I am so very grateful for the birth of my daughter, Faith Valencia, but let me tell you, the journey to this pregnancy wasn’t exactly easy. It came after discouragement, confusion, setbacks, and many losses, but it ultimately ends with HOPE. I’m sharing my story here to encourage you when you face life’s disappointments.
My Journey to Pregnancy After Miscarriage Video
A Family of 4?
To begin the story, I need to go back to our family life in 2016. We had two amazing and wonderful kids, a boy and a girl, and it felt perfect and good. My husband Michael and I figured we were done; after all, we both came from families with just two siblings. Nearly all of our friends in Chicago had just two kids, too. It was just the thing to do, it seemed. Plus, I was an older mom in the first place! I had Griffin when I was 35 and Paloma when I was 38. I never had a “low risk” pregnancy because of my age. Haha! But, we were incredibly blessed as my pregnancies and births went great. Yay! So, I figured I shouldn’t push it.
But then two things happened…
Things changed though. First, we moved to the South. And y’all do things differently down here. No, in all seriousness, it seemed that all of the families we met had 4, 5, 6, even 13 children!?! I kid you not. But, as we hung out with these bigger families, we thought maybe we were wrong to only go for two kids. It was neat to see these little “communities” within a family. The second “thing” that happened was our book, The Mama Natural Week-By-Week Guide to Pregnancy & Childbirth. Michael and I ate, drank and breathed all things pregnancy for over a year of our life. It triggered MAJOR baby fever.
It was as if my ovaries were screaming “MUST PROCREATE!” And “LAST CALL! LAST CALL!”
Suddenly, we were really thinking maybe we should give it a shot.
When Jesus speaks…
Whenever I get crazy ideas, I go to prayer. I need to be guided to feel like it’s right. One afternoon, after much hemming and hawing, I finally surrendered this issue. I got down on my needs and imagined laying it at His feet. “God, what do you think? Should we try for a third child?” And I heard the most beautiful reply. Jesus sang over me… “I have someone for you. You shall call her Faith.” I wept. Ugly cry, y’all. I don’t know what was better to hear… the beauty of Jesus’s voice or the actual message itself but I was undone. “What about Paloma?” (I had worried that she’d feel sandwiched in-between as a middle child.)Jesus replied with a grin: “Are you kidding me? Paloma is going to love telling her little sister what to do.” I started laughing. Wow, did God know my girl. Of course, Paloma is going to love having Faith in her life. Not only because she can be in charge ;), but because she gets to have a sister! This beautiful encounter reframed the whole situation.
Pregnancy Attempt #1
We tried a month or so later and BAM! Pregnant on the first try. We were astonished. Our little long shot worked! This is so destiny! God gave us the word and here is our little Faith growing in my womb. Then, just shy of 6 weeks, I saw brown blood when using the restroom. (I was hopeful that it was just a little spotting… nothing to worry about.). But the brown blood turned red and I miscarried. This was the last thing I expected and my first experience of miscarriage. It was heartbreaking. I gave myself a few months to grieve and get my bearings back. I was busy with our book preparations which was a good distraction. I’m the type of person who can close doors quickly. If f things don’t work out perfectly, then I have a tendency to bail on the whole idea. I got the word. I was obedient. It didn’t work out. I’m done. But, God softened my heart and by the Spring, I felt ready to try again. Besides, miscarriages happen to millions of women and they go onto have successful, full-term pregnancies. I could be one of them. My Miscarriage Story ultrasound image Mama Natural
Pregnancy Attempt #2
We got pregnant right away and I found out I was pregnant on Earth Day, which happened to be right before my book— which I had often referred to as “my baby”— launched into the world. It felt so symbolic and right. And unlike the first pregnancy, I had all the symptoms. Bloated, tired, hungry, sore boobs, nausea… oh my goodness. I even threw up once at 7 weeks. First time for that! In fact, my symptoms were so intense, I was wondering: Could this be twins? Twins run in my family. I was an older mom (41 at the time), and my belly was huge! I was excited and terrified by the idea. We went to Chicago for a midwife conference and I made an appointment with the same midwives who assisted in the births of my other kids. I needed to get a quick peek at my womb to see if there were two babies forming! So I had a super quick ultrasound where the sonographer confirmed that there was just one baby in there. And then, to my dismay, she said something that I’ll never forget.
