The Infertile Embryologist Has A Miscarriage

The universe breaks its promise


by Erin Robinson

One of my worst fears came true the other day.

I had a miscarriage.

Logically, I knew there was a decent chance it would happen to me. The statistics about miscarriage blow my mind. The American Pregnancy Association says that up to twenty-five percent of all clinically recognized pregnancies end in miscarriage. Also, I knew that I probably have fewer “good eggs” than someone else my age. But still. You always hope.

I was six weeks along. After a weekend of gleefully shoving sticks reading “PREGNANT” that I had peed on into my husband’s face, I called a midwife first thing Monday morning to make my very first prenatal appointment. We tried to temper our excitement (we watched good friends go through three miscarriages before having their beautiful daughter), but still, the first time you find out you’re harboring an adorable parasite in your uterus is magical. We started testing out all the old wives tales to see if it was a boy or a girl. We detoured through BabyGap when we were in the mall getting new sneakers. We took pictures of my flat belly to remember it by.

I began having some of the stereotypical pregnancy symptoms. I was bloated. I could sniff out a block of cheddar cheese from a mile away. The garbage and a certain coworker’s cologne made me gag like Sweet Dee from Always Sunny trying to complete a stand-up routine. I peed like I have never peed before in my life (read: ALL. THE DAMN. TIME).

Then, suddenly, one afternoon I didn’t feel that stuff anymore. Instead, I felt a little crampy. “That’s okay,” I thought, “cramping isn’t unusual in early pregnancy.”

But then I saw the blood. I’ll spare you the details. But I will say that was one of the worst moments of my life. At that instant, I knew my dreams for this new little person were dead. All I could do was sob. For hours. My husband wrapped his arms around me like he’s done before, held me close, and we cried on the couch together. I think that’s the worst part about a miscarriage. Not the physical stuff, although that’s horrendous too. It’s the loss of an ideal. You can’t stop yourself from being excited the first time you get that plus sign, or second line, or “PREGNANT” reading. You get excited, and you should get excited. It’s all you can think about. There’s SOMETHING in there. I’m harboring this new life! Suddenly there’s this thing, and it’s amazing; it’s going to be the perfect combination of the two of us; it’s going to be the newest crew member on our Enterprise; it’s going to play soccer and MarioKart with us; it’s going to let me read Stellaluna to it, and play Barbies and Ninja Turtles with it, and sing “Hey Jude” and “Ring of Fire” and “Call Me Maybe” to it. It’s going to come with us to Christmas and Easter and Thanksgiving and hog all the attention. It’s going to give the dog an inferiority complex. It’s barely made it past being a ball of cells, but already it’s a part of the family.

Then all that is ripped away from you. Suddenly, you’re just not pregnant anymore. That promise that was inside of you is just…gone. If you’re like me, the first pregnancy sonogram you ever get is one to confirm you’ve already passed the remains of your pregnancy. They do a blood test, then another one two days later. You throw away the pregnancy calendar t-shirt you made after seeing it on Pinterest, and delete the belly pictures off your camera. You unsubscribe from the BabyCenter emails, because you don’t want to think about what fucking fruit your child should resemble this week.

It feels like it was all a bad dream, honestly. It just ended, but it feels like it happened in another world. Life goes on. The only thing that really changes is you get a little sad and maybe have to excuse yourself to go to the bathroom and wipe a few tears from your eyes when a coworker makes a joke about “when you have your own little ones runnin’ around.” A week earlier you would have smiled smugly to yourself thinking of how you would casually turn down a whiskey and ginger ale at the company Christmas party and say, “Oh, none for me thanks, I’m pregnant,” and then all your coworkers would hoist your chair over their heads in celebration and make tearful toasts to your new little one. Or something like that.

So now we’re taking a little hiatus from baby-making. Just for a month or two. Long enough to get our heads straight. I will say this: the miscarriage brought us together in a new way. My husband and I are a pretty tightly knit baby family. We know how to rock a pizza and movies Saturday night (and matching onesies) like nobody’s business. But this whole experience made us confront something deeper, and we’re now better because of it. This is not the first time we’ve walked through a hell, but every time we’ve come out on the other side tightly holding hands. If we have to go through this again, it’ll be okay. That new crew member will come along when the time is right.

Until then, I just have one message for any miscarriages that may be lurking in my future. In the almighty words of Kevin G, “All you sucka MCs ain’t got nothin’ on me.” My baby family runs this shit.

Photo from author’s personal collection

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  • BreckW

    Hilarious and heartfelt and wonderfully well-written.

    And those sucka MC’s better watch the eff out.

  • rys

    The combination of giddiness, loss, and sass so poignantly encapsulated is incredible.

  • Grace

    Erin, ‘ get a little sad and maybe have to excuse yourself to go to the bathroom and wipe a few tears from your eyes when a coworker makes a joke about “when you have your own little ones runnin’ around.”’ This got me. I commented on your last post, I have endometriosis and we’re planning on trying in the next couple of years and I am absolutely terrified. Your posts give me hope that if we’re a strong enough couple, we’ll get through it. I have everything crossed that your happy ending is coming soon, but in the meantime thank you so much for sharing your ups and downs so frankly. Miscarriage and infertility are not acknowledged enough.

