Infertility, Miscarriage, Loss & Family

This week, as we focus on the things in our lives we can’t control, I’ve been thinking about how the hard stuff is often so integral to shaping our lives. And all week, this post has been weaving in and out of my thoughts. Today’s contributor, who’s going by Espero, for Hope, last wrote about navigating infertility. In that post, she talked about how for all that they’d lost, “Our infertility has become a fertile ground for growth in our marriage.” Today she’s discussing their recent miscarriage and how their new family has carried them through. I hope all of you will join me in holding them fiercely in your hearts.

Recently we had roughly this conversation in a back room of his parents’ home.

Me: I was feeling bad because we drove all this way to be with your family and here I am keeping you from them …
Him: No. Stop. Be quiet. Just stop.
Me: (not stopping) … but then I realized I’m your family. We love your parents, but I’m your family.

He wanted me to stop talking so he could tell me that exact same thing.

We were at his parents’ in the first place because we needed to not be home alone. And I was in the back room because less than an hour previously I’d had a second major hemorrhage, large enough to scare us both. The first had been six days earlier and resulted in the loss of our seven-and-a-half-week-old unborn baby.

The baby we had only known by seeing his heart beat at two doctor appointments. The baby that was there because of the round of IVF we did at our anniversary and then spent our anniversary trip joking about me eating and sleeping for four (we’d transferred three embryos). The baby that we’d nicknamed and talked to. The baby that had made us stake our claim on our family even stronger than we had before.

We’d held each other and claimed our baby family as we cried through all the fertility tests and treatments. We held each other and claimed our growing family as we laughed and planned when we found out I was finally pregnant, that together we’d made life. And now we are holding each other, claiming our family even stronger, and crying yet again, but still planning. It’ll hurt like crazy if this happens again. But we’re a family. We can do anything.

Photo by: Author’s personal collection

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  • Hugs to you both.
    You are a family, you will make it together. Your baby will come. As I have said here before, we are also trying for a baby, still there, waiting, and waiting, and I know it can be hard. Just be strong. I will light a candle later for you guys. Thanks for sharing. Love to you.

  • Claire

    Wow. Beautiful and sad and awe inspiring. Sending hugs and good wishes your way – for you and your family. Thanks for sharing.

  • Ceebee

    Your family IS bigger…. in heart and strength.

    On being one another’s family. I usually refrain from being non-secular, in case I get it wrong or offend anyone by spats of myopia. But I can’t hold this.
    Genesis 1:24 : “For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall
    cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.”
    You depart from your original family to make one that would be your new family and priority with your wife/husband. But does not mean we forget our parents, we continue to love them, and honor them for the past and present. But this also reminds that the wife is in the present and future.
    Else the verse, I very much believe could simply have said, a man leaves his past for the present, without any more mention.

    • Espero

      That is a verse that we have definitely seen in our lives. When we told his parents about the conversation his dad gave me the same look half way through that he was giving me while he was telling me to stop talking. His dad was very strong on teaching them that the most important person in their life was their spouse.

  • PA

    Thank you for having the courage to share this – I wish you both strength and hope and I am, as Meg asked, holding you fiercely in my heart.

  • A lucky baby is born to parents who have already created a family.

    I hope that you have such a lucky baby one day. And if it isn’t meant to be, take comfort in the family you already have. It sounds so lovely.

  • Beth

    So true. Such a great and important post. My husband and I are struggling now with infertility and the loss of our baby last year and I told him recently that two things were true:

    1. I already have a wonderful family in him.
    2. Our family can face anything.

    Sending a huge hug your way.

  • Moz

    Yes you can.

    I am so sorry.

    I wish you nothing but the best.

  • I think infertility must be one of the hardest obstacles to face, but just know that everything happens for a reason and if it’s meant to be, your baby will come. Perhaps the timing isn’t right. The important thing, as you’ve realized is that you and your husband have each other. Advice given to me when my husband and I were trying and trying for a baby was that we just needed to relax. We had put so much pressure on ourselves to have a child, and suddenly I think we both felt a weight lifted and we focused on reconnecting as a couple. It didn’t mean we stopped trying, but when I used my charts and various other methods, I felt less like I was doing it in preparation of a test – I made it more casual and even forgot some days, and low and behold, our baby found us.

