The Rough Road of Pregnancy and Heartache Before our Son
Written by Ashley Meyer
Ashley Meyer and her husband on their wedding day
[Trigger Warning: Miscarriage]
Ever since I was a young girl, I always knew that I wanted to be a mom and have a big family. It’s just something that has always come natural to me. I remember watching my own mother in awe, as she was a single mom of four kids. I just didn’t know how she could do it. My siblings and I weren’t perfect. We didn’t always get along, often times made it hard on my mom, and picked fights we could have most definitely avoided. But somehow we worked through it all. My parents divorced when I was 6, and my siblings were 3, 1, and 1. I still don’t know how my mom managed to go to school, raise four kids, work full time and stay sane. I am forever astounded by her. Not once when we were growing up do I remember her complaining either. It was always just the five of us. Everything we did. Some of the best memories of my childhood were piling into her car and driving around town looking at houses, driving through Ledges State Park looking for deer, and listening to the radio. One of my very favorites was the night my mom decided to switch it up (after listening to country for years) and buy the Shaggy cassette and we all became obsessed. It was our go-to cassette tape to listen to in the car from then on. Yes, I said cassette tape! There was one song on that tape called Hope. I remember listening to it and falling in love with the lyrics. I have always loved the song and almost used it for our mother daughter song at our wedding.
The lyrics are:
I remember, wasn’t so long ago
We had a one room shack and the livin’ was low
And my mama by herself raised me and my bro
Wasn’t easy, but we did it with the little that go
Worked hard, got us up for school every day
And kept her eyes on the stars when the skies were gray
Gave us pride to survive, really showed us the way
Now I really understood what she was tryin’ to say
She said, “Son there’ll be times when the tides are high
And the boat may be rocky, you can cry
Just never give up
You can never give up,” uh-uh
In this life you could lead if you only believe
And in order to achieve what you need
You can never give up
It couldn’t be more true for my mom. We didn’t have everything we wanted growing up, but we always had what we needed. How she provided the things she did for us still baffles me to this day. With our mom being single most of our childhood, it made spending time with just the five of us so much easier, and we got very close. I would do anything for my siblings, even to this day, and we are still closer than ever! I simply adore my two sisters and my brother. We also always seemed to have a pet – so (between four kids and a pet) it was a lot of craziness in one house!
I knew someday I wanted the same craziness in my life.
When I went on my first date with my now husband Zach, we talked about how many kids we wanted. I flat out told him I have always dreamt of having six. The look on his face is one I will never forget. I’m honestly kind of surprised he asked me to go on a second date! 🙂
Zach is one of 5 kids and has always loved being in a big family. Between he & his siblings, not one personality is even close to the same. Everyone is so different in their own way and their family dynamic is incredible. I absolutely love being around them. We have been blessed with everyone living somewhat close, so we get lots of time with all of our nieces and nephews. I love being able to watch them grow into the mini adults they are becoming and daydream about the adults they will grow up to be. I know Zach does too. The crazy part about having all of these nieces and nephews is that Zach never really thought about having kids. He told me that it wasn’t something he thought was in his future. It wasn’t out of the question, but it wasn’t something that ever really crossed his mind. So when he told me that he maybe wanted one or two, I was in shock. How could he come from a big, loving family and not want to recreate that? Hearing the stories of their childhood definitely helped me understand Zach on a deeper level, and made me daydream about raising our kids in a similar way, and long for a big family like theirs. We often have conversations about having just one child then we go to having many more. It changes depending on what season of life we are in.
In other words, someday we will have six kids. (Only kidding.)
Here’s where our story really comes together. Zach and I got married in Estes Park, Colorado on May 31st, 2019 after 7 years of dating. It was the dreamiest mountain wedding you’ve ever seen! Everything we hoped, prayed, and planned for. While on our honeymoon, we got pregnant! After taking a pregnancy test at work, I couldn’t believe it was actually positive! I remember texting my sisters because I needed their advice. There was NO way I was pregnant after only trying one time! After taking 5 tests that all came back positive, I started trying to think of a fun way to tell Zach. After impatiently sitting at my desk all afternoon, I left work early, ran to the grocery store, and had a cookie cake made. I then raced home to beat Zach home from work. When he walked in the door, I had the cake and pregnancy tests on the counter. He couldn’t believe it (and frankly, neither could I)! When I saw his face, I burst into tears. This was not something that we initially planned for, but we were still overjoyed, nonetheless! I’m not sure either of us wiped the smile off of our faces that evening.