  • Laura C

    I’m trying to think which of my friends who’ve had children or who’ve tried haven’t had miscarriages or other significant problems, and I can come up with like … two, maybe? In fact, I realized reading this that I see having a miscarriage as almost an automatic part of the process. Which, unfortunately, doesn’t make it any easier for any individual having one, though I guess when I think of all my friends who’ve had miscarriages and then I think of all the kids they have running around now, it’s comforting.

    “That promise that was inside of you is just…gone.” That really echoes conversations I’ve had with friends — that it’s not like you’re mourning an individual you knew, you’re mourning all these ideas you’d had about what it would be like to have that pregnancy and a baby born at that time, celebrating its birthday every year in a specific month and so on.

  • MisterEHolmes

    I’m so sorry for your loss, and I’m so impressed that you are able to write about it so beautifully, with humor and grace and joy as well as sadness. Best wishes for your baby dreams.

  • Janet B.

    Thank you for sharing this with us. I can only imagine how crazy the emotional roller coaster ride this whole thing was for your baby family. Your strength, vulnerability, and humor shine in your writing. My sister and her husband had a miscarriage in early October after only finding out about 2 weeks before that they were pregnant for the first time. Your perspective has given me a bit of insight into what my sister was/is going thru. She still isn’t ready to talk to really talk about it, but I’m going to share your story with her and hope that it helps her a bit. I will also keep your story in mind when my husband and I start trying for our own adorable parasite and that these things happen, but facing it with courage and a bit of humor can make the healing process easier.

  • Kayjayoh

    “This is not the first time we’ve walked through a hell, but every time we’ve come out on the other side tightly holding hands.”

    I think, no matter what else may be going on in our lives, this is the thing we are all looking for in forming these new families.

  • Many hugs! I am sure if you can make it through this you can make it through anything. Best of luck on your journey to parenthood, wherever it may take you.

  • Daniella


  • sarahsurgeon

    I am sorry for your loss and pain. Thanks for having the courage and strength to share.

  • Gina

    Thank you for sharing something so deeply personal in such a poignant but hopeful way. I can’t imagine what it is like to go through this, and the fact that so many women (and men) experience it doesn’t make it any less hard. To be honest, this is one of my greatest fears, but your courage and trust in your marriage and future is so incredibly comforting.

  • Sarah

    It was a mistake for me to read that NY Times article about the miscarriage. It’s all I’ve thought about for days. For reasons I won’t go into, I’m assuming that I have a miscarriage in my future as hubby and I start trying. This is the website that constantly reminds me that we already are a family and that whatever happens we will get through it together. I’m sorry for your loss. Know that in posting this you’ve given others a lot of comfort.

  • anonymous

    Thank you for posting this. This is almost EXACTLY my story (even down to the unsubscribing from the damn BabyCenter emails). Thank you for putting into words everything I have been feeling. It doesn’t matter how many statistics you hear or what the doctors tell you about how common it is, it helps to know you’re not the only one going through it. Our hearts are heavy but we are hopeful. Because what else can you do? You just keep going and trust that the baby will come when the time is right (talk about a lesson in letting go of the control I thought I had over every aspect of my life). I’m so sorry for your loss, Erin.

  • Berkshire

    I went through this, just over 2 years ago. Literally the *only* difference was that mine was a missed miscarriage, so I got to have a 3rd person in the room with me and my husband to steal our excitement away with the words “this is not a healthy pregnancy”. Because what should have been an 8 week old embryo with a heartbeat was a silent group of cells that only measured 6-weeks old. And then I had to make decisions about how to get those cells out of me: medicine to cause my body to respond the way it should have when the baby stopped growing, or surgery; I opted for the latter. But all of the emotions, the pain, the returning to the facts that my brain knew but couldn’t get my heart to understand, the loss of hope… I had all of that. And it’s still there.

    As much as I wish that we hadn’t gone through the heartache of a loss, we did — we got through it. We survived. And in couple weeks, my darling amazing son will turn 1.

    • Elena

      Stories like yours give me so much hope that a better future is possible.

  • Oh so heartbreaking! Sending you hugs & wishes for peace & comfort~

  • mimi

    That sucks. I just went back and re-read your previous post, and I wondered if maybe the silver lining here is that you were able to get pregnant? Best wishes on your continued journey! I’ll be on that path someday soon and it’s so helpful to read posts like this one.

    • Amanda

      Is there a link I am missing to the previous post? Hugs and well wishes, you are traveling this journey with grace and strength.

      • mimi

        Right below the post there are 4 pics – the one called “The Infertile Embryologist” is the previous post.