“I’m so sorry, baby has no heartbeat”
Turns out I had something called a missed miscarriage. It’s when the body still thinks it’s pregnant, even though the baby has died. It can take up to three weeks for the body to finally realize it’s no longer pregnant and release the baby. And that’s what happened. Three weeks after baby stopped growing, I started getting contractions, had back labor and passed the lost life. It was sad and cruel, but I couldn’t help thinking of first-time moms going through this experience. At least I had had two other labors, so I knew what to expect. My Miscarriage Story by Genevieve Howland Mama Natural
After two miscarriages, I second-guessed everything. My mind was racing with thoughts like: I was wrong. I heard wrong. It was wishful thinking. Who am I kidding? My body, at nearly 42, can’t sustain life. But that experience with Jesus was so special. There had to be something true about it. Maybe baby Faith was supposed to come another way… We started to look into other options like:
- Domestic Adoption
- We reached out to some local agencies, but, came up against some roadblocks.
- International Adoption
- My husband loved the idea of international adoption since he had travelled so much in his youth. But, at nearly 42 and 44, we were too old for most countries. Plus, it can take years to complete the process.
- Embryo Adoption
- Natural IVF
- Some clinics specialize in a more natural approach to assisted reproductive technology.
- Finding a Faith
- I started helping some folks in our neighborhood with different needs. Maybe I’d find a little girl named Faith and she was who I was supposed to love on.
With all of these ideas, we ran into lots of closed doors. Nothing came together and it felt like we were trying too hard. Nothing against those options, but they didn’t feel true to the Spirit of how we were led into this whole thing in the first place. At this point, I felt spiritually stuck. I felt like “dead woman walking”… kinda numb… kinda despondent and definitely disconnected from God. Why did this all happen? We were good as a family before and I never would have tried if I didn’t get the go-ahead after praying. I remember a pastor saying that people stop growing spiritually for two main reasons:
- An unwillingness to forgive
- And not accepting life’s disappointments
That’s where I was. Mad. Resentful. Feeling like a victim. I needed some spiritual surgery to move through the grief. I bought an audio training that that same pastor did called “How to Overcome Life’s Disappointments,” in which he takes you step-by-step through a process of dealing with an issue. I spent an afternoon at a beautiful church garden and went to work on my disappointments regarding these miscarriages. What a relief! It took some time, but that “sting” regarding the miscarriages was lifted. I felt a peace that surpasses understanding. There was no logic to it… I should have felt sad, defeated and hurt. But I didn’t. Forest bathing benefits – Genevieve Mama Natural family photo
Pregnancy Attempt #3
That fall, I felt like myself again. I was grateful and feeling connected to the goodness of God. And wouldn’t you know it, right around Thanksgiving, we felt good enough to give it another try. And wouldn’t you know it. Bam. It happened right away. (Maybe third time was the charm?) Now, you might be thinking, this gal is Fertile Mertile. And it’s true. Each time we tried to get pregnant, it would happen on the first try. But this is actually not always a good thing. I learned that I had something called “Hyperfertility” where your uterus accepts and implants any fertilized egg, even ones that aren’t viable. It takes the body awhile to realize that the life isn’t sustainable so it then miscarries. And that’s exactly what happened yet again. This time, I started bleeding right around Christmas. But, thankfully, because I did that spiritual work, it wasn’t as sad. It certainly wasn’t a great Christmas but I do remember making a conscious choice to worship in the midst of loss. So, I sang those joyful Christmas carols about how God came to us as a child. While I might not have a baby in my belly, I had Jesus. Beautiful sunset on the beach hope glory
A New Beginning (Pregnancy Attempt #4)
In 2017, I had 3 miscarriages so I was looking forward to a new start. We moved into a new place right before the New Year and celebrated as a family.We danced, ate lobster, and toasted to a better year to come. My husband and I had some fun on New Year’s Day, if you know what I mean, under the awesome glow of a huge full moon. Two weeks later, I peed on a stick and two pink lines appeared. I almost laughed when I saw the positive pregnancy test. Here we go again. I hadn’t even had a menstrual cycle yet after my last miscarriage! I completely gave this pregnancy to God. I couldn’t control it. I couldn’t make it happen. I couldn’t do anything but surrender, surrender, surrender. I wasn’t even sure it would ever really work but what I did know was that this was the last time I was going to TTC. Slowly the weeks went by.
