Samantha Kumar and Linus (12 months)
Prior to Linus, Samantha had two miscarriages and has had one since his birth. She met her husband at 35, they dated for a year and then he proposed. Once they were engaged, she decided to undergo testing to learn if they would have any problems with conceiving. "The doctors told me my eggs were old and said it would be difficult to conceive". Thankfully, the doctors were wrong and she got pregnant within months. It came sooner than they anticipated and they were both excited and terrified. Samantha began bleeding at 6 weeks, however, and lost the pregnancy. They were told that 30% of first pregnancies end in miscarriage and to keep trying.
Three months later, she was pregnant again. Her husband had just accepted a new job and they prepared to move across the country from Colorado to Connecticut. The day before they packed to leave, they learned that this pregnancy was also not viable. She was devastated and also thrown into chaos. When they arrived at their new home, she took Misoprostal to terminate the pregnancy. The doctors in Connecticut believed she had a clotting disorder known as Anti-phospholipid Syndrome and she was prescribed injections of Lovenox during her third pregnancy and carried Linus full-term.
"My first miscarriage was devastating, but I also had a lot of hope afterward. I thought it was a miracle we got pregnant so easily. The second miscarriage terrified me. What if I could never carry to term? Would this keep happening? I always knew carrying a baby would be hard for me. I can't tell you how I knew, but I did. I wanted so badly for it to be easy. I felt guilt every day from day one for not being the perfect vessel. I took all the blame that no one was assigning and put it on myself. I think a lot of women do this - we take the weight of the world on our shoulders and into our womb. The prior losses made it difficult to relax into my pregnancy with Linus".
Samantha spent the first 13 weeks of her pregnancy telling herself everything would be okay but secretly feeling like she would lose this baby, too. She spent the next 13 weeks on a silent countdown to doom, just knowing something would go wrong before viability. Luckily, amazingly, miraculously, Linus was absolutely perfect.
In December 2016, Samantha learned she was pregnant again. It was unplanned but she assumed everything would be fine. She started the injections again but never really felt pregnant. At the eight week ultrasound, there was no heart beat. "I don't know why this last pregnancy did not take. I assumed that once my body knew what it was like to carry a baby full term, it would be easier the next time. Maybe it was the clotting disorder, but I don't think so. The body miscarries for so many reasons. This miscarriage didn’t hit quite so hard. I am not sure why, but I think it may be because I have Linus. I know that no matter what happens in the future, I have him and he is wonderful and, if it must be, he is enough. We plan to keep trying".
During pregnancy with Linus, Samantha obtained her certification to teach prenatal yoga. She began teaching while pregnant and continues to this day. "What I learned from my pregnancies, Linus’s birth and motherhood is that there needs to be so much more communication about pregnancy, loss, and life with an infant. Everyone says there is no preparing for motherhood, but I don’t agree. I teach my students what I wish I had known: that breastfeeding can be very difficult, that there are things such as tongue tie, that you may not make enough milk, that it is okay to use formula. I teach them what I learned during my training: that you can control your pelvic floor muscles, that you can learn how to push correctly, that breathing is key, that you are doing fine and trust yourself. I also teach them to be vulnerable and honest. We live in this society where it is almost frowned upon for a mom to admit she is tired or scared or annoyed or confused. We feel so pressured and judged, even if we put that pressure on ourselves. Reach out to other female friends, family, even strangers. I have cried in the arms of the woman who owns my neighborhood deli. There is so much wisdom amongst mothers. That is what we should share".
"I chose to participate in the movement for a number of reasons - I wanted to help myself heal from my miscarriages and a really tough first year of motherhood. But the main reason I chose to participate is because the trauma of back to back miscarriages and pregnancy, along with the Lovenox injections, took a physical toll on my body and I want to reclaim it. Prior to my first pregnancy, I ran marathons and half marathons. I worked out regularly and was strong. I was on my way to being in the best shape of my life. During my pregnancy with Linus, I did yoga but no longer ran or lifted. I was too scared it would cause a problem. I administered the Loxenox injections to my belly, which caused serious bruising. By the third trimester my entire belly was black and blue. As a result, I never felt comfortable, much less pretty while pregnant. I didn’t want anyone touching me. I didn’t get to show off my cute stomach at the beach or take maternity photos. I still don’t have my strong body back and there are shadows from the bruises still present. Maybe they will be there forever. Maybe I will never get to work out like I did pre-baby. But, I am tired of waiting to love my body. It did an amazing thing and I want to celebrate it, no matter what shape it is in currently".