TW: After a week of planning our future, something went terribly wrong. I was at work when I started to get very crampy. I thought maybe this was just a normal thing that happened during pregnancy until I reached out to my sisters. Maddie, my youngest sister, had two babies at the time and told me that I should probably go to my OBGYN just to get it checked out. My other sister Emily chimed in right after suggesting the same thing. Shortly after calling the OBGYN, I started bleeding quite a bit. I went in for some blood work, hoping and praying for the best possible outcome. My nurse was so sweet when I arrived at my appointment. She took some blood work to check my HCG levels and hugged me before I left. She said, “I’m thinking of you and hoping for the best!” I went right home after – I still had a very uneasy feeling and was bleeding quite a bit. That night, I cried in bed for most of the evening. I knew the inevitable had happened but I hadn’t heard from my OB to confirm anything. Zach came in to check on me before I fell asleep, and was so sweet and comforting. I cried myself to sleep and somehow slept through the night.
The next morning, I got up to use the bathroom and that’s when it happened. That’s when I miscarried. Right there, in my hand, was my baby. I was in shock. Absolute shock. This sweet little baby who I had loved with everything inside of me was gone. Taken from me so quickly. My whole world shattered. I burst into tears and cried uncontrollably for hours on end. I called the OB office to fill them in. Unexpectedly, I spoke to the same nurse I had worked with the day prior. She said, “I know that what you’re going through is so hard but I’m praying for you, honey.” I don’t even think I said goodbye to her. I hung up the phone. That whole day was spent crying in bed while holding my golden retriever, Penny. She knew something was up and just laid there with me. Once Zach got home from work, he did the same thing. The next day, I had to get back to the office and it was the longest day of my life. During my lunch break, I had to go back to the OB office to get more blood work done — to confirm that I was no longer pregnant. They told me they would rush the results so I would know before they closed at 5 pm. I, of course, already knew what the results were going to say. They called at 4:45 that afternoon to tell me that we had, unfortunately, lost the baby. I remember standing in the conference room at work, hearing those words. I still had 15 minutes left of my day with my coworkers all still in the office. My nurse said, “I’m so sorry, honey. I know how bad you wanted this.” Everything went numb after that.
I left work for the weekend and remember going home to spend the evening with my husband. I cried myself to sleep again that night. It was a rough 72 hours. I couldn’t believe that I had had everything I wanted right in the palm of my hand and within such a short amount of time, it was gone. For weeks after that, I wasn’t quite myself. I mourned a life that wasn’t able to be lived. I mourned our first little baby. I mourned the life we had planned for each other. Thankfully, I have a super supportive husband who says things like, “I’m so lucky to have you by my side. It takes a lot of patience and understanding, but you’re still here and I love you for it. I hope you know how I appreciate and value you. The tough days ahead will be so worth it because of all the good ones to come.”
We spent the next year trying to conceive. We are very thankful that it did not put a strain on our marriage. It was a long and lonely road as we spent every month waiting for that positive test. We faced many battles during this time but the worst has to be the dreaded two week wait. Is there anything harder than trying not to think about if you are pregnant or not? You don’t want to take the test early because the results won’t be accurate and you get your feelings hurt. You don’t want to wait because you just have to know the results right then and there. You also don’t want to wait because every fiber of your being is telling you that you’re pregnant, because period symptoms are so similar to pregnancy symptoms. It’s such a hard internal battle. And one far too many women know. I can’t even tell you how much money I spent on pregnancy tests, ovulation tests, healthy foods, workout regimens, etc. It was all I could think about. It consumed almost every thought I had. “Why is this taking so long?” “What else can we do to get pregnant?” “Why do some people get pregnant so easily but it’s so hard for us?” “Am I the only one feeling this way?” It wasn’t until I connected with a few other ladies that were going through the same thing, that I didn’t feel so alone. All of these women were facing the same battles, having the same thoughts, taking the same tests. It was a community that I never thought I would be a part of but I have learned so much from. If this is something that you have struggled with in the past, it helped my mental health so much after I connected with women that had experienced the same thing. I would highly recommend it to anyone.
Fast forward to June of 2020. After months of taking tests and getting negatives, I finally got a positive! I couldn’t believe it. I cried for a good half an hour. I told my husband right away and we were both in a state of shock. We got pregnant the EXACT same day as the year prior, I took a test the EXACT same day as the year prior and our due date was obviously the EXACT same day. It was a miracle. I knew this was our first baby sending us a sign that things were going to be okay. I called my OB right away to let them know and to come in for testing, as I wanted to be sure I was doing the right things this time. I got our appointment scheduled and I couldn’t stop smiling. It was such a joyous day! I went to bed dreaming of what our future was going to look like, but trying not to get my hopes up. I slept so soundly, knowing that everything that we had been dreaming of was finally coming true.
That was, until about 3 am when I woke up with some cramps. I thought to myself, “This can not be happening again.” I told myself that it was just implantation bleeding but I knew in my heart something was wrong. I attempted to go back to sleep but had a pretty sleepless night. That next day we were heading to Zach’s parents house for the day, as his whole family was going to be celebrating his mom’s birthday. I didn’t have any pregnancy tests left at the apartment so I had to pick one up on the way there. I did not want to take it at their house but I really didn’t have a choice. I remember going down to the basement to take it away from everyone, so no one would hear the crying I would inevitably be doing.