- First I got passed the dreaded 6 week mark, when most of my miscarriages occurred.
- Then, I waited to see if my HCG numbers would double. They did, but not impressively so. God was teasing me…
- Then I passed the 9 week mark, when I lost the baby in Chicago…
- At 14 weeks, I went to the midwife for the first time. Was I really pregnant? Was this a missed miscarriage and I didn’t even know it? The doppler would tell us the answer. And we had a heartbeat!
- Then I hit 16 weeks… 20 weeks. The mid-pregnancy scan looked great! I was relieved.
- It was time to announce the pregnancy. Scary but the right thing to do.
The rest of the pregnancy sailed on by. I did all the tests for gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, Group Strep B. All good. All strong. All healthy. But don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t easy. I was tired. I felt stretched, in more ways than one. And it was emotionally challenging. Two years in the making, two years when many other things in my life were put on hold as I pursued this promise. I was so ready for completion. To close the chapter on our TTC-ing days. I went right up to my due date and then I was “overdue”. Brutal. Was this ever going to really happen? When was my Faith going to become sight?
Baby Faith Arrives!
Then, at 40 weeks and 2 days, I woke up at 1:11 a,m, with the first signs of labor. Long story short, my husband and I ended up catching baby Faith before the midwife could arrive.
Here’s a link to that exciting story (and video).
Husband assisted home birth childbirth video Mama Natural Faith Valencia Genevieve Howland
It was a holy experience… just the 3 of us. Faith Valencia was born on September 27, 2018 at 4:25 a.m. She weighed 7 lbs. 10 oz. and was 20 1/2 inches long. She is absolutely perfect and our family is complete. Whew, what a journey of Faith! I never would have thought to give her this name but it is absolutely perfect. I am so gaga in love with her; it’s kinda ridiculous. It’s like I am loving all the children I lost, plus celebrating the pregnancy, and her, all at once. I will forever be changed.
Faith Valencia newborn baby photo by Kansas Pitts via Mama Natural
Why was the 4th time the charm?
Honestly, I think this was just God’s timing, and I want Him to get all the glory. Throughout the Bible, God makes promises to people, but it’s usually not on their timeline. It’s on His. I’m just grateful it only took 2 years and not decades. Having said that, there may have been some things that helped…
- I moved. I’m not sure if the previous house had something to do with it but it was kinda strange that I a.) had 3 miscarriages b.) then move and c.) BAM, I’m pregnant and go onto have a full-term healthy pregnancy. Always check to see if you’re exposed to some toxins in your environment as this can contribute to pregnancy loss.
- I got pregnant immediately after a loss. If you have an overactive immune system, like I did due to a tick bite I got after Paloma was born, sometimes getting pregnant right after a loss allows the baby to sneak in and not get “attacked” by the immune system.
- I took a supplement that calms the immune system and may help with clotting. In studies, it helped women with repeated miscarriages go onto carry a full-term pregnancy. (source.)
- I learned that I was heterogeneous for a clotting gene called factor v leiden. With the approval of my practitioner, I took a supplement that helps to thin the blood and may have reduced clotting issues.
- I kept trying. As one midwife said, you can have babies in your forties, you just have to be willing to accept heartbreak. Because an older mom will have older eggs, that won’t be viable, she may have to go through some miscarriages before she finds the right egg. Others will sail right through with no issues.
- I surrendered completely. Didn’t stress. Stopped worrying. Understood that I wasn’t in charge.
Surrender is a common narrative, isn’t it? Like the TTC couples everyone has heard about that finally adopt a baby… only to get pregnant naturally right afterward. When I look back on the timing of it all, I do think it was perfect. My other children are ages 8 and almost 5, perfect ages to help us welcome the baby and not be too threatened that mom’s attention is required elsewhere for a while. I especially think it was beneficial for Paloma who truly blossomed this past year. So, that’s my story. Thanks for listening to that epic tale. I hope it gives hope to anyone who needs it. If God puts a desire in your heart, trust it. He is faithful!