Savannah Walsh is a young mom in her seventh pregnancy, expecting her sixth baby. She didn’t always know she wanted to have so many kids, but an endometriosis diagnosis in 2016 changed the way she looked at fertility and having babies. She and her partner joke “we didn’t go looking for a life with a bunch of kids, it found us!”.
What did your fertility journey look like from thinking about wanting children “one day” to now getting ready to give birth to your sixth child (!)?
Definitely not what you (or I) would expect! Like many who want children, I had dreamed of the day when I would jump up and down and yell “I am PREGNANT!” with the man of my dreams. Where in fact, 3 of our 7 pregnancies were completely unplanned, including the first two.
My eldest (who is from a past relationship) came as a big surprise when I was just shy of 19, as a result of being inconsistent with taking the pill. When my partner Jay and I got together, I had learned my lesson with my first and was incredibly careful with our contraceptives. Despite this, we got pregnant fairly quickly with our eldest son and very accidentally–and I mean that quite literally, in that we fell into the small percentile of cases where contraception isn’t 100% effective.
After our second, I was incredibly certain I wanted at least one more baby. Jay on the other hand wasn't nearly so sure! We had had a really hard time with our second and he wasn’t convinced he wanted to do the whole baby thing again. Then, I got diagnosed with endometriosis. We didn’t really know what that would mean for my fertility going forward and that scared us. So one night we decided to stop using protection and “just see what happens”. The next morning we changed our minds, deciding to wait a little bit longer before actively trying to conceive...but it was already too late! After that night, I was pregnant with our third child.
After the birth of our third we were both certain we were not done having babies. I stopped taking birth control, and our plan was to use the fertility awareness method (tracking ovulation) and avoid intercourse while I was ovulating until we were ready to have another baby. But as our luck would have it, just five months after having our third we were pregnant with our fourth.
Wow! What a journey from one to four kids. What made you decide to keep going?
We ended up really really loving the age gap between our third and our fourth, and decided to shoot for that age gap again. But alas, that didn't happen for us!
I have exclusively breast fed all of our babies and gotten my periods back between 3-10 months postpartum, but with my fourth I didn’t get it back until almost 13 months postpartum. Between that and what I can only assume was my body demanding a break, we didn’t get pregnant with our fifth until 14 months postpartum. It was our first pregnancy where we really had to consciously “try” to get pregnant and was my first time using ovulation strips to track my ovulation.
After our fifth we were really open to whatever was going to happen. I got my period back a lot quicker than I had expected after my long stretch the previous time, and we ended up pregnant again at just under 10 months postpartum. Sadly, that pregnancy ended in heartbreak 5 weeks later when I experienced my first pregnancy loss.
I got my period back about 3 weeks after miscarrying and didn't feel ready to try for another baby straight away. By this point, I was using Ovry ovulation strips consistently so I knew when I was roughly ovulating etc. Once again, we just went with the flow and decided to see what happens. I got pregnant that next cycle, and despite not initially feeling ready, I am now so incredibly grateful for the timing of it all.
You share so honestly about the loss you’ve experienced on the journey to grow your family. What pieces of advice do you have for hopeful mothers who have experienced loss?
For me, sharing about our loss openly was both one of the easiest and hardest things I have ever done. In some ways, I felt a responsibility to share about our loss and how I was feeling with my support system, and in all honesty, a lot of it came from a place of guilt. Once I had experienced my own loss, I realized how unsupportive I had been to other people through their losses, unintentionally. There were things I remember saying, that at the time I thought were helpful or kind, only to later be said to me that cut me like a dagger. Now I understand pregnancy loss needs to be handled with so much love and empathy–and without a silver lining.
Once I started sharing, it somewhat took on a life of its own. I was, and still am, absolutely blown away by the support that showed up for me. The loss community is so unique and incredibly loving. The community that I found through my loss journey is truthfully what has kept me going over the last few months, in particular now balancing pregnancy after loss. I am eternally grateful for this incredible community.
Fellow loss moms that are reading this I want you to know that your pain is valid. Your loss is real and no matter what your anxieties or the world around you tell you, you are not responsible for putting on a brave face and pretending to be okay. You are loved, your baby is loved and there is an entire community out here that loves you both. Do not feel like you need to go through; this alone. We are all in this together.
Photo by Yarrow Side Creatives.