“Will you have another one?”

It is one year ago today I found out I was expecting again. I had just put Finn to bed but ran back into his bedroom, scooped him up and told him he was going to be a big brother. He was 13 months old at the time. It is one year later, and that sibling did not come. A missed miscarriage; my third one.

The silver lining of it being my third was, that I got “some” testing done. Not all,  because I did have a living child inbetween. That I had a high risk pregnancy and premature labor with him, didn’t matter. A polyp was found, “we can’t tell you that’s the cause, but given your history we recommend it gets removed”. A routine surgery, and I ended up with a punctured uterus. They never got to remove the polyp.

And so I was referred to a top notch hospital, but that meant a long wait. 6 months and a lot of tears later, I finally got a tentative date, something to hold onto. One week later; Covid-19. All surgeries cancelled.

“Will you have another one?” I don’t know. A pregnancy doesn’t equal a baby for me. And I’m mad that I got robbed of that.

“At least you have one already”. I’m EXTREMELY thankful and grateful for him, but that doesn’t mean I don’t long for another one.

One year ago I told my son he was going to be a big brother. And all I want is for that to come true. 

Why everyone should be listening to The Happiness Lab by Laurie Santos and how it has changed my life

Life is too short to be anything but happy.

“Put your phone down, you’re affecting my happiness!”, Tim and I jokingly tell each other whenever we watch tv together. Science backs it up though; there is an actual science behind being happy, and I’ve learned so much through listening to The Happiness Lab, a podcast by Yale professor Laurie Santos. Even though Tim and I are “joking” when we say this, it actually works. Knowing that having my phone out doesn’t just impact my enjoyment of whatever we are doing but also his, makes me put the phone down. And when he puts his away, I feel it too, it really does make the moment more enjoyable. What has the Happiness Lab taught me? That we can learn to be happier, we can work to be happier.

I am so excited about this podcast, I’ve mentioned it to family, friends and co-workers. And now I will share a few of the things I learned through listening with you, and how it has changed my life (and happiness level) already. Knowing how my mind works is really useful when going about daily activities. Because I know now, that my mind is tricking me when it comes to what makes me happy. Eat that entire bag of chips, watch that Netflix show, lay in bed a little longer instead of going out for a walk/run. My mind tells me those are the things I want to do, and that they will make me happy. And maybe they do in the moment, but not in the long run. I am the first to admit that I can be lazy, I’d rather sit on the couch and drink my coffee not doing anything for a while opposed to rushing and getting ready to head out the door. But does that really make me happier? No, it does not. Even though I hate the rushing part, I love getting out, interacting with people, taking my son to play places or the park, going out for breakfast. Those are the things that really make me happy. I know this now. And the science backs it up.

If you want something to change, you have to change it. Laurie explains most of us are waiting and hoping our circumstances will change, convinced that when this happens… we will be happier. Maybe when we get a new job, or a new house, then my life will be in place. Once again, our minds are lying to us, we can work on being happy right now. It is entirely possible, even if you have the disposition to be on the more unhappy side, you just have to work harder at it than some others.

I won’t give away too much, as I want you to go ahead and listen to The Happiness Lab and be as impressed as me. I learned some things I already knew, but being reminded about them and having it put in another perspective, makes me work harder at changing the things in my life that are affecting my happiness level. What do I mean? Well, in one episode Laurie talks about how our mobile phones affect our own experiences, but also those of others around us. Research has shown that scrolling on my phone while watching a movie with my husband doesn’t just affect my own happiness, but also his. Having my phone out while playing with my kid, affects his experience of the moment and makes him enjoy it less. We are dispositioned to want to share in experiences, and having someone be “half there” doesn’t feel quite the same. Knowing this, Tim and I make even more of an effort to put our phones away, prioritizing family and couple time. And instead of nagging each other about it, we are able to jokingly remind each other that “you’re not just ruining this moment for yourself by being less present, but also for me”. “You’re affecting my happiness!” is a phrase that regularly gets thrown around and is always followed by laughs.