I took 3 tests, and they were all negative. I had miscarried, again. My heart sank and I had this overwhelming feeling of depression take over. Thankfully my sister-in-law, Barb, was right outside of the bathroom playing with the kids. I pulled her into the bathroom tell her the news and ask for advice. She gave me the biggest hug and said, “Don’t lose hope! Who knows, maybe the tests are wrong! Don’t worry until you start actually bleeding.” She gave me so much hope at that moment. About an hour later, the bleeding started. I couldn’t believe it. My heart sank yet again. I broke down in the front yard, alone. Zach must have heard me sobbing and came running to the front. Thankfully no one else heard me. I will never forget standing in his parents garage, with him holding onto me so tightly, and telling me that we were going to get it figured out. Our time was coming, he just knew it. He said this was the time we were going to take the next steps to figure things out. The rest of that day was sort of a blur. I remember my sister in law, Barb, asking me to go get coffee (just to get out of the house). She has always been such a safe place for us to talk about life and she doesn’t judge anyone. She truly is everything you would want in a sister-in-law.
I called my siblings and my mom. They were devastated that we had experienced yet another miscarriage. I remember my mom was in Kansas visiting my sisters and she said, “We can leave right now and come back. I don’t want you to be alone during this. I love you so much!” I explained that she shouldn’t cut her time with them short and we would be okay. We had each other and needed some time just the two of us. When we were getting ready to leave my in-laws, we didn’t want any special attention from anyone so we kept it very hush hush and told everyone what happened a few days later. I promised myself then and there that we were going to try not trying, and to try not getting hung up on it every month.
A few weeks passed by while we were mourning the loss of our second baby. Thankfully, things got a little easier after that. I had made an appointment with Mid-Iowa Fertility to discuss our options. We had a zoom meeting with the doctor and he said we were candidates for moving forward with the fertility process. I had an appointment for about a week out to get some blood work done and an ultrasound to check my eggs. Once we checked those things, then they would move forward with Zach. They needed to rule me out first. Days went by and I went to said appointment. Unfortunately, Zach could not come, due to Covid restrictions. The nurse escorted me to the back for the blood work. Following the blood work, I went to a small room for another nurse to complete the ultrasound. She said everything looked really good and my egg supply was great. They would have more results in the days moving forward but so far, so good. I went home that night so hopeful but anxiously awaiting the phone call. I got a call the next day, (which seemed so soon) saying that they wanted to move forward and have me come in for a HSG test.
A hysterosalpingogram (HSG) is a test that uses x-rays and a special dye to detect scar tissue, polyps, fibroids, and other growths that may be blocking your tubes or preventing a fertilized egg from implanting properly in your uterus. Upon reading about how painful the HSG test could potentially be, we decided to treat ourselves to a fun vacation in Estes Park as a reward. We needed to get away! We set up the appointment for the morning we were going to leave for our vacation. I showed up for the appointment super nervous, but anxious for what came next. My nurse ended up being a woman that I had known from a town over from where I grew up. She was super sweet and talked me through the process. I felt very safe and at ease with her kind demeanor. As the doctor came in and completed the test, the song “Up” by Shania Twain was playing on the speakers. I was shocked. I had grown up a Shania fan & loved this song. I figured it was a curated list to give women hope that things could only go up from here, but when I was walking out, I saw on the computer that it was just a random Pandora playlist. I knew this had to be good luck!!
I called Zach on the way to pick him up and told him I had a really good feeling about this test. His exact words were, “I do, too.” That afternoon we left for Kearney, NE. It is our halfway point to Estes Park, and we wanted to stay overnight so we could relax without driving all day. We stopped for dinner at Panda Express, vegged out in our hotel room, and even went swimming at the hotel pool. It was just what we needed. We got up early the next morning to head to the mountains and our happy place.
While we were there, we had the best time! It was full of hikes, eating delicious food, hitting up our favorite places, swimming and relaxing. We were having so much fun and feeling on top of the world. Zach said it was probably his favorite trip thus far because we didn’t have an agenda. I had to agree with him. Upon returning home, we kept talking about how much fun the trip was. Everything was just so carefree. A few weeks later, I honestly kind of forgot about taking a pregnancy test. Things were just so good that it was the last thing on my mind. My period was set to come in 2 days so I decided to wait it out. I waited until the actual day that I had “missed my period” to take a pregnancy test, and much to my surprise, IT WAS POSITIVE! I knew not to get my hopes up again but I just had a feeling that this one was going to stick. And so begins my pregnancy story…
Ashley will be sharing the next part of her journey on MFM very soon! Check back in the coming weeks to hear what happened next 🙂
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The Rough Road of Pregnancy and Heartache Before our Son