that when you stop trying you get pregnant yadda yadda you get pregnant, you NEVER actually stop thinking about it. We had 3 failed IUI’s and felt like we were putting too much trust in doctors and not enough trust in the path our life was just meant to go in. It was taking a toll on my body, on our minds, and just became something toxic that we felt was bringing more negative than positive into our lives. So I continued to somewhat test my ovulation here and there, but we had just bought a house and we were going on vacation so ultimately, we forgot. (Insert shrugging emoji here)

We went to Disneyworld, had some sushi, one too many beers, one too many rollercoasters. And once we were home, started getting some weird painful cramps and for no apparent reason the next morning (first-morning pee!) I woke up and thought I’d test? Just because. It was a Sunday, and my husband was working from home. I peed on the stick and missed and thought I had peed on it too much, TMI and thought it broke; when I looked down and it was POSITIVE. So with my eyes filled with tears, I called out for Chris waving the pee stick in his face telling him I broke it and it was positive. Long story short, we spent the entirety of that Sunday sitting in the living room, crying, holding each other and wondering how the f**k that had just happened. 

What was your pregnancy like after going through treatments?

I actually had a pretty smooth pregnancy, typical nausea and fatigue but was really grateful nothing more. I was considered high risk my whole pregnancy because we had previously done the treatments and got pregnant outside of that. So they kept a close eye on us the whole time, which meant a LOT of appointments and very early on so we got to see a lot of her in my belly. Mentally was a bit different, we never really found out if the medication from previous cycles were what helped me get pregnant, so the unknown for the future was pretty daunting and something I thought about frequently. 

How did it change you?

It made me appreciate the little being growing in my belly so much. For so long, I yearned so badly to become a mom. I knew my entire life that this is what I was meant and put on this earth to do. And when you’re going through that time, you just start looking at the reality of your future like maybe this is just something I will never be able to do. And then it happens, and you can’t believe that this is real, real life. I became so much more understanding of destiny and had the comfort of knowing that whatever is meant to be will ultimately be. 

Tell me what it was like becoming a mother after trying for a while.

Surreal. Terrifying. Magical. Bittersweet. The immediate four things that come to mind. It really does feel like a dream, and I don’t think I fully ever even still sink in that I get to be this little girl’s mama. Every day she’ll do something cuter, something more magical, more hysterical than the day before and I can’t believe WE are the lucky ones to get front row seats to her entire life.

I will say though, I didn’t always think like this. The first few months of postpartum we’re truly isolating for me, or so you think. Chris was a dream of a husband when he was here at home with us but he did go back to work and it was into this new life that none of us were at all familiar with. I had no help so it was just me during the day navigating naps (lol just kidding, my child literally plotted against naps) feedings, nursing, explosive poops, sleep deprivation. It was all real, and not like anything I had heard being talked about by other moms.

I was never one of those moms who could connect to their child through the womb and feel all magic inside, I just wasn’t and felt very guilty about it throughout being pregnant. So when this baby came into the world, and we weren’t the bestest of friends due to major sleep deprivation, first-time mom MAJOR anxiety, and forgetting to feed myself during the day it was a whirlwind to get ahold of. But, eventually, you find balance. You find a rhythm. And you BLINK, and they are two putting a tiara on you and reminding you to drink water. She’s truly got my back, like I’ve got hers. 

What did you have to let go to step into this new position?

It was more of letting go of that part of my brain that would tell me I wasn’t doing a good job. I had to learn to give myself grace and to realize that my intuition, and or spidey senses we’re always right. As a new mom, you never know if you’re doing anything the right way but you HAVE to know and truly believe that you know your child best and once I started to really believe that I had a lot more confidence in the way I was raising her. 

What advice would you give someone who has been trying for a while?

I would say to let yourself feel the feelings. Feel sad, feel angry, feel happy, throw yourself a pity party, but once you’re done get up and do it again. You are too strong, and you’ve been through worse things in life to not be able to achieve your dreams. If you can’t conceive on your own there are SO SO many other ways to become a mama, we live in a world with endless resources to make that all possible and it CAN happen. 

Let’s fast forward and talk about your miscarriage. Tell me what that was like, finding out you were pregnant with baby number 2? 