    I wish nothing but the best for you and your husband!

    • Laura

      Hi Heather-
      I know you mean well with your comment, but I have to say this: Please, don’t tell infertile people that “everything happens for a reason” and that it’s just not their time. And please, please, don’t tell them to relax. I am struggling with this myself and I can tell you, relaxing has zero to do with it.
      I’m not posting this to make you feel badly, or to flame you, but what a lot of people don’t understand about infertility is that those kinds of comments only make things worse. Saying them to friends, even when you mean well, can cause a great deal of stress. I have been known to break out in angry tears when people are trying to “comfort” me. I know I’m not alone in that, from what I have been told it’s a somewhat common reaction among couples struggling with these problems.
      I hope that wasn’t harsh. :-)

      • A.

        Laura, what would you recommend saying?

        My brother- and sister-in-law are just starting in vitro. I know that their struggle to have a baby over the past years is a huge part of their lives. But I can’t really know what they’re going through and I’m never sure what to say. My partner and I are still several years away from trying to have a baby (which SIL asked us about and was relieved to hear)… but I have a very real fear that they’ll continue to have problems and (G-d willing) we won’t.

        • Anna

          Everything happens for a reason isn’t a helpful thought. It implies God/Allah/Buddah/the universe doesn’t want them to have a child. Think of all the injustices in the world- war, famine, drought- please don’t say everything happens for a reason. Some things are senseless. And it’s not that the couple isn’t relaxed enough, or isn’t patient enough. It’s just how it is. These kind of statements place some blame, however unintentional, on the couple. As if once they becomes zen enough or wait long enough they will have their child. Which isn’t true. There is no secret fix.

          All you can do is be there for them. Listen to their struggles and tell them how sorry you are that they are going through this. Remind them they have a great support network and together they will get through it.

          • Sass

            *This* So much. It’s a harsh way to look at it, but if you wouldn’t say it to someone with cancer, don’t say it to someone dealing with infertility. They’re both medical conditions – relaxing won’t help, people can draw strength from bad events but they don’t always happen for a reason, and sometimes really terrible things happen to people who really don’t deserve it.

            My pet hate is people telling me that *it will happen*. I was 21 and just married and they were wrong. Telling me that they were so sure it would, felt condescending and dismissive. Sometimes, despite everything, a couple cannot conceive a baby and often adoption, surrogacy or other options are just not viable either. I think it’s important to leave room for that possibility.

        • Espero

          “You are in my thoughts and prayers” and “Please let me know if there’s anything I can do for you” are always welcome comments.

          If you know any of their dates, send them a card, an email, a flower, cookies, something, on those important dates (egg retrieval, embryo transfer, and the day of the blood draws are all BIG dates for someone doing IVF).

          I try to remember when someone says “relax” that they really mean well. For the majority of couples that is exactly what they need to do. But infertility is a diagnosed medical condition. Relaxing wouldn’t have gotten us all the answers we’ve gotten in the last year. Relaxing wouldn’t have us as close as we are. We do relax between major events. But we have to be very active in the whole process.

  • I have no words, just lots of hugs for the two of you. I will second Amanda and light a candle for you tlo be able to hold your baby in your arms soon. You are not alone.

  • So many hugs. So many.

  • Thank you for being so open and brave. Sending so much love and hugs your way.

  • I’m sending you lots of hugs and well-wishes. <3

  • Amandover

    So beautiful. Thank you for such a brave and hopeful message.

  • Sara C.

    Hugs, hugs, and more.

    Your strength is inspiring.

  • cartascartas

    so many hugs. your family will get through this together.