  • Kristenina

    I just had my first miscarriage on Saturday. I have PCOS, but have an almost 2 year old. We got pregnant right away both times, so I was hoping that maybe we were just the exception to the rule. Then came the blood. I know we will most likely be ok. I’m just having a hard time focusing on anything else. And so much of what you said was exactly my experience (except I deleted the BabyCenter app to track my pregnancy). I am hopeful, for both of us. Thank you for the beautiful words and good humor. This is exactly what I needed this morning. Much love to you and your baby family.

  • I had one a little over three months in. According to the stinkin’ Baby Center and it’s emails that never stop, it would’ve been a lime. A little, shiny lime. Perfect for a margarita. Which is exactly what we (and the majority of women out there, I’ve come to realize) deserve after going through such heartache.

  • Elena

    I am sorry for your loss. I suffered from the miscarriage of my first pregnancy in the middle of September. You have so eloquently described many of my feelings. I felt wretched, and still do. My body is struggling to get to solid ground, and I am grasping for emotional stability these days. But I truly hope to be able to get pregnant again soon, and have a healthy pregnancy and baby.

  • Marjorie Merges

    Just wanted to send you some hugs and good thoughts. A miscarriage sucks so very much on so many levels and I’m glad you’ve come out of it fighting and determined. I had a miscarriage six weeks into my first pregnancy (but didn’t find out about it for a month) and I remember the darkness, loneliness, and pain that caused. Now I have an adorable 13 month old but I will never forget that baby and the unguarded excitement we experienced during that first pregnancy. Best of luck for the future!!

  • “If you’re like me, the first pregnancy sonogram you ever get is one to confirm you’ve already passed the remains of your pregnancy”

    It’s the worst. I am so sorry. Hugs.

  • Erin

    Ahhh all of you are so awesome! I just wanted to thank everyone who shared their stories in the comments here. I think it’s so important to talk about miscarriage. It’s such an isolating process, but it doesn’t have to be. Finding a community that could relate to talk about everything with was such an important thing for me.

    I’m so happy that my pieces have resonated so strongly with people. You all rock. I’m going to keep on truckin’ down the baby road!

  • JQ

    My heart goes out to you. We’ve walked through that lonely fire more times than most and love that there are others who come out holding hands. Sorry to the lady who said it, but I could have punched anyone who told me ‘at least you can get pregnant’. Equally those who asked (whilst I was mid-miscarriage) whether I’d thought about adoption (as apparently it’s the same!!! [my arse it is]) Hope is the hardest thing to deal with, but dealing with it gives you a spine of steel and a heart of (can’t think of a suitable material here, but it’s very, very strong even when covered in cracks from having been broken so many times). We’re currently hoping for 9th time lucky, but the memories of the other 8 will never leave me. I wish you strength and laughter on your journey together. x

  • Amanda L

    Thank you for sharing your story. My husband and I are 17 months into trying to conceive. We haven’t gotten that positive HPT yet, but I already fear a miscarriage, because I know how common they are. Like you, however, we are getting through this hell by holding hands, and holding each other on the couch while I cry. I’ve started an APW post on the subject ‘Celebrations’… I have to keep putting it down though, because it hurts. Giant internet hugs to you, OP.

  • Ailee

    Thank you so much for sharing this incredibly personal story. It is such a huge gift you’re putting out there-helping people know they aren’t alone. I’d come across miscarriage statistics before, and it was always something that made me wonder-it’s not something that’s spoken about, but happens so often…it makes me sad that there’s something ELSE that women are kind of expected to suffer silently about.

    And can I say I think I love you for all of your parasite-sucka MC-tearful toasts-references??

    Sending you lots of hugs.

  • Anon

    I’m so sorry for your loss. So much of what you’ve said resonates with me, I had my first (missed) miscarriage last month. Thank you for sharing, it’s difficult to talk about & so isolating, but so important to know there are others out there that understand. It really helps. Sending lots of hugs.

  • Christina

    I’m so, so sorry for your loss. I had a miscarriage earlier this month. I thought I was 11 weeks along. Turns out the baby died sometime around 6 weeks. It sucks. Thank you for finding words to describe some of what I’m going through. Hugs to you.

  • Melinda

    I’m so sorry for your loss and thank you so much for sharing your story. Not enough are vocal enough and it’s such a taboo topic that needs to be discussed. My husband and I have gone through two and last month was the anniversary of what would have been the first baby’s 4th birthday and the second one would almost be two. Some days it’s still overwhelming, but being able to process that heartbreak is going to make it so much more precious in the future. My only advice would be to let yourself feel and embrace the whole range of emotions that are going to happen to allow yourself to heal.

  • MDBethann

    Thank you. I know I’m posting to this a few months late (November & December were pretty crazy for me), but my husband and I are in our 2nd round of IUI treatments right now after the first one didn’t work at all, so this really resonates with me as I know this is something that *might* happen. I had no idea the statistics for a miscarriage were so high, but that does explain why I’ve watched several friends and co-workers suffer through them, and not even at early stages either.

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience and showing that there IS an “other side” and a way to move forward with your family, whether it is 2 or 20.

    Thank you.

  • LG

    Yeah fuck those baby centre updates and their stupid fruits!