So, we had JUST decided to start trying again. I wasn’t testing my ovulation, I wasn’t taking ANY pregnancy tests. It had only been two months since we weren’t using any sort of birth control and we got pregnant on our own, round 2! This time around we were living with a toddler, now 18 months old and didn’t really think much of it. I wasn’t feeling great, I was SO tired, more than being sleep deprived due to the 18-month-old sleep regression (YAY!) and just felt overall SO crappy. I was throwing up and thought that I had a week-long stomach bug until a lightbulb went off and I was like, noo…. Could it be? Took a test this time, didn’t break it and it was positive. This time around my timeline was almost identical to my first. I got pregnant within days of the day I got pregnant with Cami, and according to my trendy phone apps, I was due days before Camila AND my birthdays. 

When did you notice things started to go wrong?

I definitely became anxious about this past pregnancy a LOT faster and deeper than my first. With Cami, I don’t ever remember losing so much sleep about hearing her first heartbeat. I don’t think I ever even thought about the possibility of anything going wrong, I was truly on Cloud nine. But, this time around deep down it almost felt like it was too good to be true. Didn’t try to get pregnant, happened in two months on its own, a third baby with MATCHING birthdays, and just for some reason couldn’t let myself get excited this time around.

The day of our first ultrasound at 7 weeks, my heart and stomach were just sunk all day, almost like I knew. My anxiety was at an ALL TIME high, and when we couldn’t see a baby in that empty sack let alone a heartbeat it almost felt like the world stood still. We had the option to have an early D&C but I just had a shred of hope that a little baby would appear in there. At 8 weeks we had a second ultrasound with my hormone levels appearing to be a healthy pregnancy, and a new ultrasound showing a little sack with a growing little something. But then at 9 weeks, our rollercoaster of emotions ended, no heartbeat and the unfortunate end to my second pregnancy. Thankfully the only silver lining was miscarrying in our own home, fully and not needing a D&C. 

How did you handle the loss? What helped you get through it? What didn’t help?

It was devastating. I can look back at that time now and just see and feel how broken I was, it feels all too raw. It was hard because I didn’t want to feel ungrateful for this blessing I was handed already once before and knew that there were so many other women in the world that weren’t even able to experience this at ALL and here I was crying over a second pregnancy. That didn’t help. I wasn’t letting myself fully mourn what was happening and fueling my anxieties with things like “you don’t have a right to be this upset when other people in the world are mourning worse.”

It wasn’t a quick healing process for me, it was slow, it was hard, I had little things that would remind me of that baby that wasn’t going to join us here physically and I would break down all over again. I grew anxious of future holidays where I would have had a newborn and couldn’t fathom how I would be able to deal come that time. But, slowly life tends to come together once more. I tried so hard to look at what we did have, we had our health, we had our family, I had already a MIRACLE BABY by my side that I could not take for granted for a second. We were gifted flowers post-miscarriage and decided to plant those in our garden together and called them our “angel baby flowers” that could bloom every year and remind us of our second miracle baby that’s always with us too. Slowly but surely you heal, and come those holidays I felt more whole and more grateful than ever before. 

What advice would you give to another woman who has suffered a loss?

I would say to use that loss as a way to heal your broken heart. A loss is a way of your body telling you that something was wrong, that it wasn’t their time to join us here on earth. Look at the emotions of what you’re going through, the pain that you have to overcome physically and mentally, and the strength it takes to do all of that. As raw as it feels when it’s happening, as much as it feels like you won’t come out of these emotions, you do and you WILL. 

How can we support other women who have also had a loss?

Honestly, in my case just make it known that you’re there. Leave the ball in their court on whether or not they want to talk, or share, or interact. Just letting them know “hey, I’m here always.” That’s the most incredible thing you can do for someone in that moment. I had friends, and family reaching out just checking up on me, on my mental state, on how I was doing physically, and I will always be SO immensely grateful for each and every single one of those people. 

What has helped you heal and continue to have hope?

My tiny little best friend. She is the one person (besides my biggest best friend like I like to call him, aka bubba, aka husband Chris) that has truly made this chapter of our lives full again. She helped us through those days where we couldn’t stop crying, didn’t want to get out of bed and those where we really just needed a hug. She has made this life so magical for us that I would go through everything I went through 50 times over if it meant that we would get to live this life with a bunch of little hooligans like her. I have all the hope in the world right now that whatever is meant for us will be, and if this is it then it would be more than enough. 

Listen to Nathalie on The Enlightenedhood Podcast

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