How else has it changed my life? Well, I try to outsmart my brain. I know it is trying to trick me. I know that it makes me happier in the long run to do that laundry, clean the house and have it all tidy when I come down in the morning instead of laying in bed doing nothing binging Netflix after Finn goes to bed. It makes me feel less guilty, less lazy, and like I am a better mom and spouse. A clean organized house gives me much more enjoyment in the long run, than watching yet another show. I kick myself in the butt more often and remind myself of the things that REALLY make me happy. Going through heartbreaking stuff really can tear you down, and even though those are things I cannot change or control, it feels freeing to know that I DO have control over my own happiness. Happiness is possible.

Check out The Happiness Lab here. New episodes every Tuesday.

Gave it a listen? Please share your thoughts below or on Facebook. I would love to hear your feedback!

Another “should have been”

34 and 6. I would (should!) have been 34 weeks and 6 days pregnant today. The longest I’ve ever been pregnant. Finn and I made it to 34 and 6 when he made his rapid entrance. These pictures were taken the evening before I woke up to my water breaking. 34 and 6, it should have been a milestone, instead it’s just another “should have been”.

And here I am, the only one thinking about this. The only one dreading my due date coming up. Pregnancy loss is lonely, people move on, even I do (in a way). Until a trigger or a milestone — a “should have been”, comes along and I grieve. It’s unfair, someone should have been growing in my belly. I miss you little bub, wherever you are. 💫

Why you should stop telling people with anxiety to “just relax”.

I can’t. I want to, but I can’t. I cannot help that my mind makes up the worst case scenarios, that I start getting a tight feeling in my chest, that I’m on edge. I know most people that haven’t experienced anxiety don’t understand, but guess what: I really don’t understand it either. Rationally I know I’m being ridiculous and there are times where I can tell myself that, but there are also times where my anxiety gets the upper hand and freaks out my mind and in return, also my body.

I never really had anxiety. Growing up, I had a great child hood, a good relationship with my family, friends, a good education. Nothing major had happened to me, until I moved across the world at age 25, but let’s be honest; that was something I had control over, something I chose. Sure, it gave me anxiety at times, but not the kind that I can experience today. Not the “something is going to happen to my child/spouse” kind of anxiety I can get at times.

I’ve heard it often, most from the people closest to me. “Just relax”, “Chill Sanne he’s fine” “Why do you see the danger in everything?”.

I had a chat about this with a friend a few weeks back. A friend I have never met in person but I still consider my friend. We connected when we experienced our first miscarriage at the same time, and since then, even though we both eventually got our rainbow baby, we have both been through a lot. She told me she hates it when people tell her to “relax”, to which I replied “I know, I can’t help but see the dangers”. She agreed. And so it got me thinking, how can we let those around us know how to help, or maybe even more important… let them know what does NOT help? My anxiety will not go away simply because you told me to relax or chill out. It actually can give me more anxiety or trigger me because honestly, I wish I could just relax. Believe me when I say: people with anxiety want nothing more than to be able to “just relax”, they just can’t. They can’t help to see the dangers, or that they have irrational fears, thoughts and/or insecurities.These feelings are legitimate for the person who experiences it.

Let me give you an example, when I watch Finn play and explore and climb, I love it and encourage it, I’ll be having a great time with him in the park. Here comes anxiety… All of a sudden I see an image of him slipping and falling and breaking his neck. Not cool anxiety, not cool. I find myself often telling Tim things like “you should watch him better”, “no he can’t have a blanket” and “you didn’t pull his seat belt tight enough”. I literally see dangers everywhere. To be honest, I can hide it quite well, I always try my best not to show Finn, because I know it will affect him. I can also be just fine for days or even weeks, but the anxiety always seems to build up over time and there are times where it catches up to me.

The reality is, when I had my second miscarriage I didn’t think I could ever have kids. And now that I do have one, I’m scared sh*tless that he will be taken away from me. I’m the happiest, but also the most anxious I’ve ever been. Comes with the (loss) mom territory I guess. I’m definitely a different mom than I would have been had I not experienced my hardships. Maybe I would have been a less anxious mom, but maybe also a less strong and grateful mom, I count my lucky stars every night that somehow I get to enjoy Finn every day, I never take him for granted. And he’ll grow up knowing what a miracle he is to both his parents.

