Casey's motherhood story - My experience of loss and illness
As I watched countless friends bring babies into the world, I never thought I would get to be a mother. Whilst I wanted nothing more than to truly share in their joy, I found it impossible to ignore the empty ache in my heart and that little voice that said ‘When will it be my turn?’ The first time I got pregnant I thought I might explode from sheer happiness. I rubbed my flat belly imagining my tiny little person inside me and wondered whether or not they would share my husband’s eyes or my smile.
But by 8 weeks it was all over. The dream that had briefly dangled in front of us ended on the cold tiles of our ensuite floor, where I sat and wept while my heart broke. Nothing can prepare you for the pain and grief that follows a miscarriage. It’s made far worse by the fact that it’s shrouded in a secrecy that for some inexplicable reason feels shameful. I felt incompetent as a woman that my body had betrayed me in such a visceral way. There was no funeral, no public mourning and no real outlet for my grief.
A few close friends divulged their own pain of similar losses that I knew nothing about at the time. We could now share our heartache knowing that the other person could really empathise for they had lived it too. Those friends let me grieve without offering thoughtless platitudes such as “It was just nature” or “There must have been something wrong with it”. Instead they told me they were sorry and made me a cup of tea, which is exactly how you should react when someone dies. Because someone had died.
When I came out of the fog, things got even harder. We saw a fertility specialist who set about ‘fixing’ my uterus, which to her credit, she did. About 2 months after surgery I was pregnant again. Then the day after getting that magic positive line on the pregnancy test, I started bleeding. It was over already. Another little person we would never get to know.
Before we could try again our world turned very bleak. After noticing a small lump on my neck, I was given a diagnoses of stage II Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Chemotherapy would start straight away and there was no time to harvest embryos in case treatment damaged my fertility. At the time there was about 3 seconds to process all this information, but ultimately my life had to take precedence over the hypothetical unborn babies that we didn’t have. So I focused all my energy on getting better, and our quest for a baby was pushed to the back of our minds. This enforced fertility pause brought both my husband and I some relief, as the road had been rocky and we both needed a break from the constant disappointment.
After 6 months of chemo (and complete remission) it was fair to say I’d pretty much given up hoping that we would be able to conceive a baby naturally. We’d decided that I would take some time and let myself recover fully, and then maybe we could explore some IVF options down the track. By this point I was just so high on life and being well again, that I had lost that obsessive drive to conceive, which to be honest was not sustainable for me or for my marriage.
So it was quite a surprise to find myself pregnant just four months after finishing treatment. My hair hadn’t even grown back properly yet! Could this be real?
My husband, ever the pragmatist, was sceptical at first. He was reluctant to get excited knowing that disappointment could be lurking around the corner. So we nervously hoped for the best as we arrived for that first scan.
With my belly covered in cold ultrasound goop, looking up at a little black and white blob on screen and hearing that tiny heartbeat was nothing short of amazing. We could exhale. We could be excited. We were having a baby.
Our little girl turns one in just over a month and she continues to amaze and delight us on a daily basis.
Casey says: I’m a former Accountant turned Nutritionist. I am a bit obsessed with food, love to cook, and while I’m mostly fairly healthy I do have a penchant for sweet treats! My secret hobbies include knitting and sewing. I love a bit of craft.
Motherhood in 5 words: Rewarding, Challenging, Consuming, Noisy, Beautiful.
Fav family friendly place: NGV and Middle Park Adventure Playground
Coffee order: Skinny Cappuccino, very hot.
Business: That wholesome home
A website dedicated to food, nutrition, family & home. Private nutrition & wellness coaching also available.
This is a place where you can connect with Melbourne mothers to share the good, the bad and the topics that we don't talk about but really need to.
Join the hood.
Share your motherhood story.
The information in this story is a unique and personal reflection of the writer's experience. If you have any specific questions about any medical matter you should consult your doctor or other professional healthcare provider. If you think you may be suffering from any medical condition you should seek immediate medical attention. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of information on this website.