This topic is near and dear to my heart, so I’ve always had a hard time sharing or talking about it. But by sharing my story, I’m hoping it can help someone else. The topic I’m referring to is miscarriage.

When I dreamed of having a family, I never considered the fact that having children may not come easy. I always knew I wanted children, but having difficulties never crossed my mind. I was one of those people who thought, “That will never happen to me.” I was wrong.

When my husband and I discussed having kids, we didn’t have a specific timeline. We just said, “Let’s see what happens.” Then, seven months after we got married—surprise!—a positive pregnancy test. I was so thrilled, but scared at the same time. I had a million emotions running through me and I couldn’t make sense of any of them. There were so many things to consider: Where will we move to find more living space? How will I figure out my work schedule? Will I be able to stay home? Then came the realization of a precious baby that my husband and I created together. What will he/she look like? What will we name him/her? What kind of baby will he/she be? It was a lot to think about! Once the shock faded, we were able to enjoy the moment. A teary embrace filled us with hope and excitement about what the future would bring.

I didn’t know what to expect at my first ultrasound, but it was more than I could hope for. Seeing that tiny person flipping around was the best thing I have ever experienced in my life. From there, everything went well until an appointment months later. I was about fourteen weeks along and they were checking the baby’s organs. I had a strange feeling that day. When we were waiting for the ultrasound to begin, I had a pit in my stomach and I didn’t know why. Then the ultrasound began and I noticed the baby wasn’t moving and my heart sank deeper. The ultrasound tech wasn’t saying a word, so I knew something was wrong. After the tech left, I expressed my concern with my husband.  We were taken to another room where a doctor came in and told us that he was sorry but the baby didn’t have a heartbeat. I felt like I was having an out-of-body experience. Tears just poured down my face. How could this be happening!? Then I thought, “Maybe they’re wrong,” so I asked the doctor if he was sure and, of course, he said yes. My body went numb and my heart physically ached. I had never felt such sadness and sorrow in my life.

That day changed me forever and I didn’t know how I would be able to get past it. All my hopes and dreams of a beautiful baby were gone and I felt miserable. The hardest part was that nobody could help me. Nobody could understand what I was going through. Yes, my close family and friends felt sadness for me, but they didn’t feel the loss like I did. I had a bond with my baby. I talked to her (I had a feeling it was a girl) and I felt empty when she was gone. As time went on I tried to talk it out and explain what I was feeling, but I just couldn’t get past the feeling of that loss.

Then came the point where my husband and I wanted to “try” again for another baby. The whole process changed and it wasn’t fun anymore. I was tracking my cycles and using a fertility monitor and it was stressful. This wasn’t the way it was supposed to be! I pictured it so differently! A year and a half later, I became pregnant again. But this time, instead of being happy, I was terrified. All my fears of losing another baby filled my head. The stress was overwhelming. When the first ultrasound came, instead of thinking positive thoughts, all I could think about was loss. Then my worst fear came true again. I was seven weeks along and the baby didn’t have a heartbeat. I couldn’t believe I had to do this again. My first thought was, “Why is this happening to me!?” But there wasn’t a clear or easy answer to that question.

I just wanted to give up. I couldn’t think about planning a family anymore. The entire process had only brought heartache into our lives. I had to change the focus. I couldn’t spend my days wondering why, wondering if I’d ever have a child, wondering when we should start trying again. I had to focus on me, so if we did “try” again, I would be in a better place.

So let go is what I did. I focused on other aspects of my life and I did feel better, although I always had my babies in the back of my mind. It was hard for me to see pregnant women, or women with babies and kids. It was hard to hear that someone I knew was pregnant. I was happy for them, but I couldn’t help feeling deprived of their good fortune. I was in a good place, but I never felt complete. I felt like something was missing and I didn’t know how to fill that empty space.

The healing process was long, and I can honestly say the empty feeling inside never left me. Meditation was a huge lifesaver. It had been a part of my life in the past, but for some reason, I had stopped doing it. By quieting my mind daily, I was able to get in touch with my fears and despair—something I was avoiding at all costs. It allowed me to express my feelings in a way that was comfortable for me. It’s amazing what quiet time can do for your body and soul. I also made a point, every day, to write down what I was grateful for. This helped me stay in the present moment—connecting only to what was happening NOW. By doing this, I learned that being in the now was the only way to stay in a good place. By putting myself in the past and dwelling on the loss of my babies, or projecting to the future, dreading what might happen, I was stifling my peace of mind and any chance at true happiness. It took intense heartache for me to truly understand the wise words of Lao Tzu, “If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present.”

Time passed and while I was busy getting on with living, I became pregnant again. This time without all the stress of schedules and monitoring—I was shocked. Then my old friends fear and loss pushed their way back into my life. I was not looking forward to my first ultrasound. But I was stronger and wiser now. And, strangely, I had hope this time. I don’t know where it came from, but I felt the peace of knowing it was all out of my hands.

Miraculously, my first ultrasound went well. And so did all the others after that. I still had fear before every doctor’s appointment, but I kept holding on to that hope. So about four years after my first pregnancy, I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl.

On the day she was born, it was a surreal experience for me and I couldn’t believe it had actually happened. She was perfect in every way and I feel blessed daily for her arrival. I have learned so much from her and she continues to teach me how to be a better person.

The healing process is different for everyone. No one can say, “Do it this way, it will work!” I did do a lot of healing on my own, but my daughter has helped fill that emptiness I felt for so many years. It does help to talk to others who have been through the same issues, but in the end, this unique and personal experience is one you have to work through in your own way. We all deal with tough situations differently—only you know what works best for you.

What I do know is that, no matter the situation, there is always hope. I will forever feel the loss of my first two babies, but those experiences have also shaped the person I am today. Although I would’ve preferred to learn my lessons in a different way, without them, I wouldn’t have grown.

Along with being a mom now, I am also a personal trainer. And in my opinion, one of the most important aspects of health is mental wellness. If we are not OK on the inside, everything on the outside falls apart. We have to find a way to get past the hard times in life, because there is so much good to look forward to. I had to follow this very advice during my difficult times and find a way to be OK on the inside. I learned that life is about experiences and not all of those experiences are good. The best thing I do for myself now is to let go of expectations—of how something “should” be—and take things as they come. We can’t plan for the unexpected and we’re not supposed to. So, every day, I work on living in the moment, being grateful for everything I’ve been given, loving the skin I’m in, and doing the best I can. That’s all I can do—and it’s everything.