So if you ever find yourself wanting to tell an anxious person to “just relax”, please think twice. You probably have no idea how hard we already try, and how much we want to. Oh if only I could, I would, if only I could.

October 15th, the wave of light and Pregnancy and infant loss remembrance day.

It is October 15th. Exactly two years ago, we announced we were expecting our rainbow baby. For those of you that do not know, a rainbow baby is a child that is born after a loss — the rainbow after the storm. Today is also pregnancy and infant loss remembrance day, at 7 pm tonight, people all over the world will light a candle to remember the babies they lost; causing a wave of light. It really is quite beautiful, but something I would have never known about would I not have been part of this club. The one no one ever wants to be a part of, but the one that 1 in 4 women are. The club whose members mostly suffer alone, because even though it is 2019, there is still a stigma around pregnancy loss, and since going through it myself (times three..) I can honestly say that you really don’t know what its like until it happens to you.

I am one of the lucky ones, I am part of the statistic where more than half of women who suffer recurrent losses go on to have a child, and because of all the hardships we’ve gone through, I never take my son for granted. He truly is my miracle, the one that stuck and held on through all my complications. But even though I’m lucky to have him, that doesn’t mean I don’t still struggle with the fact that I lost three pregnancies. Three times of double lines on the test, of telling our parents, of planning for these babies. Not knowing if I can give my son a sibling, even though I told him 6 months ago he was going to be a big brother, because he was, until he wasn’t.

The things that most people don’t realize (unless you’re going through it yourself)

Not many people ever talk about the aftermath, about the triggers. No one talks about how the pharmacist assistant gave me a judgy look and started to ask me questions about the “abortion pill” I had to take, trying to find out if it was indeed for an abortion. My body was so fiercely holding on to a baby who didn’t have a heartbeat anymore, that medical management was necessary for my own health and safety. I remember telling her that yes I was pregnant but no, the baby wasn’t alive anymore. I felt like I needed to defend myself — as if it wasn’t hard enough already. Nobody ever talks about how the medical forms you have to fill out from now on are triggering; Number of pregnancies vs Number of live births. (My stats are 4 vs 1 by the way).

And what is it about society, that when it comes to having children, everyone wants to know or weigh in? The most innocent questions can be triggering for those who are going or have gone through loss, or infertility. I remember getting asked if I wanted children when I just lost two. Of course I did, I just didn’t know if I could even have them, or how many more losses I could take before I decided it was enough.

Now that my son is a year and a half, people often ask me about having another one, most of the time I tell them the truth, which is that I’m not sure if we can. “We’ve had complications”, I tell them. When in reality, we were going to have a baby in two months. And there’s no guarantee that the next one will stay.

Even just hearing people “plan” their pregnancies, or getting pregnant without issues and exactly how they wanted can be triggering. I feel myself getting jealous, not because I want them to experience the same as me, I really wouldn’t wish that upon anyone. It is because I wish I could experience the same. But I know better. A pregnancy doesn’t necessarily mean I get to bring a baby home. In fact, for me, 3 of my pregnancies ended in incredible heartbreak, hormone fluctuations and the most intense physical and emotional pain I’ve ever experienced. Seeing those two lines on the stick doesn’t just mean joy for me, it also means next level anxiety.

I often wish I could go back to the girl I once knew, the carefree one. I lost her when I lost my babies, my future with them. Awful things happen, and not just once. Just because it happened once doesn’t mean it won’t happen again, and that became all too prominent for me on this journey.

So tonight, I will light three candles, and remember all what could have been.  

And to whoever is reading this, please remember that everyone might be on a journey you know nothing about, and that even the most innocent questions of all, could be triggering to some of us.

And last but not least, to all the loss mama’s out there, even though it might feel like it sometimes; you are not alone.