  • I had a miscarriage in October, and yes. And there’s really not much more I can say beyond it hurts like hell. It is hell. And it’s strengthened our relationship. It’s not the kind of strengthening you ever want, but it did. And we’re pushing through. *hugs*

  • We had two miscarriages last year, and I have to say that dealing with that has taught me things about myself that I didn’t want to know. It’s hard, and the emotional ride can get ugly, at least for me it has sometimes. I wish that I could reach through my computer and take your hand and give it a squeeze, but above all else I am so so so sorry for your loss.

  • Liz

    Thank you for writing about this – not enough people talk about infertility and miscarriage, as if it is something to be ashamed of. We found out we were pregnant in October, and celebrated our new baby and our two-year anniversary on the same day. One month later, we went to see the first ultrasound, and learned that it had stopped growing two weeks earlier, and there was no heartbeat. There was never any sign that anything was wrong. The last 2 months have been the hardest we’ve had as a couple, but it has only re-affirmed our love for each other.

  • Red

    Espero, hugs to you and your husband. I am so deeply sorry that you have to experience this, but you’ll be in my thoughts and prayers.

  • we, too, experienced a miscarriage and while it wasn’t me, but my wife, going through the physical process, we both felt it emotionally. it is a terrifying thing to be the other person – watching your beloved experience such a loss and trying to be strong for them, yet also feeling that loss just as deeply. your husband sounds wonderful and yes, this will make you both stronger.
    take time for yourself and take time for your baby. if you feel comfortable, do something to honor and remember your baby.

    i am sending so many good thoughts your way. and i am so sorry to hear of your loss.

    • I planted a lilac and it gave me a place to grieve. It helped a lot in those early days.

      • Espero

        Thank you for the idea. I went this week and bought a small bamboo plant for all our kids I’ll never wrap in a quilt.

  • Thank you so much for sharing.

  • A million hugs to you, lady. Thank you for sharing.

  • Laura

    Thank you for this post, it was just what I needed to hear today. And best of luck to you both!

  • KEA1

    All the hugs in the world to you, and to the family you already have. AND all the hope in the world that your desire to expand your family will come true–the baby will be so blessed to have the two of you as parents. I hope that the days ahead will bring comfort to both of you!

  • HH

    Holding you so, so fiercely in my heart. Thank you for being so brave and sharing your story. The love in your marriage shines through so brightly- you’re inspirational. Hugging you across the interwebs!

  • I’m so sorry to hear about your recent loss. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers. Thank you for sharing your story.

  • Thank you for writing about this, for being willing to share wisdom and pain with all of us on topics that can be so painful that we keep them inside so tight and don’t even share them with our nearest and dearest. Thank you for making conversation more possible. We will be holding you in our thoughts and in the light.

  • Espero

    It didn’t dawn on me till yesterday when exactly this would be published. Yesterday was one month since our baby’s heart stopped. Which means it was a month today I put my feet up in the stirrups and the doctor confirmed it. We’ve lived a life time in that month.

    My husband has said that he wanted to be the strong one through all of this and he felt bad that I saw him cry so much. But to me that means he was strong. He was strong enough to let me see him cry. He was strong enough to cry for me when I was to numb to do it myself.

    At the time we both wondered if we’d celebrated our baby too soon, if we’d been too happy before we should’ve. But we don’t regret that. Every life, no matter how small or how brief deserves to be celebrated. We’re certainly going to be more cautious the next time, but I hope we celebrate and laugh just as much, if not more, than we did this time.

    Thank you all for your hugs and prayers. Telling the story means it happened. And I’m so grateful for this safe place to tell all of our stories.

    • Anon

      Thank-you for telling your story. It is hard to imagine losing a child.
      I am currently 7.5 weeks and haven’t told anyone besides my husband. In some ways I don’t think we really believe it yet. It is strange because I don’t feel *that* different. And I certainly don’t look pregnant. But at the same time losing this baby would be so hard. I have been somewhat paranoid about infertility since several women on my mom’s side were unable to have children at all (my aunt and two sisters of my great grandmother). Anyway, I feel extremely blessed to have made it here. I wish you the best for your recovery and future treatments.
      Rest in peace little one, I hope a brother or sister comes along soon.

      • Espero

        The only person we told before was our waitress at Olive Garden because we had to tell someone. More than once we called each other during the day just to say “guess what? we’re having a baby” because it’s such a wonderful thing to keep in and down right scary at the same time.

        We’ll keep our fingers crossed for you.

    • Sass

      I’m so sorry for your loss. It is wonderful that you’ve both been able to find strength in each other and I hope that can help give you some peace as you grieve. I found the hardest part of infertility to be seeing how it affected my husband. It is such a hard road to go down and I don’t know how we would have come out of it without the support of each other – but also the many wonderful ALI (adoption, loss & infertility) bloggers out there.

      Whatever your future holds I hope that you find a way to honour your baby and celebrate that little life who had so much potential they didn’t get to meet. And next time, I hope it ends with a beautiful & healthy bub who gets the benefit of two strong committed parents.

  • Lakelady

    Thank you for sharing this. My heart goes out to you and your husband.

    This is my favorite part:

    Me: I was feeling bad because we drove all this way to be with your family and here I am keeping you from them …
    Him: No. Stop. Be quiet. Just stop.
    Me: (not stopping) … but then I realized I’m your family. We love your parents, but I’m your family.

    He wanted me to stop talking so he could tell me that exact same thing.

    Perfectly said.

  • Crying for your loss, smiling at the incredible grace with which you’ve born it, wishing that your family will soon take the shape you most desire, and above all, holding you both oh so very fiercely in my heart.

    • Exactly was not enough, so I felt that I must type it, too. This, this is precisely right.

  • Sending you both much light and love. I am so, so glad you and your husband have each other. We’re holding you guys in our hearts.

  • Big hug. I’m soo soo sorry that you’re going through this.

    I knew when I pulled up your post I’d be crying and I was right. I too had a miscarriage though mine was back in July. In some ways it’s been so long that I’m not as raw emotionally but some days and some thoughts bring me back. Next month my baby would have been due and that’s made the pain feel fresh again.

  • I’m so sorry for your loss. I really hope that everything works out for you. Infertility is one of my biggest fears in life. Like Meg said, I’m holding you fiercely in my heart.

  • MWK

    Thank you for sharing. I am indeed fiercely holding you both (and all of you in the comments who are or have experiencing similar difficulties and losses) in my heart.

  • Christa

    Me too.

  • Espero

    Last night we sat together and read through all the comments together. We felt and were deeply touched by the love expressed by all of you. We will hold it with us through the uncertainty of the future.

  • Alia

    I just came across this site and post via Etsy. I was instantly struck by the fact that you posted this on the birthday of my son–Tobias. He was born 1/19/11 and died 1/22/11. I didn’t know I was pregnant with him and had no prenatal care; he aspirated muconium and had no brain function. The pain of losing a child never goes away and it doesn’t matter when that loss happens. Still, there is hope and there are ways to heal and for scars to form.
    I was always told while growing up that it would be difficult to get pregnant, but we were very lucky and got pregnant right away.We welcomed our son–Elyas– on 11/19/11 and he is the most amazing little boy I could ever imagine, but there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about Toby and wonder about what would have/could have been.
    Continue to have faith in the love that you share because no matter what, they are the only person that will truly understand not only your pain, but your fears and trepidations, your excitement at the potential of life, and your hope.
    Good luck in the life that you share and thank you for reminding me how lucky I am and I will hold you and the hope for your lives going forward in my heart.

  • Natalie

    Thank you for your courage and strength. You are in my thoughts and prayers. I pray that you find peace and healing together.

    I have never been pregnant, but I am engaged and I’m struggling with some health issues and have been told there’s a good chance I will not be able to have my own children. I have a wonderful man by my side and together I hope we can build a strong and loving relationship, as it sounds like you have.

    All of my hopes and prayers are with you during this time.

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